Archaeologist Garth Sampson started working on a large-scale, long-term project in the 1970s. Over the years, this project developed into the largest surveyed archaeological site in Africa and the best known research project in the Karoo, states the summer 2011 issue of Karoo News, the Nama Karoo Foundation newsletter. The inspiration for this Zeekoei Valley Archaeological Project (ZVAP), which covers hundreds of thousands of years of hominid history, was the Bushmen, the people with the oldest DNA in the world. In his first paper, just published, Garth discusses the fact that livestock farming was taking place in the Karoo long before the arrival of settlers from Europe. “Ethno-historian Richard Elphick made this point in 1977, when he was the first to propose a southward migration of Khoekhoe (Khoi) stock herders and to suggest that their southward migration was more complex than the traditionally accepted. Internal strife seems to have caused a large group to split up near the Gariep\Vaal junction and while one sector moved along the Gariep [Orange] River, the other found a path through the Sneeuberg Mountains and into the Karoo. Garth’s paper (on http://www.namakaroo.org/generator/assets/Garths.PDF) makes interesting reading. He poses an intriguing question: “Were ancient stone walls which so interest archaeologists made by European ostrich farmers, Khoekhoe livestock herders or by Bushmen/San for hunting Springbok, possibly during Springbok stampedes?” He is still searching for the answer.
© Rose’s Roundup, May 2011 (No 208)
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