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Coordinates: 25°55′07″S 27°47′14″E / 25.91853°S 27.78717°E / -25.91853; 27.78717

Fossil Hominid Sites of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai, and Environs*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

Cradle of Humankind is located in South Africa
Cradle of Humankind
State Party  South Africa
Type Cultural
Criteria iii, vi
Reference 915
Region** Africa
Inscription history
Inscription 1999  (23rd Session)
Extensions 2005
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

The Cradle of Humankind is a World Heritage Site first named by UNESCO in 1999, about 50 kilometers northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa in the Gauteng province. This site currently occupies 183 square miles (474 km²); it contains a complex of limestone caves, including the Sterkfontein Caves, where the 2.3-million year-old fossil Australopithecus africanus (nicknamed "Mrs. Ples") was found in 1947 by Dr. Robert Broom and John T. Robinson, as well as the Wonder Cave. The find helped corroborate the 1924 discovery of the juvenile Australopithecus africanus skull, "Taung Child", by Raymond Dart, at Taung in the North West Province of South Africa, where excavations still continue.

Contents

History of discoveries

Austrolopithecus africanus (Hominid Reconstruction).

In 1935 Robert Broom found the first ape-man fossils at Sterkfontein and began work at this site. In 1938 a young schoolboy, Gert Terrblanche, brought Raymond Dart fragments of a skull from nearby Kromdraai which later were identified as Paranthropus robustus. Also in 1938 a single ape-man tooth was found at the Cooper's site between Kromdraai and Sterkfontein. In 1948 the Camp-Peabody Expedition from the United States worked at Bolts Farm and Gladysvale looking for fossil hominids but failed to find any. Later in 1948 Robert Broom identified the first hominin remains from Swartkrans cave. In 1954 C.K. Brain began working at sites in the Cradle including Coopers and he soon would initiate his three decade work at Swartkrans cave which would result in the recovery of the second largest sample of hominid remains from the Cradle. The oldest controlled use of fire was also discovered at Swartkrans and dated to over 1 million years ago.

In 1966 Phillip Tobias began his excavations of Sterkfontein which are still ongoing and are the longest continuously running fossil excavations in the World. In 1991 Lee Berger of the University of the Witwatersrand discovered the first hominid specimens from the Gladysvale site making this the first new early hominid site to be discovered in South Africa in 48 years. In 1994 Andre Keyser discovered fossil hominids at the site of Drimolen. In 1997 Kevin Kuykendall and Colin Menter of the University of the Witwatersrand found two fossil hominid teeth at the site of Gondolin. Also in 1997, the near-complete Australopithecus skeleton of "Little Foot", dating to around 3.3 million years ago (although more recent dates suggest it is closer to 2.5 million years ago), was discovered by Ron Clarke. In 2001 Steve Churchill of Duke University and Lee Berger found early modern human remains at Plovers Lake. Also in 2001 the first hominid fossils and stone tools were discovered in-situ at Coopers.

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Sites

There are more than three dozen fossil-bearing caves in the Cradle of Humankind. Other important sites include:

Geological context

The hominid remains at the Cradle of Humankind are found in dolomitic caves and are encased in a mixture of limestone and other sediments called breccia and fossilized over time. Hominids may have lived all over Africa, but their remains are found only at sites where conditions allowed for the formation and preservation of fossils.

Visitor centers

Tumulus building at Maropeng visitors center.

On 7 December 2005, South African President Thabo Mbeki opened the new Maropeng Visitors Centre at the site.[1]

References

  1. ^ "Mbeki opens Maropeng centre". News24. 8 December 2005. http://www.news24.com/News24/Technology/News/0,,2-13-1443_1847397,00.html. "Maropeng, which means 'the place where we come from,' is expected to receive over 500 000 visitors annually, according to the Gauteng provincial government."  
  • L.R. Berger and B. Hilton-Barber, Field Guide to the Cradle of Humankind (Struik, 2003)

External links


Coordinates: 25°58′02″S 27°39′45″E / 25.96716°S 27.66245°E / -25.96716; 27.66245

Fossil Hominid Sites of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai, and Environs*
UNESCO World Heritage Site


Cradle of Humankind
State Party  South Africa
Type Cultural
Criteria iii, vi
Reference 915
Region** Africa
Inscription history
Inscription 1999  (23rd Session)
Extensions 2005
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

The Cradle of Humankind is a World Heritage Site first named by UNESCO in 1999, about 50 kilometres northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa in the Gauteng province. This site currently occupies 47,000 hectares (180 sq mi)[1]; it contains a complex of limestone caves, including the Sterkfontein Caves, where the 2.3-million year-old fossil Australopithecus africanus (nicknamed "Mrs. Ples") was found in 1947 by Dr. Robert Broom and John T. Robinson. The find helped corroborate the 1924 discovery of the juvenile Australopithecus africanus skull, "Taung Child", by Raymond Dart, at Taung in the North West Province of South Africa, where excavations still continue.

