Ngalue Cave

Useful Information

Location: Niassa Rift, Mozambique.
(-12.858617, 35.198367)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave
Light: bring torch
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Julio Mercader, Yemane Asmerom, Tim Bennett, Mussa Raja, Anne Skinner (2009): Initial excavation and dating of Ngalue Cave: A Middle Stone Age site along the Niassa Rift, Mozambique, Journal of Human Evolution 57 (2009) 63–74. pdf
Address: Ngalue Cave
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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2007 excavated by Julio Mercader.


The Ngalue Cave is a Middle Stone Age site of great importance. The reason is the shape of the cave and the dry environment, which resulted in the preservation of organic matter, like starch grains on many of the stone tools. This is quite unique, and allowed a glimpse into the daily life of the people during the Middle Stone Age, between 105,000 and 42,000 BP. One of the results of the research is that harvesting of wild grains may have begun more than 100,000 years ago.

This site is an important archaeological site. Unlike important archaeological sites in Europe, which are open to the public in a controlled way, this site is actually unprotected. The information we have here is freely available on the web, we have no additional first-hand info. Actually we made this page for the following statement: This site is an archaeological site of great importance, if you visit the site be careful and do not destroy or damage the cave or its content! Please use the trails created by the archaeologists during their work.

The Ngalue Massif is surrounded by four mountain ranges: Geci, Moombela, Chipilua, and Dilombe. While those four are part of the crystalline basement composed of granodiorite, granosyenite, and granites with an age of 1 Ga, the capping of younger carbonate deposits called Malulu is still present in the Ngalue massif. The limestone has variable Mg contents and metamorphic grades, so it's a wide spectrum of limestone, dolomite, and marble. The Malulu forms pyramidal limestone massifs, Ngalue is one of them. Ngalue Cave is the main cave on a steep rocky slope 14 m above the valley of the Chitete River. It developed in a dark grey dolomitic marble.