Evidence of oldest human occupation in Mid-West Australia discovered

June 4, 2015 by David Stacey
Evidence of oldest human occupation in Mid-West Australia discovered

A rock shelter in the Weld Range provides evidence of the oldest human occupation in the Mid-West region of Western Australia, a research project partnered between The University of Western Australia and Wajarri Traditional Owners has discovered.

Funded by the Commonwealth Government and in collaboration with Wajarri heritage company Ethical Engagement Consultancy, the research project 'Weld Range Web of Knowledge' found new evidence to suggest that ancestors of Wajarri Native Title claimants have been present in the Mid-West region for more than 30,000 years.

Samples for radiocarbon dating were collected by Wajarri Traditional Owners and archaeologists from UWA during an excavation at a Weld Range Aboriginal site 50 kilometres northwest of Cue township in May last year.

The Weld Range is home to the extraordinary and national heritage listed site of Wilgie Mia Aboriginal Ochre Mine and the area's rich and diverse archaeological record has a high cultural significance to Wajarri Traditional Owners and neighbouring groups who maintain cultural links to the area.

Wajarri Elder Colin Hamlett said it was exciting to confirm that Wajarri had been living in the Mid-West for 30,000 years from charcoal associated with stone artefacts at the Yalibirri Mindi rock shelter.

UWA Archaeologist and Project Coordinator Viviene Brown said up until now the Mid-West region had been an enigma.

"The history of Aboriginal occupation to the north in the Pilbara, south at places like Devil's Lair and to the east in the Western Desert has been well established for many years but the handful of excavated sites in the Mid-West are all relatively young," she said.

"This new date from Yalibirri Mindi rock shelter pushes regional occupation by 20,000 years and is enormously important for the archaeological community."

Explore further: Eastern Oregon dig uncovers ancient stone tool

Related Stories

Eastern Oregon dig uncovers ancient stone tool

March 5, 2015

Archaeologists have uncovered a stone tool at an ancient rock shelter in the high desert of eastern Oregon that could turn out to be older than any known site of human occupation in western North America.

Why Aboriginal people need autonomy over their food supply

May 25, 2015

Access to affordable and nutritious food is an ongoing problem in remote Indigenous communities. These areas have an artificially inflated cost of living due to cycles of mining boom and bust, and suffer from a general unavailability ...

Recommended for you

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.