Much has been made of the fact that the earliest artifacts of modern man were discovered at Mossel Bay. So this is where modern man evolved, on the southern coast of the African continent. So what?
Then do yourself a favour – a big favour – and go on Dr Peter Nilssen’s Point of Human Origins Experience. It’s an experience and a memory that will last a lifetime!
Peter and his colleague, Jonathon Kaplan, were appointed to prepare the Archaeological Impact Assessment for the Pinnacle Point Golf Estate on the outskirts of Mossel Bay which led to the discovery of this unique piece of human history and the research that followed.
The presentation shows how the Pinnacle Point caves were formed about one million years ago when the sea level was 17 metres higher than it is today. This was followed by a major glacial period when, around 180,000 years ago, the sea receded to about 38 km from the caves (83 metres below current sea level), increasing to 95km 134,000 years ago (111 metres below). When that period ended about 123,000 years ago, the sea rose again to 6.5 metres above current sea level and some caves were intertidal.
Peter makes the point that his presentation is partly fact and partly philosophy, and it is this that makes the presentation so enthralling and thought-provoking.
It touches on the evolutionary tree of myth and religion, the evolution of African animism into the world’s religions, and the evidence of first symbolic behaviour 162,000 years ago. He discusses expression through art from Therioantropes to Entoptic phenomena, the evolution of Stone Age tools which matched the musculature of humankind — from the large, crude tools of Early Stone Age to the finer, smaller tools of the Later Stone Age.
He asks the question whether humankind isn’t in fact going backwards on a path towards destruction.
Every thinking person should add this to their bucket list of essential experiences. It’s a pity that Dr Peter Nilssen’s presentation and the discussion that follows can only be enjoyed by limited numbers, and it’s a crying shame that it hasn’t been developed into a major interpretive centre which could easily become Mossel Bay’s main tourist attraction.