The White Lady of Brandberg: who was she?


The White Lady of Brandberg: who was she?

Reinhard Maack, a German explorer, geologist and geographer, was the first European to conquer the 2573 metres high Königstein in 1918. Königstein is the highest peak in Namibia, located in the Brandberg massif. This mountain can truly be called an “open-air art gallery”, with over 43.000 rock paintings.

While resting in the shade of an overhanging rock, he discovered what is now one of the most famous rock paintings in the world and inscribed as World Heritage Site of UNESCO: the white lady. Maack, together with French priest and pre-historian Abbé Henri Breuil – considered to be an expert on cave art in Europe – concluded after studying the painting that it had to be a young, white female of Mediterranean origin.

Therefore, it had to be made by overseas explorers. However, although the name “white lady” has now been widely accepted, archeologists are now sure that the painting is made by indigenous San people in a far away history, and that it was never a white person, nor a lady. So then who was she?

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