anyakngarra nut
Original Published Date: 
Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Full article issued by The University of Queensland.

ARC-supported archaeologists are generating a 65,000-year-old rainfall record from ancient food scraps found at Australia’s earliest-known site of human occupation.

Dr Anna Florin from The University of Queensland (UQ) said the research was giving a glimpse into the Kakadu region’s environment from the time when people first entered the continent from the north.

'Using the scraps from meals eaten tens of thousands of years ago, we can tell a localised story of climate change and explore its effects on communities living in the Kakadu region through time,' says Dr Florin, who also works with ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage.

Excavation director and ARC Future Fellow Professor Chris Clarkson from UQ’s School of Social Science said the research was a huge leap forward.

'We’re now able to read the changing rainfall record through time and match this to the amazing strategies that were developed by Aboriginal people to cope with a dramatically changing landscape,' Professor Clarkson says.

Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation chief executive officer Justin O’Brien said an 'extraordinary depth of knowledge' was being gained at the Madjedbebe site.

'This research reaffirms the importance of its long-term protection,' Mr O’Brien said.

Photo credit: 

Fruit of an anyakgnarra, broken open to expose the delicious nuts. When burnt, the tough shell can survive for thousands of years and includes information about the water available to the plant when it was growing. Credit: Dr Anna Florin.