Archaeologists have discovered what seems to be remains of the world's earliest religious worship site in the remote Ngamiland region of Botswana. Here, our ancestors performed advanced rituals, worshipping the python some 70,000 years ago. The sensational discovery strengthens Africa's position as the cradle of modern man.
The new archaeological findings in Botswana show that our ancestors in Africa engaged in ritual practice 70,000 years ago - some 30,000 years earlier than the oldest findings in Europe, according to a report printed in the research magazine 'Apollon' published by the University of Oslo (Norway).
While, up until now, scholars have largely held that man's first rituals were carried out over 40,000 years ago in Europe, it now appears that they were wrong about both the time and place. Associate Professor Sheila Coulson, from the Oslo University, however claims to have proof that modern humans started performing advanced rituals in Africa 70,000 years ago. She discovered mankind's oldest known ritual in Botswana.
Ms Coulson made the discovery while searching for Middle Stone Age artefacts in the only hills present for hundreds of kilometres in any direction in Ngamiland, north-western Botswana. This group of small peaks within the Kalahari Desert is known as the Tsodilo Hills and is famous for having the largest concentration of rock paintings in the world, some being more than 15,00 0 years old. Tsodilo is listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site.
The Tsodilo Hills are still a sacred place for the local San people, who call them the "Mountains of the Gods" and the "Rock that Whispers". The San people - known as Basarwa or Bushmen in Botswana - are know to be Southern Africa's indigenous population. San guides who lead archaeologists to the Tsodilo Hills must first check with their deity to ascertain whether they are welcome there.
The python is still one of the San people's most important sacred animals. According to their creation myth, mankind descended from the python and the ancient, arid streambeds around the hills are said to have been created by the python as it circled the hills in its ceaseless search for water.
Ms Coulson's discovery shows that locals even thousands of years ago had a specific ritual location associated with the python. The ritual was held in a little cave on the northern side of the Tsodilo Hills. The cave itself is so secluded and access to it is so difficult that it was
1,On this six meters long by two meter high stone, which resembles a python, researchers found 300-400 indentations that must have been made by humans.
2, he sacred python stone, at night, as it may have been during worshipping
3,Botswana's Tsodila Hills host a rich cultural heritage.
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