Monday, January 17, 2022

Researchers reveal why Tsodilo Hills are of so much interest

Dr Alec Campbell, Professor Sheila Coulson and Professor James Denbow are just a few of the many researchers that flock to the Tsodilo Hills every year to conduct research on the historical site.
During a press conference held on Monday at the National Museum the three experts in archaeology gave a report on why the hills are of so much international interest.

“The first time I visited Tsodilo Hills in 1963, I immediately realised that the whole area was untouched by other researchers and visitors, including tourists; in other words everything was just as it was when left in the past,” said Dr Campbell.

When the National Museum started, Campbell, who at the time was Director, used to go there with his team, mainly to record the rock art.

In 1979, they carried out the first excavation and since then he said there has been a lot of published literature on the heritage site.

These scientists’ particular interest was centered around the life of the people who used to live in and around the Tsodilo Hills, their way of life and how it is most probably linked to the way we live today.

Their research revealed that, at the time, the people who lived in this area were miners of stone.

They have also dug out a lot of remains of pottery from which they drew a conclusion that it is very likely that the pottery must have come from the people who existed in the nearby settlements and that there was probably a fair amount of battering that went on.

From examining the rock art, the scientists gathered that these people were cattle herders, hunters and gatherers.

They highlighted the Hambukushu as possibly one of the earliest inhabitants of the area.

The number of medicinal plants that are used today which they found at the various research sites in the area were also found as another area of keen interest as far as modern research is concerned.

There is a cave called Rhino Cave, which, according to the archaeologists, aroused a lot of interest.

From carrying out a lot of scientific investigation, they also revealed that a lot of activity apparently went on inside it, among others, stone mining because of the mining tools that they dug out.

They also speculate that a lot of ritual activity must have gone on inside the cave from the findings they drew out when they added some specialist light effects at night.

“When we lit up the entrance of the cave at night, it seemed like the rock came alive,” said Professor Coulson. “We used flickering light which closely resembled normal fire and the carving on the rock gave out a lot of dramatic artistic features on the rock, it actually appeared to be moving, it became a living entity.”

The researchers continued to explain that they are still very far from concluding their research and it is highly unlikely that this generation will achieve that.

They are, however, very pleased that compared to about ten years ago, there are now a lot of Batswana archaeologists, which can only mean that our nation is beginning to claim a notable amount of the research that is done on our heritage.

Professor Denbow explained that just as the people who were attracted to the environment and economy of the Tsodilo Hills underwent many changes as they forged new societies from old, the community of archaeologists in Botswana has also grown to include more and more dedicated and innovative Batswana archaeologists and the future of archaeology in the country looks much brighter than it did about thirty years ago when the first excavations at Tsodilo were carried out.

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