The Cradle of Humankind

Finally had to tear myself away from the football and actually see something of this beautiful country. There are great things to do and see within 2 hours drive of Joburg so no excuse really.

First stop was The Cradle of Humankind UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are 7 World Heritage Sites in S. Africa. Let’s see how many I can get to during the World Cup… The Cradle itself is a large area but the main visitor centre is Maropeng. It details the history of mankind or to be more precise the various species of Hominids of which Homo Sapiens is one.

They have made some amazing finds there, some of the most ancient & well preserved Hominid remains which are helping to piece together the story of…us.

If you like Natural History Museum in New York or British Museum in London, you’ll have a fantastic time here. Lot’s of hand on exhibits, thought provoking displays etc. Just a couple of stats there which caught my eye:

  • Over next 30 years the world’s urban population is expected to reach 5 billion 
  • By 2050 the world’s population is expected to exceed 9 billion

Better take care of that planet then as it’s going to get crowded…

After Maropeng, onto Sterkfontein caves where some of the main fossil discoveries were and are still being made. Great fun clambering round the subterranean world & you’re actually quite relieved by the time you get back to the surface.

One of the enjoyments of places like this is piecing together puzzles and how things interlink:

  • About 2 billion years ago a huge meteor struck Earth. The impact is known as the Vredefort Crater, is the largest impact site on Earth, and another UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • The surrounding Bushveld Igneous Complex holds the world’s main platinum reserves (they may have become exposed by the impact)
  • The vast areas of limestone caves were used by various forms of Hominids for shelter. Many of them died or were buried there hence large numbers of skeletons / fossils
  • The limestone also became useful as miners moved into the area during the 19th century as lime is used as an ingredient in the extraction of gold
  • Miners explored the limestone caves, looking for valuable minerals & started excavating what was below
  • Professor Raymond Dart was a (visiting) Professor of Anatomy working at Wits University (in Joburg)
  • Some of his students found some interesting remains in some debris at Buxton Quarry
  • Dart & especially Robert Broom worked tirelessly with the local mining community and the rest is history…

It really is history and fabulous, rich, helping us to understand where we came from kind of history

If you get to Joburg, go and check out Maropeng & Sterkfontein. It’s an inspiring story

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One Comment on “The Cradle of Humankind”

  1. Ian Says:

    VERY Educational 🙂 🙂
    Wish you would stay there longer.
    We all need to be more learnt 🙂 🙂 🙂


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