Tag Archive: Australia


The axe fragment is about the size of a thumbnail and dates back between 46,000 and 49,000 years — around the time people first arrived on the continent, and more than 10,000 years earlier than any previous ground-edge axe discoveries.

“This is the earliest evidence of hafted axes in the world. Nowhere else in the world do you get axes at this date,” said co-author Prof. Sue O’Connor, from the Australian National University.

“In Japan such axes appear about 35,000 years ago. But in most countries in the world they arrive with agriculture after 10,000 years ago.”

Lead author Prof. Peter Hiscock, an archaeologist at the University of Sydney, added: “the axe revealed that the first Australians were technological innovators.”

“Since there are no known axes in Southeast Asia during the Ice Age, this discovery shows us that when humans arrived in Australia they began to experiment with new technologies, inventing ways to exploit the resources they encountered in the new Australian landscape.”

The axe fragment was initially excavated in the early 1990s at Carpenter’s Gap 1, a large rock shelter known to be one of the first sites occupied by modern humans in Windjana Gorge National Park in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

The new study has revealed that it comes from an axe made of basalt that had been shaped and polished by grinding it against a softer rock like sandstone.

This type of axe would have been very useful for a variety of tasks including making spears and chopping down or taking the bark off trees.

“Polished stone axes were crucial tools in hunter-gatherer societies and were once the defining characteristic of the Neolithic phase of human life,” Prof. Hiscock said.

“But when were axes invented? This question has been pursued for decades, since archaeologists discovered that in Australia axes were older than in many other places. Now we have a discovery that appears to answer the question.”

“Evidence suggests the technology was developed in Australia after people arrived around 50,000 years ago,” Prof. O’Connor said.

“We know that they didn’t have axes where they came from. There are no axes in the islands to our north. They arrived in Australia and invented axes.”

According to Prof. Hiscock, the ground-edge axe technology specifically arose as the dispersing humans adapted to their new regional landscapes.

“Although humans spread across Australia, axe technology did not spread with them,” he said.

“Axes were only made in the tropical north, perhaps suggesting two different colonizing groups or that the technology was abandoned as people spread into desert and sub-topical woodlands.”

“These differences between northern Australia, where axes were always used, and southern Australia, where they were not, originated around the time of colonization and persisted until the last few thousand years when axes began to be made in most southern parts of mainland Australia.”

Source: Australian Archaeologists Find Fragment of World’s Oldest-Known Axe | Archaeology | Sci-News.com

Australia blamed refugee advocates on Tuesday for “encouraging” asylum seekers held in remote camps towards acts of self-harm after a woman set herself on fire, while the United Nations renewed its criticism of Australia’s harsh immigration policy.

Australian officials said an unidentified 21-year-old Somali woman was in a critical condition after she set herself alight at an Australian detention camp on the tiny South Pacific island of Nauru on Monday, the second such incident in a week.

A 23-year-old Iranian man also set himself on fire last week in protest against his treatment on Nauru and later died. The Somali woman has been transferred to Australia for treatment, officials said.

Under Australia’s hardline immigration policy, asylum seekers intercepted trying to reach Australia after paying people smugglers are sent for processing to camps on Nauru, which holds about 500 people, and on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. They are told they will never be settled in Australia.

The Papua New Guinea government ordered the Manus Island camp, which holds about 850 people, closed last week after its Supreme Court ruled the facility unlawful.

The harsh conditions and reports of systemic child abuse at the camps have drawn wide criticism inside and outside Australia and have become a major headache for Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during campaigning for likely July elections.

Australia however has vowed there will be no change to the policy, which has been pursued by successive governments.

On Tuesday, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton acknowledged there had been a rise in cases of self-harm in the camps but accused refugee advocates of giving the asylum seekers false hope they would one day be settled in Australia.

Source: Australia blames refugee advocates after asylum seeker sets herself alight | Reuters

Spain’s Ferrovial said it won’t offer in future the service of running Australia’s controversial offshore detention centers for refugees and asylum seekers, after buying a controlling stake in the Australian firm that operates the centers.

Australia’s detention of refugees and asylum seekers in offshore detention centers in Papua New Guinea and Nauru has previously drawn criticism from the United Nations. In a statement on Friday, Ferrovial said the company had completed a buyout of 59 percent of shares in Australia-listed Broadspectrum.

On Wednesday, Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court ruled that a detention center in Manus Island housing more than 800 Australia-bound refugees was unlawful and the country’s government said it would shut the camp. Broadspectrum runs the facility.

“In relation to the provision of services at the regional processing centers in Nauru and Manus province, these services were not a core part of the valuation and the acquisition rationale of the offer, and it is not a strategic activity in Ferrovial’s portfolio,” the company said in a statement. “Ferrovial’s view is that this activity will not form part of its services offering in the future”.

Source: Ferrovial says won’t run Australia offshore detention centers in future | Reuters

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