Relics Of Prehistoric Elephant

In 1962 excavations for the reconstruction of Zoo Park in Independence Avenue in Windhoek by the Windhoek Municipality, were halted due to an exciting and import archaeological event. The remains of at least two elephants - slaughtered by Stone Age hunters over 5,000 years ago - were discovered in the form of tusks, various teeth, jaws, vertebrae, ribs, pelvic bones and a femur.

A variety of stone tools were also found. They were made of quartz and were used mainly for chopping and cutting. These tools were made for killing elephants before butchering the meat. They were embedded in a sand and peat deposit, and subsequent analysis indicated that the area known today as Windhoek was once wet and marshy. The surrounding vegetation was a savannah that included scattered grasses and Terminalia trees, similar to what grows around the capital city today, (less the marshes and elephants of course).

To protect this amazing archaeological find, a semi-circular showcase was built around the site. This ensured that it would be protected from weathering as well as allowing tourists and visitors to enjoy the artefacts pretty much as they were found. Today the original elephant remains and tools are stored at the National Museum of Namibia in Windhoek, for protection from the weather and against theft from would-be illegal collectors. They were proclaimed a National Monument of Namibia on 15th August 1963.

The original site of the remains and tools is now commemorated by a memorial sculpture by Dörte Berner, which was commissioned and erected as part of a competition held by the Windhoek Municipality, and overseen by the National Monuments Council's Regional Committee in 1990, (a ceremony slightly overshadowed by Namibia gaining independence!).

This sculpture in Zoo Park also commemorates that Windhoek was, in prehistoric times, an area of hot springs attracting animals and Stone Age hunters alike. The detail includes depictions of an elephant hunt around the column, with a sculpted elephant skull placed proudly on the top of the sculpture.

A visit to Zoo Park is well worth the effort and is a great place to relax after a self-drive tour around Namibia, if you have an hour or so to spare. There is also a great café in the grounds if you fancy a coffee and a spot of breakfast or lunch.

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