Researchers found new evidence of Aboriginal occupation in a cave in northwestern Australia, and their findings date back the earliest Australian occupation to about 50,000 years ago. The international team of researchers from various universities unearthed evidence showing the adaptation means of the earliest inhabitants of the coast.
Boodie Cave On Barrow Island
Barrow Island on the northwest shelf of Australia is a limestone continental island. It is the focus of the Barrow Island Archaeology Project (BIAP) that was formed to answer the many different questions regarding the earliest human occupation on the island.
In this particular study, researchers focused on Boodie Cave, where they found a significant amount of cultural deposits. This large amount of deposits showed how the cave was likely used by its earliest human inhabitants, as well as the longest sequence of dietary remains from any Australian site.
With the help of four international dating laboratories, researchers were able to shed some light into how the cave was used for the past 50,000 years, as its human inhabitants adapted to the climate and landscape.
What they found was that between 50,000 and 30,000 years ago, Boodie Cave was used predominantly as a hunting shelter until about 10,000 years ago, when they used the cave primarily as a residential location. It is about 7,000 years ago that the cave was abandoned likely due to the rising sea-levels and the changing landscape.
They also found evidences of how the early inhabitants changed their diets depending on the environmental conditions and resource availability as sea-levels fluctuated from time to time. A large amount of mussel shells and remains of other sea creatures show that at a time, the inhabitants of the cave relied mostly on the sea to get their nourishment. As time went on and the sea-levels dropped, more remains of land creatures were found, showing how the cave's early inhabitants adapted to their surroundings.
"This new discovery, with its extraordinary preservation of archaeological remains, gives us with a glimpse of the lives of the people who lived on the coast in the distant past," said Professor Sean Ulm of James Cook University, specialist in coastal archaeology and coauthor of the study.
Early Human Inhabitants
Perhaps a mystery that modern humans have yet to completely unfold is the story of how humanity came to where we are right now. Though there are still questions regarding our ancestors, there is the idea of an African exodus that occurred over 200,000 years ago that led to the dispersion that populated every corner of the earth.
In the case of Aboriginal Australians, this isn't the first research that establishes their presence in the country for longer than originally thought. Just last year, a study found hair DNA evidence of a 50,000-year Aboriginal presence in Australia.
What's more, yet another study challenged an earlier belief regarding the arrival of inhabitants from India 4,000 to 5,000 years ago. In the study, researchers found a distinction between Indian and Aboriginal Y chromosomes and showed that the Aboriginal males were likely isolated for 50,000 years.
The current study that gives a detailed insight as to how these early settlers lived provides significant evidence of early Aboriginal life in Australia.