There aren’t many communications companies where lunchtime chats are littered with references to Australopithecus, the artefacts of Mapungubwe and trance dances depicted in rock art. This is what happens, though, when you work with a number of key players in South Africa’s heritage industry.
Flow has been involved in creating and maintaining websites for a range of organisations integral to heritage in South Africa including , the Origins Centre, the South African Association of Professional Archaeologists (www.asapa.org, the South African Association of Professional Archaeologists (www.asapa.org), the PanAfrican Archaeological Association (www.panafprehistory.org), the South African Archaeological Society (not yet live), the South African Rock Art Digital Archive (also not yet live), and, of course, Maropeng, the official visitor centre of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site.
Our specialised knowledge in this area was instrumental in our being awarded the task of designing a seminal coffee-table book, Caves of the Ape-Men, on the subject of the early hominid fossils of South Africa’s Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site.
What a journey this turned out to be! Not only a fascinating time-flip into the distant past when totally different creatures roamed around the very environs we live in on the Highveld today, but also a visit to the very different world of palaeoanthropology and a look into the ongoing debates among scientists as to what this past world was actually like.
While Caves of the Ape-Men attempts to make this world real and fascinating for the average reader, accuracy and accountability are key focus areas for scientists, so a fair amount of juggling became necessary in the production of the book.
Our designers are now intimately familiar with the contours of early hominid skulls (from hours of deep etching), would never dare to confuse Paranthropus with Australopithecus (from many re-drawings) and are totally au fait with the italics button for all those tongue-twisting scientific names.
The end result is hopefully something that all participants – publishers, contributors, designers and illustrators – can be proud of, and something that readers will enjoy!
“We are very happy with the book,” said co-author and pre-eminent South African palaeoanthropologist, Professor Ron Clarke. “It was a long, hard journey but we are finally there. Thank you so much.”
Said publisher, Susie Jordan, who is the widow of the other principal author, Professor Tim Partridge, “The book is fabulous, the cover is mind-boggling. … Thank you, you have been magnificent.”
What the book does quite significantly is highlight the leading position South Africa holds within the archives of prehistory, not only as a result of the incredible fossil finds that the Cradle of Humankind has delivered, but also because of the passion, commitment and integrity of our palaeoanthropologists and other scientists.
This combination has placed South Africa as a world authority on matters of prehistory and behind the glib chats around our lunch table, we are pretty pleased to be associated with that.