Blombos Museum of Archeology

The Blombos Museum of Archaeology, a world-class asset to Hessequa and its people, is located in Stilbaai in the historic de Jagerhuis-opstal, Palinggat.

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 75000 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.

Also on display is the world’s oldest necklace.

Little fresh water “Tic” shells were excavated in the Blombos cave also from the 75000 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

Stillbaai is world famous for the beautiful, middle stone age, stone points found in the area.
The “Still Bay Point” is the name given by the archaeologists, Goodwin and van Riet Louw in 1929 to a mid-Palaeolithic stone tool manufacturing style after the site of Stilbaai where it was first described by CHTD Heese.

The point is bifacially 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.

An actual Still Bay point, excavated in the Blombos cave and donated by Professor Henshilwood, is on display.

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 during a time when the world was experiencing very harsh climatic conditions. This belief has been based on excavations made in the caves at Panicle Point in Mosselbay and research done by Professor Curtis Marian.

A display of the diet, covering fish, Shellfish, mammals and fynbos of these early Southern Cape Coast people has recently been added in the museum but due to lack of museum space, the full survival story of homo sapiens cannot at this time be adequacy 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 which is found in many caves and sheltered rock faces in the Hessequa region.

These beautiful, fine, paintings of human figures and animals were made hundreds, in some cases thousands, of years ago by the indigenous, hunter gatherer SAN people of the time.

There are also examples of rock art, hand prints and dot patterns, made by the more recent Khoi, herder – farmer, people who moved into this area 3 to 4 hundred years ago.

Dr Reneé Rust, with the support of The Hessequa Society for Archaeology, has embarked on a project to survey and document this rock art and this gallery, presents the result of some of her work.

In this gallery you will see life size tracings of the rock art, enlarged high quality photographs of the actual paintings on the rock faces, pictures of the sites themselves, an interpretation of the meanings of the paintings and a display of the technology used by these early people on how they manufactured and applied their paint.

The Blombos Museum of Archaeology was inaugurated by Professor Chris Henshilwood in 2006 and the Hessequa Society for Archaeology manages runs and controls the assets of this Museum through voluntary work by its members and financial assistance from the Hessequa Council and other sources.

Monday-Friday: 8.30-17.00
Saturday & Public holidays: 8.30-12.00
December Sundays: 8.30-12.00

The Museum has received acclaim from many individuals both locally and from abroad, some examples are:

‘and I was able to tell him that I have found your museum to be my favourite small museum in the whole world.’ (Charles Helm. 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)

“Unquestionably the most informative and beautifully displayed artefacts and history of this important era, congrats” ( Mr T P S Mulligan Hermanus)