Over the last decade, all manner of unexpected archaeological discoveries have led to many experts questioning much of what was assumed to be fact. Recent findings and field-work relating to little ‘hobbits’ in Flores Island, Siberian hominids with mtDNA connections to people of Papua New Guinea, the exclusivity of our distinct genetic Homo sapiens code being compromised by a 4% Neanderthal input, and a variety of unexpected findings have called into question many elemental assumptions held about the past.
Professor Clive Gamble (Southampton University) succinctly summarised the current impasse and polarisation this has caused, when declaring we have to construct “a completely new map of the world and how we peopled it.”1 Granted, our response to Gamble’s call may seem radical, however, these discoveries, found not only in America but throughout the entire Indo-Pacific Region, all point to the same ancient southern inspiration.
After extensive consultation and research, we are of the opinion that at some time in the distant past, no less than 50,000 years ago and possibly much earlier, Aboriginal men and women set sail from Australia and began exploring foreign lands. They were the bearers of new insights and options, and bequeathed humanity the cornerstones of civilisation: religion, culture, gender equality, art, sailing, democracy, astronomy, surgery, and their genes.
Australian Aboriginal guardians of traditional Lore and Law have made it clear to us that they are indeed the “First Race.”2 They were not, as assumed by some of the general public, ignorant savages stagnating in their primitive inertia. As highly respected Dhungutti Elder Rueben Kelly states, “Centuries ago you white people chose the path of science and technology. That path will destroy the planet. Our role is to protect the planet. We are hoping you will discover that before it’s too late.”3
Unlike others out in the field or laboratory, we’ve ‘discovered’ nothing: our role is to act as scribes and faithfully present their history. The rest is easy: find white-fella proof to substantiate black-fella truth.
Before setting off on this ancient journey there is one destination and exodus that needs to be repositioned: Africa. According to academics and archaeological texts, Africa is the place from where modern humans evolved then spread their genes throughout the continents. The Out-of-Africa theory has over the years, since first proposed, transformed into fact. One of the original papers laying claim to charting our ancient ancestor’s movements and origin, The Recent African Genesis of Humans, written by Professors Alan Wilson and Rebecca Cann, is acknowledged as the closing chapter in this mystery. However, amongst the absolutes was one qualifier that has been conveniently and repeatedly overlooked. Wisely, with the benefit of hindsight, the authors stated Homo sapiens “probably,”4 never definitely, evolved in Africa.
Wilson and Cann proposed all modern humans shared the same ancient mother, who they named Eve, and according to their calculations she lived in Africa at sometime between 150-200,000 years ago. Of crucial importance are two of the three assumptions that underpin their mathematics.
The aboriginal (sic) populations of New Guinea and Australia are estimated to have been founded less than 50,000 to 60,000 years ago. The amount of evolution that has since occurred in each of those places seems about one third of that shown by the whole human species. Accordingly, we can infer that Eve lived three times 50,000 to 60,000 years ago, or roughly 150,000 to 180,000 years ago.5
This declaration was regarded as the final word, and the resolution of “15 years of disagreement”6 between two branches of science. Wilson and Cann triumphantly proclaimed victory on behalf of the molecular geneticists declaring that “we won the argument, when the palaeontologists admitted we had been right and they had been wrong.”7
With the case closed and bragging rights secured in perpetuity, science had once again provided certainty and an African ancestry. Or so it seemed. But not long after their paper was published Rebecca Cann realised they were mistaken. In 1982 she examined the mitochondrial DNA of 112 Indigenous people, including twelve full-descent Aboriginals, and the results were in total opposition to what they assumed was fully resolved.
Nevertheless, Cann was obliged to contradict a central tenet of their paper, stating that “mitochondrial DNA puts the origin of Homo sapiens much further back and indicates that the Australian Aboriginals arose 400,000 years ago from two distinct lineages, far earlier than any other racial type.”8 Not only was the emergence of Aboriginal Homo sapiens “far earlier”9 than any Africans, she provided a sequence and motherland.
