Olduvai Gorge the ‘Cradle of Mankind’
Olduvai Gorge or Oldupai Gorge in northern Tanzania is commonly referred to as ‘The Cradle of Mankind’. It is a steep sided ravine in the Great Rift Valley, which stretches along eastern Africa. Olduvai is in the eastern Serengeti plains in northern Tanzania and is approximately 50 kilometres long and in some places 90 metres deep. It drains the slopes of the nearby mountains and the Serengeti plain. The gorge is named after the Maasai word for the sisal plant, commonly called Oldupaai. The name ‘Olduvai’ was derived from early European miss-spelling of ‘Oldupaai’. The site is world famous for its rich treasure trove of human and animal fossils that have been found here.
Olduvai Gorge is the site of some of the most important finds of early hominid fossils(made famous by the work of the Leakey family). The gorge is a treasure trove of archaeological sites filled with fossils, settlement remains and stone artifacts. The 3.75 million-year fossillised hominid footprints, found by Dr Mary Leakey in 1975, proves that our human ancestors walked in an upright position much earlier than it was thought, and are widely thought to rank among the greatest paleonthropological discoveries of this century.