Tsodilo cave, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001, has one of the highest concentrations of rock art in the world. Also referred to as the “Louvre of the Desert”. It has more than 4,500 paintings preserved in an area of about 10 sq km of the Kalahari Desert. Tsodilo has a unique spiritual significance to the local population as well as being a unique record of human settlement over millenia.
The archaeological record of the area dates back thousands of years for painting and rituals. It is estimated that the hills contain more than 500 sites, representing human habitation. The rock art is linked to local hunter-gatherers. It is believed that ancestors of the San people created paintings at Tsodilo and there is also evidence that Bantu people were also responsible for some of the art. Some paintings have been dated to be 24,000 years old
The Tsodilo Hills consist of a number archaeological sites. Two of them, known as Divuyu and Nqoma, have been dated to Early Iron Age. Excavations from the caves contained pieces of jewelry and metal tools, indicating that these areas may have been iron smelting areas, making them one of the few Early Iron Age sites in southern Africa with evidence of metal working.
In justification of inclusion as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the area has been used for many thousands of years by humans who have left traces of their presence in their rock art. Tsodilo has been settled by successive human communities for many millenia and the area has symbolic and religious significance for the human communities who continue to inhabit the area.