Border Cave

Border Cave is located in the Lebombo Mountains on the border between South Africa and Swaziland. It is an extremely rich archeological site with more than a million Stone Age artefacts having been recovered along with some of the earliest anatomically modernHomo Sapiens remains ever discovered. The cave was first excavated in 1940 by a farmer who believed that the floor of the cave was guano, which would have been good fertiliser for his crops. Instead, he found fragments of human bone which he forwarded to Professor Raymond Dart, at the University of the Witwatersrand, who soon realised their great age.

 

Scientists have concluded that people have used the cave for shelter for more 200000 years. Among the most important finds was the body of an infant, dating back 100000 years, which had been painted with red ochre and buried together with a shell ornament. This makes it the oldest known deliberate burial in Africa and, if such burial can be taken to mean a concern with the afterlife, it would be the earliest evidence of the emergence of religion as well.

 

Another important find was the 35000-year-old Lebombo bone, which is a piece of baboon fibula with 29 notches cut into it, and which is taken as the earliest known evidence of the emergence of a counting system. An interpretive centre has opened at the site and there is accommodation available.

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