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Cooper's Cave

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Cooper's Cave is a series of fossil-bearing breccia filled cavities. The cave is located almost exactly between the well known South African hominid-bearing sites of Sterkfontein and Kromdraai and about 40 kilometres (25 mi) northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa and has been declared a South African National Heritage Site.[1]

Coopers Cave Fossil Site, Cradle of Humankind
Map showing the location of Coopers Cave Fossil Site, Cradle of Humankind
Map showing the location of Coopers Cave Fossil Site, Cradle of Humankind
Location in Gauteng
Location Gauteng, South Africa
Nearest city Krugersdorp, South Africa
Coordinates 26°00′46″S 27°44′45″E / 26.01278°S 27.74583°E / -26.01278; 27.74583Coordinates: 26°00′46″S 27°44′45″E / 26.01278°S 27.74583°E / -26.01278; 27.74583
Established Incorporated into the Cradle of Humankind 1999
Governing body Cradle of Humankind and private landowner


History of investigationsEdit

Cooper's Cave is now recognised as the fifth richest hominid site in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site (behind Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Drimolen and Kromdraai) and one of the richest sites for early hominid stone tools of the Developed Olduwan culture.[2] Excavations are still underway at Cooper's and are currently being directed by Christine Steininger and Lee Berger of the Institute for Human Evolution and the Bernard Price Institute for Palaeontological Research at the University of the Witwatersrand.


Cooper's Cave has provided a rich tool assemblage that has been provisionally assigned to the Developed Olduwan. Cooper's is arguably the second richest early stone tool site in the Cradle of Humankind area.[2]


Cooper's is a series of breccia-filled dolomitic caves that formed in fissures along geological faults.[3]

Age of the depositsEdit

Cooper's D has been dated by uranium-lead methods (Robyn Pickering, U. Melbourne) to between 1.5 and 1.4 million years ago.[3] Cooper's A, based on the animals recovered, is thought to be about the same age.[4]


View of Cooper's D from West. Cooper's A is in the far background left of the pine tree 
An extinct giant giraffe molar (left) from Coopers Cave compared in size to a large adult male giraffe tooth still in the mandible (right) 
Coopers A viewed from the West 
Coopers D from the East 
Quartz stone tools still encased in breccia at the Cooper's site 
Stone tools of the Developed Olduwan from Cooper's D. Pictured are a hammerstone, an unknown object made of shale, and quartz flake tools 
Megantereon jaw (A type of sabre-toothed cat) from Cooper's 


  1. ^ "9/2/233/0024 - Coopers, Zwartkrans 172 IQ, Gauteng". South African Heritage Resources Agency. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Hilton-Barber. B and Berger, L.R (2003). Field Guide to the Cradle of Humankind. Struik. 
  3. ^ a b Berger; et al. (2003). S. Afr. J. Sci.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ Berger; et al. (1993). S. Afr. J. Sci.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External linksEdit