Timor cave may reveal how humans reached Australia

22 December 2006 (The Age, Sydney Morning Herald) – It’s rare to hear about archaeological information from East Timor (Timor Leste). This one reports of the Jerimalai site, which was inhabited as far back as 42,000 years ago.

The Age, 22 Dec 2006

Timor cave may reveal how humans reached Australia

AN AUSTRALIAN archaeologist has discovered the oldest evidence of occupation by modern humans on the islands that were the stepping stones from South-East Asia to Australia.

A cave site in East Timor where people lived more than 42,000 years ago, eating turtles, tuna and giant rats, was unearthed by Sue O’Connor, head of archaeology and natural history at the Australian National University.

Dr O’Connor also found ancient stone tools and shells used for decoration in the limestone shelter, known as Jerimalai, on the eastern tip of the island.

She said her discovery could help solve the mystery of the route ancient seafarers took to get here from South-East Asia.

It strengthens the view that they made a southern passage, via Timor, rather than travelling northwards via Borneo and Sulawesi, then down through Papua New Guinea. “The antiquity of the Jerimalai shelter makes this site significant at a world level,” said Dr O’Connor, who presented the findings at the annual conference of the Australian Archaeological Association this month.


Related Books:
Uncovering Southeast Asia’s Past: Selected Papers from the 10th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists by E. A. Bacus, I. Glover and V. C. Pigott (Eds)

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

2 thoughts on “Timor cave may reveal how humans reached Australia”

  1. Interesting news, but let me just give a bit information about jerimalai site in which the excavation took place, regarding to the chief of village of tutuala the village in which the site belongs to, that the proper name of this site is not jerimalai but “Asi tau kuru”, personally was getting this news a couple days ago in tutuala, for the UNESCO program about the conservation of the rock art workshop, in cultural centre of Lautem District.

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