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Origins Centre or the Cradle of Humankind

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Brisbane, Australia
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Origins Centre or the Cradle of Humankind

We want to visit an attraction to provide an educational and interesting experince of the origins of mankind and we are wondering if Origins Centre at the University of Witwatrersand or the Cradle of Humankind are two very different attractions or provide a similar expereince? We are travelling as a couple.

Johannesburg, South...
Destination Expert
for Johannesburg
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1. Re: Origins Centre or the Cradle of Humankind


The two venues are very different.

The Cradle of Humankind is an area of approximately 5000 hectares, and contains a number of excavation sites, where important fossils have been, and are still being, discovered.

There are two main public places to visit, because most of the excavations are not open to the public.

One is Maropeng, which consists of an artificial tumulus, within which is found an exhibition covering evolution from the first single celled organisms, to Homo Sapiens.

It is really geared to be an educational exhibition, aimed mainly (but not exclusively) at children.

They often have an exhibition of genuine fossils on display.

Most "fossils" to be seen on display, however, are usually high quality casts, because the originals, being very precious, and "one of a kind" are kept in vaults, either at the university, or a museum.

However, these casts are very good, and often the only way to distinguish between a cast, and the original, is to hold them ... the original is much heavier than the cast.

Ask me how I know.

The other public site is Sterkfontein.

This is the world's longest running excavaion, having been excavated from the 1930's to date (excavation is still taking place).

It has yielded more hominid fossils than probably the rest of the world put together ( over 500, I believe). It is situated on land owned by the University of the Witwatersrand.

There is a small, but excellent museum, again displaying high quality casts, and depicting evolution from "the big bang" to homo sapiens.

Visitors can take a tour of the cave, visit the museum, and view the excavation from above, by walking on the boardwalk, up to the top of the hill.

The Origins Centre, situated on campus, at the University of the Witwatersrand is also a very good museum.

It deals very briefly with the older hominids ( there are some drawers, which visitors can open, in order to view casts of early hominid fossils).

The main emphasis, however, is on the origin of Modern Man.. with particular emphasis on those people who are probably direct descendants of the first fully modern humans ...... the Bushmen, or San.

The museum has a number of terminals, which are interactive, and where one can call up any particular aspect of San culture that one may be interested in.

There is a lot about the San religious beliefs, and, of course, the rock art.

I would definitely recommend you to visit BOTH, if possible.

If you are interested in visiting a private excavation, where you can have a "one on one" experience with a palaeontologist, and see a working site, not open to the public, then you need to book a tour with Palaeotours.

The director of the site, holding the excavation permit, Dr. Colin Menter, is a director of Palaeotours, and allows small private groups to visit his site.

Doing one of these tours will give you a much deeper, and broader, insight into human origins, than simply visiting the public sites, although, because of the inherent differences, I would still recommend visiting The Origins Centre as well, if possible.

Here is the link:


Read the comments on the website.

Enjoy your visit.



2. Re: Origins Centre or the Cradle of Humankind

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