People settled Australia’s rugged interior surprisingly early | Science News

ADVERTISEMENT

SCIENCE NEWS NEEDS YOU

Support nonprofit journalism

Subscribe now


News

People settled Australia’s rugged interior surprisingly early

Roots of Aboriginal culture may stretch back at least 49,000 years

By
3:01pm, November 2, 2016
Warratyi rock-shelter

GIMME SHELTER  Excavations at Warratyi rock-shelter, situated in the middle of this outcrop, suggest people reached the southeastern portion of Australia’s arid interior between 49,000 and 46,000 years ago, shortly after settlers first arrived on the continent. 

Australia’s early settlers hit the ground running, or least walking with swift determination. After arriving on the continent’s northwest coast by around 50,000 years ago, humans reached Australia’s southeastern interior within a thousand years or so, researchers find.

This ancient trip covered more than 2,000 kilometers through terrain that, although stark and dry today, featured enough lakes and rivers at the time of Australia’s colonization to support long-distance treks, say archaeologist Giles Hamm of La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues.

Excavations at Warratyi rock-shelter indicate that it took only a few millennia for Australia’s early colonists to forge a distinctive Aboriginal culture that continued to develop over the next 40,000 years, Hamm’s team reports online November 2 in Nature.

“Archaeological finds at Warratyi

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now. Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content