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Exploring Namibian’s Underground Built Assets: Should they receive a “Heritage” status?

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CNR-JSPS Bilateral Program 2018-2019: “Damage assessment and conservation of underground space as valuable resources for human activities use in Italy and Japan”

Presentation at the first visit of the Italian team in Japan (June 2018)

Bruno Venditto (CNR-ISSM): "Exploring Namibian’s Underground Built Assets: Should they receive a “Heritage” status? “

Namibia underground assets are largely untapped considering the fundamental role that culture and heritage play to promote national and local development. It is hence important identifying, protecting and managing those assets.

When deciding on a course of action, one must be cognisant that the sites cannot be moved in order to preserve them, they are non-renewable heritage resources which remain for the future generation only for as long as the authority cherish and protect them. The most sustainable way to protect these sites is to have local community as caretakers who should see them as resources. If wisely cared for, they can become an important archaeo-tourism destination and educational centre.

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Exploring Namibian’s Underground Built Assets: Should they receive a “Heritage” status?

  1. 1. Exploring Namibian’s Underground Built Assets: Should they receive a “Heritage” status? CNR-JSPS Bilateral program 2018-2019 Bruno Venditto venditto@issm.cnr.it This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
  2. 2. Some Definitions Underground Build Assets are artificial cavities realized by man or positively readjusted for his needs that have historical and/or anthropological interest. Include both man-made works and natural caves, when these latter are readjusted to human needs. (Parise at all. 2013)
  3. 3. Namibia is a relatively young country, previously known as South West Africa was a German colony till 1915, after WWI it was administrated as a South African protectorate, de facto it was a South African province and was subject to the same apartheid regime. In 1990 after a prolonged liberation struggle started in the sixty, Namibia gained its independence. In this 28 years the country had to tackle the structural imbalances determined by more than 100 years of colonisation which had left it with a dual economy dependent of extraction of raw materials (diamonds, among the main one). The Namibian Context Life expectancy 62 years Literacy rate 89% Gini coefficient 0.597 Unemployment rate 28% Poor households 18.3% 2.4 mil people GDP pc 11,830 (projection 17) Dual economic sector Export Raw materials Little value added Net importer of agricultural Products High urbanisation
  4. 4. Namibian National Heritage: The state of the art Heritage is that which is inherited from past generation, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations Currently Namibia has 119 sites declared as National heritage, divided into Cultural, Natural and Intangible sites, the majority of them are Natural sites, some are cultural and only a few are Intangible sites. The Natural sites of Twyvfelfontain (2007) and the Namib Sand Sea (2013) are the only two Namibian’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites; the country share instead the site of Tsodilo, (one with the highest concentrations of rock art in the world) with Botswana
  5. 5. Namibian National Heritage: The state of the art There are 8 sites in the UNESCO tentative list: • Branderberg National Monument Area (2002) • Fishriver Canyon (2002) • Welwitschia Plants (2002) • Benguela Current Marine Ecosystem Site (2016) • Etosha Pan (2016) • Sân Living Cultural Landscape (2016) • Succulent Karoo Protected Area (2016) • Okavango Delta (2016)
  6. 6. Twyfelfontein トゥウェイフルフォンテーン ナミビア北西部のトゥウェイフルフォンテーン は、2000年以上前の岩刻画が、アフリカで最も 集まった場所の一つ。現在までで、2075もの岩 刻画が発見されている。いずれも保存状態は良 く、モチーフには動物や人間、動物の足跡など のほか、5本指のライオンなど珍しいものもある。 六つの洞窟からは、儀式で踊る人間を黄土で描 いた岩絵も発見された。また、一帯からは新石 器時代の石の工芸品、ダチョウの卵で作った ビーズ、片岩のペンダントなども発見され、こ れら一連の作品は、遊牧民が急激に増える紀元 前10世紀以前にこの地を支配していた狩猟採集 民の、主に信仰体系に関する貴重な記録とされ ている。 Twyfelfontein (Damara/Nama: jumping waterhole), is a site of ancient rock engravings in the North-western Namibia. It consists of a spring in a valley flanked by the slopes of a sandstone table mountain that receives very little rainfall and has a wide range of diurnal temperatures.
  7. 7. 霧が独自の生物を育む海岸砂漠。ナミビアの大西 洋岸に広がり、霧に覆われた広大な砂漠や砂丘が 見られる世界で唯一の海岸砂漠。川の流れや海流 、風を介してアフリカ大陸内部から砂が運ばれ、 現在も形成され続けているこの砂漠は、島状丘や 平原、底の平らな窪地などの様々な地形が見られ 、美しく広大であるとともに、風による砂と生物 の相互作用の顕著な例である。砂漠環境に適応し た特殊な固有の動植物が生息・生育しており、砂 と風と霧により変化し続ける環境という極限状態 での生物進化は無類のものとなっている。 Namib Sand Sea is the only coastal desert in the world that includes extensive dune fields influenced by fog. Covering an area of over three million hectares and a buffer zone of 899,500 hectares, the site is composed of two dune systems, an ancient semi-consolidated one overlain by a younger active one.. Fog is the primary source of water in the site, accounting for a unique environment in which endemic invertebrates, reptiles and mammals adapt to an ever-changing variety of microhabitats and ecological niches. Namib Sand Sea ナミブ砂海
  8. 8. Tsodilo ツォディロ Located near the Namibian –Botswana border the Tsodilo Hills have provided shelter and other resources to people for over 100,000 years. It represent not only a remarkable archaeological site for its rock arts, and its continuing traditions, but it also represents a place which indicates how over many thousands of years the symbiotic nature/human relationship has evolved アフリカ大陸南端、ボツワナ西北端 に位置し「砂漠のルーブル」といわ れている。世界で最も石の芸術が集 積している場所の一つで、4500以上 の絵がカラハリ砂漠のわずか10k㎡の 地域に点在する。少なくとも10万年 以上にわたる人類の歴史や環境の変 化が、これらの絵画を通して読み取 れる。ジンバブエ共和国のマトボ・ ヒル壁画群とナミビア壁画群とのほ ぼ中間に位置し、サン人の美術全体 の伝播に大きな役割を果たした。
