All humans alive today are descendants of a small, core population of perhaps only a few hundred individuals who survived an ice age by taking refuge here in South Africa more than 160,000 years ago.
The Pinnacle Point Caves in Mossel Bay have revealed the earliest evidence for modern human behaviour, and, having been occupied at various times during 120,000 years of the last 160,000, have the longest record of occupation of any Middle Stone Age site yet found. Mossel Bay becomes the locus from which our common ancestry, our common fate, and our common future radiate across the globe.
But the Pinnacle Point Caves are significant, too, because the scientists of the SACP4 Project (South African Coastal Palaeoclimate, Palaeoenvironment, Palaeoecology and Palaeoanthropology Project) who’re studying them have extracted a record of the climate over the period from 30,000 years ago to 400,000 years ago - which, taken together with what we know about the habits of the people who lived in them, provides a picture of how our ancestors survived and thrived. Despite significant climate change.
The Municipality of Mossel Bay has set aside a piece of land next to the Cape St Blaize Cave (the site of South Africa’s first scientific archaeological dig - under George Leith in 1932) for The Point Discovery Centre.
The Point Discovery Centre is a Not-for-profit Company, set up by the Municipality of Mossel Bay to plan, build and manage the facility and its programmes without putting any pressure on the Municipal Budget.
The directors of the Company have therefore set themselves the task of financing the construction of the project via grants and donations raised from private individuals, private sector organisations, and governments.
Just as our ancestors faced the prospect of extinction thousands of years ago our very near descendants are once again facing the very real prospect of extinction. This time, though, it’s because of the way we live. The Point Discovery Centre will work towards reversing this imminent danger.
Given the lessons we’re learning from Middle Stone Age sites in South Africa, the Point Discovery Centre must enhance its environment, and aim towards carbon-neutral status.
Awakening the human spirit means creating a new conscience for - and a new consciousness around - the human journey and so The Point Discovery Centre has become a hub for sharing information about our past - and about what we need to do to secure our future.
The Centre designs programmes and provides facilities for a variety of disciplines and organisations:
Together, we can learn from the past, consider the present, and ponder the future.
Creating the facilities and programmes for The Point Discovery Centre requires a multi-disciplinary team of scientists, sociologists, designers, engineers, artisans, project managers, and business people. And it needs money, too, of course.
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Gail Lawrence (Chairperson)