How to get to Australia … more than 50,000 years ago

Ulm, Sean, Cooper, Alan, Bird, Michael, Veth, Peter, Beaman, Robin, and Condie, Scott (2018) How to get to Australia … more than 50,000 years ago. The Conversation, 21 May 2018. pp. 1-5.

Vessel colour begins to fade after six days of voyaging, indicating likely diminishing success rates. The present coastline is shown in dark grey. The coastline with sea level 75m lower than present is shown in light grey (Animation by Rebecca Gorton, CSIRO).

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[Extract] Over just the past few years, new archaeological findings have revealed the lives of early Aboriginal Australians in the Northern Territory’s Kakadu potentially as early as 65,000 years ago, from the Kimberley and Pilbara regions of Western Australia by about 50,000 years ago, and the Flinders Ranges of South Australia by around 49,000 years ago.

But how was it even possible for people to get to Australia in the first place? And how many people must have made it to Australia to explain the diversity of Aboriginal people today?

In a study published in Quaternary Science Reviews this week, we use new environmental reconstructions, voyage simulations, and genetic population estimates to show for the first time that colonisation of Australia by 50,000 years ago was achieved by a globally significant phase of purposeful and coordinated marine voyaging.

Item ID: 53739
Item Type: Article (Commentary)
Keywords: archaeology; colonisation; colonization; voyaging; watercraft
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The full study has been published as Bird, Michael I., Beaman, Robin J., Condie, Scott A., Cooper, Alan, Ulm, Sean, and Veth, Peter (2018) Palaeogeography and voyage modeling indicates early human colonization of Australia was likely from Timor-Roti. Quaternary Science Reviews, 191. pp. 431-439, and is available through ResearchOnline at the related URL.

Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CABAH), Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC CABAH (CE170100015), ARC Laureate Fellowship (FL140100044), ARC Laureate Fellowship (FL140100260), ARC Future Fellowship (FT120100656), ARC Linkage Project (LP150100490), ARC Discovery Project (DP130100802)
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2018 04:27
FoR Codes: 21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2101 Archaeology > 210101 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Archaeology @ 50%
21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2101 Archaeology > 210102 Archaeological Science @ 50%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australias Past @ 100%
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