BUSHMANSKLOOF ROCK PAINTING LANDSCAPE
National Heritage Site declaration: 20 September 2019
Bushmanskloof encompasses a Rock Painting Archaeological Landscape that bears graphic testimony to the complete social, political, spiritual and economic history of Stone Age hunter gatherers and Khoekhoe-speaking pastoralists, who inhabited the region for at least the past 10 000 years.
The first instances in the world of direct dating of rock art by Accelerator Mass Spectrometry was achieved from one of the rock painting sites on the reserve during the 1980s, and the exceptional state of preservation of material used at the painted sites provides rare opportunities for direct dating of the art. The rock paintings coupled with the existence of undisturbed, related archaeological deposits within numerous painted shelters, makes Bushmanskloof a landscape with exceptional archaeological research potential.
Numerous sites are characterised by painted imagery that exhibits outstanding clarity of colours and remarkably high levels of detail, along with a great volume of painted figures and a profusion of physically large figures and other, enigmatic imagery, making Bushmanskloof a Rock Painting Landscape of outstanding aesthetic significance.
The sites are located within a near-pristine natural environment with effective access control, and where scientific research is actively encouraged. Site visits are facilitated by trained guides, and benefit from regular conservation monitoring, as part of a conservation management plan that been implemented for more than a decade. Allowing for unique research into the efficacy of preventative heritage conservation measures.
Bushmanskloof therefore represents a unique combination of extraordinary aesthetic value and scientific research value, in a single, undisturbed landscape.