Ancient Australian Aboriginal sites discovered underwater

SYDNEY: Archaeologists have for the first time found Aboriginal artefacts on the seabed off Australia, opening a door to the discovery of ancient settlements flooded since the last ice age, they reported on Thursday (Jul 2).

Hundreds of ancient stone tools made by Australia's Indigenous people at least 7,000 years ago were discovered two metres underwater off the remote Western Australia coast, the research published in the PLOS ONE journal said.

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A second site nearby revealed traces of human activity 14 metres below sea level dating back at least 8,500 years – though researchers believe both sites may be even more ancient.

Archaeologists say the finds mark an exciting first step in uncovering more Aboriginal sites thought to have been flooded since the last ice age between 18,000 and 8,000 years ago.

This handout aerial picture released by the DHSC Project and Flinders University shows a research area in the Dampier archipelago off the remote Western Australia coast where Aboriginal artefacts have been found on the seabed for the first time. (AFP/Handout)

Flinders University associate professor Jonathan Benjamin, who co-authored the study, said sea-level rises covered more than 30 per cent of the vast continent in water.

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"A huge amount of the archaeological evidence documenting the lives of Aboriginal people is now underwater," Benjamin said.

"Now we finally have the first proof that at least some of this archaeological evidence survived the process of sea level rise."

James Cook University professor Sean Ulm said the archaeological team studied geological charts and sites on land to help decide where to search underwater.

"We then used airborne laser scanners and high-resolution sonar on boats to pinpoint likely areas," he said.

Teams of divers were able to map 269 artefacts at a site about 2.4 metres below sea level off Cape Bruguieres in the Pilbara region,Read More – Source