- The exhibition
- Guided tours and Events
How it all began
The history of ancient human reasearch began in 1856, after the first Neanderthal was discovered inside the Little Feldhofer cave near Dusseldorf in the eponymous Neander Valley. At that time it was anything but for granted, to consider the contemporary man as descendants of ape-like predecessors. Due to the genesis, the majority of people considered the existence of human fossils to be impossible. Thus, the Neanderthals were not initially interpreted as primitive man, but were classified as members of a primitive race by leading scientists and physicians, or even as sick or deformed humans.
Vigorous debates over the interpretation
This only changed with the publication of the theory of evolution by Charles Darwin in 1859. After initial fierce debates and attacks against the evolutionary interpretation of the finds the opinion finally established itself more and more, to classify the fossil Neanderthal man as man. In the following decades other bones of Neanderthals were discovered across Europe. First, the "cradle of mankind" was placed in Europe, for which the discovery of the "Piltdown Man" in Sussex / England in 1912 was considered as proof. Fossils from Java and China, and the discovery of the African "Taung Child" in 1924 were largely ignored for political reasons. In 1953 the "British fossil" exposed as fraud - a human skull, combined with orang-utans mandible and chimpanzees teeth! Now, the cradle was quickly transferred to Asia, where the Dutchman Eugène Dubois had discovered Homininae fossils in Java in 1891.
Africa, Center of Research
After 1950, the age of African discoveries and new epistemological approaches led to ensure that Charles Darwin's prophecy from 1859 of an African origin of man was supported by real evidence. Prehistorical and contemporary humans fossils with an age of 7 to 1.8 million years ago have been found exclusively in Africa. Thus, the search for the origins of mankind focuses on the African continent since the mid-1990s. The Senckenberg scientists Prof. Dr. Friedemann Schrenk and Ottmar Kullmer are tracing the origins of man in Malawi and Ethiopia.
Discovery in the African trench
Africa is considered today as the cradle of mankind. On this continent there are by far the oldest remains of our ancestors. While the oldest hominid finds in Africa are up to 7 million years old, hominid finds outside of Africa are now more than 1.8 million years old. In Africa, the geo logical conditions are favorable for reaching any of the strata in which fossils are included. The reason is the so-called African fraction zone system, a crack in the earth's crust that extends today for miles as a broad valley from the Red Sea through East Africa down to Mozambique. About 30 million years ago, liquid rock masses pressed from within the Earth on an area of several hundred square kilometers beneath today's Ethiopia. The Earth's crust arched up and slowly broke apart in the course of millions of years. Every year and almost imperceptibly, the African grave fraction zone system increases a little. Fossil-bearing rock strata come to light which otherwise would be inaccessibly buried hundreds of meters deep below the earth. The exhibition's simulated excavation site is located in the African trench.
|Tuesday - Sunday||10 A.M. - 6 P.M.|
|Last inlet||5 P.M.|
|Children under 5 years||free|
|reduced: Children (6 to 15 yrs)||3,00 €|
|Pensioners, Students||3,00 €|
|Adults (>= 16 yrs)||6,00 €|
|Family ticket||15,00 €|
(+10,00 € refund)