Pinnacle Point is a small promontory immediately south of Mossel Bay, a town on the southern coast of South Africa. Excavations since the year 2000 of a series of caves at Pinnacle Point have revealed occupation by Middle Stone Age people between 40,000 and 170,000 years ago. The focus of excavations has been at caves directly below the Golf Clubhouse where the earliest evidence of the use of marine resources (shellfish) and where the heat treatment of rock to make stone tools has been documented. Human remains have been recovered which are ≈100,000 years old.
The discoveries at Pinnacle Point have been made by an international team, headed by palaeoanthropologist Curtis Marean from the Institute of Human Origins of the Arizona State University as well as researchers from South Africa (UCT), Australia (Archaeology Program, La Trobe University, UoW), Israel, and France.
After debating for decades, paleoanthropologists now agree there is enough genetic and fossil evidence to suggest that Homo Sapiens evolved in Africa. At that time the world was in an ice age, and Africa was dry and arid. As archaeological sites dating to that time period are rare in Africa, palaeontologist Curtis Marean analyzed geologic formations, sea currents, and climate data to pinpoint likely archaeological sites. One of the destinations was Pinnacle Point.
Pinnacle Point declared a Provincial Heritage Site
The archaeological sites at Mossel Bay’s Pinnacle Point – which have revealed some of the earliest evidence for modern human behaviour – have been declared Provincial Heritage Sites.
"This is a significant step towards having Pinnacle Point declared a World Heritage Site," said Professor Curtis Marean, who heads the South African Coastal Palaeoclimate, palaeoenvironment, Paleoecology, and Palaeoanthropology (SACP4) Project, which is studying the finds from Pinnacle Point.
The archaeological remains first came to light during an environmental impact study of a portion of land that would later be developed as the Pinnacle Point Beach and Golf Resort. The 1997 survey by Dr. Peter Nilssen – of the Iziko South African Museum – revealed a number of stone age sites as well as evidence that humans had inhabited the caves in the cliffs below the present-day Pinnacle Point Club House for tens of thousands of years.
South African Coastal. (n.d.). Retrieved from Arizona State University: http://sacp4web.asu.edu/