The Philipps Cave Location
If you are driving in the
Karibib / Usakos area you
should try to plan a visit to the Ameib Game Ranch. It nestles in the
magnificent Erongo Mountains. Here you can see the famous Philipp's Cave which
has some excellent examples of Ancient Bushman Paintings;
and also the area known as the Bull's Party where the surrealistic
rock formations and massive boulders perched precariously on top of
each other will present a challenge to your imagination and
photography capabilities. Some of the
granite rock faces on the farm also offer an interesting challenge to
enthusiast rock climbers. If you are not planning to
overnight on the Ameib Ranch you should budget a minimum of 4 hours
which should just give you enough time to visit the
Bull's Party and
the Philipp's Cave. Mid day temperatures in summer can reach 40c.
There's an amount of reflection from the rocks, so wear a high
protection factor sun screen and carry enough water. If you're a keen
photographer, be prepared to do an amount of rock hopping, as
there's much to 'shoot'.
The Hike: It's about a half hour hike to the
cave. There's a bit of boulder hopping required, but you don't have to be an
athlete to get there. The path is signed with painted arrows and circles. Keep
looking for these direction signs as it can be a bit inconvenient if you wander
off track. If you are visiting in the rainy season be careful when climbing on
the granite rock faces, many of which are wind polished and can become slippery.
The Cave: When at
the cave you can appreciate why the Bushmen made this a resting or
ritual point. The natural shelter and excellent viewpoint offered
safety and an amount of security. The Cave was formed from the granite
by what is referred to as being Tafoni Weathering which usually
takes place on the shaded side of rock formations. The Philipps Cave
faces in a northerly direction. However, the site being north of the Tropic of Capricorn
does experience shade during the early months of the rainy season -
December and January. It was during these 'wet' periods that this
particular area of rock began to disintegrate. Further erosion was
caused by wind blown sands.
The Philipp's Cave Bushman Paintings: The
French rock painting expert Abbe Henri Breuil who had visited the Brandberg in 1947 and made a lengthy study of the White Lady Of
Brandberg painting also made a further visit to Namibia in 1950. He
spent some time on the farm Ameib at the invitation of owner Emil Philipp who had discovered the cave on the farm housing bushman
A room with a view...
including interior decorating
Abbe Breuil's book Philipp's Cave
contains an extensive commentary on the
cave paintings and it can be seen that his understanding of the Ameib
paintings was influenced by his earlier theory that people from the
Eastern Mediterranean had long ago made their way to this southern
corner of Africa. He noted similarities in the style of certain of the
paintings and postulated that they were the work of the same artists
or of similar influence. Of the procession of human figures he
deduced, 'of these people six clearly have European profiles and one
is of Semitic type....... all of these details show clearly that these
people belong to the world of the White Lady. The only thing lacking,
and invariably lacking is that no one wears the arm, leg and breast
bands, beaded or otherwise, worn by the figures in the White Lady
group, nor is there any evidence of shoes.' He further wrote, ' with
faces of European type and page (boy) hair; these must, therefore, be
foreigners of Nilotic (Egypt) origin.
The Abbe's conclusions as to the origin
of the people depicted on the cave paintings were later proven to be
incorrect. However, the book has excellent photographs and commentary of the
animals and aging of the artwork.
Helmut or hairstyle?
Hunters or procession?
The White Elephant
Following the hike to the cave, and particularly if it is hot,
you might be feeling a bit 'whacked'. Have a rest, drink some water.
and then carefully study the paintings. Some of them may look a bit
faded, but, seek and you will find. There are some very interesting
figures. For example the below left photo shows a hunter with hair
styled that was once mistaken for a helmet of some kind. Look at the
graceful stance of the antelope, above row of pictures left.
oldest of the paintings are claimed to be of the larger animals. The
white elephants and the giraffe having a red head. The large animals in
black can also be from this period. The
smaller white and red animals, giraffe, quagga, and ostriches and
possibly those to the right of the cave including the man apparently
apparently hunting the ostrich are thought to be from a middle period.
It is thought that the
Springbok and procession of people carrying weapons are from a later
Acknowledgements and further reading: G1, R3, P1