Ground Breaking Archaeological Discovery Dates Occupation By Aboriginal People At 65,000 Years

First People Then And Now


Ground Breaking Archaeological Discovery Dates Occupation By Aboriginal People At 65,000 Years


Aboriginal flag

In Kakadu in the Northern Territory an archaeological dig at an Aboriginal rock shelter has dated artefacts as being between 65,000 and 80,000 years old.

This took place at the Madjedbebe rock shelter. This lies within the traditional lands of the Mirarr people and within the confines of the Jabiluka uranium mining lease.

The Guardian reported 20 July 2017 on the findings that were published in the Nature journal.

The archaeological team led by Assoc. Professor Chris Clarkson from the University of Queensland can now say with certainty that Aboriginal people occupied this region in the Northern Territory 65,000 years ago.

The findings suggest that Aboriginal Australians migrated from south Asia when the climate was cooler and wetter and when the sea levels were low.

Earlier this year in May 2017 at Barrow Island 60 kilometres off the Pilbara coast in Western Australia dating at an archaeological site pushed back the date of Indigenous occupation to more than 50 000 years ago making the occupation of Australia by Aboriginal people as at 60,000 years very plausible.

Archaeological evidence continues to unveil the story of Australia’s first people then and now. The scientific perspective suggests dates for human occupation could go as far back as 100,000 years.

From the recent archaeological evidence Australian Aborigines have a continuous history in Australia dating back to 65,000 years.


Lake Mungo


Earlier archaeological evidence indicated that Aborigines were living in Southeastern Australia 40,000 years ago. At Lake Mungo in the Lake Mungo National Park in New South Wales, a male skeleton was found in 1974. This male corpse, now known as Mungo Man, lived there all those years ago.

Lake Mungo is one of the several dry lakes in the World Heritage listed Willandra Lakes Region. Red ochre was found on the skeleton and this discovery indicates that there was some form of ritual practised at the time.



Pigments such as ochre tell us a lot about the past. Not only does the ochre found on the corpses indicate that there was some form of religious ritual all those years ago but it implies that it was used for art – cave painting, decoration of objects, and body painting. So what was happening over 40,000 years ago is still happening today.

A female skeleton was also found at Lake Mungo. Known as Mungo Lady, she has also been dated the same age as the male skeleton and is the oldest cremated human remains that has been found to date.

At Malakunanja II which is a sandstone rock shelter south of Malangangerr in the Northern Territory, archaeological evidence indicates that human beings may have been living in this region over 55,000 years ago.

The ground breaking archaeological discovery in northern Australia which extends the known length of time Aboriginal people have inhabited the continent to at least 65,000 years is very exciting news. The discovery adds western archaeological evidence to Aboriginal cultural knowledge about the length of time their ancestors have occupied this country.



Davidson, Helen & Wahlquist, Calla    “Australian dig finds evidence of Aboriginal habitation up to 80,000 years ago”

Hill, Marji  First People Then And Now: Introducing Indigenous Australians.


Marji Hill

Author: First People Then And Now: Introducing Indigenous Australians.