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HISTORY TOURS

 

There are many fascination historical aspects to South Africa, here we touch on just a few of them.

Early Beginnings:
South Africa is considered the cradle of many new life forms. Fossils of some of the oldest organisms on earth were found in the Barberton sequence, dated at approximately 3.5 billion years. In the period before some of the world’s first dinosaurs walked the earth, there was already abundant life in the Karoo basin, leaving behind an unsurpassed record of the ancestry of mammals. The largest collection of mammal-like reptiles are to be found in the Karoo, documenting step by step, over a period of 50 million years, the origin of mammals from primitive reptilian stock.. Fossils, approximately 250 million years old, of an aquatic reptile have been found both in South Africa and South America, and the leaf imprints of Glossopteris are found in South Africa, Antarctica, South America and India. This supports the continental drift theory. Fossils of Australopithecus africanus, Paranthropus robustus, Homo habilis and Homo sapiens, the oldest identifiable Homo sapiens fossils in the world (dated at approximately 110 000 years) have been found in South Africa, earning it the title of the “Cradle of Humanity”

The Sterkfontein and Wonder Caves
Hominid (human and pre human) remains where discovered in these caves and surrounding areas. Some of the fossils are over three million years old.

Makapansgat Valley
This historic and archeologically significant valley situated in Limpopo Province links in with the history at the Cradle of Mankind.

In 1925, the discovery of the first ape-man at Taung (North West Province) was announced with these words: "The specimen is of importance because it exhibits an extinct race of apes intermediate between living anthropoids and man…." A teacher from Polokwane, Inspired by this event, Mr. Wilfred Eitzman, sent in some rocks containing fossils that he found near the limekilns on the farm Makapansgat. This subsequently revealed valuable information on the origin and evolution of Humankind. Finds include:

• The Lime works yielded fossil remains dating back to 3,3 million years and include remains of Australopithecus africanus.
• Cave of Hearths & Hyena Cave preserves a complete record of human occupation from "Acheulian" times in the Early Stone Age to Late Stone Age and Iron Age.
• Buffalo Cave produced the fossil remains of the extinct buffalo Bos makapania as well as remains of other fauna such as horses, pigs, monkeys and carnivores.
• Ficus Cave contains Iron Age relics
• Rainbow cave contains several hearths, Middle Stone Age remains of the Polokwane culture.

Mapungubwe National Park
Mapungubwe, in the Limpopo Province, is the site of an early Iron Age settlement who occupied the area between 800 and 1200 AD. It was strategically situated to serve the popular trade routes northwards into East Africa. Archaeological diggings have unearthed valuable gold ornaments, including amulets, a gold rhinoceros and a gold bowl and it is believed that the settlement was an important gold and ivory trading centre to the sheikdoms of the Middle East. The ruins at Mapungubwe, which pre-date the Great Zimbabwe ruins by over 200 years, are regarded as the most important early to mid Iron Age sites in southern Africa. Mapungubwe has recently been declared a World Heritage Site. The area is a National Park also protecting a wide variety of Africa’s large and small mammals.

Battlefields
Throughout the history of South Africa, wars over land and possessions took place: between the different tribes who settled the area, between the British and the Xhosa, the British and the Boers, the Boers and the Zulus and so it went. Battle sites can be found all around the country although Kwa Zulu Natal has a particularly high concentration and is known for its Battlefields tours. Some of these sites include:
Rorkes Drift – Battle between the Boers and the Zulus
Spioenkop- Bloody battle between the Boers and the British
Blood River – reconstruction of the battle between the Boers and the Zulus
Isandlawana – Battle between the British and the Zulus

Walk in the footsteps of the Voortrekkers who left the Cape in 1836 to escape British rule. Vestiges of their journey can be seen around the country.

Most towns of South Africa have comprehensive museums presenting a comprehensive overview of the country or region’s history. Cultural villages are a good way to learn about the history of the local people. Here are just a few of the museums.

Nelson Mandela Museum Umtata, Eastern Cape
CP Nel Museum – Oudshoorn, Western Cape
Museums and Historic Places – Kimberley, Northern Cape
Afrikaans Language Museum – Paarl, Western Cape
Pilgrims Rest Historic Gold Town – Mpumalanga
Castle of Good Hope – Cape Town, Western Cape
Moffat Museum- Kuruman, Northern Cape
Shipwreck Museum-Bredasdorp, Western Cape
Smuts House Museum - Pretoria, Gauteng
Sammy Marks Museum - Pretoria, Gauteng
South African Museum – Cape Town, Western Cape
The Drostdy Museum – Swellendam, Western Cape
The Olive Schreiner House – Cradock, Eastern Cape
Robben Island- Western Cape

All around the country are villages and towns of historical interest. These include
Cape Town
Paarl
Stellenbosch
Franschoek
Wuppertal
Cradock
Grahamstown
Burgersdal
Graaf-Reinet
Pietermaritzburg
Pilgrims Rest

 

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