Blombos Museum of Archaeology
Displaying Stone Age history – stone tool artefacts, stone points, examples of the oldest art in the world and a rock art gallery in a most informative way.
The Blombos Museum of Archaeology is in the historic De Jagerhuis-opstal at Palinggat. It is a world-class asset to Hessequa and its people.
This little specialised museum is dedicated to presenting to the public, the stone age history of the area and specifically, the findings at the Blombos cave and the work carried out by Professor Chris Henshilwood.
The displays include descriptive panels and stone tool artefacts of the earlier, middle and later stone age and artefacts from the Blombos cave itself.
The most significant find in the Blombos cave was a small piece of ochre inscribed deliberately by human hand with a cross-hatched pattern and an accurate replica is on display.
This has been dated at 75 000 years before present and although the meaning of the inscription is not known, it is an example of modern abstract thought and this piece of ochre is believed to be the world’s oldest example of art.
Little fresh water “Tic” shells were excavated in the Blombos cave thought to be from the 75 000 year layers. The remarkable fact here is that it has been shown that each shell has a handmade little hole and that these shells were strung together and worn as body adornment.
The original shells which were excavated from the Blombos cave are considered as the world’s oldest necklace and a replica of the necklace is on display.
Stilbaai is world famous for the beautiful stone points found in the area dating back to the stone age.
The “Still Bay Point”
The “Still Bay Point” is the name given by the archaeologists, Goodwin and Van Riet Louw in 1929. After the site of Stilbaai where it was first described by CHTD Heese.
The point is bi-facially retouched, narrow, and lance-shaped with two sharply pointed ends giving a leaf-like appearance. The finer examples were manufactured from heat treated silcrete which allowed the process of minute pressure flaking to be carried out.
Most noteworthy is the actual Still Bay point, excavated in the Blombos cave. Was donated by Professor Henshilwood, and is on display in the Blombos Museum.
The survival of humanity has been attributed to the fact that abundant shell fish and edible fynbos was available here on the Southern Cape Coast. Archaeologist believe that the world was experiencing very harsh climatic conditions during this period. This belief has been based on excavations made in the caves at Pinnacle Point in Mossel Bay. Professor Curtis Marian has been doing a lot of research here.
Examples of the diet of these early Southern Cape Coast people are on display. Examples of covering fish, shellfish, mammals and fynbos are displayed in the Blombos Museum. but Because of the lack of museum space, the full survival story of homo sapience be adequately presented to the public.
A recent addition to the museum is a rock art gallery.
The Langeberg mountains contain a rich heritage of ancient rock art. Discovered in many caves and sheltered rock faces in the Hessequa region.
Beautiful, fine, paintings of human figures and animals were made hundreds, in some cases probably thousands, of years ago. They were made by the indigenous, hunter gatherer SAN people of the time.
Examples of rock art, hand prints and dot patterns which was made by the more recent Khoi people can be seen. It is said that they moved into this area as much as 3 to 4 hundred years ago. Seems like they were more either farmers or Sheppards.
Dr Reneé Rust has embarked on a project to survey and document this rock art. As a result some of her work can be seen in the museum. The Hessequa Society for Archaelogy has had a great hand in all of this.
In this gallery you will see life size tracings of the rock art. On the wall you will see enlarged high quality photographs which was taken of the actual paintings of the rock faces. Also enjoy some pictures of the sites. You can read what the meaning of the paintings are. Also the art of how the early people manufactured and applied there paint can be seen.
Professor Chris Henshilwood inaugared the Blombos museum of Archaeology in 2006. The Hessequa Society for Archaeology manages, runs and controls the assets of the Museum. While this is done through voluntary work by its members. Some assistance are also provided by the Hessequa municipality.
Saturday & Public holidays: 8.30-12.00
December Sundays: 8.30-12.00
Finally here are some comments made by well known people in the field who visited the museum.
‘ I have found your museum to be my favourite small museum in the whole world.’ (Charles Helm). He is a family physician and spare time director of the local museum in Northern British Columbia in Canada)
“My visit to your museum was the highlight of my trip to South Africa” (Dr. Matthias Wagner, tourist from Bamberg, Germany)
“probably the most informative and beautifully displayed artefacts and history of this important era, congrats” . ( Mr T P S Mulligan Hermanus)