2010 World Monuments Watch
Wonderwerk Cave emerges from the plains of northeastern South Africa, opening on the northern side into the ancient cavity. Within the cave are stratified dolomitic limestone of the Ghaap Plateau Dolomite Formation and overlying Asbestos Hills Banded Ironstone, dating from the late Archaean to early Proterozoic (2.4 billion years) ages. Wonderwerk is one of fewer than five sites worldwide with evidence of human occupation nearly 2 million years old. Indications are apparent throughout: Oldowan stone tools can be seen in a basal unit, and rock art is present in several areas of the cave, signifying the religious and spiritual practices exercised for over 10,000 years. Partial erosion and threats of imminent collapse in certain areas have forced the cave to be closed to visitors. Additionally, continued research into the geology and archaeology of the site has not only slowed, but is severely threatened by the prospect of collapse. The historical, artistic, and archaeological significance of Wonderwerk cannot be underestimated, as it preserves one of the few remaining ancient shelters of prehistoric man.