A new exhibition highlighting the archaeological heritage and diverse marine environment of the Southern Cape coastline is now open to the public at the De Hoop Collection.

The ‘Origins of Early Southern Sapiens Behaviour’ exhibition showcases discoveries made by scientists from SapienCE and Wits University.

Notable figures such as Professor Christopher Henshilwood, Dr Karen van Niekerk, and Professor Sarah Wurz, along with their research teams, present a collection of artefacts, displays, and multimedia elements.

De Hoop Collection Nature Reserve

Image: The De Hoop Collection exhibition

The exhibition offers valuable insights into the lifestyles and behaviours of early humans in the region. Its primary goal is to underscore the cultural significance of these archaeological sites, providing visitors with a deeper understanding of our shared heritage.

‘The De Hoop Collection’s exhibition tells us about our prehistory by providing a glimpse into the origins and behaviours of early Homo sapiens in the Southern Cape region of Africa,’ says Henshilwood.


‘Visitors can see unique archaeological discoveries from sites such as Blombos Cave, Klipdrift Shelter, and Klasies River, where early Homo sapiens lived between 120 000 and 50 000 years ago.’

The exhibition was curated by Craig Foster, co-founder of the Sea Change Project, the producers of the Oscar and BAFTA-winning documentary, My Octopus Teacher, and archaeologist Petro Keene.

Henshilwood says the exhibition contributes to our understanding of human evolution, emphasising ‘the connections between cultural, social, climatic, and biological factors that have shaped our prehistory.’

The De Hoop Collection exhibition

Image: The De Hoop Collection exhibition

Under the theme ‘We are all one’, the exhibition underscores the genetic evidence that binds all Homo sapiens to African origins. The collection stands as a tribute to the diverse cultural heritage and Africa’s crucial role in the evolutionary prehistory of humanity.

Before its current display at the De Hoop Collection, the Sapiens exhibition toured across South Africa – first at the Spier Wine Estate in 2018, followed by showings at the Iziko South African Museum from 2019 to 2021, the Wits Origins Centre from 2021 to 2023, and the Cape of Good Hope Buffelsfontein Visitor Centre in Table Mountain National Park in June 2023.


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Article written by Ilze-Mari Van Zyl for Cape Etc.

Feature image: De Hoop Collection Nature Reserve / Facebook