Sunday, November 20, 2016


New Scientist reports that a piece of bone jewelry dated to more than 46,000 years ago has been discovered in a rock shelter in the Kimberley region of Western Australia by Sue O’Connor of Australian National University.

Microscopic analysis, conducted by her colleague Michelle Langley, revealed that the pointed kangaroo leg bone bears traces of red ocher on its ends and scrape marks made by stone tools. The ornament was probably worn through the nasal septum.

“I’ve met Indigenous Australians who remember their granddads wearing nose bones for special occasions,” said Langley. Depending upon the group, nose bones may have been worn by everyone, or may have been limited to elders. Langley explained that before the nose bone was found, it had been thought that the oldest bone tools and ornaments in Australia were only about 20,000 years old.

Some scholars had suggested that bone-tool technology had been lost on the journey from Africa some 60,000 years ago. “This shows that the first people in Australia were just as capable as those everywhere else of complex actions,” commented Ian Lilley of the University of Queensland. To read about early rock art in Australia, go to "The Rock Art of Malarrak."

--from Archaeology Magazine Nov-Dec '16


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