Field Guide to the Cradle of Humankind. Sterkfontein, by Lee Berger and Brett Hilton-Barber
This Field Guide to the Cradle of Humankind is designed around the premise that people are mostly shaped by their environment. Our bodies and minds are not of recent origin. They are the direct consequence of millions of years of surviving in Africa and adapting to the dramatic changes this continent has seen in the course of the last 5 million years.
Africa has shaped not only our physical bodies, but the societies within which we live. The way we interact today at a social and cultural level is in many ways the result of organizational skills developed by our hominin ancestors in Africa over millions of years. It is important to remember when reading about the 'recent' history of the Cradle of Humankind that the area has been occupied by humans, or their ancestors, for the past 3 million years at least. History is a particularly sensitive subject in South Africa, where racial, ethnic and cultural differences have been used as justification for social discrimination. Given South Africa's most recent history of institutionalized racism, the concept of ethnicity is a loaded one, and yet we have to recognize that it has been one of the key drivers in African social development. This part of the guide reflects on the ethnic origins of the people who today live in the vicinity of the Cradle of Humankind and attempts to do so in an objective manner. It describes the recent historical forces that have played themselves out against this landscape, forces that in many ways have shaped South Africa in its entirety. It then dissects the extraordinary geological framework of the landscape to explain how the Cradle of Humankind can be read like a prehistory textbook. Finally, it chronicles the search for human origins at Sterkfontein and the surrounding sites, providing the reader with a context in which to understand the animal and hominin species that existed long ago in this very special part of the world. Beneath the dolomitic outcrops and grasslands of the World Heritage Site lie a series of extensive underground caverns in which fascinating clues about our deepest past have been preserved. Known as the Cradle of Humankind, this unique area probably tells us more about the history of our earliest ancestors than any place of a comparable size elsewhere in the world. The thousands of fossils that have been extracted from the protected area are like individual jigsaw pieces from the puzzle of life. Pieced together, they show that our species is a product of the African landscape and that we are the result of far-reaching climatic changes that have played themselves out over the continent during the past three million years. Now in its second edition. Field Guide to the Cradle of Humankind describes how the puzzle fits together and which pieces are still missing. Using illustrations by some of the world's top palaeo-artists, and making liberal use of colourful photographs, diagrams and maps, the book makes prehistory come alive in an accessible and entertaining format. Officially endorsed by the Gauteng Provincial Government and sponsored by Standard Bank, Field Guide to the Cradle of Humankind evokes the world in which our earliest ancestors lived; provides a guide to all the known hominin species; details all the sites within the area and describes its animals and plants, both past and present, to give the reader a context in which to understand who we are and where we have come from. […]
This is an excerpt from the book: Field Guide to the Cradle of Humankind, by Lee Berger and Brett Hilton-Barber.
Title: Field Guide to the Cradle of Humankind
Authors: Lee Berger; Brett Hilton-Barber
Publisher: Random House Struik
2nd revised edition. Cape Town, South Africa 2004
ISBN 9781770070653 / ISBN 978-1-77007-065-3
Softcover, 18x24 cm, 212 pages, throughout colour photos
Berger, Lee und Hilton-Barber, Brett im Namibiana-Buchangebot
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