Images on the Homepage

The two images chosen to grace the homepage may at first sight seem to bear no relation to each other. The one, a photographic replica of rock paintings completed thousands of years ago by the San people located in caves at Roodezand Farm, Worcester. The other, the resolutions of the first meeting of the Council of Policy of the Dutch East India Company dated 1651 held on board the ship "Dromedaris" en route to establishing the refreshment station at the Cape of Good Hope. Why these images? They were chosen to illustrate our understanding of archives, explained in greater detail under What records does the National Archives keep.

The National Archives Repository is a public archive and is charged in this capacity with the responsibility of preserving and managing records of governmental bodies which have archival or enduring value. However, over the centuries the concept of an archival record, or of recordness, has undergone fundamental change. Traditionally archival records were identified with the written records of the business of administrations and governments executing their powers associated with their rule. Or manuscripts documenting stories of usually famous individuals. Modern and postmodern thinking has led to a redefinition of archives to mean recorded information per se, regardless of form or medium. The concept of a necessary fixedness of the location of custody is contested as well. Thus this extended definition of recordness establishes the relationship between the two images chosen for the home page. They are both archival records, both documenting and recording processes of human activity, albeit at different times in the history of the southern African region and employing different media. The San rock painting additionally challenges the notion of custody, and is at once both the archetypal archival record and a postmodernist archival record. The resolutions of the Council of Policy, while not the oldest written archival record in custody of the National Archives, are, in fact, the oldest record of government business, our oldest classical archival record.

San rock painting - click to enlarge.

San rock painting, Roodezand Farm, Worcester, Western Cape

Photographed by Arthur Elliott

Elliott Photograph Collection, Cape Town Archives Repository, E7677.

manuscript - click to enlarge.

Resolutions taken at the first meeting of the Council of Policy of the Dutch East India Company held on board the ship Dromedaris, 30 December 1651

Archives of the Council of Policy, Cape Town Archives Repository, C1.

Click here to see the full image

Click here to see the full image


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