Rock art research in Namibia

A public lecture by Alma Nankela

as part of the Public Lecture Series Rock Art & Symbolic Expression. A Southern Africa – France Dialogue


Thursday 25 October 2018

18.00 for 18.30 | Origins Centre Museum

Wits University, West Campus, Corner of Yale Road & Enoch Sontonga Ave, Johannesburg

Namibia has one of the most outstanding, diverse and extensive rock art records in Southern Africa. The country’s rock art database currently holds detailed records of paintings as well as engravings. This lecture will attempt to highlight the history of rock art research in Namibia over the last 50 years to date, the period where increased research activities have been observed in the region, by examining where rock art research has been focused on. The aspects of management and conservation of the rock art will be addressed, as well as the challenges of studying rock art in Namibia, the current research trends and future perspectives.

Alma Nankela’s talk will not be based on mere observation but on legitimate and relevant questioning about the archaeological research situation in Namibia. It will also highlight the efforts made to safeguard this exceptional heritage.


Dr. Alma Nankela is a Rock Art Archaeologist from the National Heritage Council of Namibia, a position she holds to date while heading the Archaeology Unit within the Heritage Research Department. Dr. Nankela completed her Undergraduate Degree in History and Geography from the University of Namibia in 2008. Right after, she earned her double Master’s degree in Quaternary & Prehistory from University of Ferrara and the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle de Paris, and in 2017, a PhD in Quaternary & Prehistory through the Erasmus Mundus Joint study programmes carried out by a consortia of European universities.

Today, her responsibilities includes scientific research of Namibia’s prehistoric rock art, development and implementation of policies, guidelines and quality conservation treatment activities for Namibia’s archaeological heritage resources. This, in combination with the development of heritage permit systems, carrying out regular periodic monitoring, condition assessment and surveys of all archaeological resources in Namibia and ensuring disseminations of archaeological research to the Namibian and international audiences.

She also work closely with international researchers through research collaborations such as the current projects: ‘Archaeological Research in Erongo Mountains: Omandumba Farms’ which focuses on the archaeological excavations in order to establish the sequence of human occupations in Erongo Mountains and contextualize the rock art through pigment studies. The project has been running over the last 10 years in Namibia. She has also formed a strong collaborations with the researchers from the University of Cologne in the framework of “rock art reconnaissance and landscape context in the Mik-Mountains of Kunene region in Namibia ‘since 2015. Such projects aimed at broadening the archaeological occupations of northwestern Namibia.