Monday, October 29, 2018

Where did it all begin? I visit the Origins Centre at Wits University. Johannesburg



Recently I (on the left) was part of the launch of David Bristow's new book
that was held in the Origins Centre.
I had heard about the Centre and had even watched it being built
when my daughter was a student at the adjacent University.
But the chat that I had with this author was my first "visit".
I was not able to wander around because of the launch time constraints.
However, I did promise that I would return for a proper visit.

This was the book that was launched.
And while it does not necessarily deal with fossils
and archaeological findings, it does tell the stories
that form part of the rich tapestry that is our South African history.

I discovered this rather interesting plant outside the entrance to the Centre.
It reminded me of the plant in "Little Shop of Horrors"...
It is known as the Carrion-Flower

I have to say that the entrance to the building
is very unimposing and somewhat bland.
As it turned out, all the excitement lay behind this
rather underwhelming exterior.

When the ticket office is closed, you can gain entrance via the on-site shop.
Visitors are given a device containing recordings that
 correspond to numbers on the various exhibits.
The concise descriptions are educational and informative.
This is some of what I experienced on my promised visit...


Don Mattera's words say it all...
"Welcome home"...


This World Map is an installation piece by Walter Oltmann.
It can be found in the main entrance
and is designed to both envelop and and inform visitors as they arrive.
This is part of a huge sculpture that can be found in the entrance.

Intricately woven in aluminium wire by the artist,
the copper line shows how mankind began in Africa
and then spread throughout the world.
The sheer size and detail of this work caused me
 to stand here in awe of the artist and his dedication.
To find out more about the artist:


There is a visual display close to this poster,
that gave me quite a fright...
There was a sign that said "Touch me"...
and when I did it started a video that I was not expecting.
Most informative.

There are three of these displays in the main hall of the Centre.
Information on each can be accessed via the "wand" 
that I mentioned earlier.

What would a centre about origins be without a DNA exhibition?
There are also DNA lectures where visitors can have a DNA sample taken
and information about THEIR origins can be supplied.
These are VERY popular and fill up incredibly quickly.
If you want to find out more: 

There are drawers full of skulls,
defining the evolution of mankind.
Fear not, these are only copies and NOT the original ones.

This is an Ndebele child figurine.
One of three such figurines on display in the downstairs gallery.

There are also these bone sculptures on display.
The majority of the bones appear to be from and Eland
as that animal is sacred to the San people of Southern Africa.

I did wish that there were reproductions of this work
for sale in the gift shop.
This is just one of several on display.

This was my favourite part of the the museum.

This life size eland was the focus of the hall.
Not only did it supply sustenance to the San,
but it was the animal most predominantly featured in their rock art.
The San believe that it has supernatural powers,
hence it being such a powerful aspect of their culture.

These tiny hand made arrows were capable of bringing down
the largest antelope in Africa.
Admittedly the tips were covered in a highly toxic poison.
which aided in the demise of the beast. 
This deadly poison was made from certain species of beetles!

Can you identify this animal?
I was able to...
It is, of course, a hyena! One of several on display.
And part of an exhibition featuring animals made form reclaimed wood.

All the items on display are clearly marked and informative.

The real deal!
There are notices asking visitors not to touch...but I am certain that some do.
It is like putting up a "wet paint" warning,
that is guaranteed to have someone get paint on a finger.

There are 11 of these huge pieces on display.
Each of which represents an aspect of the lives of the people who made them.
These include the Trance Dance, Hunting & Gathering and Origins of people.
While visitors are in this space they are able to watch interesting documentaries
that are played on screens. 

The detail on these tapestries is sublime.
I have purposefully NOT  given an in-depth description of my visit
as I want YOU to go and enjoy this awesome space for yourself.
I will say that I came away humbled by what I experienced.


To find out more about this museum and what it offers,
please visit their website:

Photo:
When I get home. I rely on this ISP
to provide me with high speed fibre connectivity 
to enable me to get my postings published in record time.

Photo:
This powerbank is my constant companion
 while I am travelling.
It can do up to 4 full re-charges of my phone before
needing to be charged.
Supplied by...





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