Makapansgat: a visit to the ages gone by

If you feel like exploring the area outside the Great Enclosure when staying at Monomotapa Village, we suggest a visit to Makapansgat.

Makapansgat or Makapan Valley world heritage site contains many important archaeological findings dating to between 2.6 and 3 million years ago. What is particularly interesting about this site is the famous “Makapansgat Pebble”. It's suggested to date back to 3 million BCE and is shaped to resemble a human face. It has been suggested that this pebble represents the earliest known example of symbolic thinking of early hominids.

Some of the sites of interest at Makapansgat include:

Makapansgat Limeworks: This site has yielded many thousands of fossil bones

Cave Of Hearths And Hyaena Mandible Cave: The Cave of Hearths is part of the Historic Cave complex and preserves a remarkably complete record of human occupation from Early Stone Age "Acheulian" times in the oldest sediments through the Middle Stone Age, the Later Stone Age and up to the Iron Age.

Historic Cave: A small number of fossils were thought to have been collected by Dr Robert Broom from this site in 1937, including the remains of an extinct 'pygmy buffalo'

Peppercorn's Cave: This cave contains Iron Age and ancient relics and an underground lake. It is also home to a large colony of migratory long-fingered bats.

Rainbow Cave: This cave is situated immediately below the Historic Cave and contains the remains of several putative hearths, suggesting both human occupation and the controlled use of fire

Historic Cave or Makapansgat: This site lies immediately adjacent to the Cave of Hearths, and preserves Iron Age and Mfecane relics. It is most famous as the clash between a Boer Commando and local Langa and Kekana people after the murders of Voortrekkers at Moorddrift, Mapela and Pruizen. Chief Makapan (Mokopane), together with a large number of his tribespeople and their cattle were besieged in the cave for nearly a month between 25 October and 21 November 1854, during which time many hundreds died of hunger and thirst.