10 Facts About The Sterkfontein Caves That Will Blow Your Mind

A vital question that revolves around us and interrogates our own self is about our existence, the reality of who we are and what our origin is. As a matter of fact, a little is known about that matter and to a little number from the population. As per the historical facts South Africa is one of the main sites of hominids in the world with Sterkfontein Archaeological Site as the chief highlight. In addition to this, the country has other important archaeological remnants such as in the vicinity of Swartkrans and Kromdraai. The importance of Sterkfontein region is credited to its archaeology and the presence of elements that are essential for the study of human evolution.

As per the historical facts South Africa is one of the main sites of hominids in the world with Sterkfontein Archaeological Site as the chief highlight. In addition to this, the country has other important archaeological remnants such as in the vicinity of Swartkrans and Kromdraai. The importance of Sterkfontein region is credited to its archaeology and the presence of elements that are essential for the study of human evolution.

Today Compilation11 gives you a sneak peek into the history of Sterkfontein, its importance in the archaeological community, and its role in the evolution of mankind.

Have a look!

1 Where Is It Located?

Sterkfontein Caves facts

Sterkfontein lies to the northeast of the capital of South Africa, Johannesburg, near the region of Krugersdorp. Archaeologists found the main fossils of hominids in this region and has since then been considered as the “Cradle of humanity”.

2 What Makes Sterkfontein Archaeologically Important?

Sterkfontein Caves facts

Sterkfontein is composed of several karst caves which are of a special interest to archaeologists and anthropologists. Many bones were also found among which the most famous was the skeleton called “Mrs. Ples”, an almost complete skeleton of an Australopithecus africanus, about 2.3 to 2.8 million years old, and the “Little Foot” skeleton, an Australopithecus which was at least 3 million years old. In total around 950 species of hominid fossils were found in this region which is a clear hint to its importance as an archaeological site for the study of man’s evolution.

3 A Small Account Of The Excavation Of Sterkfontein

Sterkfontein Caves facts

The area where bones were discovered is spread over 47,000 hectares. In the year 1924 the miners working in the area north of Kinberly found a fossil. This fossil was of a boy who was baptized as Taung and was an Australopithecus. An Australian anatomist Raymond Dart identified the fossil and gave a green signal to further excavations in the Makapan region. Traces of human occupation dating back at least 3.3 million years ago were found in the region of Makapan.

4 Discovery Of Skull & The Sterkfontein Caves

Sterkfontein Caves facts

 

The Sterkfontein caves are located in the Isaac Edwin Stegmann Nature Reserve, about 10 kilometers from Krugersdorp. Bones were first noticed in 1890, by the limestone prospectors. In 1936 the first discovery of a complete skeleton of Australopithecus africanus was made. Also Dr. Robert Broom made the discovery of a skull the same year. He claimed it to be a female skull, but the question remains dug in history. The skull is known as “Mrs. Ples” and the other one is Little Foot”. They are kept in a box since the 70’s and were taken out in 1995 by Ronald Clarke and Phillip Tobias for further studies. There are speculations about the bones being more than 4 million years old but due to lack of an official

The skull is known as “Mrs. Ples” and the other one is Little Foot”. They are kept in a box since the 70’s and were taken out in 1995 by Ronald Clarke and Phillip Tobias for further studies. There are speculations about the bones being more than 4 million years old but due to lack of an official confirmation they are considered to be only 3 million years old.

5 What Was The Importance Of Sterkfontein Discoveries?

The fossils that were either dug out or found by people or excavators, allowed the identification of the oldest hominids. One of the most important information these hominids gave was that they lived about 4.5 to 2.5 million years ago. Also present were the remains of use of fire, representing important information regarding the discoveries made from this archaeological site.

6 The Robert Broom Museum

In the year 1958, the Stegmann family donated the area where the caves are to the University of the Witwatersrand. The same land was used to build The Robert Broom Museum in 1966. The museum was constructed so that the visitors could get a detailed view and knowledge of the history of the findings of that region. The museum didn’t only add to the interesting tour but also made it possible to learn more about the history of mankind. This archaeological site guarantees countless discoveries and possibilities to dwell deeper in the history of humanity.

The museum didn’t only add to the interesting tour but also made it possible to learn more about the history of mankind. This archaeological site guarantees countless discoveries and possibilities to dwell deeper in the history of humanity.

7 Conferred As A UNESCO World Heritage Site

In 1999 the archaeological sites of the regions of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans and Kromdraai and surrounding areas were considered a World Heritage site by UNESCO. This was possible because the region has fossils of human ancestors at least 4.5 million years old. There also are indications towards the use of fire more than a million years ago. It is needless to say that they are a very important archaeological site flooded with the facts of our history.

8 A Walk Around The Sterkfontein Caves

The Sterkfontein Cave is not only an important archeological site but is also booming as a major tourist attraction. Tourists take a stroll around the caves that have already revealed so many things to the world about hominids. There is a walk through the cave that takes place hourly, taking approximately one hour. The tour inside the cave is guided and the guide gives an introduction of how the tour will be and informs about the place, the history of the region and what was found in it, so that later visitors can see everything with their own eyes. Before going to the caves of Sterkfontein visitors are requested to stay in a room where they are showed panels, videos, original fossils and much more with reference to the subject.

Before going to the caves of Sterkfontein visitors are requested to stay in a room where they are showed panels, videos, original fossils and much more with reference to the subject.

Around 10 kilometers from Sterkfontein cave lay the Maropeng Visitor Center (Museum Maropeng). This visitor center and museum is a part of the attraction in the “Cradle of Humanity”. Its entrance can be bought in a way combined with the entrance of the caves. Maropeng is also the host to an exhibition focused on the development of human life over millions of years. A large hill called Tumulus is

Its entrance can be bought in a way combined with the entrance of the caves. Maropeng is also the host to an exhibition focused on the development of human life over millions of years. A large hill called Tumulus is visible, and has an entrance at the bottom that provides access to the museum. On the access road to the hill there are some archaeological excavations on the sides.

9 Precautions For Visitors

Since the visiting ground is a cave, there is an unasked need to act safe and follow some precautionary measures. Several signboards are seen in the caves warning about the presence of snakes. It is advisable to confirm with the guide about the presence of a first-aid kit.

Also the terrain is very rough; hence it is advisable to enter the caves wearing comfortable footwear. The inner temperature goes to around 18-20 degrees and the maximum point of the descent is 60m below the ground.

10 A Visitor’s Account Of What’s Inside The Sterkfontein Caves

Sterkfontein Caves facts

Inside the cave are several narrow passages, some so narrow that they allow the passage of only one person at a time. There is one passage where one has to crawl and reach the other side. Also there are few caves which are super spacious. A guide describes the formation of the cave, the types of rock existing, the history of the excavations and also the fossils found there.

The cave also has some isolated areas inside. Excavations and research works are still carried out and it is hoped that there are many more fossils in this area. There are few points with a small opening in the roof of the cave where one can see the outside light entering the cave. At the exit of the cave is a steep series of stairs and a sitting area to rest. The most beautiful part of the cave is the walkway that is visible on the way back to the museum and parking.

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