Rising abruptly and dramatically from the Kalahari – bush the neck face turning a copper colour in the dying sun – the magnetic power of Tsodile Hills both captivates and mystifies. There is an undeniable spiritualism about the hills that immediately strikes the visitor.
Indeed per the people who live at the hills – The San , the original inhabitants and the Hambukushu who have periodically occupied the hills for the past 200 years – Tsodilo is a sacred, mystical place where ancestral spirits dwell. In earlier times, their ancestors performed religious rituals to ask for assistance, and for rain. They also put paintings on the rock, face and their meaning and symbolism remain a mystery even today. The early iron site at Tsodilo, called Divuyu dates between 700-900 AD, and revels that Bantu people have been living at the hills for over 1000 years.They were cattle farmers settled on the plateau, and traded copper jewellery from the Congo, seashells from the Atlantic, and glass beards from Asia, probably in exchange for specularite and furs. There was great deal of interception between different groups, and trade networks were extensive.
Rock paintings are nearly everywhere-representing thousands of years of human inhabilitation are amongst the regions finest and most important. There are approximately 4000 in all, comprising red finger paintings and geometrics. It is almost certain that most paintings were done by the San and some were painted by the pastoral Khoe who later settled in the area. The red paintings were done mainly in the first millennium AD.
Tsodilo was declared UNESCO World Heritage site in 2002 because of its tremendous historical and cultural importance.