Activities at Rooisand Desert Ranch — Rooisand Rock Paintings
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  Rooisand recommends: Brandberg - der Bilderberg Namibias
by T. Lenssen-Erz + M. Theres-Erz, published 2000 in the Jan
Thorbecke publishing house, ISBN 3-7995-9030-7 (German only)

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For a long time, only a few and not particularly well-preserved rock paintings left by Namibia's indigenous hunter-gatherer people were known to exist at Rooisand Desert Ranch. The following three pictures show these paintings. The one in the middle is quite extraordinary and rare: it depicts a seal even though Rooisand is about 190 km from the sea and the desert between the escarpment and the Atlantic coast is among the most arid and hostile on earth.
Previously unknown paintings, some of them well-preserved, were discovered by mere chance in May 2005 (see our News Archive). They will be examined by experts in the near future, and Rooisand's guests - accompanied by a guide - will then be able to look at them.

According to first assessments by experts the scene on the left picture below could be interpreted as a hunter fighting with a lion (on the right). The figure on the left is clearly a woman who apparently tries to escape. The portrayal of a fight is also extremely rare in Namibia's prehistoric world of pictures. Below are enlargements of both parts of the painting.
   ... the scene as a whole the lion and a hunter...
 
and Rooisand's "Lady in Red"   
This is such an extraordinary rock painting that the Rooisand team has given names to both parts of the scene; the left part is Rooisand's Lady in Red and the right one is called the Brave Hunter..

The large majority of the paintings have been done in shades of red. The ground pigment was obtained by crushing ferruginous red stone (haematite). The powder was mixed with albumen - blood, for example, or the white of bird's eggs. The colour becomes more intense if haematite is exposed to fire before crushing. Even today, this is still the recipe for making body paint.

This paint, containing ferruginous material, is absorbed by the rock surface and chemically combines with it. Thus there is practically no paint on the "canvas" and the paintings only start to fade after hundreds, or rather thousands of years as the rock itself erodes.


It is likely that small wooden sticks with animal hair or feathers attached to them served as paintbrushes. Remnants of charcoal, bits of beads from ostrich eggshells, potsherds as well as extracted and shaped pieces of rock crystal were immediately found below the rock face. Several large caves in the vicinity of the rock paintings suggest that all through the ages people have stayed here time and again.
 
Rock paintings are not easily discovered. The pictures on the left tell you why. The first one shows what you see when you stand in front of the rock face. The second one gives a close-up view.

Rough estimates of the age of Namibia's rock paintings cover a period of almost 30.000 years. The paintings at Rooisand are probably around 2.000 years old.
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The Kudu bull, centre and right in the series of pictures below, is one of the most beautiful in the country - according to an expert on Namibian rock paintings. The horn of the Kudu is not painted, but is a quartz vein in the rock integrated into the picture. This, too, is highly uncommon.
 
    ... a springbok?? a Kudu bull ...
 
... and a Kudu detail      
More paintings were discovered on the farm in January. The animation on the right shows how superbly the painters knew how to depict an animal.

Stones which clearly had been shaped for daily use by the painters were found below the paintings straightaway.


See more Rooisand rock paintings on our picture gallery page.
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  Rooisand recommendation: Brandberg - der Bilderberg Namibias by T. Lenssen-Erz + M. Theres-Erz, published 2000 in the Jan Thorbecke publishing house, ISBN 3-7995-9030-7 (german only)