Some of the earliest forms of evidence of human societies and customs can be found along the Western Cape, and the Cradle of Human Culture route aims to take locals and tourists on a journey of archeological discovery.

Wesgro’s Chief Marketing officer for Tourism, Judy Lain, says the establishment of the route will boost tourism in the Western Cape.

“The ability to package the incredible offering we have around early culture and how its transpired into modern day in the Western Cape, with a globally-renowned landmark such as the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, is an opportunity to position the destination globally and attract more visitors.”

Wesgro’s Destination Marketing Unit, the Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT), the provincial Department of Culture Affairs and Sport (DCAS), and the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site (WHS) have worked together to create the Cradle of Human Culture route. A soon-to-be developed micro-site will provide detailed information on the route experience.

A short video, imagery and a booklet on the route will be available on various digital platforms.

Three archeological sites in the Western Cape, Blombos Cave, the Pinnacle Point site on the South Coast and the Diepkloof Rock Shelter on the Cape West Coast, collectively house some of the world’s earliest evidence of human evolution.

These three sites are currently in the process of being nominated for World Heritage Site Status.

Each site is home to ancient artifacts such as ornately-decorated ostrich eggs, marine shell beads, engraved ochre, bone tools, and finely-made bifacial points, sharp stone tools that were used by early humankind.

UNESCO has nominated these sites because they hold an “unmatched record of palaeoenvironmental and human history in an important phase of human evolution, the development of anatomically-modern humans”.

Wesgro CEO Time Harris says the Cradle of Human Culture route will be launched in April 2019.

“South Africa is globally regarded as a place of great heritage significance. Through identifying culturally rich sites in our Province, we become a part of the story of the early development of humankind. We are excited to introduce both local and international visitors to the Cradle of Human Culture, and hope to welcome many Easter holidaymakers following the official launch.”

The three sites that may receive World Heritage Site Status and may feature on the Cradle of Human Culture route:

1. Blombos Cave 

Located in the Blombosfontein Nature Reserve, the archeological site was discovered in 1991 by Wits researcher, Professor Christopher Henshilwood. Archeologists have discovered marine shell beads, engraved ochre and bone tools dating back 27 000 years in the cave.

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Blombo’s cave is an archaeological site located 185miles east of Cape Town on the southern cape coastline of south Africa. The cave contains deposits which age between 70,000 and 100,000 years old. The findings within the cave are significant because they are amongst the oldest known examples of symbolic behaviour and pushes back the boundaries of our understanding of when homo sapiens first began to think in a modern way. Found within the cave were the earliest known examples of ornaments in the form of, non functioning, deliberately engraved ochre which seems to have served no other purpose other than decoration. Engraved bone, ochre processing kits, red and yellow pigments, shell containers and grinding cobbles and bone spatulas used to mix them, jewellery made from marine shell beads (most of them have been carefully perforated, polished, and in some cases deliberately heat treated to a dark-grey to black coloration) and refined bone and stone tools. These finds resulted in a paradigm shift in the understanding of the time in which people began to develop modern human behaviour. A time when people were beginning to express social identity in completely new ways.

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2. Pinnacle Point

Located in the south of Mossel Bay, excavations of this site began in 2000 and revealed that Middle Stone Age societies lived in the area between 170 000 and 40 000 years ago.

It is also the site where the oldest evidence of heat treatment of rock to make stone tools has been recorded. Pinnacle Point is declared a Provincial Heritage Site and has a cave located in the area.

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Photo By: @jaredberman_⁣⁣ “Seeing how many enormous caves there are along the Southern Cape Coastline is awe inspiring. To think that people lived in these Caves thousands of years ago and so extremely close to the Ocean is mind boggling.”⁣⁣ .⁣⁣ .⁣⁣ .⁣⁣ .⁣⁣ .⁣⁣ .⁣⁣ Tag your favorite person/s or write a comment below ???⁣⁣ .⁣⁣ .⁣⁣ .⁣⁣ .⁣⁣ Discover Africa’s best wonders, beautiful lifestyle and majestic wildlife by following us: @Instagram_SA⁣⁣ .⁣⁣ Tag us or use #instagram_sa for a chance to get featured.⁣⁣ .⁣⁣ .⁣⁣ .⁣⁣ .⁣⁣ .⁣⁣ #cave #sea #ocean #capetown #thisiscapetown #PointOfHumanOrigins #PinnaclePoint #PinnaclePointCaves #meetsouthafrica #wanderlust #visulasoflife #instagram_sa #southafrica #africa #discoversouthafrica #wowsouthafrica #travelsouthafrica #cloud #southafricanskies

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3. Diepkloof Rock Shelter

Also a Provincial Heritage Site, the Diepkloof Rock Shelter has had various evidence of human life found in it, such as ostrich egg shells with engravings and Paleolithic tools.

The dawn of human culture can be found across all six regions of the province, such as in the West Coast Fossil Park, which is home to one of the world’s richest concentrations of fossils dating back five-million years.

Details on the areas and sites that will on the culture route are yet to be revealed.

Minister of Economic Opportunities Beverely Schäfer says the route will offer those who follow it insight into human behaviour.

“The Cradle of Human Culture will provide a fascinating journey back to some of the very earliest human behaviours. By highlighting these aspects of our culture and heritage, we are able to provide another layer to our multi-dimensional tourism offering and provide new and unique experiences to a wider range of visitors.”

The Director for Museums, Heritage and Geographical Names Services and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Dr Mxolisi Dlamuka says that the route will showcase the immense role South Africa played in the evolution of humankind.

“We are hoping that the Cradle of Human Culture will become a tool for all South Africans to enjoy these beautiful sites, explore our common origins, dive into our past and understand what makes us humans. Through this journey, visitors to the Cradle of Human Culture will discover the enormous contribution that South Africa played in making us all humans.”

Picture: Facebook, Garden Route Meander Community, Pinnacle Point in Mossel Bay

Article written by

Ishani Chetty

Ishani is a vegetarian who is passionate about animals, social issues, the environment and current affairs.