The name Cradle of Humankind reflects the fact that the site has produced a large number, as well as some of the oldest, hominid fossils ever found, some dating back as far as 3.5 million years ago.[2] Sterkfontein alone has produced more than a third of early hominid fossils ever found.[3]

Contents

History of discoveries

In 1935 Robert Broom found the first ape-man fossils at Sterkfontein and began work at this site. In 1938 a young schoolboy, Gert Terrblanche, brought Raymond Dart fragments of a skull from nearby Kromdraai which later were identified as Paranthropus robustus. Also in 1938 a single ape-man tooth was found at the Cooper's site between Kromdraai and Sterkfontein. In 1948 the Camp-Peabody Expedition from the United States worked at Bolts Farm and Gladysvale looking for fossil hominids but failed to find any. Later in 1948 Robert Broom identified the first hominid remains from Swartkrans cave. In 1954 C.K. Brain began working at sites in the Cradle including Coopers and he soon would initiate his three decade work at Swartkrans cave which would result in the recovery of the second largest sample of hominid remains from the Cradle. The oldest controlled use of fire was also discovered at Swartkrans and dated to over 1 million years ago.

In 1966 Phillip Tobias began his excavations of Sterkfontein which are still continuing and are the longest continuously running fossil excavations in the world. In 1991 Lee Berger of the University of the Witwatersrand discovered the first hominid specimens from the Gladysvale site making this the first new early hominid site to be discovered in South Africa in 48 years. In 1994 Andre Keyser discovered fossil hominids at the site of Drimolen. In 1997 Kevin Kuykendall and Colin Menter of the University of the Witwatersrand found two fossil hominid teeth at the site of Gondolin. Also in 1997, the near-complete Australopithecus skeleton of "Little Foot", dating to around 3.3 million years ago (although more recent dates suggest it is closer to 2.5 million years ago), was discovered by Ron Clarke. In 2001 Steve Churchill of Duke University and Lee Berger found early modern human remains at Plovers Lake. Also in 2001 the first hominid fossils and stone tools were discovered in-situ at Coopers. In 2010, Lee Berger discovered the partial remains of two hominids (Australopithecus sediba) in the Malapa Fossil Site that lived between 1.78 and 1.95 million years ago.

Sites

There are more than three dozen fossil-bearing caves in the Cradle of Humankind. Important sites include:

Geological context

The hominin remains at the Cradle of Humankind are found in dolomitic caves and are encased in a mixture of limestone and other sediments called breccia and fossilised over time. Hominids may have lived all over Africa, but their remains are found only at sites where conditions allowed for the formation and preservation of fossils.

Visitor centres

On 7 December 2005, the former South African President Thabo Mbeki opened the new Maropeng Visitors Centre at the site.[4]

See also

References

  1. ^ http://www.maropeng.co.za/index.php/about/
  2. ^ Fleminger, David (2008). The Cradle of Humankind. 30° South Publishers. pp. 7–10. ISBN 0958489130. 
  3. ^ Smith, David (15 January 2010). "Visit to the Cradle of Humankind". London: The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jan/15/sterkfontein-caves-south-africa. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  4. ^ "Mbeki opens Maropeng centre". News24. 8 December 2005. http://www.news24.com/News24/Technology/News/0,,2-13-1443_1847397,00.html. "Maropeng, which means 'the place where we come from,' is expected to receive over 500 000 visitors annually, according to the Gauteng provincial government." 
  • L.R. Berger and B. Hilton-Barber, Field Guide to the Cradle of Humankind (Struik, 2003)

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Africa : Southern Africa : South Africa : Gauteng : West Rand : Cradle of Humankind

Cradle of Humankind [1] is an UNESCO World Heritage Site in South Africa.

Understand

Located just north west of Johannesburg this area became a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the large number of humanoid fossils that has been found here. 13 well explored fossil sites and over 200 caves are located within the cradle. The site covers an area of around 47 000 hectares and offers a variety of tourist attractions.

Get in

From the N1 in Johannesburg, take exit 80 Roodepoort (M8 14th Ave) and get onto Hendrik Potgieter road (M47) heading north. Hendrik Potgieter will become the N14 and lead directly into the Cradle of Humankind.

