The Rock Art Network Aron Mazel
The Rock Art Network Aron Mazel
The Rock Art Network Aron Mazel
Aron Mazel
San rock art exhibition at the National Museum & Research Center of Altamira
17 September 2019

by Aron Mazel
Lecturer, Newcastle University

Color and power: rock art of San hunter gatherers in Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg
The National Museum & Research Center of Altamira

A new exhibition recently opened at the National Museum & Research Center of Altamira, entitled 'Color and power: rock art of San hunter gatherers in Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg', displays images of the cave paintings of this South African province - which has the greatest concentration of this type of art - as well as objects of the San material culture.

The exhibition is the result of collaboration between several members of the Rock Art Network [RAN], a working group created by the Getty Conservation Institute and the Bradshaw Foundation, which brings together experts and cultural institutions responsible for the promotion, protection and conservation of rock art on a world level.

Pilar Fatás Monforte
"The sites with rock art tell us the history of those places that saw the birth of art, the dawn of the first artistic efforts." - Pilar Fatás Monforte Director, National Museum and Research Center of Altamira
© Bradshaw Foundation
With this exhibition, which will remain open until the end of the year, the National Museum and Research Center of Altamira continues its work to emphasize the value and importance of this cultural legacy. Pilar Fatás Monforte, director of the Altamira Museum and a member of the Rock Art Network, explains that "the sites with rock art tell us the history of those places that saw the birth of art, the dawn of the first artistic efforts." The exhibition has been curated by the South African archaeologist Aron Mazel, from the University of Newcastle and a member of the Rock Art Network.

The exhibition presents some of the most illustrative images of the roughly 40,000 polychrome cave paintings documented and found in some 600 locations. The art, created by the San hunter gatherers for some 3,000 years until the mid-eighteenth century, led to the province of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa to be given World Heritage status by UNESCO in 2000. More than half of the paintings depict human figures, whilst a third are representations of animals. The images include scenes of daily life, objects of material culture, as well as the beliefs of these hunter gatherer peoples. Representations of the San rock art are materialized through the pieces in the exhibition: hunting with the bow, quiver and arrows; personal adornments with pendants and bracelets; and objects linked to everyday life.

Color and power: rock art of San hunter gatherers in Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg San rock art exhibition National Museum & Research Center of Altamira Rock Art Network Bradshaw Foundation Getty Conservation Institute
San hunter gatherer paintings of Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg in South Africa
© Aron Mazel
 
Color and power: rock art of San hunter gatherers in Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg San rock art exhibition National Museum & Research Center of Altamira Rock Art Network Bradshaw Foundation Getty Conservation Institute
Color and power: rock art of San hunter gatherers in Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg
© Noelia de Dios Bazo
 
Color and power: rock art of San hunter gatherers in Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg San rock art exhibition National Museum & Research Center of Altamira Rock Art Network Bradshaw Foundation Getty Conservation Institute
Color & power: objects of material culture, exhibition at the Cave of Altamira
© Noelia de Dios Bazo
 
Color and power: rock art of San hunter gatherers in Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg San rock art exhibition National Museum & Research Center of Altamira Rock Art Network Bradshaw Foundation Getty Conservation Institute
Color and power: rock art of San hunter gatherers in Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg
© Noelia de Dios Bazo
 
Color and power: rock art of San hunter gatherers in Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg San rock art exhibition National Museum & Research Center of Altamira Rock Art Network Bradshaw Foundation Getty Conservation Institute
Color & power: objects of material culture, exhibition at the Cave of Altamira
© Noelia de Dios Bazo
 
Color and power: rock art of San hunter gatherers in Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg San rock art exhibition National Museum & Research Center of Altamira Rock Art Network Bradshaw Foundation Getty Conservation Institute
The exhibition has been curated by the South African archaeologist Aron Mazel
© Noelia de Dios Bazo
Aron Mazel - Commissioner

Aron Mazel Rock Art Network rock art Northumberland England
Aron Mazel of the Rock Art Network, recording rock art in Northumberland, England
© Bradshaw Foundation
Archaeologist and researcher at the University of Newcastle, Aron Mazel has worked for 25 years in heritage management. He was deputy director of the Natal Museum (1994-1997), director of the Museum of Cultural History of South Africa (1998-2002) and director of the International Center for Heritage and Culture Studies at the University of Newcastle (2012-2015).

Regarding his works and publications on rock art, Aron Mazel has made numerous records and locations of paintings in Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg (South Africa) and carved panels in Northumberland (United Kingdom). His publications deal with the management and dissemination of rock art, the role of acoustics in the location of rock art, the representation of domestic animals or animal seasonality, colonial rock art and, among others, chronology, dating and integration of rock art in management systems and computer documentation of excavations to improve understanding of the history of hunter-gatherer peoples.

The exhibition runs until the end of the year.

→ National Museum and Research Center of Altamira
More on the rock art of Altamira
→ More on the San rock art of South Africa

The Rock Art Network
→ Discover more about the Rock Art Network
→ Members and affiliated institutions of the Rock Art Network

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