Fieldwork in the Groot Winterhoek Mountains, Eastern Cape Province
Dr Ghilraen Laue of the Human Sciences Department at the KZN Museum recently conducted a two-week field trip to the Groot Winterhoek mountains and surrounding areas in the southern Cape where she is working, expanding on her PhD research. A total of 17 rock art sites were recorded, 16 of which were previously undocumented. Sites were photographed and sketched and selected images from four sites were traced. Some of the sites were small, little more than an overhang with fewer than twenty images while other larger sites had images numbering over a hundred.
The rugged and steep terrain, oftentimes with no paths, makes walking hard but any difficulties encountered are eclipsed by the excitement of seeing a new site. Some of the more inaccessible sites require overnight stays in the shelters, which has the added benefit of allowing the art to be viewed in varying light conditions.
Among the many exciting discoveries made, were therianthropic (part-human/part- animal figures) images, that were modelled on swifts (Apus sp.). The furthermost eastern extent of these images was documented by Jeremy Hollmann, formerly of the KZN Museum, as being close to the town of Joubertina. Laue’s work extends this limit over 150 km eastwards. The image on the right has been enhanced using Decorrelation Stretch, a software algorithm, developed by NASA to separate bands of the spectrum to highlight and/or supress certain bands, allowing for clarity of form to be seen in rock art.