TOPIC: Rock Engravings of 19th-century Karoo domestic architecture

SPEAKERS: Simon Hall and Vuyiswa Lupuwana from the University of Cape Town
DATE:  Tuesday, 17 May 2016
TIME: 19h45 for 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum, Boundary Terraces, Newlands, at the intersection of Mariendahl and Campground Roads

This talk introduces research on 18th and 19th century archaeological residues in the Karoo related to the interface between Khoe and San pastoralists and hunter-gatherers and the colonial expansion of trekboer farmers. In the main these residues comprise Khoesan camps, Khoe and trekboer kraal systems, rock engravings, vernacular architecture and oral narratives.

One of the central themes of this research is to track Khoesan cultural change through the 19th and into the 20thcentury. This is important in correcting a perception that the colonial marginalisation of Khoesan people within the rural farm economy completely obliterated their cultural practice. This research highlights archaeological contributions that put them back on this landscape by recognising their cultural continuity.

After introducing these themes and issues, the talk will introduce recently recorded rock engravings of domestic architecture from the farm Grootfontein in the Kareeberg near Williston. As far as we are aware these are the first engravings found of this type. We introduce and describe these engravings and their physical setting and outline some tentative ideas about why houses were engraved. Perhaps more important at this stage of the research, however, is to be more secure about the identity of the houses that are being engraved and consequently, we seek comment and opinion on these engraved houses. Obvious questions focus on chronology and distribution? Do they depict an amalgam of features or a specific house type? If a specific type would they have been built in both farm and town settings? What other questions might we ask?

The Speakers

Simon Hall is an Associate Professor in the Department of Archaeology at UCT. His work can be situated within the field generally referred to as Historical Archaeology. Apart from his and his students work in the Karoo, he also focuses on the recent archaeology of Tswana-speaking farmer communities to the north of the Gariep

Vuyiswa Lupuwana is an MPhil student in the department of Archaeology at UCT. She holds honours degrees in both archaeology and film and media studies.