Thousands upon thousands of years ago, in South Africa's Cederberg mountain range, hunter gathers left behind paintings on the sandstone rock surface. These enigmatic paintings of people, animals, geometric patterns and hand prints are the signals that reveal the emergence of modern man. Rock paintings and engravings are our combined universal heritage and are a powerful visual message of the path we have walked as a species. The painting techniques, meanings and interpretations of these artworks have long since disappeared along with these early inhabitants of this land, and we are left to piece back the puzzle of our prehistory.
The rock art portal aims to capture and create a hyper-realistic digital twin of important sites and paintings along with contextual data archives relating to these places. The data archives are presented in a unique virtual environment, the portal, where meaning is extracted by intersecting chosen information from related databases. Thus a fully immersive world is created where one can experience a virtually guided tour of Cederberg rock art followed by freely navigating and exploring and interacting with the sites.
Rock art sites are under continuously threatened by weathering, vandalism and destruction and it is the aim of this project to digitally capture these sites and associated landscapes as detailed and accurately as possible. This will be to preserve them for the future and also to use the created virtual environments for awareness and education.
Why preserve rock art? The San people are the most direct descendants of modern man and the paintings are a connection to these first people who inhabited these shelters, and what they did here. It's the story of human culture, of perseverance and survival, and it is therefore worth protecting.