The Japan Times
May 10, 2002

Aborigines may date to 60,000 B.C.

PERTH, Australia (AFP-Jiji) Aborigines lived in northern Australia up to 60,000 years ago, experts have concluded after re-examining evidence unearthed in the southwest of Western Australia.

Western Australian Museum archaeologist Charles Dortch and anthropologist Kim Akerman said Wednesday they had made their findings after studying a limestone hammer found under a prehistoric fireplace near the town of Augusta, 400 km south of Perth.

Dortch sighted the hammer a few years ago in a cave known as the Devil's Lair.

He said conventional radiocarbon dating methods used initially to date hammer samples had suggested Aboriginal presence about 33,000 years ago.

But further examination using enhanced radiocarbon dating and optically stimulated luminescence methods produced dates ranging from 41,000 years to 47,000 years ago.

"If Aboriginal people were in the southwest of Western Australia at least 47,000 years ago, they would have been in northern Australia at least 55,000 years ago and perhaps up to 60,000 years ago," Dortch said.

This was based on the belief that it would have taken Aboriginal populations about 10,000 years to spread over the vast distance from northern Australia to southern districts, he said.