Written by Annie Pullar
Produced for online by Elisabeth Moss
A team of 30 archeologists have found evidence of early Indigenous life in an island cave near north-western Australia.
The University of Western Australia excavation, led by archeologist Professor Peter Veth, uncovered Boodie Cave, a large limestone island, 60 kilometres off the Pilbara Coast.
Professor Veth says the findings indicate Australia has been occupied by humans for around 50,000 years.
“Our work on the north-west shelf speaks to the earliest coastal adaptions made by aboriginal people in Australia.
“We are teasing out a picture of people with a highly mobile settlement pattern that obviously used the coast,” Professor Veth says.
The findings also reveal the dietary habits of the cave’s occupants.
“We have hard data, direct evidence that shellfish communities, mangrove forests and other sorts of highly productive coastal habitats are present, even during the height of the last Ice Age.”
Professor Sean Ulm says the archeological team alongside international laboratories, looked specifically at the sand found in Boodie Cave.
“What we did at Boodie Cave was use radiocarbon dating but also partnered it with another technique which iss called optically stimulated luminescence dating and using that technique we were actually dating the individual grains of sand.”
Professor Veth says rising sea levels make it difficult to find earlier evidence of indigenous life.
“The oceans have gone down to minus 125 metres below their present level and then come all the way up to modern sea level.
“The archaeological evidence for the first aboriginal colonists is likely submerged under tens of metres of water,” Professor Veth says.