Rock Paintings

Hidden in the caves above Baboon Point on the mountain above Elands Bay Beach are the most beautiful cave paintings. These were done by the Bushmen who lived in this area thousands of years ago. The University of Cape Town also has an archeological site not far from this spot.  In 2009 Heritage Western Cape declared the Elands Bay Cave and most of Baboon Point (Cape Deseada), on which it is located, as a provincial heritage site. Elands Bay Cave was occupied intermittently by Stone Age hunter-gatherers from about 100,000 years ago until about one thousand years ago. There is evidence from sheep bones and pieces of pottery that Khoe herders lived there too within the last two thousand years.

The rock paintings were probably done within the last five thousand years. They show large paintings of eland, the animal that was most important to them in their beliefs, as well as smaller antelope, a fish and a fat-tailed sheep. The most striking thing about the paintings, though, is the very large number of patterned handprints. The size of the handprints suggests they were made by young people between about 10 and 14 years. They decorated the palms of their hands in a series of U-shapes with paint made from powdered ochre and then pressed their hands onto the cave wall.  Many people believe this was done as part of initiation.