Workers unearth ancient tools

By Graeme Hosken Time of article published Jun 18, 2008

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A piece of ancient history revealed itself to modern society when prehistoric tools were unearthed during the excavation of a swimming pool at a Pretoria school last week.

The discovery was made while workers were preparing the ground for a swimming pool at Waterkloof House Preparatory School in Muckleneuk.

The tools are believed to date back at least 100 000 years when prehistoric man roamed the Pretoria area.

While showing a Pretoria News team around the site, another stone tool, believed to be from the same era, was unearthed.

Dr Francis Thackeray, director of the Transvaal Museum, said the discoveries were a clear sign that ancient man existed in the area at least 100 000 years ago, "long before the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck even".

He said the discoveries, which also include a stone brought in from another area, clearly showed signs of human behaviour.

Thackeray said the tools, which have been flaked in several places to form a cutting edge, probably would have been used to break animal bones to get at the marrow.

The marrow is likely to have been an important source of protein to supplement a prehistoric diet of roots, tubers, fruit and insects, said Thackeray.

He said the tools were similar to those he had discovered at other sites such as Kromdraai in the Sterkfontein valley, in the Cradle of Humankind.

It is not the first time that Thackeray has discovered stone tools at the school.

When he was a pupil there 50 years ago, he found several stone tools while the school's cricket field was being levelled.

Asked what the chances of members of the public finding such tools in the Pretoria area were, Thackeray said they were extremely good, "especially in the Brooklyn area, which would have been occupied by small populations of prehistoric man".

The latest find is to join the collection of stone artifacts found 50 years ago at the school's museum, where they will now be on public display.

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