earliest known evidence anywhere in the world of the existence
of man and the appearance of human civilization comes from
Africa: the cradle of civilization and the origin of human
society. In order to understand Africa's place in human evolution,
one must first examine the geography of Africa. Geography
is a great factor in history and nowhere is this more powerfully
illustrated than in Africa.
A landscape of tropical rainforest and winding rivers that
existed 40 million years ago, in what is today the Sahara
region of western Egypt, was the cradle of the primates from
whom humanity has evolved. Despite the fact that this area
of Africa is perceived to be the true cradle of humanity,
not many fossils can be found. This again goes back to geography.
the rest of the continent, East Africa transformed through
faulting and volcanic activity between 23 and 5 million years
ago. This was also true for South Africa. Because of this,
these areas are characterized by rift valleys and highlands.
variations of height provided a range of environments in which
living creatures, particularly early man, could flourish and
survive such climatic changes as the ice age. The volcanic
activity and the creation of soft new rock helped the discovery
and dating of prehistoric remains. It is for these reasons,
eastern and southern Africa provide a continuous and accurate
record of human evolution.