Aborigines in Australia

25 Jan 2017

In the same issue of World Current Archaeology 81 we learn that at the Warrutyi rock shelter 55km north of Adelaide, in the Flinders Ranges, a local Aboriginal elder and a researcher from La Trobe University, when surveying a remote gorge peered into the shelter and noticed it had a fire blackened roof. This was the sort of site they were interested in as it suggested a long period of time with endless camp fires. Fossils were extracted and they have been dated to 46,000 to 49,000 years ago - which is remarkable as they are the oldest dates found in interior Australia for human activity. They are in fact beyond the 40,000 years wall that frustrates C14 methodology, a huge plateau event that is an obstacle to what was occurring earlier. Various Aboriginal sites have been dated to 40,000 years ago - but is this because of the plateau? The news item does not say what dating methodology was used to obtain the early dates - but a variety of methods have been devised in recent years in order to get round the numerous plateau events that litter C14 dating. Having been able to jump the shark, shall we say, a whole new ball game opens up. Aborigines were clearly living in Australia at the same time as megafauna - and in another article this week they are being blamed, once again, for the extinction of these animals (whereas a connection with the plateau event might be more rewarding).

The new dates open up a can of worms one might suspect as if Aborigines are found to be living in Australia too early it may require some new thinking on Out of Africa.