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Western Cape

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What you need to know
Cultural Discoveries

TThe Origins of Early Sapiens Behaviour – Mother Africa Welcome Home exhibition showcases the modern human origins and innovations that were discovered at three unique archaeological sites near  the southern tip of Africa. 

Ever wondered where Homo sapiens – that’s modern humans like you and me – came from? For decades scientists and the public believed modern humans evolved and developed language and culture in Europe, but now a team of archaeologists from South Africa have proven that we all have our origins in southern Africa. 

It took this team – a collaboration of local and international scientists – some 30 years to painstakingly excavate three sites – Blombos Cave, Klipdrift Shelter and Klasies River cave, to discover that between 70 000 to 120 000 years ago some of our early ancestors lived and evolved around the southern tip of Africa. Archaeologists discovered and carefully dated a number of artefacts and handmade tools found in the caves and that were used, for example, to hunt or create intricate rock art, giving us unique insight into the life, symbols, culture and environment of some of the early Homo sapiens.

Photo: © Professor Henshilwood, Dr Van Niekerk and their team of archeologists

TThe scientists who discovered the artefacts in these caves were led by South Africans Professor Christopher Henshilwood, Dr Karen van Niekerk and Professor Sarah Wurz, along with a team from the SFF Centre for Early Sapiens Behaviour (SapienCE) at the University of Bergen in Norway, and the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Palaeosciences at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg where their research programme focuses on early human origins and innovations in Southern Africa.

Photo: © Professor Henshilwood and Dr Van Niekerk

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