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Cradle of Human Kind

Cradle of Humankind

Sterkfontein Caves
Sterkfontein Caves

Destination: Cradle of Humankind 
Type: World Heritage Site 
Region: Gauteng, South Africa  

Overview: The Fossil Hominid Sites of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai and Environs, known as the Cradle of Humankind, were declared a World Heritage Site on December 2 1999. The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site covers an area of over 47 000 hectares of privately owned land in the north western corner of Gauteng, South Africa, and is home to over 17 000 residents.

In 2005, two other highly significant sites, Makapan and Taung were listed as serial sites together with the Cradle of Humankind. Together, these are the Fossil Hominid sites of South Africa.
Highlights: Sterkfontein and Maropeng are visitor Orientation Centres within the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. The facilities at these Centres are themed on the primal elements of earth, air, fire and water and they, with four additional are being planned for development, will constitute a network of interpretative facilities connected by scenic routes. The Orientation Centres are to be located at strategic access points around the World Heritage Site, providing natural gateways to the area.

During 2007, planning and some implementation will take place on the development of hiking trails and gateways to the site. This network of facilities will connect the over 290 diverse private sector tourism attractions in the area, offering outdoor activities such as hiking, ballooning, fishing, wildlife and horse trails; a variety of restaurants and coffee shops and arts and crafts outlets to suit all budgets.


Maropeng Visitor Centre
Maropeng Visitor Centre

The area is of outstanding universal value, because it contains a complex of palaeo-anthropological sites, which have yielded some of the most valuable evidence, world-wide, of the origins of modern humans, hence its name “Cradle of Humankind”.

Embedded in the rocks found in the numerous dolomitic caves in the area, are the fossilized remains of hominids, their lithicultural remains and fossils of other plants, animals and pollen giving a virtually complete picture of the hominids and their surroundings, dating back over 4 million years.

More than 500 hominid fossils, thousands of animal fossils, over 300 fragments of fossil wood, and over 9000 stone tools - some of them the oldest in southern Africa  - have been found in the 13 explored sites and many more (over 250) are known to be in existence.

Coupled with this, the area contains archaeological sites dating to the Early, Middle, and Late Stone Age, the Early and Late Iron Age, and recent history such as Boer War relics. It also has significant ecological value containing many plant communities, some of which are rare, with associated diverse animal communities.

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