Jan Braai returns to braaiing’s birthplace

Popular TV personality and director of the National Braai Tour, Jan Braai, will return to the place where people made their first braais – the Pinnacle Point Caves near Mossel Bay – this Friday together with the 120 members of the Tour.

He described the Tour as a social rally around South Africa during which teams of four people each will visit important cultural and natural sites.

He filmed his last visit to the Caves for the show ‘Jan Braai vir Erfenis’ (Jan Braai for Heritage) that was aired on KykNet.

“Pinnacle Point is an extremely important site – not just for South Africa, but for the entire world,” he said. “It’s just a matter of time before it’s declared a World Heritage Site.”

Jan’s visit to the Caves will begin with a lecture by Dr. Peter Nilssen, the archaeologist who introduced the Caves to Science.

Dr. Nilssen said that the archaeology of the Caves has revealed the earliest evidence for the use of ochre as paint (which places them as the birthplace of culture); the earliest evidence for the use of complex technology – including the use of heat for stone tool production; and the earliest evidence for systematic harvesting from the sea (which represents advanced cognitive behaviour since it points to a knowledge of tides and, perhaps, the lunar cycle that influences them).

More than forty scientists from around the world have been working – and continue to work – to unlock the secrets of the climate, the environment, the ecology, and the anthropology of the Middle Stone Age under the leadership of Curtis Marean, an associate director of the Institute of Human Origins and professor at the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University.

The research into the climate of the area covers the period 400,000 to 30,000 years ago – and, since the Caves contain the longest record of human habitation of all Middle Stone Age Sites (more than 120,000 years), this could deliver insights into how humans adapt their behavior to changes in climate.

Prof Marean and colleagues produced their first significant paper on the Caves in 2007: ‘Early human use of marine resources and pigment in South Africa during the Middle Pleistocene’ appeared in the top peer-reviewed journal, ‘Nature.’

Jan Braai said he was excited to return to the Pinnacle Point Caves.

“On our first visit, Peter found a stone knife which we used to cut the meat we braaied that day – it was amazing to think that a knife that might have been made 162,000 years ago was still sharp enough to use today.”

He said that he loves visiting Mossel Bay – and he loves eating there. His favourite dish when he’s in town? Seafood. Amongst others

“It’s a beautiful town and a great holiday spot. I’ve had incredible meat at places like Kaai 4 at the Harbour, great pizzas at Delfino’s (at The Point), and probably the greatest meal of the year at Café Gannet, at the Protea Hotel Mossel Bay.

“That was phenomenal. Mossel Bay should be super proud to have an asset like that.”

Fred Orban, coordinator of the Point of Human Experience – through which the public can access the caves, and learn about the origins of modern human behaviour in the company of Dr. Nilssen – said that visits to the Caves are usually limited to small groups of about twelve people at a time.

“The members of the National Braai Tour will have to go down in shifts, but it’s important that we introduce as many people as possible to the work that’s going on here, so we’ll make a plan.”

Before visiting the Caves, Dr. Nilssen will deliver a lecture on the origins of modern human behaviour in the Bravo Lounge at the Garden Route Casino.

Mr. Orban thanked the Casino for making the venue available free of charge, while Jan Braai thanked the people of Mossel Bay – and particularly those associated with the Pinnacle Point Caves – for making the visit possible. He said that he and his team will be filming “a few episodes” of Jan Braai vir Erfenis, which will screen on KykNet during October.

Members of the public may only visit the Pinnacle Point Caves on an official tour; please see www.humanorigin.co.za for details. For more on the archaeology of Mossel Bay, please go to www.visitmosselbay.co.za/archaeology, and for information about Jan Braai and his mission to unite all South Africans through our common heritage, please go to www.braai.com (you’ll find some lekker recipes there, too). • Mosselbay Tourism

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