The Current Occupation of Kruger Cave, A Later Stone Age Site, South Africa
Keywords:contemporary archaeology, Kruger Cave, living heritage, squatter archaeology
Contemporary occupation of archaeological sites is fraught with challenges and conflicting priorities. While prevailing opinion on heritage management recognises the fluid and continuous nature of archaeological site formation, the role of present-day communities as agents of archaeological palimpsests is often not adequately acknowledged. Contemporary communities, often unrelated to the autochthonous inhabitants of the archaeological sites, occasionally use these sites and landscapes in similar or different ways to how they were used in the past. Their use of these sites, while potentially damaging to the archaeology, simultaneously adds to, and is part of, the life history of the site, of which the excavated material and rock art are but pictures in time. Squatters who appropriate archaeological heritage sites constitute ambiguous communities under current South African heritage legislation. Yet, their role as contributing agents to archaeological sites is no less real. This article presents the case study of Kruger Cave, a Later Stone Age hunter-gatherer rock art site in South Africa, currently occupied by a lay Christian pastor. We document how the pastor is using the site and offer some thoughts around the nuances of negotiating and reconciling archaeological preservation and living heritage management.
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