The Living Landscape Project is conceived around the idea of using the landscape as a time machine, wherein visitors can ‘travel’ through using the wealth of archaeological material continually discovered
such as rock art, structural remains, and plant, animal and human artefacts in order to connect to the lifestyle, beliefs and wisdom of our San ancestors. Months of preparation finally paid off for Landscape Education practitioners when the Knersvlakte Conservation Area hosted their inaugural Time Travel at Ratelgat in October.
The scenario, developed by John Parkington who is a professor Archaeology at the University of Cape Town (UCT) has been working in the Clanwilliam area since 1968. He has been recording rock art, excavating in shelters and caves and digging coastal shell middens in order to understand the lives of the precolonial inhabitants of the Western Cape. He is working through the Living Landscape Project to bring the results of this work into school curricula and museum displays.
Drawing on the thespian skills of 50 participants from Maskam Primary School and six elderly individuals of the Nuwehoop Dienssentrum in Vanrhynsdorp, the scenario played itself out 1000 years ago when a group of Khoi and their livestock try to access a waterhole occupied by the San. Preparation took the form of pupils being provided with a character description, which they needed flesh out in the weeks leading up to the event.
This event coincided with the visit of a Swedish contingent responsible for the development of the commonly used Seven Steps model, which has been adapted by CapeNature to address environmental issues.
The Knersvlakte team was ably assisted on the day by partners from other reserves and departments; the Griqua National Conference; the universities of Stockholm and Cape Town; Matzikama Municipality’s Tourism Department; Indigo development and change as well as Bridging Ages International and Western Cape.
Group leaders were responsible for activities which included:
• Making of beads and necklaces.
• Flaking stone tools to make scrapers and knives.
• Making paint to draw fine line images and handprints.
• Meal preparation and cooking meat in a pit oven.
• Story telling among both the Khoi and San.
• Hunting of game
During these activities, group leaders kept circling back to the potential conflict at hand, thereby stimulating discussion amongst participants about agreeable outcomes. The day concluded with a closing ceremony and a reflection session. It is envisaged that a number of different scenarios will be developed over time, which will be piloted with Maskam Primary School.
The Living Landscape Project is a community-based initiative to create jobs by using the results of many years of archaeological research. Funding for this project is managed through the Krakadouw Trust. The main programmes are the development of school curricula that incorporate archaeological materials and exercises and the training of local people as guides, craftspeople and heritage managers.