Thanks to Phil Krause for suggesting this post
We’ve long known that modern humans, or Homo sapiens, existed in Africa as far back as 200,000 years ago. Early humans in Australia were once thought to have arrived 47,000 years ago, signaling one of the later stops in the journey of human migration and one that would have required massive sea voyages.
A new discovery, recently published in the journal Nature, is challenging that, dating human arrival in Australia to 65,000 years ago, making Aboriginal Australian societies 18,000 years older than previously thought (although pending research on a rock shelter sitecould shift that downward closer to 10,000 years, if that pans out).
A team of archaeologists from the University of Queensland came to their conclusions by excavating a rock shelter in Majedbebe, a region in northern Australia, during digs conducted in 2012 and 2015. Among the artifacts found in the region were stone tools and hatchets, indicating an advanced understanding of weapon making. Similar hatches did not appear in other cultures for another 20,000 years, claimed the study’s authors.
“The axes were perfectly preserved, tucked up against the back wall of the shelter as we dug further and further,” one of the study’s authors, Chris Clarkson, told Australia’s Fairfax Media.
Previous methods of dating artifacts relied on a technique called radiocarbon dating. However, the technique is only capable of providing accurate dates as far back as 45,000 years ago.
To reach their conclusion that humans arrived in Australia 65,000 years ago, the researchers used an additional technique called optically stimulated luminescence (OSL). The technique is applied to mineral grains and determines when it was last exposed to light, thus indicating to researchers how long an artifact has been buried.
The artifacts found by the archaeological team initially dated back only 10,000 years. As they dug further into the shelter, the found tools dating back 35,000, 40,000, and 65,000 years. Source: NatGeo