Five copper coins and a nearly 70-year-old map with an ‘‘X’’ might lead to a discovery that could rewrite Australia’s history.
Australian scientist Ian McIntosh, currently Professor of Anthropology at Indiana University in the US, plans an expedition in July that has stirred up the archaeological community.
The scientist wants to revisit the location where five coins were found in the Northern Territory in 1944 that have proven to be 1000 years old, opening up the possibility that seafarers from distant countries might have landed in Australia much earlier than what is currently believed.
Back in 1944 during World War II, after Japanese bombers had attacked Darwin two years earlier, the Wessel Islands - an uninhabited group of islands off Australia’s north coast - had become a strategic position to help protect the mainland.
Australian soldier Maurie Isenberg was stationed on one of the islands to man a radar station and spent his spare time fishing on the idyllic beaches.
While sitting in the sand with his fishing-rod, he discovered a handful of coins in the sand. Read more.
Australia’s colonization may have been an organized affair rather than an accident, a new analysis suggests.
Some 50,000 years ago, aboriginal human settlers arrived on the continent, but how many people it took to found Australia’s population is unknown. The new study, published Tuesday (April 23) in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, suggests that about 1,000 to 3,000 individuals originally landed on Australia’s shores.
“This is largely speculative, but I think this suggests something more than accidental colonization by a small group on a raft of vegetation or other unplanned voyage,” study researcher Alan Williams, a doctoral candidate at The Australian National University, wrote in an email. “For me, this suggests a deliberate attempt at exploration (if not migration) more akin to those we see in the recent past from Hawaii and other Pacific islands.” Read more.
SYDNEY — Ancient Indians migrated to Australia and mixed with Aborigines 4,000 years ago, bringing the dingo’s ancestor with them, according to new research that re-evaluates the continent’s long isolation before European settlement.
The vast southern continent was thought to have been cut off from other populations until Europeans landed at the end of the 1700s, but the latest genetic and archaeological evidence throws that theory out.
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, reported “evidence of substantial gene flow between Indian populations and Australia about 4,000 years ago”.
They analysed genetic variations across the genome from Australian Aborigines to New Guineans, Southeast Asians, and Indians, including Dravidian speakers from the south. Read more.
A 1,500-year drought in Australia may have led to the demise of an ancient aboriginal culture, a new study suggests.
The results, published Nov. 28 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, show that geological traces of a mega-drought in the northwest Kimberley region of Western Australia coincide with a gap and transition in the region’s rock art style. The finding suggests that the people who lived prior to the drought, called the Gwion, either left the region or dramatically altered their culture as a result of the drought, and a new culture called the Wanjinda eventually took its place. Read more.
An “extremely successful” survey of the Gallipoli battlefield has turned up bullets, boot fragments and Roman remains.
Archaeologists and historians from New Zealand, Turkey and Australia have just completed a third field session at the battlefield.
“We made an intensive survey of three important areas - the positions at Pope’s Hill, Russell’s Top/The Nek and near the Lone Pine Memorial,” New Zealand participant Ian McGibbon said.
“It was an extremely successful session,” he said.
The survey is the result of a 2005 agreement between New Zealand, Australia and Turkey. Read more.
Does evolution have a soft spot for blondes? About 5–10% of people from Melanesia, a group of islands northeast of Australia, have naturally blonde hair — the highest prevalence outside Europe. Yet people from the region have the darkest skin pigmentation outside Africa.
Now, a study of people from the Solomon Islands in Melanesia shows that they evolved the striking blonde trait independently of people in Europe. This refutes the possibility that blonde hair was introduced by colonial Europeans, says Carlos Bustamante, a geneticist at Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, California, and a senior co-author on the study, which is published today in Science. ”Blonde hair has clearly evolved twice,” he says. Read more.
Ruthless, murderous and cruel yet charismatic and passionate, Black Jack Anderson ruled the islands and waters off WA’s Recherche Archipelago in the early 1800s.
He is Australia’s only known pirate, yet the story of his life and crimes is little known outside of Esperance, the south coast town closest to Anderson’s hunting ground.
WA archaeologists, who went to Middle Island - the biggest island in the archipelago - during a recent expedition to the remote area, surveyed what is believed to have been Anderson’s cave in a bay on the south side of the island.
Facing open ocean that stretches to Antarctica, “Black Jack’s bay” can only be accessed in good weather, conditions that are not common in the wild Southern Ocean.
The limestone cave, which leads to chambers and tunnels that go deep into the ridge, is the perfect place for a pirate to hide his loot, as local legend has it. Read more.
Deep in the Australian outback, several thousand palm trees grow in a 60-square-kilometer region known as Palm Valley. Local lore says the plants are a remnant of the continent’s rainier past, the only palm species to survive in the interior when Australia began drying out 15 million years ago. However, tour guides may have to change their tale; a new genetic analysis finds that these red cabbage palms (Livistona mariae) arrived only 15,000 years ago, possibly among the foods carried by indigenous people as they settled the area.
The red cabbage palm was thought to be an ancient remnant mostly because “it didn’t seem reasonable that the palms got there any other way,” says David Bowman, a biologist at the University of Tasmania in Australia. The red cabbage palm’s closest relative, the Mataranka palm (L. rigida), grows in two areas 800 to 1000 kilometers to the north on either side of the Gulf of Carpentaria—too far away, it would seem, for these species to be anything but distant relations. Read more.