Out of Asia

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History Documentary hosted by Peter Capaldi and published by BBC broadcasted as part of BBC Horizon series in 1997 - English narration

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Image:Out 1.jpg

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A remarkable find in the Northern Territory, Australia, has opened a fierce debate on the prehistory of humans. The date of the find, if correct, dramatically pushes back the date at which people began to create art and language, and triples the date of occupation of Australia. It is, however, strongly contended...

Enormous sculpted boulders, described by Australian scientists Richard Fullagar and Paul Tacon as similar in concept to Stonehenge, and thousands of detailed circular engravings have been dated by them at around 75,000 years old, with stone tools dating back to 176,000 years.

Fullagar and Tacon say that the engravings and sculptures are possibly the oldest rock art in the world - more than twice the age of the famous French rock art paintings at Chauvet and Cosquer. But the most extraordinary find, published in British Antiquity in December 1996, revealed that Australia may have been occupied for up to 176,000 years - more than 110,000 years longer than previously thought.

While excavating in sediments below the rock art, the scientists recovered ochre dating back between 116,000 and 176,000 years. If Aboriginals really have been in Australia for over 100,000 years it enormously changes the traditional view of pre-history in several ways.

It is little short of a revolution for those scholars who cling to the traditional assumptions that 'art' began with modern humans and the Upper Palaeolithic period (from about 40,000 years ago).

As for the colonisation of Australia, the previously accepted point of arrival was 60,000 years ago. The Jinmium art substantiates considerably the hypothesis that charcoal layers in sediment, from a marine core off the Queensland coast, were caused from agricultural burning under human occupation around 150,000 years ago. Genetic data from Dr Ros Harding in Oxford also support the contentious find, suggesting that modern humans first arose in Asia rather than Africa, and could well have moved down to Australia.

According to the 'Out of Africa' theory, modern humans arose in Africa and migrated from there about 100,000 years ago. If that is so then the Jinmium people could not be modern humans. But those who support the hypothesis of 'multi-regional continuity' argue that early humans left Africa about 2 million years ago, and have been evolving and spreading elsewhere since then, intermixing enough to explain the parallel evolution. Archaeological finds of Homo erectus in Indonesia support the idea that they were actually quite advanced - using stone tools and probably navigating boats. According to archaeologist Mike Morwood, who specialises in Indonesian fossils, there is no reason why they could not have travelled to Australia.

It seems that human evolution has many more unanswered questions than we previously thought...

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[edit] Technical Specs

  • Video Codec: Divx 5.2
  • Video Bitrate: 1977 kb/s
  • Video Resolution: 640x480
  • Video Aspect Ratio: 4:3
  • Audio Codec: MP3
  • Audio BitRate: 128 kb/s
  • Audio Channels: 2
  • RunTime Per Part: 46min 23s
  • Number Of Parts: 1
  • Part Size: 700mb
  • Ripped by jvt40

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