Saturday, 23 September, 2017

Remote cave reveals earliest Australians lived around 50000 years ago

The find puts human occupation in Australia to 50,000 years ago SHARE Share on Facebook SHARE Share on Twitter TWEET Link
Frank Williams | 20 May, 2017, 00:58

But after a few thousands years, as sea levels rose, the island was cut off from the mainland and the cave abandoned.

One of the largest excavation sites on the island was the 330 foot (100 metre) long Boodie Cave, where the team recovered over 10,000 artefacts.

The research, published in Quaternary Science Reviews, was led by UWA under the Barrow Island Archaeology Project funded by the Australian Research Council, and included researchers from The University of Queensland, James Cook University, The University of Waikato, The University of Adelaide, Sacramento State University, Curtin University, Oxford University and the WA Department of Parks and Wildlife.

We argue that Boodie Cave was used as an inland hunting shelter between about 50,000 and 30,000 years ago before becoming a residential base for family groups by 8,000 years ago.

This indicated a period of occupation between 46,200 and 51,100 thousand years ago. The limestone that forms the cave provides ideal conditions for preservation, giving us incredible details about the people who lived there.

While it's more isolated now, at the time the ancient aboriginal people migrated to Australia and up until several thousand years ago, Barrow Island was a coastal desert connected to the mainland by a land bridge that is now underwater.

Prof. Veth said the location provided the longest sequence of dietary remains from any Australian site.

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When the sea level was higher, the people living there relied more heavily on the shellfish and other ocean creatures, such as marine mammals, turtles, and fish.

"Archaeological deposits ... reveal some of the oldest evidence for Aboriginal occupation of Australia, as well as illustrating the early use of marine resources by modern peoples outside of Africa", according to the study. But when the sea levels dropped, the researchers found a corresponding drop in the number of mussel shells, presumably as it was more of an effort to transport them from the coast. These animal remains provide us with profound insights into what people were hunting and collecting from initial settlement onwards, and how they adapted to a new and ever-changing arid landscape.

Our study clearly shows that not only were Aboriginal people continuing to use marine resources across a period of dramatic environmental change, but they were also exploiting a range of desert resources. This demonstrates a successful adaptation to both the coasts and deserts of northern Australia.

Over the past 20,000 years sea level has risen 125m, submerging the continental shelves surrounding Australia and separating the mainland from New Guinea and Tasmania.

And researchers, who found evidence of the dietary habits of the early settlers in the country's coastal region, believe they may have been there even earlier. This was drowned and the islands became a far flung archipelago after the Ice Age.

"It's producing a new narrative for deep Australian history, which is exciting, and I'm very pleased for that". "Even older dates are entirely plausible", he said on Friday. Read the original article.

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