Cradle of Humankind Human Ancestors Dig

Location: South Africa

Season: September 14, 2024 to September 27, 2024

Session Dates: Sept 14-27, 2024

Application Deadline: March 20, 2024

Deadline Type: Contact for Details


Program Type:
Field School

RPA Certified:

WITS University, GENUS

Project Director:
Jennifer Botha

Project Description:

About the Cradle of Humankind Dig in South Africa at Kromdraai and Sterkfontein Caves

The Cradle of Humankind is a world-renowned site for hominid discoveries and is a UNESCO World Heritage site that is considered to be the birthplace of humankind. With over 40% of the world’s human ancestor fossils found here, it’s a must-visit destination for anyone interested in human evolution. Join us on this incredible opportunity to dig at this location. We’ll journey through time and discover the fascinating story of our origins.

The cornerstone of this once-in-a-lifetime, exclusive itinerary is the distinction of working side-by-side on excavation and labwork with esteemed archaeologists Jose Braga, Berhnard Zipfel and Dominic Stratford. These are the scientists leading hominid excavations at the world renowned Kromdraai and Sterkfontein archaeological sites at the Cradle of Humankind in South Africa.

It is at the Cradle of Humankind that thousands of hominid remains from 2 to 4 million years ago have been found. In addition, the remains of habitation from early stone-age, middle stone-age, later stone-age, early and late iron-age are present. All told, these fossils show how our human ancestors lived, what they ate and what animals and plants existed with them.

We’ll kick off our first day on-site working alongside Prof José Braga who will provide insight into the workings of Kromdraai – a fundamental requirement for comprehending the diverse stages of the excavation process.

Under his supervision, your 5 days of work in the field will encompass everything from excavating and the retrieval of fossils to sampling and sieving sediments, meticulous cleaning and preparation in the lab, theodolite and photogrammetric measuring, followed by cleaning and complete preparation.

All participants who join this dig will be hands-on during the five days of excavation. Kromdraai is very rich in fossils and as a result, each participant has a 100% chance of finding both hominid and animal fossils with a high potential for discovering significant specimens.

You’ll also be joining Prof. Dominic Stratford at the Sterkfontein site where you will learn about the geology and paleontology of the location. The majority of your time onsite will be spent assisting in the important sorting of microfauna found at the site which adds to our knowledge of the animals that called this site home over the millennia.

During the lab days, you will contribute to the collections, documentation and taphonomy identification process of the finds of six-million-year-old fossils of monkeys, antelope and carnivores.

This is a travel itinerary that includes all accommodations, most food and other excursions to the Evolutionary Studies Institute Vault to see the most famous fossils found in South Africa, an ochre workshop and a hot air balloon safari.

Period(s) of Occupation: Early Quaternary (Pleistocene)

This fieldwork is only open to SIX participants, but no experience is required. The fee of US $7799 is for a shared double, and US $8499 for a single. This is the first time this is available to join. A portion of your fees goes toward funding bursaries for black female South African paleontologists! Please review the link provided for full details.

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Entire itinerary length

Minimum Age: 21

Experience Required: No experience required

Room and Board Arrangements:
All accommodations are included, as are all breakfasts and lunches. Some dinner included.

Academic Credit:

Contact Information:

Marisa Rodriguez



United States

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