The Cradle of Humankind was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999. It is about 50 kilometres northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa in the Gauteng province. This site currently occupies 47,000 hectares (180 sq mi) and it contains a complex of limestone caves.
The Sterkfontein Caves contain the discovery of a 2.3-million-year-old fossil Australopithecus africanus (nicknamed "Mrs. Ples"), found in 1947 by Robert Broom and John T. Robinson. The find helped corroborate the 1924 discovery of the juvenile Australopithecus africanus skull, "Taung Child", by Raymond Dart, at Taung in the North West Province of South Africa, where excavations still continue.
Maropeng is the official visitor centre of the Cradle of Humankind and the Sterkfontein Caves. Maropeng means “returning to the place of origin” in Setswana, the main indigenous language in this area of South Africa.