Rock Art in Southern Africa, Regional Difference

  • Ghilraen LaueEmail author
Living reference work entry


Before the interpretative approach to San rock art in the 1970s (Lewis-Williams 2002: xiv), a significant interest of amateurs and rock art specialists was the regional differences seen across the southern African subcontinent. After a long hiatus, there has been a renewed interest in regionality (e.g., Hampson et al. 2002; Hampson 2015; Laue 2017). There are three distinct art traditions in southern Africa, the geometric art of the Khoekhoen pastoralists, finger painted art of Bantu-speaking farmers, and the fine line art tradition of the San (Bushman) hunter-gatherers. Considered here is this fine-line San hunter-gatherer tradition. Archaeological and ethnographic evidence points to the wide distribution of San hunter-gatherers and their ancestors throughout southern Africa. Their art is found painted and engraved across the subcontinent with similarities and distinct differences seen.

It has long been recognized that the art was made by peoples with a similar world...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.KwaZulu-Natal MuseumPietermaritzburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.Rock Art Research InstituteUniversity of the WitwatersrandWitwatersrandSouth Africa

Section editors and affiliations

  • Inés Domingo Sanz
    • 1
  • Danae Fiore
    • 2
  • Ewa Dutkiewicz
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Departament de Prehistòria, Història Antiga i ArqueologiaICREA/Universitat de Barcelona/SERPBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2."CONICET - AIA - UBA Asociación de Investigaciones Antropológicas"Buenos AiresArgentina
  3. 3.Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Stiftung Preußischer KulturbesitzBerlinGermany
  4. 4.Department of Early Prehistory and Quaternary EcologyUniversity of TübingenTübingenGermany