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Pinnacle Point awarded provincial heritage site status

The archaeological sites at Mossel Bay’s Pinnacle Point have been declared provincial heritage sites. The sites are famed for revealing some of the earliest evidence for modern human behaviour.

Pinnacle Point awarded provincial heritage site status
Cave 13B is one of several caves overlooking the Indian Ocean along the coastline of Pinnacle Point, a sea-cliff on the south coast of South Africa. Researchers here uncovered evidence of early human use of shellfish and other marine resources dating to the middle Pleistocene. The cave is the focus of intense excavation work and has been since 2000. - Credit: South African Coast Paleoclimate, Paleoenvironment, Paleoecology, Paleoanthropology Project (SACP4), Arizona State University, Director [Credit: Curtis W. Marean]
“Pinnacle Point is significant because it’s a uniquely dense concentration of well-preserved archaeological sites which contain a record of human occupation over a period of about 170 000 years — from the time when modern human behaviour first emerged to the precolonial period,” said Professor Curtis Marean who heads the South African Coastal Palaeoclimate, Palaeoenvironment, Palaeoecology, and Palaeoanthropology (SACP4) Project, which is studying the finds from Pinnacle Point.

The archaeological value of the sites came to light in 1997, when an environmental impact assessment of the area was being done for what would become a golf resort.

Dr. Peter Nilssen of the Iziko South African Museum revealed a number of stone age sites and evidence that the caves under the sites housed people for tens of thousands of years.

He and Professor Marean then studied the site and co-authored a paper titled Early human use of marine resources and pigment in South Africa during the Middle Pleistocene, which was published in Nature in 2007.

Pinnacle Point awarded provincial heritage site status
Stratigraphic layers visible in this lower section of the PP5-6 archaeological site of the South African Coast Paleoclimate, Paleoenvironment, Paleoecology, Paleoanthropology Project (SACP4) site at Pinnacle Point , Mossel Bay, date to 79,000 to 86,000 years ago. The site is where an international team of researchers discovered evidence that early modern humans employed pyrotechnology to increase the quality and efficiency of their stone tool manufacturing process [Credit: Sunday Times]
“We found that the people who lived in the Caves approximately 164 000 years ago were systematically harvesting shellfish from the coast; that they were using complex bladelet technology to produce complex tools; and that they regularly used ochre as pigments for symbolling,” said Professor Marean.

The executive mayor of Mossel Bay, Alderlady Marie Ferreira, said that the proclamation is an important milestone for the town.

“It’s already drawing visits from quite large numbers of scientists, students and volunteers and it’ll attract a growing number of students in the future.

“And with plans in place for a museum that will showcase and interpret what’s being found here, we believe that Mossel Bay will soon rank alongside places like the Cradle of Humankind and Olduvai Gorge as one of Africa’s most sought-after evo-tourism destinations.

“The world is learning about Mossel Bay because of Pinnacle Point.”

Unfortunately the sites aren't open to the public as yet, but Carl van der Linde‚ the CEO of the Pinnacle Point Homeowners Association says that they are working with archaeologists and environmentalists to develop science-based tours that won't harm the sites.

The Pinnacle Point Homeowners Association owns the land most of the sites are situated on.

Source: Times LIVE [January 08, 2013]

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