Ancient Africa

Archaeological sites of Southern Africa.


Southern Africa is a rich source of archaeological sites. There are many sites throughout Southern Africa to enthral both professionals and amateur enthusiasts alike.

A well-known example of this is Great Zimbabwe, an ancient city, the ruins of which lie in the south-eastern hills close to Lake Mutirikwe. It is thought to have been the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe during the Iron Age. The construction of the city began in the 11th century and it is believed that the city served as a royal palace for their local monarch. Among the structures, most prominent features were its walls, some of which were over 5 meters high. The city was eventually abandoned and it fell to ruins, which are now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

In the unique wilderness of Namibia, with its spectacular wide-open spaces interrupted by occasional mountains and old craters, a wealth of pre-historic gems are hidden. The San bushman who used to thrive in this region for thousands of years, despite the hot and dry climate, have left their legacy in the surprising Rock Art at Twyfelfontein. These engravings mark a site as sacred, having been integral in the rituals and worship of the local tribes, and are considered one of the most extensive collections of this kind ever found.

South Africa boasts an abundance of archaeological sites, critical to the understanding of our history as a species. Maropeng - better known as the Cradle of Humankind - is the site where an almost-complete early hominid skeleton, called Little Foot, was found, as well as Mrs Ples and many others. In Fossil Park you will find fossils of fantastic beasts, the like of which you only see in the movies. These include giant bears, sabre-tooth cats, short-necked giraffes, four-tusked elephants and three-toed horses, all from the Pliocene ere.

Also in South Africa, you will find Adam's Calendar, a prehistoric stone circle. There are some that claim it to be one of the oldest manmade structures in the world. uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park will see you admiring an abundance of San rock art, and in the Nooitgedacht Glacial Pavements, you will find scratch marks on rocks that were made by glaciers millions of years ago during the Karoo Ice Age - remembering not all sites of archaeological importance are man-made. After all this exploring, having included the ancient workshop of Blomboc Cave and bizarre stone structures on Mellville Koppies, you will find a moment to consider the most recently discovered gem.

The Point of Human Origins, at Pinnacle Point in Mosselbay, is made up of a series of caves that during recent excavations revealed that people used to live there about 170 000 years ago. The critical aspect of this site is who it has changed the age at which scientists view human culture. It was previously thought that our species culture, specifically us of complex tools and symbolism through paint, originated some 60 000 years ago. The Point of Human Origins shifted this by over 100 000 years. The culture who inhabited these caves lived by there hunted and thrived by producing complex tools, and there is evidence of their use of ochre paints, probably for symbolic significance in rituals. An excursion to Ancient Africa would not be complete without including the place where it all began.

For a better understanding of our species journey though pre-history and beyond, let More & More Africa design your unique Walk through Time.