• Minjiwarra in the Drysdale River catchment area. (UWA)Source: UWA
A site unearthed in the Kimberly region of Western Australia offers glimpses into First Nations life before and after the Ice Age.
NITV Staff Writer

21 Aug 2019 - 10:23 PM  UPDATED 21 Aug 2019 - 10:23 PM

Archeologists believe new evidence confirms that north-western Australia was occupied by Aboriginal people 50,000 years ago.

Their study, published in the journal Australian Archaeology, was led by a team from the University of Western Australia.

It was conducted in partnership with the Kwini people and rangers from Balanggarra Aboriginal Corporation.

The scientists claim there is also evidence that First Nation people lived at the site - in WA’s Drysdale River catchment - even at the height of the Ice Age 19,000 years ago.

The lead researcher, Professor Peter Veth, said the study challenges the idea that Aboriginal occupation of the site had not been continuous over tens of thousands of years.

“Our work changed that view,” he said in a statement.

“This is actually a sedimentary (flood) feature built up over 50,000 years and it shows early, intermediate and more recent occupation by Aboriginal people.” 

The researchers also claim that the site was used to craft tools, weapons and other technologies.

“There is also a significant body of rock art in the region which suggests repeated occupation and symbolic engagement with these ancestral lands over many thousands of years.”

James ‘Birdie’ Gallagher, a senior ranger from the Balanggarra Aboriginal Corporation, said it was a very important site for Traditional Owners.

“We are happy about the old dates and also the ones that show the descendants continued to use this land,” he said.

“The art through our country shows those complex relationships between people and land right up until today.”

UAW researcher Sven Ouzman said it was important to value sites like this.

“These records and traditional knowledge systems people have of these lands are testimony to hundreds of generations of connection,” he said.

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