Identifying an unusual insect form in San rock paintings of the southern Drakensberg, South Africa
Identifying images in San rock art is an essential prerequisite for analysis and interpretation. At site M4 in the southern Drakensberg, there are San rock paintings of some 600 insects depicted as though flying over and around a snake. To identify these flying insects we examine their morphology and depicted behaviour and compare these to a number of formally similar insect taxa - bees, locusts and grasshoppers, dragonflies, ant lions, flying ants, and flying termites. We conclude that the painted insects at M4 most closely resemble flying termites. This study has implications for the analysis and interpretation of certain insect terminology in /Xam ethnography, and for gaining some understanding of the social and ritual symbolism of these flying insects in the rock art.
To cite this article: Green, D., Moore, A., Bell-Cross, S. & Lechmere-Oertel, H. 2007. Identifying an unusual insect form in San rock paintings of the southern Drakensberg, South Africa. Southern African Humanities 19: 69-81.