PICTOGRAPH

THE BRANDBERG MASSIF

Simple crop (panoramic)

The Brandberg is located in Damaraland, western Namibia, it on the flat Namib gravel plains approx 70 km from the coast on the transition zone between the coastal Namib desert and the interior savannah region. The massive covers an area of approximately 650 km², roughly the size of London, with its highest point, the Königstein standing at 2,606 m. On a clear day it can be seen from a very great distance.

The name Brandberg (Burnt Mountain) is Afrikaans, which comes from its glowing colour which is sometimes seen in the setting sun. The Damara name for the mountain is Dâures, which means 'burning mountain', while the Herero name, Omukuruvaro means 'mountain of the Gods'.

The Brandberg Massif is a granitic intrusion, which forms a dome-shaped massif. It originated 150m years ago during the Early Cretaceous rifting that led to the opening of the South Atlantic Ocean and the break-up of the continents.

The Brandberg was clearly an important focus of culture and socio-economic activity for the indigenous people of Namibia and was spiritually of great significance to the early KhoiSan and thus has an exceptionally high concentration of prehistoric rock art (more than 43 000 paintings and 900 sites) including both engravings and paintings. With its adequate water and shelter the mountain forms a major part of the seasonal migration routes between the coast and the interior and would have served as focal point for otherwise dispersed groups of hunter-gatherers or herders. The increased social ritual activity resulted in the accumulation of the rock art that we see today and is evidence of an intricate social and environmental fabric. Excavations revealed intensive and repeated human occupation on the higher elevations of the Brandberg from about five thousand years ago.

The area above 1,800 metres, on the central plateau, contains hundreds of further shelters and rock paintings, most of which were painstakingly documented by Harald Pager, who made tens of thousands of pen and ink copies by hand. His work was posthumously published by the Heinrich Bart Institute, in the six volume series "Rock Paintings of the Upper Brandberg" edited by Tilman Lenssen-Erz. (I. Amis Gorge, II. Hungorob Gorge, III. Southern Gorges (Ga'aseb & Orabes), IV. Umuab & Karoab Gorges, V. Naib (A)and the Northwest, VI. Naib (B), Circus & Dom Gorges. Volume VII. Numas Gorge is unlikely to be published due to discontinued funding.)