Kifubwa Stream Rock Shelter – Solwezi, Zambia - Atlas Obscura
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Solwezi, Zambia

Kifubwa Stream Rock Shelter

Rare pigmented engravings cover the walls of this Stone Age shelter. 

A beautiful swath of nature hides a prehistoric secret. There, etched into a rock shelter, are the marks of the people who called this land home thousands of years ago.

The Kifubwa Stream Rock Shelters are located along a picturesque valley on the Kifubwa Stream. The most stunning feature of the rock shelters is a series of engravings underneath a series of rock overhangs.

These engravings consist almost entirely of geometric line markings and “U” motifs. They were made using the “incision technique,” where the stone of the rock shelter was repeatedly rubbed or chipped away using harder stones. Unusual for Zambia, these engravings were combined with painting, as red pigment was used to color in the engravings.

The Kifubwa Stream Rock Shelters were first discovered by Western scholars in 1928. Excavations of the floor of the rock shelters revealed evidence of Late Stone Age hunter-gather occupation, carbon dated to between 6,000 and 6,500 years ago. A the time, it was the first site to show a clear connection between local rock engravings and Late Stone Age communities.

Know Before You Go

The site is located approximately 3.7 miles (six kilometers) from the center of town, down a well-marked dirt road. It's open during daylight hours throughout the year, and a gatekeeper will collect the entry fee. Well-maintained stairs lead you to the rock shelter and engravings, and a few trails lead to picturesque overlooks. The site is easily accessible by taxi or private car.

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  • "Zambia's Outstanding Natural, Cultural, & Historic Sites," by Nicholas M. Katanekwa
  • "A Guide to Zambia's Heritage," published by the National Heritage Conservation Commission