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National Museum of Australia

ArchiveCanberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
About: National Museum of Australia is a archive organization based out in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia. It is known for research contribution in the topics: Population & Rock shelter. The organization has 43 authors who have published 94 publications receiving 3453 citations. The organization is also known as: National Museum, Australia & Australian National Museum.


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Journal ArticleDOI
19 Jul 2017-Nature
TL;DR: The results of new excavations conducted at Madjedbebe, a rock shelter in northern Australia, set a new minimum age of around 65,000 years ago for the arrival of humans in Australia, the dispersal of modern humans out of Africa, and the subsequent interactions ofmodern humans with Neanderthals and Denisovans.
Abstract: The time of arrival of people in Australia is an unresolved question. It is relevant to debates about when modern humans first dispersed out of Africa and when their descendants incorporated genetic material from Neanderthals, Denisovans and possibly other hominins. Humans have also been implicated in the extinction of Australia’s megafauna. Here we report the results of new excavations conducted at Madjedbebe, a rock shelter in northern Australia. Artefacts in primary depositional context are concentrated in three dense bands, with the stratigraphic integrity of the deposit demonstrated by artefact refits and by optical dating and other analyses of the sediments. Human occupation began around 65,000 years ago, with a distinctive stone tool assemblage including grinding stones, ground ochres, reflective additives and ground-edge hatchet heads. This evidence sets a new minimum age for the arrival of humans in Australia, the dispersal of modern humans out of Africa, and the subsequent interactions of modern humans with Neanderthals and Denisovans. Optical dating of sediments containing stone artefacts newly excavated at Madjedbebe, Australia, indicate that human occupation began around 65,000 years ago, thereby setting a new minimum age for the arrival of people in Australia. When did humans first colonize Australia? The date of the initial landing on the continent that is now associated with cold lager and 'Waltzing Matilda' has been highly controversial. Dates from a site called Madjedbebe in northern Australia had put the presence of modern humans in Australia at between 60,000 and 50,000 years ago, but these results have since been hotly contested. Here, the results from a comprehensive program of dating of new excavations at the site confirm that people first arrived there around 65,000 years ago. The results show that humans reached Australia well before the extinction of the Australian megafauna and the disappearance of Homo floresiensis in neighbouring Indonesia.

597 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
08 Jun 2001-Science
TL;DR: This work reports burial ages for megafauna from 28 sites and infer extinction across the continent around 46,400 years ago, ruling out extreme aridity at the Last Glacial Maximum as the cause of extinction, but not other climatic impacts; a "blitzkrieg" model of human-induced extinction; or an extended period of anthropogenic ecosystem disruption.
Abstract: All Australian land mammals, reptiles, and birds weighing more than 100 kilograms, and six of the seven genera with a body mass of 45 to 100 kilograms, perished in the late Quaternary. The timing and causes of these extinctions remain uncertain. We report burial ages for megafauna from 28 sites and infer extinction across the continent around 46,400 years ago (95% confidence interval, 51,200 to 39,800 years ago). Our results rule out extreme aridity at the Last Glacial Maximum as the cause of extinction, but not other climatic impacts; a "blitzkrieg" model of human-induced extinction; or an extended period of anthropogenic ecosystem disruption.

485 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Fourteen propositions distil the argument that most features of the Australian deserts are explicable in terms of two dominant physical and climatic elements: rainfall variability, leading to extended droughts and occasional flooding rains; and widespread nutrient poverty.

307 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors used accelerator mass spectrometry 14C dating after an acid base-acid pretreatment with bulk combustion (ABA-BC) or after a newly developed acidbase-wet oxidation prereatment with stepped combustion (ABOX-SC) to confirm that people occupied Australia before the earliest time inferred from conventional radiocarbon analysis.

239 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
12 Feb 2015-Nature
TL;DR: A fossil freshwater shell assemblage from the Hauptknochenschicht of Trinil (Java, Indonesia) is reported, indicating that the engraving was made by Homo erectus, and that it is considerably older than the oldest geometric engravings described so far.
Abstract: Argon and luminescence dating of fossil shell infills from Trinil in Java, where Homo erectus lived, reveals that the hominin-bearing deposits are younger than previously thought; perforated shells, a shell tool and an engraved shell indicate that Homo erectus ate freshwater mussels, used their shells as tools and was able to create abstract engravings. Homo erectus made tools from shells, and even decorated some of them with what look like intentional incisions. The fossils of the hominid that came to be known as Homo erectus were discovered at Trinil in central Java by Eugene Dubois in 1891. Josephine Joordens and colleagues have been looking over the historic Dubois collections, now in Leiden in the Netherlands, concentrating on the freshwater shells. They find evidence for shellfish consumption by hominins, a shell tool and other shells showing signs of intentional modification. Age determination on the sediment directly associated with the shells show that they were used sometime between 380,000 and 640,000 years ago, well within the time during which Homo erectus lived in Java, and pre-dating the oldest geometric engravings described previously by more than 300,000 years. The manufacture of geometric engravings is generally interpreted as indicative of modern cognition and behaviour1. Key questions in the debate on the origin of such behaviour are whether this innovation is restricted to Homo sapiens, and whether it has a uniquely African origin1. Here we report on a fossil freshwater shell assemblage from the Hauptknochenschicht (‘main bone layer’) of Trinil (Java, Indonesia), the type locality of Homo erectus discovered by Eugene Dubois in 1891 (refs 2 and 3). In the Dubois collection (in the Naturalis museum, Leiden, The Netherlands) we found evidence for freshwater shellfish consumption by hominins, one unambiguous shell tool, and a shell with a geometric engraving. We dated sediment contained in the shells with 40Ar/39Ar and luminescence dating methods, obtaining a maximum age of 0.54 ± 0.10 million years and a minimum age of 0.43 ± 0.05 million years. This implies that the Trinil Hauptknochenschicht is younger than previously estimated. Together, our data indicate that the engraving was made by Homo erectus, and that it is considerably older than the oldest geometric engravings described so far4,5. Although it is at present not possible to assess the function or meaning of the engraved shell, this discovery suggests that engraving abstract patterns was in the realm of Asian Homo erectus cognition and neuromotor control.

236 citations


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Performance
Metrics
No. of papers from the Institution in previous years
YearPapers
20213
20205
20191
20183
20179
20161