  • Living Jewels, R563 (From the N1 in Johannesburg take exit 80 Roodepoort (M8 14th Ave) and get onto Hendrik Potgieter road (M47) heading north. Hendrik Potgieter will become the N14, at the T-junction with the R563, turn right, follow the R563 for about 3km, Living Jewels will be on your left.), +27 (0)11 956-6444 (), [2]. Home to the South African Carnivorous Plant Society  edit
Sterkfontein Caves (Cradle of Humankind)
Sterkfontein Caves (Cradle of Humankind)
  • Sterkfontein Caves, (West along the N14 and look for the '''Cradle of Humankind''' signs), +27 (0)11 956-6342, [3]. 9AM to 5PM. A tour guide will lead you through this extensive cave system where many early hominids and advanced ape fossils were discovered. Note that it is a 2 km walk. You can also visit the museum to learn more about the evolution of man. There is also a restaurant and shop. R80 for adults, R50 for children between 4 to 14 years old, R60 for pensioners, children under age of 4 for free.  edit
The tunnel of time at Maropeng, timeline from the present into the past depicted on the floor and walls.
The tunnel of time at Maropeng, timeline from the present into the past depicted on the floor and walls.
  • Maropeng, On the D400 (From Krugersdorp, follow the R563 north to the R400, turn left into the R400, Maropeng will be on your left about 1.7km further. From Tshwane, follow the N14 west until it reaches the R563, then follow the directions as above. From the N1 in Johannesburg take exit 80 Roodepoort (M8 14th Ave) and get onto Hendrik Potgieter road (M47) heading north. Hendrik Potgieter will become the N14, follow directions as above.), +27 (0)14 577-9000 (), [4]. 9AM to 5PM. The Cradle of Mankind exhibition and education centre. Mostly aimed at students, but fascinating for anyone interested in human origins. The short underground boat ride is a must do activity. At the entrance there is a ATM, coffee shop and souvenir shop. Within the centre, the Tumulus Restaurant is located on the first floor and the Tumulus bar is located on the second floor. Visitors centre: R80 for adults, R45 for children, R60 for pensioners..  edit
  • Rhino & Lion Nature reserve (Including the Wonder Caves), +27 (0)11 957-0109 (+27 (0)82 800-5305, , fax: +27 (0)11 957-0019), [5]. A nature reserve within the Cradle.   edit
  • Palaeo-Tours, +27 11 023-4234 (, fax: +27 86 614-7238), [6]. Book a tour with Palaeo-Tours. We have been providing scientist led, guided tours in the Cradle of Humankind for the last ten years. We visit the public site of Sterkfontein and the private fossil site of Drimolen.  edit
The viewing deck of the Tumulus at Maropeng Centre
The viewing deck of the Tumulus at Maropeng Centre
  • The Cradle, (From the N14 or the N1, follow the R512 north. Look out for the Cradle signpost to the left just past Lanseria airport, it will indicate a left turn into Kromdraai road (D540). Follow Kromdraai and the Cradle will be on your right), +27 (0)11 659-1622 (, fax: +27 (0)11 701-3206), [7]. A nature reserve and restaurant within the Cradle of Humankind. Reserve in advance for the restaurant as they are generally fully booked.  edit
  • Greensleeves, Off the R563 (Follow the N14 north until the T-junction with the R563, turn right and follow the R563 for about 10km (take are not to take the Tarlton/Venterdorp road to the left about 2.5km from the T-junction), signpost will indicate Greensleeves on your left.), +27 (0)11 951-8900 (fax: +27 (0)11 956-6928), [8]. Open Fri and Sat 7PM till late, costume hire and dressing from 6:30PM. Medieval themed restaurant, booking essential  edit
  • Tumulus, First floor of the Tumulus at Maropeng, +27 (0)14 577-9000. Open to the public on Sundays only. Buffet lunch. R185 for adults and R80 for kids.  edit
  • Roots, Letamo Game Farm, Bartlett Road, Kromdraai (From the N14/M47 intersection, follow the N14 north for 4km. Turn right into Bartlett road and follow this dirt road for about 3km to the entrance.), +27 (11) 662 9004/5/6, [9]. Gourmet restaurant situated in the Forum Homini Hotel. Voted as one of the Top 10 restaurants in the country (2007 and 2008). Reservations essential. No children under 12. R220 (six-course set menu).  edit
  • Tumulus Bar and Viewing Deck, Second floor of the Tumulus building at Maropeng. Overlooking the Magaliesberg and the Witwatersberg mountains this is probably the bar with the best view in Gauteng  edit
  • Maropeng Hotel, At the On the D400 at the Maropeng visitors centre (From Krugersdorp, follow the R563 north to the R400, turn left into the R400, Maropeng will be on your left about 1.7km further. From Tshwane, follow the N14 west until it reaches the R563, then follow the directions as above. From Johannesburg take exit 80 Roodepoort (M8 14th Ave) and get onto Hendrik Potgieter road (M47) heading north. Hendrik Potgieter will become the N14, follow directions as above.), +27 (0)14 577-9017 (), [10]. 9AM to 5PM. Visitors centre: R80 for adults, R45 for children, R60 for pensioners..  edit
  • Forum Homini Boutique Hotel, Letamo Game Farm, Bartlett Road, Kromdraai (From the N14/M47 intersection, follow the N14 north for 4km. Turn right into Bartlett road and follow this dirt road for about 3km to the entrance.), +27 (11) 668 7000 (reservations@forumhomini.com), [11]. Views of the valley from the evolution-themed luxury suites with roofs covered in African veld. R1750 pppn including breakfast.  edit

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