Africa: Birthplace of Humanity

African Origins of Early Humanity

By Dr. Leonard Jeffries

One of the oldest fossil finds of early man was made in Africa in 1960 by archaeologist L. S. B. Leakey. He named his find Zinjanthropus, meaning Eastern Man. It was found in Olduvai Gorge in northern Tanzania which is an archaeologist’s paradise. Many ancient fossils and stone tools have been found there over the years. There are five distinct layers of strata of the earth visible in the cliffs. The oldest was formed more than two million years ago. One day while climbing up the slopes Mrs. Leakey discovered two teeth embedded in the rock side of the gorge. After nineteen days of digging the Leakeys uncovered an almost complete skull and stone tools.

The radiocarbon 14 method of determining the age of the fossil finds only allows the scientist to test an object that does not go back more than 50,000 years. Because Zinjanthropus was much older than 50,000 years another newer method to determine the age of a fossil find was used. This method was called Potassium Argon and allows the scientist to test as an object that goes back 2,000,000 years. Scientists at the University of California tested Zinjanthropus and believe that this early man was 1,750,000 years old.

Over the past twenty-five years various early fossil finds have been made in Africa and have been scientifically dated to be millions of years old. One of the finds recently discovered and found to be several millions of years old named “Lucy” and is the subject of a best-selling book. These discoveries and others have firmly established Africa as the cradle of humanity.

The African continent is a treasure trove of ancient history. From the sands and rock outcroppings of the Sahara desert in the north to the caves of South Africa, from the Nile River Valley to the Congo River and lakes of Central Africa, from the highlands of the Ethiopian plateau to the depths of the Olduvai Gorge in East Africa, the continent is continuously yielding from its soil the scientific and archaeological evidence of the evolving and unfolding drama of human history. This historical evidence is found in the bits of bone and fossil remains of Humanity’s ancient African ancestors.

It can also be seen in various kinds of stone tools uncovered from the African soil, made by the world’s oldest tool makers. It is clearly recorded in the rock and cave paintings and shattered pottery pieces, scattered all over the continent, by the world’s first artists who captured early human conduct.

This unfolding saga of the human experience in Africa reveals and points to a series of startling discoveries in Olduvai Gorge in Tanganyika and Kenya that scientifically supports the belief that early humanity originated in East Africa millions of years ago and then spread with his tools and early culture to Asia and Europe. In the Congo River Basin and Great Lakes of Central Africa archaeologists unearthed the remains of the Ishongo people who lived some 8,000 years ago and used a counting system inscribed on bone, the earliest record in the world of mathematical notation.

Fortunately, this new understanding of Africa’s place in history has been supported by the latest scientific discoveries to that scholars and researchers are able to systematically destroy the persistently held view of Africa as the Dark Continent and Africans as savages who contributed nothing to human development.