- North West
Taung or 'place of the lion' made world headlines in 1924 when an Australian anthropologist, Professor Raymond Dart, made a startling discovery of the little Taung skull, which he classified as Australopithecus africanus, and which belonged to one of the earliest hominids that lived in southern Africa.
Taung Heritage Site
The Taung Heritage Site is of enormous scientific importance. It was at these limestone diggings at the old Buxton quarry in 1924 that the lime encrusted skull of a child was unearthed. Prof Raymond Dart, who discovered the skull belonging to an early hominid, named it "Australopithecus africanus" meaning the 'southern ape of Africa'.
The Taung Heritage Site is dedicated to the discovery of this skull. A monument to the discovery is at the site and an old mine tunnel has been opened for exploration.
The discovery of the Taung child skull at the Buxton quarry was heralded as one of the most significant archaeological events of the time and caused an enormous amount of discussion, both in support of, and against the scientific classification given by Dr Raymond Dart. The find effectively advanced the evidence of the existence of early man in Africa by more than a million years, leading many scientists to believe that the origin of early man was indeed initiated on the African continent.
The Buxton quarry, which is no longer being mined, remains an important scientific research site and is also a place of great peace and tranquillity. From the limestone cliffs at the head of the valley, a constant flow of clear water flows through a succession of attractive pools (the Blue Pools) in descent down to this ancient valley.
The azure Blue Pools are a popular picnic site surrounded by picturesque caves and streams. This is also a popular hiking and abseiling venue.
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