Australia’s Aboriginal population is said to be the oldest continuing civilization on Earth – but just how old is that? It’s currently believed that Aboriginal ancestors made their way to Australia as long as 65,000 years ago, but new evidence uncovered at a dig site in the continent’s southeast may push the timeline back much further. If the site does turn out to be human-made, it suggests that people have been living in Australia for as long as 120,000 years.
The place of interest, known as the Moyjil site, is located in the city of Warrnambool, Victoria. Archaeologists have been investigating the area for over a decade, and the basis for these extraordinary claims is a mound of materials including sand, seashells and stones.
That might not sound like much, but the scientists suggest this is what’s known as a midden – essentially, an ancient landfill. The remains of fish, crabs and shellfish have been found in the mound, which may be all that remains of long-eaten meals, while charcoal, blackened stones and other features may be all that’s left of ancient fireplaces.
But the really intriguing part of the site is its age. If Moyjil does turn out to be a human site, it could force us to rewrite not just the history of Australian occupation but our understanding of human migration worldwide.
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