Early human settlement of Sahul was not an accident

Bird, Michael I., Condie, Scott A., O'Connor, Susan, O'Grady, Damien, Reepmeyer, Christian, Ulm, Sean, Zega, Mojca, Saltré, Frédérik, and Bradshaw, Corey J.A. (2019) Early human settlement of Sahul was not an accident. Scientific Reports, 9. 8220.

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Abstract

The first peopling of Sahul (Australia, New Guinea and the Aru Islands joined at lower sea levels) by anatomically modern humans required multiple maritime crossings through Wallacea, with at least one approaching 100 km. Whether these crossings were accidental or intentional is unknown. Using coastal-viewshed analysis and ocean drift modelling combined with population projections, we show that the probability of randomly reaching Sahul by any route is <5% until ≥40 adults are ‘washed off’ an island at least once every 20 years. We then demonstrate that choosing a time of departure and making minimal headway (0.5 knots) toward a destination greatly increases the likelihood of arrival. While drift modelling demonstrates the existence of ‘bottleneck’ crossings on all routes, arrival via New Guinea is more likely than via northwestern Australia. We conclude that anatomically modern humans had the capacity to plan and make open-sea voyages lasting several days by at least 50,000 years ago.

Item ID: 58682
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2045-2322
Keywords: archaeology; peopling; colonisation; colonization; voyaging
Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2019. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CABAH)
Projects and Grants: ARC CABAH CE170100015, ARC Laureate Fellowship FL140100044, ARC Laureate Fellowship FL120100156, ARC Future Fellowship FT120100656
Date Deposited: 25 Jun 2019 00:10
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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