Prehistory of the Soutpansberg

The Soutpansberg geological system is approximately 1 700million years old. Successive east-west faulting ranging over a distance of 560km created the mountain. This faulting was caused by the action of the 2700 million-year-old Limpopo Mountain Belt. Faulting occurred to the north and south, resulting in the Soutpansberg fault zone that lies parallel to the mobile belt. This faulting caused the strata to dip to the north and rise to the south, thus forming the main cliff lines of the mountain, which are south-facing with the northern side sloping at an incline of approximately 45°.

The Soutpansberg was covered by the Later Karoo Sediments, which in time eroded to expose the harder Soutpansberg strata. It seems as if, during the Karoo Period, the Soutpansberg area was covered by vast forests, remnants of which can be seen in coal beds currently being mined north-east of the mountain next to the Kruger National Park. Gondwanaland started to fragment about 1500million years ago and the earth was subjected to various ice ages, during which the Soutpansberg floristic community slowly became separated from the Cape floral zone. This separation was mainly due to expansion of the Karoo arid zone.

Paleontological and archeological research has proved that hominids have inhabited the earth for at least the last 2 million years. Preliminary archeological surveys suggests that the Limpopo Province has been inhabited by humans for at least 100 000 years.

Life in the Soutpansberg area stretches far beyond this date. Fossilized dinosaur remains have been found in the area known as W611, what are thought to be dinosaur footprints near Pontdrif. Dinosaurs became extinct roughly 65 million years ago. Human existence in the Limpopo Province can be divided into three chronological periods.

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