Profile view of Warratyi Rock Shelter elevated above local stream catchment.  Credit: Giles Hamm

AusSMC BRIEFING: Oldest evidence of Aboriginal Australians in the outback

Embargoed until: Publicly released:

A rock shelter in the Flinders Ranges, 550km north of Adelaide, has revealed that Aboriginal Australians settled the arid outback region of Australia 10,000 years earlier than previously thought - around 49,000 years ago. The finding also pushes back the dates on the development of key technologies, with examples of the oldest bone and stone tools and the earliest-known use of ochre in Australia. Bones of the extinct giant wombat-like creature, Diprotodon optatum, and eggs from an ancient giant bird were also found in the cave, suggesting humans were also interacting with the local megafauna.

Journal/conference: Nature

Organisation/s: La Trobe University, The University of Adelaide, Flinders University, Defence Science and Technology Group, University of Queensland

From: Australian Science Media Centre

A rock shelter in the Flinders Ranges, 550km north of Adelaide has revealed that Aboriginal Australians settled the arid outback region of Australia 10,000 years earlier than previously thought - around 49,000 years ago. The finding also pushes back the dates on the development of key technologies, with examples of the oldest bone and stone tools and the earliest-known use of ochre in Australia.

Bones of the extinct giant wombat-like creature, Diprotodon optatum, and eggs from an ancient giant bird were also found in the cave, suggesting humans were also interacting with the local megafauna.

While it is widely accepted that humans have been in Australia for at least 50,000 years, there has been debate over whether these early Australians would have been able to live in the harsh dry interior.

This new research suggests that, following their arrival in Australia, people were able to disperse more rapidly across the continent than previously thought and weren't just living on the coasts.

Speakers:

  • Giles Hamm, is a Research Archaeologist from La Trobe University
  • Dr Lee Arnold is from the Environment Institute and the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing at the University of Adelaide
  • Professor Gavin Prideaux is from the School of Biological Sciences at Flinders University
  • Clifford Coulthard is from the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association

Date: Wednesday 2 November 2016
Start Time: 10:00am AEDT
Duration: Approx 45 min
Venue: Online

Attachments:

  • Springer Nature
    Web page
    Please link to the article in online versions of your report (the URL will go live after the embargo ends)
  • The University of Adelaide
    Lee-Arnold-Nature_RELEASE.docx, 134.9 KB
  • Australian Science Media Centre
    Web page
    Briefing recording
  • Web page
    Video of interviews and footage of the rock shelter

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Multimedia:

  • Clifford Coulthard, Giles Hamm and Dr Lee Arnold
    Clifford Coulthard, Giles Hamm and Dr Lee Arnold

    Clifford Coulthard, Giles Hamm and Dr Lee Arnold

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  • Giles Hamm
    Giles Hamm

    Giles Hamm

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  • Clifford Coulthard from the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association
    Clifford Coulthard from the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association

    Clifford Coulthard from the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association

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  • Dr Lee Arnold from the University of Adelaide
    Dr Lee Arnold from the University of Adelaide

    Dr Lee Arnold is from the Environment Institute and the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing at the University of Adelaide

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  • AusSMC briefing playback - MP4

    AusSMC briefing playback - MP4

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  • Clifford Coulthard

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  • Giles Hamm

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  • Dr Lee Arnold from the University of Adelaide
    Dr Lee Arnold from the University of Adelaide

    Dr Lee Arnold is from the Environment Institute and the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing at the University of Adelaide

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