Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Package of cultural Innovations                                                                                             

Klein (1992, 1995, 1999, 2000) has proposed the appearance of a "package" of traits at about 40,000 to 50,000 years ago, and the associated spread of populations into new areas, suggesting a strong association between human biological evolution and behavioural changes, resulting from a genetic mutation that proved to be a selective advantage, proposing that the mutation led to a neurological change that was the basis of innovative ability of modern humans. Further suggesting that this innovation allowed modern humans to replace nonhuman or near human populations in areas the modern humans moved into. Harold (1992) listed the changes in morphology that occurred in the transition from archaic to modern humans, and the subsequent behavioural changes.

Included in the "package" of cultural innovations were enlarged geographic range, expanded exchange networks, personal adornment, art, imagery, ritual behaviour, blade technology and worked bone. Also, Exploitation of resources that require specialised technology such as worked bone and other biological materials, and new lithic technologies that indicated an intensification of their economy.

The "package" was proposed to have reached western Asia and Europe with colonists 'out of Africa'. There was also a suggestion that the "package" was exported from Africa to the other parts of the Old World that included south Asia and Australia (Bar-Yosef, 1998. McBrearty & Brooks, 2000, Mellars 2006a). The arrival of the "package" in Europe has been associated with the transition from the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic, and the first appearance of modern humans in Europe.

Habgood & Franklin have carried out a study on the archaeological record of the Late Pleistocene of Sahul, the combined continent of New Guinea and Australia during the Pleistocene, when sea level was much lower than at present. They have concluded that the archaeological record in Sahul does not support the arrival of the "package" ready formed, rather, that the components of it are seen to have developed gradually over about 30,000 years, and the various components first appear in occupation sites that are widely separated in space and time.

Table of first appearance of components of the package in Sahul

Sources & Further reading

  1. Hayden, The revolution that didn't arrive: A review of Pleistocene Sahul, Journal of Human Evolution, 55, 2008


Author: M. H. Monroe
Last updated: 30/09/2011
Journey Back Through Time
Experience Australia
Aboriginal Australia
National Parks
Photo Galleries
Site Map
                                                                                           Author: M.H.Monroe  Email:     Sources & Further reading