Archaeologists have been working all over Australia, including on the Dampier Archipelago, and they have found something quite strange. They found what appears to bee a settlement of stone houses that look to be from right after the last ice age, making them somewhere between 8,000 and 9,000 years old. This makes them the oldest houses in Australia by a long shot.
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All that is left of the houses on the island are a series of knee-high rock walls.
"Excavations on Rosemary Island, one of the outer islands, have uncovered evidence of one of the earliest known domestic structures in Australia, dated between 8,000 and 9,000 years ago," said lead researcher Jo McDonald, from the University of Western Australia. "This is an astounding find and has not only enormous scientific significance, but will be of great benefit to Aboriginal communities in the area, enhancing their connections to their deep past and cultural heritage."
Research shows that they might have used plantlike material to make the roofs. What is surprising is that these buildings are quite sophisticated and have multiple rooms.
"Inside the houses you have separate areas - it could have been a sleeping area and a working area. There is evidence of people grinding seeds on the rock floors inside the houses as well as shell food remains," McDonald told Paige Taylor from The Australian. "We don’t really know what they were used for as these types of structures were not used in the historic periods."
These sturctures will show how the Aboriginal groups lived while the sea levels were rising quite rapidly.
"We assume they were a way of marking out social space for groups living close together as the sea level rose after the ice age, pushing groups inland into smaller territories," says McDonald. "While these people were hunter gatherers, these structures suggest people were developing social strategies to be more sedentary, to cope with environmental change."
The team found these houses back in 2014, but weren't able to date them until recently. That being said, there hasn't been a paper published yet, so we don't have all of the information. Still, it is really exciting to know that there were people living there for a much longer time period than we previously thought.
"As well as containing more than one million rock engravings of great scientific and cultural significance, the Archipelago is home to one of the country’s largest industrial ports," McDonald said in a statement today.
Some of the information they have found shows that humans were there 21,000 years ago, which is before the ice age. Not even 100km to the west, on Barrow Island, they have found evidence of human life dating back 50,000 years.