You readily here the statement, “you must know where you came from to know where your going” and in Johannesburg you can’t go any further then here. I haven’t been to a museum in years and visiting Origins Centre was right on time. The excitement to visit the museum and learn about century old artifacts was refreshing. When you enter the building be prepared to see everything on display that has at least five zeros behind its first number. You will see images of the worlds oldest artwork and the San people’s hunting gear. The San are descendants of people who lived more then 2000 years ago and most notably speak with a click in their language.
The San people are still around today and if you open a few display drawers you can touch skulls of their ancestors excavated from various dig sights in South Africa. If the thought of picking up thousand year old skulls is a little too weird for you check out the “Dance of Death and Life” installation. The traditional San dance allows a dying eland (spiritual animal) to release a supernatural energy and the dancers would be able to enter the spirit world temporarily.
The Origins Centre is a great learning experience but the Broken Threads room had me in awe! The San rock art is absolutely beautiful and bursting with colors. The 11 panels on display depicts how they told stories with people, animals and events.
Next stop, downtown Johannesburg to visit Museum Africa. Standing outside the entrance you can take in Johannesburg’s sky line and there is a cool art piece, spay painted on an exterior wall. Admission to the museum is free and the exhibits cover a variety of topics. The rocks exhibit was my favorite giving you have a chance to see rocks in various colors, shapes and sizes from different parts of the world. The colors ranged from pink, tan, yellow, grey, turquoise just to name a few.
Around the corner the Cullinan diamond replicas are on display. It was my first time learning about the Cullinan diamond found in 1905 close to Pretoria and weighed 3,106 carats. The diamond was so big that it was cut into 9 stones. The two largest are 530.2 carats and 317.4 carats; the largest one is in the British Royal Scepter and the 2nd is in the Imperial State Crown.
Maropeng and Cradle of Humankind
The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage site and Maropeng Centre explores the creation of earth and humankind. Maropeng means, “returning to the place of origin” and the guides working there greet you with a warm “Welcome home”. They say that because based on the ancient fossils discovered here this is the birthplace of humankind. The design of Maropeng unique, the front looks like a grass covered, trapezoid and the grounds are beautiful.
Inside we start our journey on the underground boat ride and takes us through the creation of earth with the ice age, tetonic plate shifting and fiery molten lava. Once the 10 minute boat ride ends you step into the exhibition room and there are a variety of exhibits on display for all ages. The different exhibits show:
Darwins theory of evolution
Skulls of the Taung child and the Sabre Tooth Cat
The regenerations of precursors of human are interesting to see what they think the original man looked like.
Maropeng also does a great job with their modern day exhibits. The world literacy rate was interesting to see how countries compare with the percentage of literate people in various countries and the world population counter gave perspective on how many people live on earth. The exhibition offers so much information that can appeal to everyone a definite must see.
Sterkfontein is journey taking you 190 steps below the surface to learn about the discoverers found here. The most notable are Mrs. Plies, a 2.1 million year old fossil and Little Foot, 3 million years old. The caves reminds me of the movie, “The Goonies”, because you have to go down steps, descend tiny slopes, you come across a pool at the lowest point, climb more stairs, crawl through holes and ascend stairs to reach the exit.
Along the way your guide gives a explanations for all the rock formations and discovered inside the cave. The most interesting one was of a rock that resembles an Africa Elephant and the continent of Africa at the same time. At the end of the tour we were giving our fair well instructions by our tour guide in front of the Dr. Robert Boom statue who was responsible for discovering Mrs. Ples. The guide invitees you to rub his nose for good luck or the skull for wisdom, which one would you chose?