50,000 year-old site in Australia: Is it really that old?

24th May 2014

Sandra Bowdler


A date of ca 50,000 BP for a human occupation site in northern Australia is not in itself especially surprising, but the evidence recently presented by Roberts et al. (1990) does need further substantiation and clarification.

The paper does not discuss the crucial issue of the actual relationship between the event being dated and the evidence of human occupation. More detail is required as to the precise nature and location of the dated samples and their archaeological relationship to the artefacts, particularly given the sandy nature of the sediments, and the admitted possibility that the lowest artefacts may have been trodden into unconsolidated older sediments. One of the dated samples is, it is true, said to have been obtained from sediments overlying a small pit containing artefacts. Presumably however ‘treadage’ could have occurred at any time during the site’s occupation, with consequences not only for moving the artefacts about, but also for mingling the sediments themselves.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Bowdler, S.
50,000 year-old site in Australia: Is it really that old?
December 1990
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