Maropeng, Cradle of Mankind and Homo naledi : part 1

Maropeng, Cradle of Mankind and Homo naledi : part 1

We’ve had visitors from Australia staying with us, hence no posts for a while.  Hubby’s cousin, and wife .. Mark and Cheryl … were accompanied by five friends, one of whom had come with them on a previous visit with her hubby about 16 years ago.  So, we had a houseful with Mark, Cheryl, Paul, Carmel and Di, and Ron and Gita staying in a guest house up the road.

One of the things we did altogether was to go to Maropeng in the Cradle of Mankind.

The Cradle of Mankind is a World Heritage Site first named by UNESCO in 1999, about 50 kms northwest of Johannesburg, in Gauteng province.  The site currently occupies 47 000 hectares and it contains a complex of limestone caves.’

“In the centre of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, and only 10km from the Sterkfontein Caves where some of the most significant palaeoanthropological finds of all time have been made, the award-winning Maropeng Visitor Centre brings the story of humankind’s evolution to life.

The Maropeng Visitor Centre lies on the side of a hill among ancient rocky outcrops, and has been designed to appear to arriving visitors as a 20m-high grass-covered tumulus (ancient burial mound).”   

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For more info :-  http://

Hubby and I had never been there before, nor to the Sterkfontein Caves, which I think is a must now 😉   The timing couldn’t have been better with the breaking news from Maropeng, last week, of the discovery of Homo naledi fossils, and has been featured on front pages around the world.      Naturally, I took loads of photos throughout the visitors centre as well as the Homo naledi fossil display … choosing for a post was difficult !!!!!

Part 1 : Maropeng, Cradle of Mankind

Our very knowledgeable guide, Onica stopped at points of interest along the path to the Tumulus building and elaborated on each inscribed stone, two skulls and an insight into what we will experience inside ..

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‘Mrs Ples’ – 2.05 million years old – discovered by Dr Robert Broom and his assistant Dr John T Robinson at Sterkfontein in 1947

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Harry the Hominid greets everyone as they pass  ..

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Going down the ramp ... we ’embark on a journey back in  time to when the world began.  A timeline highlights some of the major events in our earth’s history’ ..

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The boat ride :  was fun!!  Boat seats 4 and being round, it turns as it bumps against the sides.  You have to duck in parts and watch your back etc.  The adventure starts at the present and continues on a trip back through time, retracing the various stages of the creation of our earth, through snow, ice, water, the formation of the earth’s crust and when the earth was a fiery ball of molten rock …

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We then had to walk through the Vortex … a bridge with sides bars (fortunately) through a turning tunnel, with psychedelic colours!!!   Signifies the Big Bang Theory.  It was not long at all, but most of us walked off as if we’d had far too much to drink !!

An audio visual presentation was next, showing how the earth and its continents were formed millions of years ago ..



Birth of the Cradle of Humankind: ‘An interactive zone where cave formation and evolution as a science is introduced via various hands on interactive displays, audio visuals and graphic panels’ ..

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Path to Humanity :  Human evolution is explored through audio visual displays, graphic panels and life-like recreations of species based on the original fossils and environment ..

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Model of location site of ‘Little Foot’ an Australopithecus fossil – about 2.2 million years old – discovered by palaeonthropologist Dr Ronald Clarke.

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Very interesting short documentary of Dr Clarke’s discovery …

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I got quite excited when I saw Prof Phillip Tobias appear on the screen.  As a secretary, way, way back, I worked in a division of a large corporation which dealt with funding for projects, non-profit organisations, University bursaries, sabbaticals  etc and Prof Tobias was a regular recipient 🙂

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Spot the ancestor …

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Sustainability wall :  ‘the wall explores human impact on the environment and how, as the first species to control the environment, we are impacting on the world as we know it’ ..

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What it means to be human :  ‘9 characteristics that make us human are explored with links to the modern world and the gradual build up of human/environmental interaction over time’ ..

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Part 2 follows:   Onica, ushered us into the display room where we were privileged to see this most extraordinary discovery … Homo naledi

Of course, I made a bee-line for the book shops the following day and bought a copy of National Geographic ..

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One Reply to “Maropeng, Cradle of Mankind and Homo naledi : part 1”

  1. I got to visit Maropeng and Sterkfontein about 7 years ago and loved the experience. Truly a world class attraction and I do think we need more places like it around South Africa.

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