The ancient recordings and art left behind at Tsodilo are thought to be made by predecessors of the original inhabitants of Southern Africa, the San people.
The San and their ancestors are known to have inhabited Southern Africa for over 40 000 years until approximately 2000 years ago when the Bantu began arriving approx. 2000 years ago. With the arrival of the Batawana at the end of the 18th century, the political situation in Ngamiland would change drastically.
The San and Khoesan once lived peacefully alongside the Bantu until the Batawana formed a centralised kingdom and began to clash with the San tribes, subjecting them to servitude. Tsodilo was one of the last outposts of undisputed San settlement in the region of Ngamiland.
Although the Batawana started off as loosely indistinguishable groups, they eventually became more of a centralized presence and due to a fierce tribal hierarchy system that prevailed at the time, less politically structured tribes such as the San were forced into slave labour.
The specific San group that retained control over the area were the Ncaekhoe - who were actually Bantu migrants who arrived in Tsodilo and adopted the Khoesan language. They claimed the land and possessed an intimate knowledge of the Hills and so were able to retain possession of this territory.
The hostility of the Batawana forced many into servitude which would lead to the the arrival of two other settlements at Tsodilo - The Bantu speaking Hambukushu and the San speaking Juc'hoansi. These are the only two settlements in existence at Tsodilo today.
Due to their ethnicity, the Hambakushu were able to gain land in Tamatshaa for political allegiance to the Batawana and began to make their existence here in the face of difficult circumstances, although still periodically returning to Tsodilo.
Meanwhile relations between the Ncaekhoe and the Juc'hoansi began to worsen leading to the Ncaekhoe leaving the area. The vacuum that was left by the Ncaekhoe was quickly filled by the Hambakushu allied to the Batawana who proceeded to move back and claim the hunting rights around the hills. Their relationship with the Juc'hoansi degenerated to a relationship where the power scale tipped in favour of the Hambakushu.