A > 46,000-year-old kangaroo bone implement from Carpenter's Gap 1 (Kimberley, northwest Australia)

Date

2016

Authors

O'Connor, Susan
Langley, Michelle
Aplin, Ken

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

Pergamon-Elsevier Ltd

Abstract

Here we describe the oldest shaped and utilised bone implement recovered from an Australian context. Dated to beyond 46,000 years cal. BP and recovered from Carpenter's Gap 1 rockshelter, in the Kimberley region of northern Western Australia, this artefact demonstrates not only that Australian osseous technology has a time depth almost 25,000 years older than previously believed, but that bone technology was present in the opposite corner of the country from which it was proposed to have been innovated around 20,000 years ago. Comparison of this artefact with ethnographic implements found that the CG1 point was most consistent with an awl or a ‘nose-bone’. If the implement was an awl it provides evidence for intangible behaviours such as leather working or basketry being enacted more than 46,000 years cal. BP ago, while the alternative — a nose-bone — would constitute the earliest piece of personal ornamentation in Sahul. In either case, this single artefact provides rare insights into the culture and technology of Australia's earliest peoples.

Description

Keywords

Osseous technology, Northern Australia, Sahul, Symbolism, Ornamentation, Intangible culture

Citation

Source

Quaternary Science Reviews

Type

Journal article

Book Title

Entity type

Access Statement

License Rights

DOI

10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.11.006

Restricted until

2099-12-31