Dive South Africa - Operation Zembe

By: Dive South Africa

In 1995 leading South African marine archaeologist Bruno Werz found a hand axe whilst surveying a shipwreck in False Bay off Cape Town. This was identified as an Acheulean tool dating back 300 000 to a million years, the oldest under sea find ever recorded, an archaeological oddity that raised a series of fascinating questions.

Further brief explorations of this site over the next few years revealed another hand axe and some pieces of animal bone. Realizing that this site has international significance, through SAIMA (South African Institute of Maritime Archaeology) Bruno has requested the assistance of the Dorset based Scientific Exploration Society (www.ses-explore.org) to be the first group to truly investigate this and other sites.

The SES immediately accepted the challenge of launching an expedition.

From 3 to 28 November 2004 a SES-team under leadership of the world famous Monty Halls will be exploring and excavating potential sites from Table Bay to Cape Agulhas.

The divers will have to visualize the seabed, as it would have appeared millions of years ago, with teeming reefs as dry canyons. The idea is to scan areas of seabed, and identify where prehistoric man would have made camp. Once such areas are identified, they will be surveyed.

The main site is in 6 meter (20ft) of water just behind the surf zone. The conditions are demandingScience Articles, with the added fear factor that this is Great White territory where this feared predator are out in the hunt for food.

The name Zembe is a direct translation of "axe" from the Nguni language.

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