Today the University of Queensland with a team led by Associate Professor Chris Clarkson announced new dates of 65,000 years for Madjedbebe in Mirrar land in the Jabiluka mineral lease.

Dr Clarkson said that more than 10,000 artefacts were found in the lowest layer of the site and “contains the oldest ground-edge stone axe technology in the world, the oldest known seed-grinding tools in Australia and evidence of finely made stone points which may have served as spear tips,”

Also found were “huge quantities of ground ochre and evidence of ochre processing found at the site, from the older layer continuing through to the present.”

Dating carried out by Professor Zenobia Jacobs at the University of Wollongong has revealed that Aboriginal people lived at Madjedbebe at the same time as extinct species of giant animals were roaming around Australia, and the tiny species of primitive human, Homo floresiensis, was living on the island of Flores in eastern Indonesia.

Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation Chief Executive Officer Justin O’Brien said a landmark agreement had made it possible for Dr Clarkson and colleagues to dig the site.

“This study shatters previous understandings of the sophistication of the Aboriginal toolkit and underscores the universal importance of the Jabiluka area,” Mr O’Brien said.

The study, funded through an Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant, promotes discussion about the timing and ways that modern humans first left Africa.

Other UQ researchers involved in the study included Dr Tiina Manne, Dr Andrew Fairburn, Professor James Schulmeister and Kate Connell.

Numerous completed and continuing PhD and honours students Dr Kelsey Low, Dr Xavier Carah, Anna Florin, Delyth Cox, Jessica McNeil and Kasih Norman collaborated on the study. 

The full release can be read here.


The NEC would like to congratulate Dr Clarkson, the Mirarr people and team involved on these finds. 

These exciting dates are vitally important for Australian archaeology as they help to aid our understanding of the length of time that Aboriginal people have occupied the Australian continent”, Professor Lara Lamb, President of the Australian Archaeological Association, said today on learning of the Madjedbebe dates. “For Indigenous people around Australia, such dates help to confirm Aboriginal narratives of their long attachment to country.  These dates and the wider archaeological results from Madjedbebe demonstrate the importance of archaeologists and Aboriginal people working together to build a picture of the occupation of the Australian landmass.  Professor Clarkson and his team are to be congratulated for the strong collaborative partnership developed with the Traditional Owners of the site.

The NEC would also like to encourage anyone who has other interesting or significant news to write in and share with us at



Megan & Annie

Media liaison officers