Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Lake Mungo 3 (WLH 3) western NSW                                                                                                                                                 

An extended burial that has been dated by OSL to 40,000 +/- 2,000 years ago. The remains were covered with red ochre. The nearest known sources of ochre are in the Manfred Ranges, 100-200 km to the northwest, suggesting the existence of long distance exchange or transport in the Pleistocene (Bowdler & Thorne, 1976; Bowdler, 1998; Westaway, 2006).

On 26 February 1974 an eroding gravesite was discovered in the shifting sands of a lunette around Lake Mungo in the Willandra Lakes World Heritage area. The human skeleton, named Lake Mungo 3 (WLH 3) had its fingers interlocked over the groin. The bones had been coated in red ochre at the time of burial, which is thought to be the earliest use of ochre for this purpose.

The skeletal remains found at Lake Mungo about 20 years ago have recently been dated by 3 different methods, uranium series, electron spin resonance and optically stimulated luminescence, to arrive at a new, older, age of  62,000 years +/- 6,000 years. Previously it was thought to be 30,000-40,000 years old. 

As any humans arriving in Australia could only have landed in the north, and Lake Mungo is in the far south west of New South Wales, a great distance from the north coast of Australia, the first arrival must have been prior to 60,000 years ago.

See Genetic Evidence see Mungo Man

Sources & Further reading

  1. Josephine Flood, Archaeology of the Dreamtime, J. B. Publishing
  2. Phillip J. Habgood & Natilie R. Franklin, The revolution that didn't arrive: A review of Pleistocene Sahul, Journal of Human Evolution, 55, 2008
Author: M. H. Monroe
Last Updated 05/11/2009


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