Arrival of modern humans in Southeast Asia questioned

Popular Archeology | 8/10/2017 | Staff
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Findings from the Macquarie University-led study also suggest humans could have potentially made the crossing to Australia even earlier than the accepted 60,000 to 65,000 years ago.

Dr Gilbert Price of UQ School of Earth and Environmental Sciences said the dating of a cave site in West Sumatra, called Lida Ajer, provided first evidence for rainforest use of modern humans.

Rainforests - Place - Living - Primate - People

"Rainforests aren't the easiest place to make a living, especially for a savannah-adapted primate, so it suggests that these people were ahead of the curve in terms of intelligence, planning and technological adaptation," Dr Price said.

He said the study stood on the shoulders of brilliant Dutch paleo-anthropologist Eugene Dubois, famed for his discovery of 'Java Man'.

Series - Caves - Sumatra - 1800s - Teeth

"He visited a series of caves in Sumatra in the late 1800s, and in one in particular, recovered some human teeth, which is quite interesting in itself, but no one had spent much time trying to determine their significance," Dr Price said.

"Fast forward over 100 years later, both the team of lead author Dr Kira Westaway of Macquarie University and my crew (separately) were lucky enough to re-discover and visit the caves.

Adventure - Notes - Collaboration

"It was quite an adventure. We ended up sharing notes and the collaboration was born."

As a result of thorough documentation of the cave, reanalysis of the specimens, and a new dating program, it was confirmed the teeth were modern humans, Homo sapiens, but dated to as old as 73,000 years ago.

Barrage - Techniques

A barrage of dating techniques were applied to...
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