Archaeology discovery places inland human occupation of Australia at 49,000 years
Archaeologists working with traditional Aboriginal owners in the northern Flinders Ranges have discovered astounding evidence of the earliest human habitation of inland, arid Australia.
The find has pushed back the date of such occupation by 10,000 years to about 49,000 years ago.
One of the traditional owners of the area, Clifford Coulthard, who is a co-author of the study, said the findings weren’t really a surprise to him.
“Our old people know we’ve been here a long time,” he said.
The site, the Warratyi rock shelter in the traditional lands of the Adnyamathanha people, also has evidence of extinct megafauna, including the diprotodon.
The authors of the study, published on Thursday in Nature, said it finally settles the question of whether humans and megafauna overlapped chronologically.
“The idea there was no interaction between humans and megafauna has really been put to bed by the Warratyi evidence,” said Lee Arnold from Adelaide University, one of the authors.
Just one of these finds would be remarkable on its own. But there are more.
Giles Hamm, a PhD candidate at La Trobe University and lead author of the study, said the findings inside the cave include the “earliest known use of ochre in Australia and south-east Asia”.
The archaeological treasures found in the shelter also include among the oldest-found examples of gypsum pigment, hafted and stone tools. The authors said these finds are up to 10,000 years earlier than any other known occurrence.
Mr Hamm said their excavation of 3.3 cubic metres of soil revealed 4300 human artefacts and three kilograms of bone, 70 per cent of which was likely from the yellow-footed rock wallaby.
By carefully matching the depth of the found artefacts with carbon dating and a secondary method known as “single-grain optically stimulated luminescence” dating of quartz grains, Mr Hamm and his colleagues built up a picture of how frequently the shelter was used over nearly 50,000 years.
the birth cradle of humanity might lie in the middle of australia?
“The idea there was no interaction between humans and megafauna has really been put to bed by the Warratyi evidence,”
we walked with dinosaurs!! 🙂