• The site of the discovery, the ancient and sacred Riwi cave, on Mimbi Country. (The Point)Source: The Point
Rare bone tools discovered at Riwi cave on Mimbi Country could be up to 46,000 years old, and are shedding light on Indigenous practices.
Stephanie Corsetti

8 Apr 2021 - 1:50 PM  UPDATED 8 Apr 2021 - 2:02 PM

In an astounding archaeological find, eight bone tools, thought to be at least 35,000-years-old, have been discovered on Mimbi Country, Western Australia.

They have been identified as some of the oldest bone tools on the continent. 

Gooniyandi woman Rosemary Nugget runs tours of the Mimbi Caves, her ancestral land, but tourists are not permitted to enter Riwi cave, the site where the tools were discovered. 

Ms Nugget said Riwi cave is located on an Aboriginal cattle station, and that the bone tool discovery is very important.

"It's really, really significant," she told NITV News. 

Ms Nugget says local mob have worked with archaeologists to help on digs, uncovering bones and shells. 

'Very rare'

Griffith University's Dr Michelle Langley said the tools were sent to her after an excavation process, and they included a 7,000-year-old bone point used to break up spinifex lumps. 

"These organic artefacts of this age are very rare across the continent, so not just in the north but anywhere in Australia," Dr Langley said.

The discovery of the artefacts on Mimbi country is rare because often organic materials will not survive the conditions. 

"So we are lucky they were preserved well enough that we could work out how they were probably used," she said.

Some tools were believed to be used to create plant fibre baskets or for working skins like kangaroo or furs.

For example, Dr Langley said kangaroo fibular was used for weaving or for working skins.

"Hopefully future excavations will find some more examples and we will be able to learn more about what people were doing thousands of years ago in different parts of the country," Dr Langley said.

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