PrefaceVoyage of discovery
This study was motivated by a personal revelatory experience I had when, in April1995 shortly after I joined the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe asa trainee archaeologist and monuments inspector, I first encountered one of themost spectacular rock art sites in Matopo Hills (hereafter called Matopo
It was a two-hour walk to the site, but one filled with surprises as we strolledthrough dramatic ‘castle-kopjes’ and gigantic ‘whalebacks’ called
(isi-Ndebele word for bare granite domes, Plate 1) typical of this landscape. Located inMatabeleland South Province of southwestern Zimbabwe within the granite belt ofZimbabwe (Map 1), Matopo (Appendix 1 Map 1) comprises 3, 000 million yearsold granites. These are interspersed with intrusions of other rocks, such as quartz,dolerite veins and dykes. Altitudes range generally between 1 200 m and 1 500 m(Moger, no date). This hilly landscape covers an area of 2 180 km². They spreadfrom the Mangwe River in the west to Mbalabala in the east. It contains a), and,perhaps, in southern Africa. And little did I realize that this experience heraldedmy future career. This site is Nanke Cave on the eastern part of Matobo NationalPark. Ironically, although I had read about the Drakensberg paintings as part ofmy Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Zimbabwe, I had never heard of orseen a picture of Nanke paintings.
The origin of the word ‘Matopo’ (Anglicised version ‘Matopos’) is obscure. Some argue that it is acorruption of a Kalanga word ‘Matombo’ (stones), referring to rock outcrops. Others say it derivesfrom se-Sotho, meaning ‘bald heads’. Legend has it that Mzilikazi (Ama-Ndebele King ca. 1830-1868), used an analogy of bald heads of his indunas (council of advisors and military commanders),in astonishment at the jumbled mass of bare domes and balancing rocks, to describe this landscape.