  9. 9. Underground Built Assets: Namibian Categories Cavities constructed in the subsoil: Excavation in gallery is realised by removing the rock entirely underground. The walls are then coated with different masonry techniques. Caves with anthropogenic interventions. Natural caves that have undergone limited human interventions. They represent the boundary between the natural caves and those of artificial origin
  10. 10. Underground built assets represent an immense heritage which could be used to generate new functions or to revisit and restore the old function based on their historical and economic uses in order to develop sustainable activities Issues to considers • Security: conservation of the sites... • Maintenance: which parts of the heritage should be preserved and used for different purposes • Institutional: Public/Private use-property of the sites • Involvement of local actors for promotion of local development Underground Built Heritage
  11. 11. Namibian Underground Built Assets Cave of Bushman Paradise The complex of underground artifacts caved in the past to manage urban functions and now significant part of local cultural heritage The paintings in the Cave of Bushman Paradise itself are situated under a overhang at the head of a amphitheatre and shows numerous humans and animals and a sphinx. The monument also includes two caves diagonally opposite from there that also contain paintings plus a waterfall below them with its catchment area. The paintings have been known since the beginning of the 20th century
  12. 12. Namibian Underground Built Assets: Phillipp's Cave On a guest farm the cave is 15 m deep, 35 m broad an 7 m high. Accommodation for nomads Most popular rock art until 1977. depicts animals but also human and handprints –
  13. 13. Namibian Underground Built Assets: Apollo 11 Apollo 11 site is important for the understanding of the Middle Stone Age period in southern Africa. The conditions of the site at the start of the fieldwork in 2007 were shocking: the refill of the old excavation, action should be implemented to protect this heritage site of worldwide archaeological significance. R. Vogelsang, J. Richter, Z. Jacobs, B. Eichhorn, V. Linseele & R. G. Roberts (2010) Journal of African Archaeology 8/2/2010 185-218
  14. 14. Namibian Underground Built Assets: Oase Cave The paintings date from various periods, there are 71 individual paintings or groups thereof they depict: Various animals A group of 60 people. A number of hunting scenes. 2 x pairs of humans in a hut
  15. 15. Namibian Underground Built Assets: The Mines Mining in Namibia dates as far back as more than 400 years ago, as evidenced from archeological work of copper smelting at Matchless mine, located about 40 km west of Windhoek. Even long before mining technology was introduced, Namibians have been smelting copper in anthills, with aid of charcoal, in the Otavi Mountainland The legacy of this long mining history is an inventory of more than 260 mines which were abandoned by their owners, of these 150 have been censed. Tshivute Wilhelm Iipinge (2016)
  16. 16. Namibian Underground Built Assets: The Mines Mining –These structures can reach huge depths and development. The 150 + mines censed indicate that they have been closed in a period ranging from 1905 to 1999 – Quarries, – Metal mines – Mines and quarries of other materials (non-metallic) – Underground quarries – Traces of excavation activities aimed at the identification of mineral deposits.
  17. 17. Namibian Underground Built Assets: The Berg Mine The Berg Aukas, locality has become widely known following the discovery in 1991 of a Miocene hominoid mandible in rubble from the mine With the cessation of mining activity, level 5 of shaft No. 1 is currently under at least 100 m of water. It is, therefore, unlikely that we shall ever gain any contextual information pertaining to the provenance or age of the hominid femur.
  18. 18. The Way Forward Selection of sites, Individuation of the most suitable based on the historical function/use Assign an heritage function Monitoring, communication of historical functions, restoration, fruition (installations of technological instruments to diffuse / reconstruct the site underground life) Same functions as in the past: the historical sites restored and used again according new parameters (productive spaces reinvented according to the contemporary standards, sustainable living) New functions: the sites are restored and new functions are located but the communicative role is preserved (shops, hotels, restaurants, urban facilities in pre-existent underground spaces)
  19. 19. Considering the fundamental role that culture and heritage play to promote national and local development, identifying protecting and managing Namibian underground heritage assets should be encouraged. When deciding on a course of action, one must be cognisant that the sites cannot be moved in order to preserve them and they are also non-renewable heritage resources which remain for the future generation only for as long as we cherish and protect them. The most sustainable way to protect these sites is to have local community as caretakers who see them as resources. If wisely cared for, they can become an important archaeo-tourism destination and educational centre. CONCLUSION

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