What is it about?

It has long been debated by scientists which route was the most likely path taken by the ancestors of Australia's indigenous peoples: a northern one from Sulawesi to New Guinea, or a southern route from Bali, to Timor and down to Australia. In this study we reconstruct what the island archipelago of eastern Indonesia would have looked like 60-50 thousand years ago and calculate the regions where early seafarers could have travelled and yet remained in-sight of land. Based on this, we were able to determine the 'least-costly' or 'easiest' path from the mainland of Southeast Asia, thought this island archipelago, to the previously combined landmass of Australia+New Guinea.

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Why is it important?

This study build on previous archaeological research across eastern Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, and Northern Australia, improving our understanding of the timing and patterns of arrival of the first peoples in this region over 50 thousand years ago. Importantly, the results of our pathway analysis which suggested the northern route to be the easiest, and most likely path taken to reach Australia, highlighted multiple islands which likely preserve important archaeological records whose discovery will improve our understanding of this important chapter in the human story.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Least-cost pathway models indicate northern human dispersal from Sunda to Sahul, Journal of Human Evolution, December 2018, Elsevier,
DOI: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2018.10.003.
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