The US Consulate General in Cape Town will support Heritage Western Cape’s efforts to conserve, protect, and document the Diepkloof Rock Shelter, a unique archaeological site on the ‘Cradle of Human Culture’ tourism route, through a grant of US$32,606.

The grant is provided from the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation.

The preservation of this significant archaeological site contributes to knowledge about the emergence of modern human behaviour.

The Diepkloof Rock Shelter, a Provincial Heritage Site since 2012, is one of six sites making up South Africa's nomination to Unesco for World Heritage Site status, titled 'The Emergence of Modern Humans: The Pleistocene Occupation Sites of South Africa'.

The site is where more than 400 engraved ostrich eggshells, dating from around 60 000 years ago, were found – the earliest known examples of storage and transport vessels worldwide.

Heritage Western Cape was selected from over 100 countries to receive the grant following a worldwide competition.

US Consul General in Cape Town, Virginia Blaser, praised the project. "As it ws 100 000 years ago, the Western Cape remains today a cradle for human innovation and industry that impacts the entire world. The United States is committed to both preserving this history and investing in South Africa's future."

Heritage Western Cape CEO, Mxolisi Dlamuka, says it will ensure that Diepkloof Rock Shelter is protected and conserved to World Heritage standards so that all citizens have the opportunity to enjoy the site and its outstanding cultural value.

Wesgro CEO, Tim Harris, adds: “This grant will go a long way in preserving the evidence that the development of modern human behaviour did, in fact, start in the Western Cape, positioning our destination as the Cradle of Human Culture. This is important as we seek to market our province to the world as a place with rich culture and heritage, attracting even more domestic and foreign tourists to our shores.”