Media Release. Mossel Bay Tourism

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Excavations at Mossel Bay’s Pinnacle Point Caves have revealed the earliest evidence for modern human behaviour.

Excavations at Mossel Bay’s Pinnacle Point Caves have revealed the earliest evidence for modern human behaviour.

SA Tourism’s #MeetSouthAfrica bloggers to explore Human Origins in Mossel Bay

MOSSEL BAY, 30 APRIL 2014: Five top international and South African travel bloggers will visit Mossel Bay next week to enjoy a Point of Human Origins Experience – and learn why this part of South Africa is attracting world attention as the birthplace of culture and advanced technology.

The group is taking part in South African Tourism’s #MeetSouthAfrica campaign, which aims to leverage the power of social media to market the destination.

The campaign will see a total of fourteen bloggers visiting all of the country’s provinces in the run-up to the SA Tourism Indaba, which will take place in Durban from the 10th to the 12th of May. The bloggers will travel the country in three separate parties while sharing and writing about their experiences. They’ll then meet up again to take part in various events at the Indaba – including a panel discussion which will take place in the Indaba’s new TechZone.

SA Tourism’s #MeetSouthAfrica blogger’s campaign was launched last year as a new way of communicating with potential travellers. According to figures released by the country’s destination marketing organisation, the campaign’s hash tag (#MeetSouthAfrica) has attracted more than 219 million impressions on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

“We’re very excited to welcome these influential writers to Mossel Bay because we believe that the archaeology of the area – which has revealed the earliest evidence for modern human behaviour – is a differentiator unlike any other,” said Mossel Bay Tourism’s Marcia Holm.

“They’re in for an experience they couldn’t find anywhere else in the world.”

The archaeology that’s attracting all this attention was identified in 1997 when Jonathan Kaplan – the director of the Agency for Cultural Resource Management – and Dr. Peter Nilssen (who was then working towards a PhD.) made a routine survey for an environmental impact study on the land that would become the Pinnacle Point Beach & Golf Resort.

Dr. Nilssen and Professor Curtis Marean (an associate director of the Institute of Human Origins and professor at the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University) set up the Mossel Bay Archaeology Project to study the finds in 2000, and Prof. Marean established the SACP4 Project – The South African Coastal Palaeoclimate, Palaeoenvironment, Palaeoecology and Palaeoanthropology Project – in 2005. This Project now involves more than 40 scientists from around the world.

“We know from genetic research that all people alive today are descendants of a core population of less than a thousand individuals who lived in Africa between 150,000 and 200,000 years ago – and what we’ve found here shows that at least a portion of this population lived in the area around Mossel Bay,” said Dr. Nilssen.

This, he said, is where mankind first began systematically harvesting the sea (which – since it requires an intimate knowledge of the tides and other aspects of the marine environment – indicates that we’d developed advanced levels of thinking 162,000 years ago); and where we first used ochre for symboling or decoration – which places Mossel Bay as the birthplace of culture.

“The archaeology has also revealed the earliest use of complex bladelet technology (in which tiny, exquisitely-made stone blades were embedded into wood or bone to create more efficient weapons than any we’d had before), and the earliest use of fire as an engineering tool (annealing silcrete with controlled and sustained heat in order to produce a better quality raw material for manufacturing stone blades) – both of which place Mossel Bay as the birthplace of advanced technology.

“But equally importantly, the Pinnacle Point Caves – where most of these discoveries have been made – also contain fossilised carbon and oxygen isotopes which provide us with a record of the climate of the area over the period 30,000 to 400,000 years ago.

“Besides being the birthplace of culture and technology, Pinnacle Point thus becomes the one place in the world where we can start to understand how climate change affects us as a species over long periods of time.”

Dr. Nilssen’s Point of Human Origins Experience – arranged by The Oystercatcher Trail in partnership with the Pinnacle Point Homeowners Association, Heritage Western Cape, and the SACP4 Project – includes a walking tour of the Pinnacle Point Caves and a presentation and discussion about the origins of modern human behaviour, and the significance of what we’re learning from the archaeology of the Middle Stone Age in South Africa.

The #MeetSouthAfrica bloggers – Brazil’s Mauricio Oliveira (who publishes, Malaysia’s Umei The (, Canada’s Rob Lloyd (, and South Africa’s Ishay Govender ( and Katarina Mancama ( – will share their experiences with their international audiences on their sites, and on the social web using the hashtag #MeetSouthAfrica. Round-ups of highlights of their tour will be published on

• Meet Mossel Bay Tourism on stand DEC1E114 at Indaba 2014.

More information

Mossel Bay: Indaba: Point of Human Origin Experience: Mossel Bay’s Archaeology:

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