An accidental find revealed traces of the earliest known human settlement in the Australian plains and also the first traces of the ancestors’ interaction with the so-called megafauna.
The chance discovery was made by Clifford Coulthard, one of Adnyamathanha’s elders in an area north of Adelaide and 550 kilometers away.
The area revealed itself to house the Warratyi, as the arid area was called, which was noted to be the earliest settlement discovered in the area as the 49,000 years old site is 10,000 years older than the previously known Aboriginal Australian site.
After its discovery, the earliest settlement was studied by a La Trobe University doctoral student and consultant archaeologist, Giles Hamm, and his team, who have now published the results in the Nature journal.
Besides the fact that it is the oldest such settlement to have been currently found, the site offers important data as to the relation between the earliest humans and the megafauna, or the giant or large animals living during that time period.
The site has been the object of the team’s research for the past nine years after the blackened roof of a rock shelter revealed the first traces of human activity.
During this time period, the archeologists found some 200 bone fragments pertaining to one reptile species and 16 mammals. The one-meter-deep excavation site also revealed over 4,300 artifacts related to human activities.
Amongst the most important finds Gavin Prideaux, co-author of the study, also signaled the presence of Diprotodon optatum bones, a giant, wombat-like extinct species and also the eggs of a giant, ancient bird.
According to the same Prideaux, the discovery of these animal remains in the same location with the human traces indicates that the latter were not responsible for the disappearance of the megafauna.
These new findings seem to contradict quite a number of previously verified theories as they go to show that humans lived side by side with the giant animals.
Although the early humans were hunters, the recent data would more likely support the theory of climate changes as the cause of the megafauna’s extinction, and not the previously blamed humans.
With Australia’s lands being 70 percent arid places, the earliest settlement revealed that Aboriginal Australian had quite a technology, which allowed them to live in the harsh environment.
The former oldest site is believed to be 38,000 years old and is located in western central Puritjarra. The different locations also seem to indicate that the early humans traveled from the north to the southern parts of the Australian continent much sooner than it was believed.
As the earliest settlement revealed stone tools and burnt eggshells and also megafauna traces, it also went to contest some of the pillars of the accepted theories.
As such, the site will probably continue to disclose information about the early human settlers and their travels and come to enrichen the worldwide knowledge of the subject.
Image Source: Flickr