Discover an Unprecedented Time Capsule of Australia’s Original Coastal Inhabitants Dating Back 50,000 Years

Discover an Unprecedented Time Capsule of Australia's Original Coastal Inhabitants Dating Back 50,000 Years

New research published in Quaternary Science Reviews reveals that Aboriginal people lived on Barrow Island, located off the coast of Western Australia, for thousands of years before rising sea levels cut off the island from the mainland. The study, conducted in collaboration with Thalanyji Traditional Owners, highlights the significance of the northwestern shelf and submerged coastlines for understanding the lives of First Nations people during the last ice age. Barrow Island’s archaeological record, preserved due to the lack of human occupation after it became an island, provides a unique time capsule of Aboriginal history. Excavations at Boodie Cave, one of the oldest archaeological sites in Western Australia, have uncovered evidence of Aboriginal occupation dating back at least 50,000 years. The research also reveals that Aboriginal people transported and exchanged stone materials from inland and now submerged areas for over 43,000 years. The findings shed light on how Aboriginal people adapted to sea-level changes and maintained social networks and exchanges with the mainland. The study underscores the ancestral connection of Thalanyji peoples to Barrow Island and its surrounding coastal areas. The open-air sites on the island offer valuable insights into coastal Aboriginal lifeways and contribute to a better understanding and preservation of Australia’s rich history. The authors acknowledge the Buurabalayji Thalanyji Aboriginal Corporation as co-authors of the study.