21st COE Program Seminar
Public Seminar on African Area Studies

Date: Friday, June 10, 2005 15:00 - 17:00

Venue: 1st Lecture Room (Ground Floor, Room #120), Faculty of Science Building. No.2, Kyoto University (Kitashirakawaoiwake-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto)

Title :"The Evolution of Mankind: The Significance of the Fossil Hominid Discoveries in the Cradle of Humanity World Heritage Site, Near Johannesburg, South Africa"

Speaker :Professor Emeritus (School of Anatomical Sciences University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg)

Until 1925 the world's eyes were focused on Asia as the scene of human origins, because of discoveries that had come from Indonesia and China. In that year the Taung skull from South Africa was presented to the world by Raymond Dart of the Witwatersrand University. He claimed that this skull of a child showed both ape-like and human-like features. Few people were convinced by the evidence of the child skull. When adult specimens of the same kind started emerging from Sterkfontein near Johannesburg, from 1936 onwards, the tide began to turn. By mid-century it was clear that these ape-man fossils from six South African sites were pointers to the African ancestry of mankind. Our excavations at Sterkfontein between 1966 and 2005 yielded over 600 hominid specimens dated 3.5 to 1.5 million years before the present. Sterkfontein is the world's richest site of early hominid remains and this fact, together with an extraordinary concentration of other fossil-bearing sites in the neighbourhood, led us to propose that Sterkfontein and the other caves in its environs be listed as a World Heritage Site. This was adopted by UNESCO's World Heritage Centre in December 1999. The Gauteng Province in which the site lies has rapidly developed the area under the brand-name The Cradle of Humankind. In 2005 to 2006, these exciting developments are being opened to the public and students as a superb educational and touristic experience, while research continues at the famous Sterkfontein and other caves.

Center for African Area Studies, Kyoto University
TEL:075-753-7821 FAX:075-753-7810


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