Episode 9 Lady Mungo and Mungo Man


(SOFT MUSIC) (SOFT MUSIC FADES) – In that direction there,
where the white wall is, That’s the area where they found
Mungo man and Mungo woman. They carbon dated Mungo lady
to be 42,000 years old. 42,000 to 45,000 years old. Two years later he came back
and that’s where he found Mungo man. – NARRATOR: In 1969,
Professor Jim Baller from the University of Melbourne was studying the ancient
lake sediments when he found the remains of
a young female who had been cremated – Mungo Lady, initially dated
20,000 to 26,000 years ago. These remains were then
the oldest in Australia. Five years later
and just 300 metres away, he uncovered the complete
skeleton of a man who had received a ceremonial burial – Mungo Man. This discovery confirmed what
Indigenous people had always known, that they had a long and complex
relationship with the land. Dating the remains proved to be
a problematic and controversial task. Estimates were between 30,000
and 62,000 years ago. The debate was finally settled in 2003, when a collaboration between
three universities and the CSIRO dated both
Mungo Man and Mungo Lady at roughly 40,000 years old, with additional artefacts pointing
to human occupation of the area as far back as 50,000 years ago. The scientists used techniques
such as radiometric dating, mitochondrial DNA dating,
and electron spin resonance testing to estimate the age of the remains. Professors Mike Morwood, formerly an archaeologist
at the University of Wollongong, said the discovery changed the whole
tenor of Australian archaeology, which was now on the world stage. – HARVEY JOHNSTON:
Until the discoveries at Mungo, the oldest site that was known
in Australia was a rock shelter
in central Queensland. It dated to about 18,000 years ago. But along came Mungo
woman and Mungo man, and suddenly the whole story
changed from just, there’s elements of rocks to the whole human history. – NARRATOR:
Mungo Lady and Mungo Man are some of the oldest remains
of modern humans ever discovered outside of Africa. It was previously assumed that Australia had been settled
by humans only in the past few
thousand years or less but the Mungo remains showed that Australia had been
inhabited by humans for longer even than the Americas. – These burials revolutionise
the whole thinking of the evolution of modern humans,
out-of-Africa theory and have rewritten all the textbooks, which I think is wonderful and it’s one of the really special
things about this place and one of the sadnesses
I have about this place is how few people know that. – NARRATOR The
scientific evidence shows that Aboriginal people have lived at
Mungo for at least 45,000 years. But many Aboriginal people say
they have been here even longer, reaching back into the
Dreamtime, perhaps forever. (SOFT MUSIC)

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