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Cape Town is home to the oldest known art created in Africa

Cape Town’s Peers Cave boasts the only rock art still visible on the Table Mountain chain.

About 35 minutes’ drive from the city centre, down toward Cape Town’s South Peninsula, a little-known artistic gem awaits intrepid travellers. Peers Cave not only has the most southerly cave painting in Africa, but likely also the oldest – anywhere from 12 000 years to 200 000 years old!

As you drive toward the Fish Hoek valley over Ou Kaapse Weg in the South Peninsula of Cape Town, look out for parking on your left near the bottom of the pass, with a sign that says Peers Cave. A 20-minute hike, with beautiful views of the valley and the Atlantic Ocean, will take you to a large overhang. High up on the walls of this cave can be seen ochre-pigment paintings of an abstract nature, including groups of dots, images that resemble handprints, and an arrow that points to where the sun sets on the horizon.

In 1927, an archaeologist called Victor Peers excavated stone tools here, and the remains of nine people. These ancient skeletons are believed to have been around for the last 120 000 years, and are now referred to collectively as “Fish Hoek Man”.

While it seems impossible to give an accurate dating on the cave paintings, the valley below is believed to have been inhabited since the Early Stone Age some 400 000 years ago.

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