The Australian racial group has a much higher number of mutations than any other racial group, which suggests that the Australians split off from a common ancestor about 400,000 years ago. By the same theory, the Mongoloid originated about 100,000 years ago, and the Negroid and Caucasian groups about 40,000 years ago.10
The realignment and reversals were of immediate concern to Alan Wilson. If Cann was correct in detecting a “much higher number of mutations”11 they may as well tear up their original paper.
Desperate to resolve the obvious inconsistencies, Wilson made two visits to Australia. In 1987, Wilson sampled the mtDNA of 21 full-descent Australian Aboriginals and provided 15 different strands. This number was well outside what anyone expected and compelled Wilson to unconvincingly conclude there were more than 15 pregnant females on the first boat. A second visit in 1989 increased the crew size to levels that quite literally sank the boat as it entered the water, and forced Wilson to abandon Africa as the place where Homo sapiens originated. From a second sampling of ten, a similar percentage (70%) of mutation was present. Upon receiving the results of his second mtDNA sampling Wilson immediately conceded the Out-of-Africa theory was wrong.
The math wasn’t complicated: the agreed rate of mtDNA mutation for every new strand is 3,500 years, therefore 22 x 3,500 = 77,000 years. Wilson realised if he returned and increased the population surveyed, so too would the crew-size increase. He was left with no other option but to dismiss their original paper.
It seems too far out to admit, but while Homo erectus was muddling along in the rest of the world, a few erectus had got to Australia and did something dramatically different – not even with stone tools – but it is there that Homo sapiens have emerged and evolved… Homo sapiens would have evolved free from competition out of a small band of Homo erectus 400,000 years ago.12
Sadly, and somewhat puzzlingly, these findings were mostly ignored. In fact, opposition to the Out-of-Africa theory lost momentum. Perhaps this timid climate goes some way towards explaining the reactions to Alan Thorne’s research into the genetics and antiquity of Lake Mungo Man (WLH3). Re-dated to be over 60,000 years old and the oldest Homo sapiens yet found, this in itself raises serious doubts relating to the credentials of any theory claiming the first mariners reached the northern parts of Australia 60,000 years ago. Thousands of kilometres from any potential point of entry, the practicalities involved in reaching this distant in-land lake within days after disembarking are insurmountable. This date, coupled with the discovery that WLH3 had an “extinct DNA”13 which does not resemble any other population, surely calls into question the reality of an African migration.
Referring back to Wilson and Cann’s original calculations, their proposed timing of somewhere between 50-60,000 years stands on no less shaky ground than their genetic miscalculation. There are at least ten Australian sites claimed to be older than 60,000 years, granted every date is challenged by conservative critics, but even so, all are the products of respected academics.
What needs to be accepted is that if just one date proves to be correct, irrespective of whatever judgment is passed on the other nine, it can be confidently declared as a fact that Australia was not settled by African Homo sapiens 60,000 years ago. Whether the winning site turns out to be Lake George-fire-stick farming (120,000 years); Lake Eyre-skullcap (135,000 years); Jinmium-tools (176,000 years); Panaramittee-rock-engraving of saltwater crocodile (75,000 years); Rottnest Island-tools (70,000 years); Devonport-rock-engravings (>115,000 years); Jinmium-art (75-116,000 years); Great Barrier Reef-fire-stick farming (185,000 years); Lake Mungo (WLH3)-complete skeleton (61-65,000 years); or (WLH1)-cremated bones (61,000 years); one out of the ten is sufficient to deny African entry.
The First Americans
Compounding the inconsistencies of the Out-of-Africa theory is the recent discoveries of “hundreds of skeletal remains”14 in America that “look like Australian Aborigines.”15
In the October/November edition of Cosmos, Jacqui Hayes presented a compelling morphological case in support of Australian Aboriginal presence in America. According to Hayes, Aboriginal settlement of the Americas began at an indeterminate time before the second migration of people “with distinctive Mongoloid features”16 and left, within her by-line, a series of unresolved questions.
