Gauteng has lots and lots of people. In additional to all the humans, Gauteng has many many fossils of early humans. The reasons why all these fossils are in Gauteng, at the Cradle of Mankind, is that millions of years ago and to this day, there are lots of caves that through the years got filled up with animal, early human and human bones. Through some unique characteristics, these caves preserved the bones in a near perfect state that allows scientists to use and study the bones after excavation.
The Cradle of Humankind is universally recognized as one of the most important sites to help scientists understand human development. Sterkfontein caves, the crème-de-la-crème of the area, is where the famous Mrs Ples, an 2.3 million year old lady of the area was discovered. There were many other significant discoveries over the years, and I strongly advise you to go and visit the Maropeng Centre and see for yourself exactly how incredible a place sits right under our noses. Whilst everything is really impressive, I was naturally drawn to a site called Swartkrans just a short distance away from the Sterkfontein caves, but within and part of the Cradle of Humankind. Here I met with Dr Bob Brain, the man in charge of excavations at Swartkrans for the past 50 years. At this site Dr Brain discovered some of the oldest signs of the controlled use of fire in the whole world. That is, the origin of the braai. There can be no doubt then, the art of braaing was invented on South African soil. By some ancient Gautengers nogals. Don’t fight it, it’s science.
The management and staff at the Maropeng Hotel and Maropeng Visitor Centre gave us an incredible reception and we literally had 5 star treatment throughout our visit. They are knowledgeable, professional and take the management of this World Heritage Site very seriously. I strongly advise anyone who has not been there to go and see it for yourself. The nice meat you see on the topmost photo came from Zimans Butchery in Randfontein (083 272 2244).