The phrase “sea-change” was first used by Shakespeare in The Tempest, and it means a profound transformation wrought by nature. We think the greatest sea-change in our species’ history took place on the southern African coastline about 100,000 years ago. For the first time on earth we see the evidence of art, jewellery, and chemical mixtures used for ritual practices.
A) Recreation of Middle Stone-Age forager engraving on a piece of red ochre.
B) Piece of red ochre with cross-hatched engraving found by Professor Chris Henshilwood at Blombos cave in Stilbaai, dated to 77,000 years old. We believe this is the oldest art ever found on earth, and is 40,000 years older then the oldest art found in Europe.
C) Recreation of early human collecting ochre in an abalone shell.
D) This abalone shell is the oldest human container ever found on earth, also at Blombos cave, and is 100,000 years old. It contains traces of the first man-made chemical mixtures ever found (a composition of red ochre, bone and charcoal). Contrary to main-stream science, our research with ethno-ecologist Dr Tony Cunningham suggests that this mixture was most likely connected to ritual practices, because the colours found in the mixture (red, white and black) are the universal colours for ritual found in foraging cultures the world-over. This suggests a more complex culture than previously imagined.
E) Recreation of an early human grinding pigments on a stone.
F) Recreation of possible 100,000 year-old human ritual.
“We found that the people who lived in the Caves (at Pinnacle Point) 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 symboling. This is some of the earliest evidence for modern human behaviour.” Professor Curtis Marean - Point of Human Origins.
The Western Cape Government has, along with Heritage Western Cape, made an application to UNESCO to declare a series of sites as World Heritage Sites. Three of these sites are in the Western Cape and they are the Pinnacle Point Site Complex, Diepkloof Rock Shelter and Blombos Cave. For more information please see here.