When stating that “startling new finds suggest Australia’s first people made it all the way to South America more than 11,000 years ago,”17 the narrative is incomplete. How far back did these Aboriginal settlements span, and were other locations settled? If indeed Hayes is right in that Australian Aboriginal people were in America, any date obtained beyond 11,000 years must be due to the actions of people bearing Australian Aboriginal genes.
The impossibility of any African migration, genes or antigens entering America, was confirmed through the examination of Aboriginal bones establishing the presence of distinctive antigens.
Arnaiz-Vilena and his team looked at the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) system, which is a group of proteins on the surface of human immune cells. The HLAs are what the doctors test for to determine whether one person’s tissues are compatible for organ or bone transplants. HLA is a nuclear marker giving an even genealogy and genetic history for both sexes. The best test showing that HLA is a good genetic marker for studying population relatedness is that it usually correlates with geography.18
As expected, the first nominee was Australian, but just as importantly the comparative results bore witness to one notable omission: it seems the Africans forgot to sign on.
“So what did they find? Unique signatures only found in Australian Aborigines, Pacific Islanders, and peoples in Asia and even in Europe.”19 Missing in action and mention, the non-appearance of African HLA is yet another inconvenient piece of evidence that bears an Australian imprint.
When recalibrating this Australian Aboriginal/American time-line, dates just exceeding the maximum Clovis (Mongoloid) entry date are certainly inconvenient, but not demanding of tearing out pages. Corroborating evidence of Aboriginal presence during the 10,000 years before the second migration from Asian began can be found at Tlapacoya, 21,700-25,000 B.P., Los Toldos Cave, Patagonia, 14-15,000 B.P., “Meadowbank Rockshelter 19,000 B.P. (southwest Pennsylvania), Tibito 14,400 B.P. (Columbia), Walker 15,000 B.P. (Minnesota) and Mud Lake 13,450 B.P. (Wisconsin).”20
But it doesn’t stop there. Professor Silvia Gonzales, who is a leading advocate of the Out-of-Australia theory, was quite staggered21 by the dates obtained when analysing footprints found in a layer of volcanic ash at Lake Vasequillo (Mexico). “A variety of prints (human and animal) captured in this layer of rock were dated using O.S.L.”22 She found, much to her understandable surprise, that 40,000 years marked the “last time that these sediments were lit by the sun’s rays or the last time that the material was heated.”23 Gonzales is adamant these are Australian Aboriginal footprints, and that they reached America by boat through means of “island hopping”24 around the Pacific Basin.
Such a date, 40,000 years, pushes the boundaries and affirms an extensive Aboriginal tenure, and does not stand alone. The corroborative timing at Albert Goodyear’s site, accentuated by the considerable distance between locations, cannot be a coincidence.
Goodyear had been working at an archaeological site on the Savannah river, near Topper. It was agreed all the available evidence from the Clovis site had been gathered and their work was complete… He kept digging for another four metres before an assortment of stone tools, along with a hearth, were unearthed. A small piece of charcoal was then analysed by counting the residual Carbon 14 and a date of no less than 37,000 years was deemed appropriate.25
Uncomfortable as these dates are in relation to when ancient Australian Aboriginals first came to America, it gets worse for any clinging to traditional theories.
Not far from the Lake Vasequillo footprints Gonzales investigated is another site that was deliberately ignored for close to 30 years after a comprehensive investigation conducted by Cynthia Irwin-Williams. The dates are so sensational and numerous, and so obviously associated with objects made by Homo sapiens artists, the archaeologists downed tools and clipboards and vowed never to return. The dates returned by a variety of sound geological analyses were far too ancient, not only for occupation, but well outside the assumed period when Homo sapiens first appeared. To some extent the issue isn’t just a matter of whether these numbers are feasible, but more a case of open antagonism between two competing branches of science.
