#SAHeritage: Connect with your roots on the new Cradle of Human Culture Route in the Western Cape

2019-02-26 12:00 - Gabi Zietsman
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Humans have been around for about 200 000 years - a blip compared to the expansive existence of Earth - but to know where we're going in the next 200 000 years, we need to reflect on where we come from.

South Africa has a special place in this history of human ingenuity - we are home to the astounding Cradle of Humankind, its Sterkfontein Caves offering up glimpses into the dawn of Homo Sapiens with its world-famous fossil finds.

But our history isn't just made up of bones and tool fragments. The way we eat, dress, talk and live our lives have helped shape the world today - our cultural history is just as important as our physical.

To celebrate this facet of the human psyche, Wesgro teamed up with the Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT), the provincial Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS) and the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site (WHS) to develop the Cradle of Human Culture route in the Western Cape.

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Set to launch on 11 April, the route will connect sites that have delivered us modern humans remnants of our early ancestors' culture and show how the story developed after starting in the Cradle 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," says the Director for Museums, Heritage and Geographical Names Services at DCAS, Mxolisi Dlamuka.

"Through this journey, visitors to the Cradle of Human Culture will discover the enormous contribution that South Africa played in making us all humans."

ALSO SEE: 8 Sites in other countries that salute SA

To launch the route, a micro-site will be developed with detailed information on this educational journey. To support marketing the initiative, a short video, imagery and a booklet will be shared on social media channels and other digital platforms before the launch.

“The Cradle of Humankind WHS celebrates the human journey, from our earliest beginnings - to the challenges of our present - to our uncertain future," comments Michael Worsnip, managing director of Maropeng.

"It celebrates human development, in every shape and form. It is wonderful indeed to now have established a new showcase for this diversity, complexity and unity of our species, in the newly established Cradle of Human Culture. It is possible that in our arts and crafts, beliefs and extraordinary ingenuity, we can start to uncover some of the defining characteristics of our species."

SEE: Makhonjwa Barberton Mountains confirmed as SA's newest World Heritage Site

Here are some of the sites that will feature on the route:

Blombos Cave

This archaeological site near De Hoop Nature Reserve, alongside Pinnacle Point and Diepkloof, are in the process of being nominated for WHS status for their preservation of the world's earliest evolution of modern human behaviour.

One of the biggest finds in this cave is a small stone marked with abstract designs - claimed to be the oldest-known example of human drawing from 73 000 years ago.

Pinnacle Point Site Complex

Near the south coast town of Mossel Bay, a series of caves have yielded the cultural remnants of Middle Stone Age humans that dwelt there between 170 000 and 40 000 years ago.

You can take a guided tour to the caves which is now situated on the Pinnacle Point Beach and Golf Resort.

READ: Western Cape discovers its own cradle of humankind 

Diepkloof Rock Shelter

This one is more inland near Elands Bay and is famous for its early evidence of humans using symbols, engraved on ostrich eggshells used to house water by our ancestors.

These patterns consisted of repetitions of motifs, proving that something was being communicated in a cultural context to the social group that used to live there.

West Coast Fossil Park

On the road to Langebaan, you can check out the remains of fearsome creatures that roamed the West Coast millions of years ago.

Besides learning more about the creatures that came before humans, you'll also get a chance to look for fossils - just like a real archaeologist. 


Not all stops on the route will look into the past - the Zeits MOCAA in Cape Town offers an artistic glimpse into Africa's present dynamics and how the past can mould our future.

South Africans enjoy free entry on Wednesdays between 10:00 and 13:00 and children under 18 can get in for free all the time.

SEE: Zeits MOCAA Opening: Highly anticipated, rather hair-raising!? 

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