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A Search for Origins: Science, History and South Africa's "Cradle of Humankind"

Edited By: Phillip Bonner, Amanda Esterhuysen, Trefor Jenkins and Phillip V Tobias

313 pages, full colour illustrations

Wits University Press

Paperback | Apr 2008 | #175302 | ISBN-13: 9781868144181
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £49.50 $64/€55 approx

About this book

The 'Cradle of Humankind' (COH), bordering Gauteng and the North-West Province in South Africa, was declared a World Heritage Site for the wealth of the human and animal fossils found there. Research based on fossils found in the area as well as signs of early human habitation have shed new light on the evolution of humankind and on the significant role that southern Africa played in the development of modern humans.

"A Search for Origins" aims to provide an overview of the history of the COH, and of the important discoveries that have been made there, for a non-specialist audience. A number of general accounts have been written which have concentrated on the palaeontological discoveries made there. No systematic account written by specialists in their disciplines has, however, been published about the wider history of the COH and surrounding areas. In particular, no overview spanning the evolution of early plant and animal life, human development, and recent and colonial history as reflected in discoveries linked to the COH, has been attempted.

This edited volume frames the scientific advances that have been made in the COH against the intellectual and political background out of which they emerged. It places the COH within a recognisable South African context, which renders it a great deal more meaningful for both South African visitors and international tourists.

The multi-disciplinary approach - from a wide range of specialists based in South Africa and the United Kingdom - is innovative and ground-breaking.


Foreword Phillip Tobias; Part 1; Introduction Philip Bonner Africa is seldom what it seems; Chapter 1 Saul Dubow The South Africanisation of Science (working title); Part 2; Introduction Trefor Jenkins Fossils and genes: A new anthropology of evolution; Chapter 2 Kevin Kuykendall/Goran Strkalj A history of South African palaeoanthropology; Chapter 3 Kevin Kuykendall Fossil hominids of the Cradle of Humankind; Chapter 4 Himla Soodyall/Trefor Jenkins Unravelling the history of modern humans in southern Africa: The contribution of genetic studies; Chapter 5 Marion Bamford Fossil plants from the Cradle of Humankind; Part 3; Introduction Amanda Esterhuysen The Emerging Stone Age; Chapter 6 Amanda Esterhuysen The Earlier Stone Age; Chapter 7 Lynn Wadley The Middle Stone Age and Later Stone Age; Chapter 8 David Pearce Rock engravings in the Magaliesberg Valley; Part 4; Introduction Philip Bonner The myth of the vacant land; Chapter 9 Tom Huffman The Early Iron Age at Broederstroom and around the Cradle of Humankind; Chapter 10 Simon Hall Tswana history in the Bankenveld; Chapter 11 Jane Carruthers Early Boer republics: Changing political forces in the Cradle of Humankind, 1830s to 1890s; Part 5; Introduction Philip Bonner The racial paradox - Sterkfontein, Smuts and segregation; Chapter 12 Philip Bonner The legacy of gold; Chapter 13 Phillip V. Tobias The story of Sterkfontein, 1895-1947; Chapter 14 Vincent Carruthers The Anglo-Boer War in the Cradle of Humankind; Chapter 15 Tim Clynick White South Africa's 'weak sons': Poor whites and the Hartebeespoort Dam; Epilogue Bonner/ Esterhuysen.

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Philip Bonner, Amanda Esterhuysen and Trefor Jenkins are all academics based at the University of the Witwatersrand. Prof Bonner is a historian, Dr Esterhusyen an archaeologist and Prof Jenkins a world-renowned geneticist.

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