Peter Nilssen

Published on 25 Mar 2015

Peter Nilssen talks to a group from National Geographic's 'Wildlife and Cultures of South Africa, Mozambique, and Madagascar' voyage at Cape St. Blaize Cave about the Point of Human Origins Experience, Mossel Bay: the emergence of modern human behaviour, and why it's so important to us today as we face the 6th mass extinction event.



News from and about Mossel Bay & GB River

August 5th, 2017, The Museum has a table at the Great Brak River Outspan Market. Come and see the new GBR T Shirts and other interesting items on display. 8am to 1.00 pm.

Also available at the Museum is the story, titled 'The Legend of the Fat Tailed Sheep'.

This is the story of the enchanting travels of our Khoe People on their journey to South Africa which took place a long time before Bartholomew Dias rounded the Cape. Today Sheep and Wool production are very much a part of South Africa but do you know their history and that Great Brak River originally had a wool washery. The main story will be told in slide/picture format but there will also be exhibits on wool production (slavery, farming, shearing, spinning and knitting the finished product).

Fat tailed or fat-rumped sheep are so-named because they can store large amounts of fat in the tail and region of the rump. Fat-tailed sheep are now found mostly in the extreme environments in Africa, also the Middle East and parts of Asia. They grow wool, but are raised primarily for meat or milk production. Fat-tailed sheep comprise some twenty-five percent of the old world's sheep population.

All wild sheep have thin tails, as our European sheep do. The fat tail is a feature humans created by breeding sheep to concentrate their subcutaneous fat in the tail. The purpose was convenience in harvesting fat for cooking. The fat was used extensively in medieval Arab and Persian cookery. The tail fat is still used in modern cookery, especially in countries such as Morocco. The wool from fat-tailed breeds is usually coarse and frequently has coloured fibres. Today it is used primarily for rug-making and other cottage-type industries. Bedouin women make rugs and blankets from the wool. Some of their handiwork can be purchased in the villages of Egypt. Shearing in Egypt is done once or twice a year with hand clippers.

Also in the news; the Great Brak River Museum has a coffee shop, "The Pelton Wheel", where you can come and relax, enjoy a cup of tea or coffee and a pancake whilst selecting a pre-read book from our large selection.

Do you Know?   The Great Brak River Museum is 38 Years Old on the 21st June 2017.

Become a FRIEND of the Great Brak River museum and enjoy our social get to-gethers and interesting programs.
To become a FRIEND besides receiving invitations to our evenings and outings you will receive
Copies of our monthly newsletter, the cost is R100.oo for twelve months.
Should you wish to receive copies of our monthly newsletter by post, the cost is R200.oo per annum (covers the cost of printing and postage).
We also accept business membership at R200.oo per annum. This helps your village museum with funding and in turn we will advertise your business several times a year as and when space is available at no extra cost.

Your museum newsletter has been going nonstop for more than nine years on a monthly basis without a break, and it is circulated directly to more than 400 Friends and interested parties who in turn circulate it throughout South Africa and the world.   Quite a record?
Our Bank account is FNB (First National Bank) at Mossel Bay
Great Brak River Museum Association
Branch number 210314
Account Number 62201449172
or drop into the museum at 13 Amy Searle Street,
week days between 8.30 am to 4.00 pm.

May month, 2017, at the Great Brak River Museum will see several new displays:
History of Rugby in Great Brak River and Mossel Bay.
The KHOE Room has been updated with four new display boards. 
Then we have the story of the first tannery in the village and the people who lived in the dangerous kloof during times of tranquility and flood.
We also have, in the KHOE room, a new and up todate time line of events for the past 220,000 years. But what about Homo naledi?
Did you know that man has been living in Mossel Bay for at least One Million years?
The much earlier Provincial Heritage Cape St. Blaize Cave in Mossel Bay is an important archaeological site, and a popular point for whale and dolphin watching. It is situated in the cliffs below the Cape St Blaize Lighthouse.

The cave is significant for a number of reasons: George Leith excavated it in1888 (making it one of South Africa's earliest archaeological excavations). More importantly, though, the cave has revealed middens laid down by man's early ancestors during much of the middle stone age. Who the people were is yet to be determined. There is still much evidence to be unlocked and it is hoped that further excavations will be started in the near in the future.

After debating for decades, paleoanthropologists now agree there is enough genetic and fossil evidence to suggest that Homo sapiens evolved in Africa ca. 200,000–160,000 years ago. The caves at Pinnacle Point, nearby, have reviled much more evidence pertaining to an earlier time and this evidence stretches back 164,000 years. In December 2012, the provincial heritage resources authority Heritage Western Cape declared the Pinnacle Point group of caves a provincial heritage site in the terms of Section 27 of the National Heritage Resources Act.

According to research which Professor Curtis Marean and his team published in 2007, this is probably where the small, core population that gave rise to all humans alive today first began to exhibit significantly modern behaviour: the systematic harvesting of food from the sea, the use of complex bladelet technology, and the use of ochre for symboling.

Most of the evidence comes to an end some 40,000 years ago and then reappears about 12,000 years ago with the retreat of the last ice age. There is convincing evidence that the latter are the San or Bushman people.

The missing evidence from 40,000 years to 12,000 years ago lies buried under the sea which during this period was an exposed landmass extending up to 140 kilometres from present day Mossel Bay. Inland evidence is minimal as during this period, much of southern Africa was an extremely cold desert.

Modern human behaviour is thought to have begun in the period from about 200,000 years ago evidenced by findings in other cave centres where further extensive development took place.

In several areas along our coastal corridor, other caves reveal findings mainly dating from about 3,000 years ago to the pre-colonial age (i.e. pre-1488).

There is some debate on where the Khoe people came from. In archaeological terms, these earliest herders in southern Africa introduced sheep and pottery. Some archaeologists and linguists believe that the Khoe (people who also spoke a click language like the Bushman) lived much further north towards East Africa (Zambia, Tanzania). They have been found historically in the Kalahari, Caprivi, Southern Zimbabwe and parts of South Africa. They arrived in the Cape some 2,100 to 2,200 years ago.

The Western Cape was not originally home to the Bantu who originally came from West Africa around 4,000 years ago and who arrived in the northern Transvaal some 1,500 years ago.
 Frequently-quoted words of writer and philosopher George Santayana – “those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. Come and see the progress we have made.
From Thursday 4th of October 2012, the Great Brak River Museum has been hosting a new display on the history of the people of Great Brak River from the beginning of time. Additional pannels and information is being added from time to time.
Alongside, a corner of the new exhibition

This exhibition is about the different peoples of the 'Cape Corridor' of the Western Cape who began their lives in our area; the 'African' or Modern Man who started out some 200,000 years ago to colonise the earth, the San who believe they were here from the beginning of time and for at least the past 12,000 years and our Khoe people who are the more recent arrivals.

Explore the history of 'Modern Man'·in Mossel Bay's coastal corrodor and see stone age tools that could be one million years old.

The museum is open from 8.30 am to 4.00 pm. during weekdays.

Phone your editor on 083-448-1966

If you have not received the latest issue of our 'Heritage news letter', please contact your editor. 

Wolwedans Dam

The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry reports that during the last week in July 2017, our Wolwedans dam water level was more than 79 % full.

On the 10th March 2011, after a severe local drought water restrictions were eventually lifted. Whilst we have had fairly good rains since then, the remainder of the Western Cape is experiancing heavy drought conditions.

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