Christopher Hardaker, author of The First American, created a fictional conversation between the two competing parties that graphically highlights how the argument over which group of academics is right has blinded the combatants.
ARCHAEOLOGIST: You are asking us to believe that the sophisticated art and technology of the Upper Palaeolithic was actually invented over 200,000 years ago in Central Mexico by Homo erectus? Ridiculous. GEOLOGIST: You are asking us to believe that Science is off by a magnitude of 10? Ridiculous.26
Often the result of cutting-edge technology, the chemicals analysed and computations made came from extremely reputable institutions and individuals. Some of the offending techniques and dates (which came from the layer of volcanic ash and debris deposited above the artefacts/or footprints) include: Uranium Series Dating (200,000 years); Zircon Fission Track (170-640,000 years); mineral solutions (200,000 years); Diatom analysis (80,000 years); U-Th/He (200,000 years); tephrahydration (250,000 years); magnetic shifts in rocks (790,000 years); and argon argon (1,300,000 years).
The facts, and large figures, demand a response. What if just one date is actually right? Does that mean Homo sapiens were, as Christopher Hardaker claims, responsible for “600,000 year old art?”27 If so, does this alone suggest the often sniggered at talk of Mu, Atlantis and other ancient civilisations has real geological substance?
As to whether Gonzales’ “island hopping”28 route from Australia, up through Asia, Japan, Siberia then America is plausible, it is often said a picture can act as a worthy substitute for quite a few words. The photograph (see page 27) of the Japanese full-descent Ainu Elder was taken in the late 19th century by German anthropologist Dr. Hermann Klaatsch. The physical characteristics displayed in this photograph, in association with the recent discovery of “a very well-preserved skeleton from Gua Gunung, Malaysia,”29 resonates to one ancient southern inspiration. The Malaysian “specimen is aged 10,200 B.P. and is said to be a late representative of a non-specialised morphology, similar to Australian Aborigines.”30
The First Boat
For the appearance of a population “similar to Australian”31 Aboriginals in Malaysia, Japan, America, or any other place, a boat is needed. The oft-proposed settlement of Australia from Africa by ramshackle raft, or through desperately clinging on to driftwood during storms, doesn’t measure up. This vessel must be able to withstand monsoons and weeks at sea, and accommodate a crew of close to 20 adults to negate in-breeding thus successfully repopulate an uninhabited continent. Nowhere today is anyone going to discover the actual ancient wooden remains of such an ancient sophisticated “ocean-going”32 vessel. But if seeking out everything else bar the planks there is only one place to look.
Graham Walsh was “the widely recognised authority on the intriguing Bradshaw art of the Kimberley area… Within this area, he has discovered the oldest paintings of boats in the world, dated at a minimum age of 17,000 years, but with the strong possibility of being up to 50,000 years old…”33 Walsh insisted that the “high prow of the boat”34 is “unnecessary for boats used in calm, inland waters. The design suggests it was used on the open ocean.”35 Walsh was quite shocked by the function, antiquity, and most importantly dimensions of these vessels: “they are massive boats, totally alien.”36 Moreover not only was the sophistication and technology exhibited difficult for Walsh to assimilate, he still had to account for the reasons why there were “two paintings of ocean-going boats, one with 23 people on board, the other 29.”37
These are ideal numbers as foundation populations when sailing towards distant lands, however diagrams and specifications do not make a boat. To have a clever idea is a promising first step, but there are some practicalities to be addressed before any idea takes form. There are materials, tools, and navigation skills required which supposedly did not exist for at least another 20,000 years. Irrespective of what is assumed, the first tool needed to build a ship that can comfortably cater for 30 people, is an axe. Wood in its prime, not the rotting logs that fall, is essential in manufacturing a vessel strong enough to sail across oceans.
