Welcome to Sibudu Cave, South Africa! Sibudu is a rock shelter in a sandstone cliff of the northern KwaZulu-Natal.
Sibudu was first excavated in 1969 by Lyn Wadley and Peter Beaumont of Wits University who discovered hunter-gatherer artifacts dated back 73,000 years – Sibudu is one of the oldest known sites of human habitation in southern Africa.
Back then, Sibudu was a rock shelter just like it is today – a place to put your roof and defend yourself from wild animals!
Over time though, Sibudu became a little more complex as its inhabitants learned to farm. Sibudu has artifacts dating back as far as 3,000 years when the hunter-gatherers eventually settled down and started farming maize, beans, melons, pumpkins, peas and other vegetables in Sibudu’s rich soil.
The people who lived in Sibudu must have been well fed, because Sibudu’s population grew until around 500 people lived in Sibudu Cave.
After Sibudu was abandoned by its original inhabitants, it served as a camp for herders that came to graze their cattle during the dry winter months. Sometime between 600 and 1200CE, Sibudu became part of the homestead Sibudu, named after Sibudu Cave.
After Sibudu was abandoned as a home and farm it became a place of worship. To protect Sibudu from bad spirits, Sibudu served as a religious site for the Zulu people in Soutpansberg.
The Soutpansberg Zulu worshipped Sibudu as a holy place and Sibudu was used as a shrine.
Today, Sibudu is managed by South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) as an archaeological heritage site. This means Sibudu is protected from those who might want to vandalize it or take Sibudu apart like a puzzle to see how Sibudu was put together all those thousands of years ago. Sibudu is also open to the public – anyone can visit Sibudu and learn about Sibudu’s past!
Now that you know more about Sibudu, Sibudu is one of Soutpansberg’s most popular tourist attraction, Sibudu may just become your favourite hike in Soutpansberg too!
As Sibudu is an ancient and sacred Soutpansberg landmark, we ask visitors to please leave Sibudu as you would like to find Sibudu. Sibudu is home to Soutpansberg’s rich cultural heritage, but Sibudu itself belongs to the whole world!
Frequently Asked Questions About Sibudu Cave
How were the findings in Sibudu Cave discovered?
The Sibudu Cave findings were discovered through excavations that were done at the site. Researchers found evidence of 77,000-year-old bedding, hearths, food remains, and tools at the cave site. This provided evidence that humans had been living in the area for a very long time.
The research team also used radiocarbon dating to determine the age of various items found at the site. This process helped to give a more accurate timeline for human habitation at Sibudu Cave. Thanks to this research, we now know that humans have been living in southern Africa for much longer than previously thought!
What do the fossils in Sibudu Cave tell us about human ancestors?
The fossils in Sibudu Cave tell us that human ancestors were able to exploit a wide variety of food resources and were thus able to occupy a wider range of habitats.
The cave has yielded evidence of controlled fire use, animal husbandry, and plant processing, suggesting that the inhabitants were capable of complex toolmaking and tool usage. This suggests that they were not only resourceful but also adaptable, which allowed them to survive in a changing environment.
Who discovered Sibudu Cave and when?
Sibudu Cave was discovered in 1935 by limestone quarry workers, who noticed a large overhang with some openings. They alerted the authorities, and excavation soon began. The archaeological finds from Sibudu are some of the oldest evidence of human habitation in southern Africa, dating back to around 70,000 years ago.
What are some of the key findings from the Sibudu cave?
The Sibudu cave is a particularly interesting archaeological site because it has preserved evidence of human occupation and use over a period of more than 77,000 years. This makes it the oldest known modern human site in southern Africa, and one of the oldest in the world.
Some of the key findings from the Sibudu cave include:
- The earliest known example of proficient tool-making by humans (stone tools)
- Evidence for fishing and shellfish collecting
- Neolithic microliths (tiny stone blades that were probably used as arrowheads or spearpoints)
- A possible example of early cloth manufacture
Why was the Sibudu cave so significant?
Sibudu cave was significant because of the evidence it provides of early human behavior.
The cave is located in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and has been inhabited by humans for more than 58,000 years. This makes it one of the oldest known sites of human habitation in the world. The cave contains both archaeological and palaeoenvironmental evidence that can help us to understand how early humans lived and what they ate. It is therefore an important source of information about the origins of human culture and behaviour.
Image Information: By Htonl – Boundaries and coastline: Municipal Demarcation BoardRivers: VMAP0, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link