A new discovery at the Madjedbebe shelter near Kakadu National Park in Australia may cause early human history to get rewritten. Archaeologists found evidence of human habitation on the continent from more than 18,000 years before previously believed.
Researchers found sophisticated artifacts buried in the rock shelter. They are now considered to be the oldest stone axes ever found, and the ochre crayons used for art indicate even more about the inhabitants’ intelligence.
World’s Oldest Continuous Civilization
Archaeologists have debated for years when the Aboriginal culture first arrived in Australia, but they are believed to be the oldest known continuous civilization still in existence today. The estimates of when they made the migration range from 47,000 to 60,000 years ago, during a time when sea levels were lower and sailing from island to island would have been a much simpler task.
The 47,000 number comes from the oldest previous discovery. Adding 18,000 more years brings that to 65,000 years ago that the first habitation of Australia seems to have been proven, blowing through previous estimates. Migration must have happened at some point even earlier than that.
This adds an entirely new chapter to early human history. These artifacts were fairly complex, and some of the oldest ever found.
“We found these beautiful ground stone-edge axes with grooves at one end where the handle would have been attached with resin,” said Associate Prof Chris Clarkson of the University of Queensland. “This has huge implications for everything from the out-of-Africa story to the extinction of megafauna and Aboriginal peoples’ own knowledge of how long they have been in this country.”
If this new discovery holds through peer review and further examination, the time of the earliest expansion of humans out of Africa could get rewritten. The once latest estimate of 60,000 BCE must now be pushed back at least another 5,000 years.
Image Source: Wikimedia
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