A team of international experts has been studying ancient evidence left behind at the Pinnacle Point Caves in Mossel Bay and has, so far, come up with vital clues about fish-eating, tool-making Middle Stone Age humankind – and the future effects of global warming.

Did you know?

Fish oil and shellfish offer various healthy Omega fatty acids, known popularly as ‘brain food’.

Evidence at the Pinnacle Point Caves in Mossel Bay shows that ancient people lived here between 170 000 and 40 000 years ago, and that they lived off what the ocean left them on the rocks below the caves.

Simply put, Pinnacle Point on today’s Garden Route may have been the world’s first-ever seafood restaurant – albeit a self-service establishment.

Food was at a premium at that time, but not for those who lived in these caves, which provide a marvellous view out over the Indian Ocean and passing southern right whales. They ate the whales that beached here, any seals they could find and, of course, shellfish off the rocks.

The Pinnacle Point Caves also contain signs from those times of stone tool-making and the grinding of ochre for body painting.

These findings were made by Professor Curtis Marean, from Arizona State University in the United States, and a group of archaeologists This development has prompted the local municipality to apply for World Heritage Site status for the caves.

The floors of the Pinnacle Point Caves give the 40-odd scientists working on the Mossel Bay Archaeology Project lots to think about in terms of ancient human lifestyles. Looking up, the dripstone formations suspended from the roofs of the caves tell them what the water, the flora and the weather was like back then.

Studies of both the roof and the floor of the Pinnacle Point Caves give scientists the chance to work out the future effects of climate change. This is an important part of what makes the Pinnacle Point Caves such a special place.

In October 2008, Marean told a gathering at the 44th Nobel Conference at the Gustavus Adolphus College in St Peter, Minnesota: ‘Our best sources for predicting these environmental changes are the records from the past, since the Earth warmed and cooled many times and ancient humans designed strategies to adapt to these orbitally driven changes.

‘Today, climate changes are driven by human behaviour, and once again we must learn to adapt. The past holds lessons for us both on how the environments may change, and on how we may adapt to these changes.’

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Mossel Bay Tourism
Tel: +27(0)44 691 2202
Email: admin@visitmosselbay.co.za

How to get here

The St Blaize Cave (one of the famous caves that is open to the public) is situated right below the St Blaize lighthouse.

Around the area

Do the very popular Oystercatcher Trail – it’s a three- to five-day hike that takes you from the historical St Blaize Cave at Pinnacle Point on an unforgettable journey to various points along the Garden Route Coast. See the listed website for more details.

Tours to do

There’s lots to do in Mossel Bay and many tour guides to take you places. Check the listed Mossel Bay Tourism website for details.

Get around

Once you’re at the St Blaize Cave, you take a long circular walkway around this large space. There are information signs posted.

What will it cost

There is no charge to visit the St Blaize Cave.

Length of stay

A visit to the St Blaize Cave should take you 30 minutes.

Where to stay

The Pinnacle Point Hotel is right below the St Blaize Cave – see the listed Mossel Bay Tourism website for details.

What to eat

Eat just what Middle Stone Age humankind ate here: seafood. There are a number of good restaurants in the area that serve fresh seafood.