The Cradle of Humankind, World Heritage site

Sterkfontein (Afrikaans for Strong Spring) is a set of limestone caves of special interest to paleo-anthropologists located in Gauteng province, Northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa near the town of Krugersdorp. The archaeological sites of Swartkrans (Afrikaans for Black Cliff) and Kromdraai (Afrikaans for Crooked Turn) (and the Wonder Cave) are in the same area.

A number of early hominid remains have been found at the site over the last few decades. Underground LakeSterkfontein was declared a World Heritage Site in 2000 and the area in which it is situated, was named the Cradle of Humankind.



ExcavationsThese excavations revealed many early hominids. In 1936, the Sterkfontein caves yielded the first adult Australopithecine, substantially strengthening Raymond Dart's claim that the skull known as the Taung child (Australopithecus africanus) was a human ancestor. There was a pause in excavation during World War II, but after the war Dr. Broom continued excavations.

In 1947 he found the almost complete skull of an adult female Australopithecus africanus (or possibly that of an adolescent male). Broom initially named the skull Plesianthropus transvaalensis (near-man from Transvaal), but it became better known by its nickname, Mrs. Ples. Mrs. Ples is estimated to be between 2.6 and 2.8 million years old placing it in the Pliocene.

Caves In 1997 a near complete skeleton of an early hominid was found in the caves by Ronald J. Clarke; extraction of the remains from the surrounding breccia is ongoing. The skeleton was named Little Foot, since the first parts found (in 1995, in storage) were the bones of a foot; it is estimated to be 3.3 million years old.

Excavations continue to this day and finds now total some 500 hominids, making Sterkfontein a rich site for early hominids.

Visit the Maropeng Exhibition Centre: the official exhibition centre of the Cradle of Humankind which means “returning to the place of origin”. Enjoy coming to the birthplace of humanity.

The Palaeo-Anthropology Scientific Trust (PAST), a non-profit trust fund established in 1994, sponsors over 90% of the research undertaken at Sterkfontein and was instrumental in its nomination as a World Heritage Site

Tour Information
Tour Cost:R 950.00 per person
Tour Duration:6 Hours
Entrance FeesIncluded