Zee Media Bureau
Johannesburg: Tens of thousands of Earlier Stone Age artifacts, including hand axes and others have been discovered by archaeologist in the Northern Cape province of South Africa.
Archaeologists from the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa and the University of Toronto (U of T), in collaboration with the McGregor Museum in Kimberley, South Africa made the discoveries.
The archaeologist research on the Kathu Townlands site is one of the richest early prehistoric archaeological sites in South Africa. And it is estimated that the site is between 700,000 and one million years old.
Steven James Walker from the Department of Archaeology at University of Cape Town (UCT), lead author of the paper says,``The site is amazing but it is threatened. We`ve been working well with developers as well as the South African Heritage Resources Agency to preserve it, but the town of Kathu is rapidly expanding around the site. It might get cut off on all sides by development and this would be regrettable.``
Today, Kathu is a major iron mining centre. Walker added the fact that such an extensive prehistoric site is located in the middle of a zone of intensive development poses a unique challenge for archaeologists and developers to find strategies to work cooperatively.
Director of the Archaeology Centre at University of Toronto, Michael Chazan, emphasised the scientific challenge posed by the density of the traces of early human activity in this area.
"We need to imagine a landscape around Kathu that supported large populations of human ancestors, as well as large animals like hippos. All indications suggest that Kathu was much wetter, maybe more like the Okavango than the Kalahari," said Chazan.
The Kathu Townlands site known as the Kathu complex is one component of a grouping of prehistoric sites. Other sites in the complex Kathu Pan 1 which has produced fossils of animals such as elephants and hippos, as well as the earliest known evidence of tools used as spears from a level dated to half a million years ago.
The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.