For a long time, it has been speculated that Australias’s Aboriginal population is one of the oldest cultures in the world. Recently this has been proven to be true. A new study called “A genomic history of Aboriginal Australia” has managed to trace the migration of contemporary Aboriginals from Africa to Australia 58,000 years ago.
The study, led by Professor Eske Willerslev (the University of Cambridge), sequenced the genome of 83 Aboriginal people, and 25 Papuans from the New Guinea highlands. This is probably the biggest genome sequencing project done in Australia so far. Before this, only three Aboriginal Australian genomes had been sequenced.
Whether Aboriginal Australians are descendants of ancient human tribes or not has long been an issue among scientists. This research finally proves that they are, and also goes in favour of the theory that all humans spread across the world from mutual ancestors during a huge migration out of Africa.
According to the researchers, a large group of people migrated from Africa 72,000 years ago. Papuan and Aboriginal ancestors were also part of this group. 58,000 years ago, they decided to split from that group and probably became the first people to cross the ocean. Up until the last Ice Age, Tasmania, Australia, and New Guinea were part of one supercontinent called “Sahul.” Gradually, raising sea levels started to separate pieces of the huge landmass. In 10,000 BC Tasmania separated from the mainland. Later, between 8000 and 6500 BC, New Guinea, the Aru Islands, and the Australian mainland also separated.
At one pint, Sahul was very close to the Eurasian landmass, so it was a very possible for people to cross over. The researchers also considered the biological adaptations that the Aboriginals have made to their environment. It takes a long time for a species to evolve and adapt to its surroundings and this, again, proves that Aboriginal Australians have been there for thousands of years. Because of the vastness of the continent and the huge differences in weather, different groups of Aboriginals (from different parts of the continent), have evolved slightly differently. This is why there is a big genetic variety among the Aboriginal tribes.
In their mythology, Aboriginal Australians speak about a “Dreamtime” (Alchera). In this “Dreamtime” an individual’s entire ancestry exists as one. They believe that all knowledge is received through the ancestors. Australian Aboriginals consider the “Dreamtime” to be a time of creation. According to some of their legends, cultural heroes travelled across a formless land and created the land we know today, with all its landmarks. Probably, at the heart of this “dreams”, is the story of the actual migration that took place 58,000 years ago, carried through the ages by the songs of Aboriginal folklore.