A research team led by Professor Michael Chazan, director of the University of Toronto's Archaeology Centre, has discovered the earliest evidence of our cave-dwelling human ancestors at the Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa.
Stone tools found at the bottom level of the cave — believed to be 2 million years old — show that human ancestors were in the cave earlier than ever thought before. Geological evidence indicates that these tools were left in the cave and not washed into the site from the outside world.
Archaeological investigations of the Wonderwerk cave — a South African National Heritage site due to its role in discovering the human and environmental history of the area — began in the 1940s and research continues to this day.
The cave is 139m deep and so big it is said that a wagon and team of oxen could turn around in the entrance. (if you intend to go, there is an information center near the entrance, and you can even get a guide).
From the McGregor Museum description:
"Wonderwerk Cave is an ancient solution cavity, exposed at one end byhillside erosion, and running horizontally for 139 m into the base of a low conical foothill on the eastern flank of the Kuruman Hills. Its geological context is stratified dolomitic limestone of the 2.3 billion year-old Ghaap Plateau Dolomite Formation. Permanent water sources in the area are presently limited to a seep some 5 km to the south on Gakorosa Hill and a large sinkhole now known as Boesmans Gat (meaning "Bushman's waterhole"), about 12 km away.
"Research has shown that bedrock in the front portion of the cave is overlain by 4 m of deposits consisting of almost horizontal layers of wind-blown dust with a variable admixture of roof-slabs. Initial radiocarbon, Uranium-series and palaeomagnetic readings indicate that the uppermost metre of sediments, 45 m in from the cave mouth, spans the past 300 000 years, while extrapolation, based on that result, suggests that the lower levels range back very much further. Palaeomagnetic evidence recently indicated that the base of the sequence may reach back as far as 1.77 to 1.95 million years. If this dating is correct.) The small irregular stone cores and flakes in those lowest levels could be Oldowan. There is archaeological evidence of human occupation in all layers, making this one of the longest inhabited caves on earth."
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Why An Extra Planet Can't Be Hidden Behind The Sun Or Above The South Pole
- The Daily Physics Problem - 2
- Lichen: Apparently Happy Couple Really A Threesome
- The Daily Physics Problem - 1
- The Daily Physics Problem - 3
- US Could Feed Twice As Many People - If Only Elites Eat Meat
- People Estimate Their Own Abilities Based On Others' Performance
- "I would be ready to bet that only a tiny portion of LHC experimenters would respond with exactly..."
- "I respect your anonymity but I don't think you grasped the essence of this. The question is just..."
- "Based on credible assumptions about the system, a possible theory is that some not-very-good physicist..."
- "Well, if the simple enough comments above are already too hard for you and a mile-long, I am sure..."
- "You are so clearly delusional about what an experimental physicist should know, that I don't feel..."