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Preserving our Ancient Art Galleries

04 Apr 2018
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Wendy All presents a fascinating article in Backdirt - Preserving our Ancient Art Galleries: Volunteerism, Collaboration and the Rock Art Archive - following the international rock art colloquium in Namibia in 2017, led by Dr. Neville Agnew of the Getty Conservation Institute.

Preserving our Ancient Art Galleries: Volunteerism, Collaboration and the Rock Art Archive

The Brandberg of Namibia (left) and the author at Twyfelfontein, officially known as ǀUi-ǁAis.

'The country of Namibia contains some of the best examples of African rock art. We were here to visit two of these sites. After clearing customs at Hosea Kutako International Airport, my new companions and I set out by van toward our lodgings in Namibia's capital city, Windhoek. The landscape looked remarkably like the Mojave Desert in California where the UCLA Rock Art Archive worked on our field surveys. Suddenly our driver skidded to a stop to allow a troop of baboons to cross the road - a reminder we were in southwestern Africa, not the Mojave. 

A petroglyph panel at Twyfelfontein.

Dramatic moments like this characterized the international rock art colloquium led by Dr. Neville Agnew of the Getty Conservation Institute, held April 21 - May 1, 2017 in Namibia. The colloquium's title, Art on The Rocks: A Global Heritage, and stated purpose was to bring attention to our endangered rock art treasures, ancient art galleries documenting our human story. 

Preserving our Ancient Art Galleries: Volunteerism, Collaboration and the Rock Art Archive

Studying a rock art site at Twyfelfontein.

Worldwide, rock art is in peril. Rock art, which includes petroglyphs and pictographs some dated close to 40,000 years old, (Taçon et al.) is endangered by politics and policies, the environment, lack of resources, vandalism, and ignorance. The mission of the Getty colloquium was to explore a spectrum of ways to elevate rock art to higher level of awareness in public and political spheres with focus upon its preservation, promotion and use. My mission, as a participant, was to represent the successful volunteer program of the UCLA Rock Art Archive and Dr. Jo Anne Van Tilburg, by sharing lessons learned and how others might create a similar program.'

Article continues below

Backdirt: Annual Review, which began as a newsletter in 1973, is the magazine of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology that highlights the recent news, research and activities of the Institute. The CIoA Press publishes the annual magazine each spring.

The Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA is a premier research organization dedicated to the creation, dissemination, and conservation of archaeological knowledge and heritage. The Cotsen Institute is home to both the Interdepartmental Archaeology Program and the UCLA/Getty Program in Archaeological and Ethnographic Conservation. It provides a forum for innovative faculty research, graduate education, and public programs at UCLA "in an effort to have a positive influence on the academic, local and global communities." The Cotsen Institute is at the forefront of archaeological research, education, conservation and publication and is an active contributor to interdisciplinary research at UCLA.

To read the full article on page 23:

Read more about the international rock art colloquium led by Dr. Neville Agnew of the Getty Conservation Institute, held April 21 - May 1, 2017 in Namibia:


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