A team of archaeologists excavated the deeper layers of a shelter in northern Australia, where important vestiges of the earliest human occupation on the continent had been found. In this way, new evidence has been found that rewrites Aboriginal history. According to the article published in the journal Nature, the arrival of humans to Australia happened 65 thousand years ago. The previous estimates suggested that it would have been between 47 and 60 thousand years ago.
Thus, the analysis of more than 11,000 artefacts found during these new excavations at Madjedbebe, a stone shelter in northern Australia, has established that the arrival of humans to Australia will have taken place precisely 65,000 years ago. That is, it may have been 18,000 years earlier than previously thought.
Excavation work on this deeper layer of the rock shelter took place in the year 2015 and has now resulted in the collection of more than 11,000 stone artifacts from the site of Madjedbebe. Stone tools have been found that uncover some details of the way of life of these first humans arriving in Australia. The team also discovered stone axes, tools used for grinding ancient seeds and delicately carved stone arrows, among other objects.
“The site contains the oldest stone ax technology in the world, the oldest seed milling tools known in Australia and evidence of finely sculpted stone arrows that may have served as spearheads”, said Chris Clarkson, archaeologist Of the University of Queensland who led the excavations and lead author of the article, in a statement from the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation.
This document also underlines the cooperation that has existed between scientists and Aboriginal communities, who own these lands located near Kakadu National Park. Since the year 1970, this site has already received excavations four times. In this last excavation to the site, the investigators signed an agreement with the Aboriginal Gundjeihmi Corporation that represents the Mirrar people, the owners of the lands, and who worked with the archaeologists thus helping in the excavations and collection of the pieces.
To carry out the rigorous dating, archaeologists carefully evaluated the position of the artifacts, ensuring that they corresponded to the ages of the sediments that enveloped them. According to a Nature statement on the paper, the dating work confirmed the stratigraphic integrity (related to the layers of rocks and sediments) of the site, “proving a pattern of increasing age with depth and providing ages that are more accurate than before”. That is, the deepest part of the excavation will be about 65 thousand years, concluded the team of experts.
“The results establish a new minimum age for the dispersal of modern humans outside Africa and throughout South Asia. In addition, the findings indicate that modern humans have reached the continent before the extinction of the Australian megafauna, an event in which human participation has been questioned”, the statement said.