Humans first settled in Australia as early as 65,000 years ago | Science News

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Humans first settled in Australia as early as 65,000 years ago

Artifacts reveal a people skilled with stone tools, other crafts

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1:00pm, July 19, 2017
Madjedbebe rock shelter

HOME SWEET HOME Artifacts found at the ancient rock-shelter known as Madjedbebe (shown) in northern Australia provide new insights into the lives of the first Australians.

Tools, paints and other artifacts excavated from an ancient rock-shelter in northern Australia are giving new glimpses into early life Down Under. The first humans may have arrived on the continent 65,000 years ago — 5,000 years earlier than previously thought — and they were sophisticated craftspeople, researchers report July 19 in Nature.

Archaeologists unearthed three distinct layers of artifacts at Madjedbebe, Australia’s oldest known site of human habitation, during digs in 2012 and 2015. The oldest, deepest layer contained more than 10,000 relics of human handiwork. This cache included the world’s oldest polished ax heads, Australia’s oldest seed-grinding and pigment-processing tools, stone points that may have been spearheads, as well as hearths and other remnants of human activity.

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