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UCT researchers find evidence of complex early human behaviour in Kalahari

7 April 2021 4:21 PM

An international team of archaeologists has found evidence from over 100,000 years ago of early human innovation in a rock shelter in the Kalahari.

Archaeological deposits found at a new archaeological site in the Northern Cape, Ga-Mohana Hill, suggest that early humans were innovative and resourceful even outside of coastal environments.

UCT researchers form part of the international team that has found evidence for complex symbolic behaviours in the Kalahari 105,000 years ago.

The findings of the research have been published in Nature, a leading multidisciplinary science journal.

Researchers found white calcite crystals linked to spiritual beliefs and ritual purposes. They also found fragments of ostrich eggshells thought be used as water containers.

UCT's Dr. Robyn Pickering and Wendy Khumalo chat to CapeTalk host Pippa Hudson about the findings.

We've identified these deposits dating back to 100,000 years ago that preserve evidence of early modern human behaviour.

Dr Robyn Pickering, Director - Human Evolution Research Institute (UCT)

We were busy looking for [signs of] modern behaviour. The kind of symbolic and complex behaviour that characterises us as human beings and sets us apart from all other animals, and other primates.

Wendy Khumalo, Researcher and Masters Student - Department of Geological Sciences (UCT)

One of the major findings was these calcite crystals which... hint at more symbolic use or cultural use... rather than physical purpose... they hint towards a more modern way of thinking... the way our brains and our cultures have evolved, more so than just how we have physically evolved into the modern humans we are today.

Wendy Khumalo, Researcher and Masters Student - Department of Geological Sciences (UCT)

The ostrich eggshells also hold importance to the fact that we know that there must be sufficient source.

Wendy Khumalo, Researcher and Masters Student - Department of Geological Sciences (UCT)

Listen to the fascinating discussion on Lunch with Pippa Hudson:




7 April 2021 4:21 PM