Indigenous Archaeology rewrites the history of Australia

New evidence reveals an intriguing history.

It turns out Indigenous Australians have been in Australia much longer than previously thought...

According to new evidence unearthed in the mining lease Jabiluka in Kakadu, Northern Territory, Indigenous Australians have lived in Australia for at least 65,000 years, 18,000 years longer than archaeologists believed. Associate professor Chris Clarkson from the University of Queensland believes this will drastically alter our known history of Aboriginals in Australia.

The most fascinating find was the world’s oldest known stone axes. The presence of these tools proves that not only were indigenous Australians here way before previously thought, but they had developed and utilised tools 20,000 years before any other civilisation. Professor Clarkson explains to the Sydney Morning Herald:

There was one on the surface, another further down that we dated at 10,000 years. Then there were quite a few further down still which were able to date at 35,000 to 40,000 years, and finally, one at 65,000 years, surrounded by a whole bunch of stone flakes.

Buried with the stone axes were finely made spear tips, seashells and seed grinding apparatus. The presence of ochre in the deeper layers of the dig suggests the earliest Aboriginal Australians were keen artists and visual storytellers. A past time that is still celebrated in Indigenous culture today.

This new evidence will mean archaeologists and scientists will have to reconsider when humans made the great journey out of Africa and across the continents, changing the timeline previously held by the science community. The common belief is that humans migrated from Africa around 80,000 and 100,000 years ago. However, there was previously no evidence to suggest that humans had made it all the way to South- East-Asia or Australia for that matter.

Now we know humans were living in northern Australia a minimum of 65,000 years ago; the search will be on to discover each of the steps they took on the way.

The findings also confirm that Aboriginal Australians made the first major expedition by sea, having to sail 90kms across the sea to reach their final destination. No other culture had made such a journey so early in human history.

The new timeline even suggests Indigenous Australians, who were once thought to be the reason our megafauna were wiped out, are now believed to have coexisted with the giant mammals. 20,000 years before the megafauna died out.

The dig which spanned years was headed by professor Zenobia Jacobs. The team used single-grain optically-stimulated luminescence dating in their exhumation. Previous digs using carbon dating were not as sophisticated and so were unsuccessful.

The dig was agreed to after consultation with the traditional owners via that Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation.

Header: Traditional rock painting, Kakadu

 

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