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New Dates Push Back Occupation of Northwestern Australia

Monday, April 11, 2022

Australia Yirra ExcavationPILBARA, AUSTRALIA—The Guardian reports that stone tools, charcoal, and bone unearthed in northern Western Australia at Yirra, a site sacred to Yinhawangka Traditional Owners, have been dated to at least 50,000 years ago. Yirra is situated very close to a land bridge travelled by trucks carrying ore away from a nearby mine pit, causing erosion and boulders to roll into the site. “Important sites like Yirra need to be protected, especially when they turn out to be amongst the oldest known places of human habitation in Australia,” commented Halloway Smirke, chair of the Yinhawangka Aboriginal Corporation. “We would still be visiting this site if it wasn’t for the mining leases.” The mining company has acknowledged the significance of the site and pledges to protect it in the future. To read about newly discovered rock art panels painted by ancient Aboriginal ancestors 10,000 years ago, go to "Letter from Australia: Where the World Was Born."  

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