Aug 2021 1st edition

Victor Biggs documents Khoisan rock art

Written by Silusapho Nyanda

An Eastern Cape anthropologist is hoping that ancient rock art becomes a tourist attraction in the Eastern Cape. Victor Biggs is passionate about educating South Africans about rock art.

A retired farmer turned anthropologist, Victor Biggs is documenting the history of Khoisan rock art in the Eastern Cape.

Biggs started the Rock Art Centre in 2003 in Thomas River, a restored historical village in Cathcart, to educate South Africans about rock art and the Khoisan.

He started the centre after realising that overseas visitors know more about our country’s rock art heritage than South Africans do.

The centre contains a collection of photographs of rock art and artefacts from over
200 cave sites that Biggs has explored over the years. 

“We have a treasure trove of rock art in the Eastern Cape that is probably unequalled anywhere in the world,” he says.

Unless it is looked after, it will be lost to the province, Biggs adds.

The Rock Art Centre has been designed to reflect the feeling of being inside a cave, with the entrance and walls painted like an original cave site.

“I collect artefacts in the veld. I have never removed any from caves or shelters, and I encourage people not to do this,” he says.

Biggs was drawn into the world of rock art when he was young and says it started as a hobby that has now developed into an obsession.

The first forms of rock art were identified in South Africa about 350 years ago and the country’s oldest known rock art is about 3 000 years old.

Biggs says rock art was not just a way of decorating the caves that were home to the Khoisan people, but was also their connection to the spirit world.

There are hundreds of rock art sites in South Africa, which are protected and studied by anthropologists from across the globe. 

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