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Research

The rock art of South Africa is an enduring textbook to the most ancient of human nations. Images on rocky overhangs and in hidden caves are slowly being translated, thanks to renewed research on the subject. They are a roadmap to the knowledge and the soul of ancient man, his botanical and medicinal expertise, spiritual beliefs and language.

Here in the Cederberg Mountains, amongst mystical ley lines and rock paintings, we know that it is imperative to learn more about these lost messages, and are actively involved with many research projects in the area.

The Living Landscape Project is a permanent research facility affiliated with the University of Cape Town (UCT), based in Clanwilliam. It is a community-centred heritage and education project, aimed at returning the archaeological archive to the Clanwilliam area. A set of teaching curricula has been established for local and visiting school groups. A job creation programme was also designed, built around the local archaeological record.

The renewed Klipfonteinrand Excavations in 2011 saw a group from the Australian National University set up camp on the northeastern edge of Bushmans Kloof. This thrilling dig unearthed occupational debris such as hearths, bones, stone tools and beads, as well as human remains.

The reason for the renewed interest in the site, originally excavated in the 60s, is largely due to modern improvements in chronometric technology and dating methods.

Samples collected during the first phase of 2011 excavations will be analysed over the coming 12 months, with results expected in 2012. These dates will provide an important context for understanding technological advancement throughout the Stone Age.

Recovered artefacts suggest the presence of an industry known as the ‘Howiesons Poort’, which in other sites has been dated to between 65,000 and 60,000 years ago. It is quite possible, and very exciting, that the oldest parts of the site exceed 100,000 years in age.