Published on 25 Mar 2015
Peter Nilssen talks to a group from National Geographic's 'Wildlife and Cultures of South Africa, Mozambique, and Madagascar' voyage at Cape St. Blaize Cave about the Point of Human Origins Experience, Mossel Bay: the emergence of modern human behaviour, and why it's so important to us today as we face the 6th mass extinction event.
News from and about Mossel Bay & GB River
September is heritage month and the Great Brak River Museum is putting on a month long program with the theme 'Human Treasures and legends', titled 'The Legend of the Fat Tailed Sheep'.
This is the story of the enchanting travels of our Khoe People on their journey to South Africa which took place a long time before Bartholomew Dias rounded the Cape. Today Sheep and Wool production are very much a part of South Africa but do you know their history and that Great Brak River originally had a wool washery. The main story will be told in slide/picture format but there will also be exhibits on wool production (slavery, farming, shearing, spinning and knitting the finished product).
Fat tailed or fat-rumped sheep are so-named because they can store large amounts of fat in the tail and region of the rump. Fat-tailed sheep are now found mostly in the extreme environments in Africa, also the Middle East and parts of Asia. They grow wool, but are raised primarily for meat or milk production. Fat-tailed sheep comprise some twenty-five percent of the old world's sheep population.
All wild sheep have thin tails, as our European sheep do. The fat tail is a feature humans created by breeding sheep to concentrate their subcutaneous fat in the tail. The purpose was convenience in harvesting fat for cooking. The fat was used extensively in medieval Arab and Persian cookery. The tail fat is still used in modern cookery, especially in countries such as Morocco. The wool from fat-tailed breeds is usually coarse and frequently has coloured fibres. Today it is used primarily for rug-making and other cottage-type industries. Bedouin women make rugs and blankets from the wool. Some of their handiwork can be purchased in the villages of Egypt. Shearing in Egypt is done once or twice a year with hand clippers.
Also in the news; the Great Brak River Museum has a coffee shop, "The Pelton Wheel", where you can come and relax, enjoy a cup of tea or coffee and a piece of cake whilst selecting a pre-read book from our large selection.
Do you Know? The Great Brak River Museum is 37 Years Old on the 21st June 2016.
The cave is significant for a number of reasons: George Leith excavated it in1888 (making it one of South Africa's earliest archaeological excavations). More importantly, though, the cave has revealed middens laid down by man's early ancestors during much of the middle stone age. Who the people were is yet to be determined. There is still much evidence to be unlocked and it is hoped that further excavations will be started in the near in the future.
After debating for decades, paleoanthropologists now agree there is enough genetic and fossil evidence to suggest that Homo sapiens evolved in Africa ca. 200,000–160,000 years ago. The caves at Pinnacle Point, nearby, have reviled much more evidence pertaining to an earlier time and this evidence stretches back 164,000 years. In December 2012, the provincial heritage resources authority Heritage Western Cape declared the Pinnacle Point group of caves a provincial heritage site in the terms of Section 27 of the National Heritage Resources Act.
According to research which Professor Curtis Marean and his team published in 2007, this is probably where the small, core population that gave rise to all humans alive today first began to exhibit significantly modern behaviour: the systematic harvesting of food from the sea, the use of complex bladelet technology, and the use of ochre for symboling.
Most of the evidence comes to an end some 40,000 years ago and then reappears about 12,000 years ago with the retreat of the last ice age. There is convincing evidence that the latter are the San or Bushman people.
The missing evidence from 40,000 years to 12,000 years ago lies buried under the sea which during this period was an exposed landmass extending up to 140 kilometres from present day Mossel Bay. Inland evidence is minimal as during this period, much of southern Africa was an extremely cold desert.
Modern human behaviour is thought to have begun in the period from about 200,000 years ago evidenced by findings in other cave centres where further extensive development took place.
In several areas along our coastal corridor, other caves reveal findings mainly dating from about 3,000 years ago to the pre-colonial age (i.e. pre-1488).
There is some debate on where the Khoe people came from. In archaeological terms, these earliest herders in southern Africa introduced sheep and pottery. Some archaeologists and linguists believe that the Khoe (people who also spoke a click language like the Bushman) lived much further north towards East Africa (Zambia, Tanzania). They have been found historically in the Kalahari, Caprivi, Southern Zimbabwe and parts of South Africa. They arrived in the Cape some 2,100 to 2,200 years ago.
This exhibition is about the different peoples of the 'Cape Corridor' of the Western Cape who began their lives in our area; the 'African' or Modern Man who started out some 200,000 years ago to colonise the earth, the San who believe they were here from the beginning of time and for at least the past 12,000 years and our Khoe people who are the more recent arrivals.
The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry reports that with the heavy rain, during the second week in September 2015, our Wolwedans dam water level was more than 100% full.
On the 10th March 2011, after a severe drought water restrictions were eventually lifted.