Two research publications traced the ancient patterns of cultural heritage and the location of ancestral homelands to Southern Africa and in doing so, focused international attention on Southern Africa.
A team of researchers from the African Centre for Coastal Paleoscience at Nelson Mandela University found evidence of ancient human culture in patterns made on the dunes and beaches near Sedgefield, Knysna and Still Bay. Ammoglyph (from the Greek words ammos for sand and glyph for carving image or symbol) was proposed as a new term to describe these patterns drawn in the sand. The team is waiting for results to date the profiles, but they anticipate that these patterns are within the range of 70 000 – 158 000 years old. The find will become part of the Cradle of Human Culture, an initiative of the Western Cape Government to show archaeological and paleontological heritage routes in the Western Cape on a user-friendly website.
Another research effort made headlines by claiming that the exact location of the ancestral home of homo sapiens was in southern Africa, spreading from Namibia across Botswana and south of the Zambezi river to Zimbabwe. It is now generally accepted that homo sapiens originated somewhere in Africa about 200 000 years ago, with the exact location unknown. The researchers, from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia, based their findings on an analysis of samples of mitochondrial DNA that they collected from people living in Southern Africa. International researchers criticised the reasoning by pointing at the complexity of the evolution of homo sapiens. They argue that variations in genes of modern populations are not a valid base to explain the origin of and homo sapiens, which is likely to have several ancestral homelands across Africa and beyond.