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False Bay Coast

Peers Cave – Major Historical Discoveries

Along the False Bay Coast road lies the small town of Fish Hoek. This is the home to Peers Cave, a discovery made by Mr. Victor Peers and his son. This is a story of a hobby that led to a historical find, which uncovered more than just a cave.

Driven by his fascination for zoology and the study of reptiles, Peers and his son stumbled on the cave, now known as Peers Cave. They began the excavation of the cave in May 1927, and from the start it was evident that Peers and son, were not the first excavators of the cave.

The Peers Cave in Fish Hoek is completely protected from the north easterly winds by a projecting roof, rock talus and growth. The Cave was a perfect home for the previous residents, but complicated the work of the excavators. The level of the cave floor, its location midway between the Indian and Atlantic Ocean, and the realization that the sea shells found within the cave are usually located 3 miles into the ocean, proves that the sea has receded since the occupation of the cave.

Two crude pounders were discovered at two feet, embedded in shell deposits, at the northern end of Peers Cave, where excavation began. A large lump that was found in the cave wall, made further excavation near impossible. Peers divided the cave floor in 6 feet squares, and slowly started working his way through the cave. Previous excavators had done a lot of damage to items, but the Peers managed to salvage bored shells, fragments of human bones, pieces of rope, beads made from ostrich egg shells, ornaments and arrow heads. All these items recovered from the cave, confirmed the existence of the cave dwellers to be that of Strandlopers(Beachcombers).

One of the biggest discoveries made by the father and son team was three adult skeletons, found in the rear of the cave. It is believed the last burial was made after the passing of early Portuguese explorers. In contrast to the age of the skeletons, they all seemed to have excellent teeth. The most significant find, which launched the Peers to world fame in 1929, was the excavation of a skull, blackened by age. The difference in bone structure was obvious, and found by Sir Arthur Keith to belong to an inhabitant of South Africa, who roamed the False Bay Coast 15 000 years ago. The Peers Cave not only revealed the secrets to the survival and lives of the early human, but the skull to the largest brained type discovered to date.