Wednesday, November 24, 2004


Divers find ancient homes

By Andre Gouws

The team of divers looking for ancient cave dwellings
off the Cape coast. At the back, from left to right, are
Mike Millest, Janet Davies and Greshon de Beer. In the
centre are Monty Halls, Kelley Diekman, Tinita Hughes
and Kevin Bateman, and Brundo Werz sits in front.
(Jo-Anne Cavanagh, Die Burger)

Cape Town - International divers have discovered several cave sites along the Cape Peninsula coast where ancient lost civilisations might have lived.

The team embarked on their search earlier this month after Dr Bruno Werz, a marine archaeologist, found a prehistoric axe, that could be 1.5m years old, in Table Bay nine years ago.

Werz said in Simon's Town on Friday there were indications that more remnants of prehistoric civilisations could be found under the water.

He said the divers were looking for caves where people could have lived. A number of caves, also above the present water level, looked promising. In prehistoric times, the water levels in the Cape were lower than they are now.

Werz didn't want to divulge too much information about the caves' location lest curious people investigate on their own and ruin possible excavation sites.

A video clip of the most promising underwater cave shows that it could very well have been a safe and comfortable shelter for humans. There is even a "step" at the entrance.

Monty Halls, a former British marine, said the divers, all members of the Scientific Exploration Society, were volunteers who paid to take part in the expedition.

Ancient artefacts
Halls said there was great excitement among divers about the possibility of ancient civilisations waiting to be discovered along the Cape Coast.

Halls said: "So far, the search has been a resounding success, and we've got more than a week to go."

Werz said the team planned to identify a number of underwater sites where people might have dwelled.

He would then apply for the necessary permits to start excavations to search for prehistoric artefacts. Excavations could take several years.

"A search like this has never been done before," Werz said.

The oldest artefacts found off Greece were 45 000 years old. The number of axes Werz found subsequent to the first one, could be anything from 300 000 to 1.5m years old.

Reon Coetzee of Umkomaas, who provides the team's logistic support, said the search would continue at De Kelders, Arniston and possibly even Cape Agulhas, where more evidence of ancient cave dwellers was found.

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