Two Possible Routes for First Humans to Reach Australia

When humans first arrived in Australia, sea level was much lower than it is now. People could have taken the Northern route through Sulawesi, island hopping across the sea, then reaching Papua New Guinea which was joined to Australia. It is the most logical path because land could always be seen in the distance in times of good weather. The southern route is much more difficult in terms of resources and energy. It involves travel across large islands of the Indonesian archipelago from Sumatra to Timor then a considerably long sea journey to the northern part of Australia.

Aboriginal hafted stone tool

Early arrivals obviously did not plan their journey, so using the easiest and most effective route was not an issue. They just moved east to new pastures as resources were depleted with new people moving into inhabited regions. It is possible that Australia was reached by travel along both routes. Artifacts in the rock shelter at Madjedbebe in Australia have been dated at 65,000 years before the present. Not much archaeological evidence has been found for the presence of humans on either route that far back.

There is no explanation for sites in Southeast Asia dating at only 45,000 years ago. Clearly, ancestors of Australian Aboriginals must have occupied places on the routes 65,000 years ago. Furthermore, Aboriginals look quite different from Southeast Asians and Papua New Guineans.
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edition switch uk edition switch us edition switch international edition events digital archive guardian app video podcasts pictures newsletters guardian guardian weekly crosswords facebook twitter events digital archive australia world au politics environment football indigenous australia immigration media business science tech indigenous australians first humans reach australia likely island-hopped new guinea walked – study researchers map likeliest route least-cost calculations line-of-sight sailing likely sea levels calla wahlquist callapilla aedt last modified aedt sh facebook sh twitter sh email shares widely accepted possible routes used first humans reach australia identified joseph birdsellresearch australian national university shows red northern route likely photograph supplied shimona kealy anu first people arrive australia likely sailed east borneo sulawesi island-hopped new guinea according research study led australian national university phd candidate shimona kealy published journal human evolution modelled likely route southeast asia australian mainland based path would required least expenditure energy resources.

kealy hoped research would answer question why archeological sites australia — show human occupation years ago — so much older sites discovered countries long suspected route modelling identified least-cost route going borneo sulawesi series smaller islands misool island coast west papua new guinea connected land australia years ago meaning first people walk now cape york rest continent visibility shorter distances islands really makes route much feasible travel guardian australia time visibility shore-to-shore visibility kealy tracked other factors particular route would involve going hill order determine likely path travel looking first sea journey species route follows roughly same path northern route described us anthropologist joseph birdsell theorised likely paths largely accepted used model researchers birdsell’s northern route goes sulawesi west papua southern route goes timor ends significant sea crossing northern territory kimberley coastline archeologists found number sites east timor show pro.

human occupation none older years artefacts oldest kn site australia rock shelter madjedbebe jabiluka mining lease kakadu national park mirarr country dated years site barrow island coast western australia dated years obviously people travel islands somehow australia so presumably dates found australia younger same age dates getting east timor sites kealy fact sites significantly younger suggests maybe first peoples different path earliest evidence aboriginal occupation australian coast discovered read islands birdsell’s northern route received comparatively little archeological attention due isolation expense political conflict west papua kealy co-author pr sue o’con applying research grants investigate likely sites northern route year can something that’s older years i would super-dooper happy timeframe years universally accepted academic community another recent study asserted years.

likely timeframe kealy modelling tracked changes coastline sea level years ago sea level lowest point years ago highest years ago news … … three years ago set make guardian sustainable deepening relationship readers same technologies connected us global audience shifted advertising revenues news publishers decided seek approach would al us keep journalism open accessible everyone regardless live can afford now good news thanks million readers supported independent investigative journalism contributions membership subscriptions guardian overcome perilous financial situation globally guardian australia made first profit australian supporters mainta build support year come sustained support readers enables us continue pursuing difficult stories challenging times political upheaval factual reporting never critical guardian editorially independent – journalism free commercial bias influenced billionaire owners politicians shareholders edits editor steers opinion important enables us give voice voiceless challenge powerful h account readers’ support means can continue bringing guardian’s independent journalism world australia everyone reads reporting.

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