Published online by Cambridge University Press: 19 May 2022
The Makapansgat Valley is located in Limpopo Province, South Africa (Figure 7.1), and is the northernmost of the South African australopithecine fossil sites. Hominin fossils were first recovered there in 1947, but the history and significance of the valley dates to the nineteenth century. The name of the site and valley derives from the Historic, or Gwasa, Cave at the head of the valley, which was the location of a siege in 1854 (Naidoo, 1987; Esterhuysen et al., 2008) on local Ndebele tribespeople by a Boer Commando in retaliation for two massacres – themselves retaliation for raids for ivory and slave labor by the Boer on Ndebele villages. The chief was Mokopane, and the cave became known as “Makapan’s Cave” or -gat in Afrikaans.