Site Category: Cultural
Inscription as a World Heritage site in 1999 and declared National Heritage site in November 2004.
Known as The Cradle of Humankind this National Heritage Site is a collection of hominin fossil sites which also form part of the same World Heritage Site of the Taung Fossil Site. Located in the Muldersdrift area, about 40km northwest of Johannesburg these sites have some of the richest concentrations of fossil hominid bearing sites in the world. The limestone dolomitic caves of the area have produced and continue to produce an abundance of scientific information on human evolution from the past 3.5 million years. Together with the rich faunal and plant fossil record, this provides with us a window into the past into a time when our earliest ancestors were evolving and changing, proving that the African continent is undoubtedly the beginnings of humankind. There are a number of sites that make up this serial declaration, with the most famous and significant being the Sterkfontein Caves, which in 1947, produced Mrs. Ples, the skull of an adult Australopithecus africanus, and in 1994 Little Foot, a complete skeleton again of A.africanus. The earliest evidence of the controlled use of fire has also been found at Swartkrans, indicating an important shift in human evolution.