New Heritage Site Declared at Pinnacle Point
Tourism and job opportunities are expected to flow to Mossel Bay with the declaration in December 2012 of caves at Pinnacle Point as a provincial heritage site. The caves were the home to our Stone Age ancestors between 50 000 and 165 000 years ago. This covers the era when the ancestors of modern human emerged acquiring tools and technologies that enabled them to migrate to other parts of the world.
Pinnacle Point is one of only three sites in Africa that contain physical evidence of human occupation older than 120 000 years. It contains archaeological evidence of vital importance to facilitate an understanding of the emergence of modern humans.
Since the site is situated on a privately owned golf estate, it is not accessible to the public. However, discussions are underway with environmental and archaeological experts to develop science-based tours that will make the site more accessible to visitors. The new owners of the Pinnacle Point Golf Estate fully support the declaration of the heritage site and the on-going archaeological research.
The South African government has already indicated to UNESCO that it wishes to nominate a group of sites, amongst which Pinnacle Point, as World Heritage Sites. The Mossel Bay municipality has proposed that an interpretation centre for the Pinnacle Point caves should be established at St Blaize Cave in the heart of Mossel Bay. The proposed centre would contain an exhibition of artefacts, with additional information on the historical, cultural and scientific significance of the caves.
Mossel Bay Executive Mayor, Councillor Marie Ferreira, said that Mossel Bay’s accessibility and advanced infrastructure would enable the site to become a huge tourism draw card, specifically once it is declared a World Heritage Site. She emphasised the importance of tourism to the local economy and how the growth of tourism would create much-needed employment opportunities in the area.
Heritage Western Cape, the provincial heritage authority of the Western Cape, states that the site will offer the public a better understanding of their common heritage, dating back to the earliest humans. Official recognition through heritage legislation enhances its status and ensures its protection as a possible World Heritage Site. As a provincial heritage site it will encourage further research and as a tourist attraction it will generate extra income.
A plaque will soon be affixed and unveiled to mark the Western Cape’s newest provincial heritage site among the echo of crashing waves and seagulls in the coastal caves at Pinnacle Point.