Dinosaur fossils, historical sites, Mapungubwe related archaeology, and Rock Art - Historical Sites & Fossils

Dinosaur Fossils, Rock Art and Archaeological sites are waiting to be explored with Sentinel  Limpopo Eco Safaris! 

Explore the ancient history of the Limpopo River Valley with Sentinel Limpopo Eco Safaris at Sentinel Ranch - the property is rich in Triassic Dinosaur Fossils, San Rock Art sites, Late Iron Age sites and Grain Bin shelters.

Dinosaur Fossils:  The sand and mudstones of Sentinel were laid down by geographical forces over 200 million years ago -  prior to the advent of  Continental Drift!  Trapped in these layers are the fossilised remnants of  a number of very early dinosaur species:  View the teeth and trace fossils of the 240-million-year-old Erythrosuchus - an early ancestor of the crocodile.  Fossils of the late Triassic prosaurapod, Massospondylus (210-190 million years old), lay like pebbles on the hillsides where their bones have tumbled from their ancient resting places.  A spectacular find was made some years ago where the well-articulated remnants of a Massospondylus lie trapped in a bed of  solid sandstone.  Palaeontologists from South Africa and Zimbabwe worked together to reveal its form from the rock that covered it. It lies in situ, a fascinating specimen from ancient Gondwanaland.   Sentinel is literally bursting with fossils.  It is hoped that a team of palaeontologists and geoplogists will continue to unlock the clues to earth's distant past from these important finds on Sentinel Ranch in the near future.  There are certainly enough fossil sites on the property to keep them busy for a number of years!

Rock Art: Perhaps even thousands of  years ago the abundance of wildlife and natural water in this area attracted nomadic San and !Kung peoples, whose unique world view is reflected in their enigmatic rock paintings found in many secret shelters and overhangs throughout the sandstone ridges that boundary the Limpopo River.  Stone tools and ostrich eggshell beads have been found at these historical sites. See the unusual Y-shapes paintings that are found only in the Limpopo Valley - they foxed specialists for years until Ed & Cathelijne Eastwood (friends of the Bristows) deciphered their meaning in their book, Capturing the Spoor.

Late Iron Age Sites: Sentinel Ranch is one mile north-east of the now famous Mapungubwe Hill dating back over 700 years, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in South Africa on the southern side of the Limpopo River.  This centre marked the pinnacle of ancient African civilisation in Limpopo Valley, where a 12th & 13th century trading kingdom flourished and supplied Arab traders with gold and ivory in exchange for glass trade beads and Chinese porcelain.  There are numerous archaeological sites on Sentinel related to this wealthy kingdom (among others) where iron implements, decorated pottery and rare figurines, Venetian trade beads, soapstone pipes, grinding stones, copper ingots and  jewellery have been found. 

Grain bin shelters:  Sentinel boasts exceptionally well-preserved grain bin sites where Late Iron Age farmers of the Limpopo Valley hid stores of grain over 150 years ago in massive clay and reed bins to protect them from marauding tribes and animals.  Some are so well-preserved, you can see the fingerprints of the people who made them.

A proposal to include Sentinel Ranch in  the UNESCO Greater Mapungubwe World Heritage Site is in the pipeline.