Gwen van Embden 

Time Machine: Prof John Parkington and Gwen van Embden

Time Machine building

The Living Landscape Project is a community-based initiative to create jobs by using the results of many years of archaeological research. Funding for this project is managed through the Krakadouw Trust. The main programs are the development of school curricular that incorporate archaeological materials and exercises and the training of local people as guides, craftspeople and heritage managers. The focal point of these activities is the old St Johns School in Park Street, Clanwilliam, recently bought and renovated by the University of Cape Town.

The facilities are constructed to teach about time, mainly but not only to schoolchildren. The landscape surrounding Clanwilliam is full of fossils, artifacts, natural features and ruined structures that all point to the passing of time. It seems an obligation of archaeologists (and geologists, paleontologists) to illustrate the dimension that houses all of these records of the past. This is far from an academic exercise, as well will confront the difficult issues of global warming, the sustainable use of resources and the protection of diversity by better understanding long term environmental and human history.

The School Hall (Time Machine) has been transformed into an interactive game-like opportunity to understand the enigmatic nature of time, to learn about increasing capacity to measure time, and to probe the role of time and time measurement in the lives of local pre-colonial hunter gatherers or San. These hunters and gatherers have much to teach us about custodianship, sustainability and our place in the biological web of life.

One component of this project is a garden in the grounds of the school that will embody the patterns of seasonal time that framed the activities and behavior of these hunter gatherers, a Time Garden, a garden that houses plants used by San people as food, as medicinal aids and as artifacts. It acts as a supplement to the displays and activities in the School Hall and is used as a prop to illustrate the seasonal component of time measurement. We know front he historic documents, for example, that San people reckoned time by the flowering of members of the Iridaceae family so we have planted a range of species to illustrate this. The archaeological record also provides evidence of the use of a range of plants (grasses, seeds, wood, leaves, charcoals) as artifacts of many kinds (string, beads, bows, poisons, bedding, firewood). The garden will reflect a curriculum that introduces learners to the lives and habits of San people , reinforcing the seasonal cycle of the local fynbos.
The garden is part of our wish to build an attraction for local tourists that will increase visitor numbers to Clanwilliam. The Craft Shop offers tea and catering to visitors and is now a place where schools and other groups are able to learn about the extremely rich archaeological history that marks the Cederberg landscape. From this we are confident that a substantial number of local people will be able to support themselves as guides to the sites, as craftspeople, as caterers and as custodians of local heritage.

"It's About TIME"

An exhibition marking the passage of time on the Greater Cederberg landscape. Time is a very slippery concept, fundamental to life but hard to define. It is most obvious through its impact on objects as they decay, on people as they age, on places as they change and on landscapes as they weather. The landscape is an accumulation of evidence from past times, all of which have survived the passage of time to be visible today. Some traces are ephemeral such as the seasonal patterns of plant and animal life, others are more lasting such as the remains of farming practices and the structures of recent permanent settlement. Fields, roads, graveyards and buildings tend to dominate our view of the natural environment. Less visible but very long lasting are the artifacts of precolonial people; stone tools, rock paintings and food waste that have survived in fragmentary form for thousands, even hundreds of thousands of years. Older still are the fossilized remains of former living creatures, the elephants and lions that no longer live here, and the extremely ancient skeletons and tracks of long extinct life forms. The land itself is a surviving trace of all of the geological events that have formed, warped, shaped and sculpted it into the form we recognize today. And there is the night sky. Hunter gatherers of the recent past, trilobites of the more distant past all saw this enclosing sphere. It has survived a billion years with little change. The landscape is a time machine in which we can travel, and through those fragments that survive, experience the past.
Looking into Time

First Family

Lantern Parade Beast

How the school looks in Spring
Vegetation found in the archaeological records
Vegetation found in the archaeological records
School Children doing ancestor research
Tracy training the crafters
School Projects
Children getting ready for the lantern parade
Colonial Drawings with corms
Rock art cave drawing in the area
Rock art tracing

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