It seems reasonable, at the beginning of this Archaic Visions adventure, to recede back to a time when human symbolic culture was just dawning. Contrary to popular opinion, this was not the European Upper Palaeolithic: palaeoarchaeology has since the 1980s steadily been revealing a wealth of artefacts disclosing the emergence of symbolism, ritual and vision in Southern Africa in the Middle Palaeolithic. One such site is Tsodilo, a sacred locale in continuous usage for perhaps 24,000 years and possibly the site of the world's oldest known ritual. This essay has been adapted for an article originally written for a Ugandan arts magazine, and was more of a meditation on the age of the site than an in-depth study.
In the northwest of Botswana’s Kalahari Desert, beyond the famous Okavango Delta, lies a small range of parched hills called Tsodilo, a UNESCO World Heritage site and perhaps one of the oldest sacred places in the world. For it is here, and in a few other sites dotted around Southern Africa, that we can come to know ourselves as human beings, through our shared origins in the soils of Africa.
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