Artefacts found in Pilbara cave show Aboriginal life dates back 50,000 years


Artefacts found in Pilbara cave show Aboriginal life dates back 50,000 years
  1. Artefacts found in Pilbara cave show Aboriginal life dates back 50,000 years
    abc.net.au
    Artefacts found in a remote cave near Western Australia's Pilbara show Aboriginal people were living in the now largely submerged northern coast 50,000 years…
    Western Australia
By Erin Parke An archaeologist works inside Boodie Cave with tripods and sampling equipment. Photo: The artefacts were found in Boodie Cave, on the northern shore of Barrow Island. (Supplied: UWA)

Testing of artefacts in an island cave in northern WA has established some of the oldest occupation dates recorded in Australia, proving Aboriginal Australians were living in the now largely submerged northern coast 50,000 years ago.

Professor Peter Veth, from the University of Western Australia, said the discovery was a culmination of two decades' work on the Pilbara coast.

"I am genuinely excited. I think to be able to provide more firm evidence which reinforces Aboriginal origin narratives of deep-time occupation, which goes up to and beyond the 50,000-year range — that's exciting," Professor Veth said.

The team used radio carbon dating and luminance testing to establish dates for dozens of artefacts unearthed at Boodie Cave, on the northern shore of Barrow Island, 50 kilometres off the Pilbara.

They included spoons and cutting implements carved from shell, as well as beads thought to form necklaces. They were tested at laboratories at Oxford, England, Waikato in New Zealand, and Adelaide.

Peter Veth points at items excavated in a cave. Photo: Peter Veth and his team used radio carbon dating and luminance testing to establish dates for the artefacts. (Supplied: UWA)

The dates overlap with the earliest occupation dates recorded at sites in South Australia and the Northern Territory.

Professor Veth said the significance of the Boodie Cave dates was that most of what was then northern Australia is now submerged, making …