World-renowned archaeologist Professor Phillip Tobias once said that “Humanity was a gift from Africa to the World”. Many scholars believe Africa to be the birthplace of mankind and with the substantial archaeological findings in their favour the world tends to agree.
South Africa – Tour the Origins
South Africa is home to some three million years of prehistory and history, inherited from the ancient cultures which made the mountains and plains their home. This rich inheritance places the country among the few regions in the world where these footsteps towards the development of culture can be followed. If you are interested in the origins of mankind a trip to South Africa is highly recommended. There are a multitude of sites where remarkable discoveries have been made throughout the years and they are now open to members of the public. The tours of these sites allow enthusiasts a glimpse into their own origins.
Until 1924 the world had focussed its attention on Asia in their quest for the origins of mankind. Professor Raymond Dart revolutionised this way of thinking when he discovered the skull of a six year old child in a block of rock sent to him from the town of Taung in South Africa’s North West province. The skull displayed both ape-like and human-like anatomical features and was named Australopithecus africanus. The skull is regarded amongst the 20 most significant scientific discoveries of the 20th century. Once the skull had been discovered scientists turned their attention to South Africa and a huge number of archaeological sites were found. The Taung Heritage Site is now one of South Africa’s top tourist destinations, a monument has been built to commemorate the discovery and an old mine tunnel has been reopened for visitors to explore. The Blue Pools are another feature that attract visitors to the Heritage Site. Discovered after a dynamite explosion in a mountain in which lime was being mined the pools are surrounded by caves and streams and are a popular site for hiking, abseiling, picnicking and barbequing.
Another remarkable find was made in 1947 by Dr Robert Broom, who discovered a perfectly preserved adult Australopithecus africanus cranium, belonging to the 2, 5-million-year-old “Mrs Ples", at Sterkfontein. Several hundred discoveries followed, some dating back 3, 5 million years and the Sterkfontein site earned its name – The Cradle of Humankind. Some of the cradles findings include 500 skull, jaw, teeth and skeletal fossils of early hominids, thousands of other animal fossils, over 300 fragments of fossils wood, and over 9,000 stone tools. The From Whence Man Came tour which is designed to explore the origin of mankind in Africa, more specifically Southern Africa. Specialist presenters are available to host you at each of the featured sites mentioned in this article.