It should come as no surprise that the oldest axe in the world, dated at 40,000 years, was found at Huon Terrace PNG (which was part of the Australian mainland until 8,000 years ago), others discovered in Jaowyn land, Northern Territory (35,500 years), at Sandy Creek, Queensland (32,000 years) and Malangangerr Northern Territory (23,000), are all at least 8,000 years older than the first axe found outside Australia (Niah Cave, Sarawak, 15,000 years).
With axe at hand, plans on the wall, and overseas bookings made, there still remains one vital navigational skill any journey beyond landfall demands. Hugh Cairns’ book Dark Sparklers is the first and only publication dedicated to the sharing of traditional Aboriginal astronomical knowledge. Cairns won the trust of Wardaman Elder Bill Harnley, who spoke of his ancestral knowledge of the stars, “great black shapes,”38 the movements and constellations in between, and of up “on top.”39 According to Cairns, there have been Aboriginal astronomers for “over 30,000 years.”40
Not only the Pacific, but the Indian Ocean, was a path used to navigate then share so many esoteric gifts, technologies, guidelines, and of course, genes.
“Dr. Raghavendra Rao and researchers from the Indian-backed Anthropological Survey of India project found unique mutations were shared between modern-day Indians and Aborigines.”41 They “identified seven people from central Dravidian and Austro-Asiatic tribes who shared genetic traits only found in Aborigines.”42
Much earlier linguistic studies of the Dravidian language had already identified the same relationship. Dravidian “fishermen of the Madras coast use almost the same words for I, thou, he, we, and you as some Aboriginal tribes. Many other key words in the Dravidian dialects are identical in Tasmanian Aboriginal terms both in pronunciation and meaning.”43
It needs to be appreciated that Tasmanian culture and language is a relatively recent event, and the island is the outcome of the final thawing at the end of the last Ice Age when the seas covered the low plains between Victoria and Tasmania. Over the last 8,000 years this isolation has been instrumental in the development of a distinctive Tasmanian culture.44
With a language that came into existence no earlier than 8,000 years ago forming a substantial part of the basic Dravidian vocabulary, this mtDNA connection strongly suggests the Australian Aboriginals kept in contact with India for some considerable time.
Especially since “Australian canoes are constructed identically to those of the coastal Dravidian tribes of India, and wild tribes in the Deccan region of India are the only culture known to use the boomerang outside Australia.”45 The oldest boomerang discovered in the world was found at Wyrie Swamp, South Australia, and is dated at 10,200 years.
The dingo, accepted to have been brought into Australia from somewhere in Asia about 6,000 years ago, only strengthens the possibility of an extended Australo-Indian link. It would appear that the Dravidians adopted the Australian boomerang to hunt with, chose their better designed canoes to assist in fishing, and as is often the case when two cultures first meet, shared technology, friendship and genes.
There is so much more to this ancient Aboriginal narrative. At best we have provided a brief geographical overview of where ancient Aboriginal people sailed, and hopefully presented evidence validating their belief that they are descendents of the “First Race.”46
Whether the African strand of Homo sapiens emerged 40,000 years ago is of no account, our focus is on the much earlier Australian genes, journeys and heritage. We have examined a few of the locations reached, but as for the religious legacy of the Dreaming as evidenced through the nine shared mystical principles, underpinned by equality of gender and species, that is yet another chapter of an ancient story that spans eons and geography. Their intimate awareness of the divine, along with the lesser gifts of sailing, astronomy, brain surgery, penicillin, burial/cremation/embalming, amputations, axe-making, democracy, bows and arrows, and so much more, is part of a forgotten origin that deserves to be heard once more.
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1. “Australia’s ‘First Americans’,” Daily Telegraph, 8 September 2004, 3 (n).
2. The Nephew of Reuben Kelly, 2010, Recounting Uncle Rueben Kelly From his Nephew, Personal Communication to Steven Strong.
3. Anne Wilson Schaef, Native Wisdom for White Minds: Daily Reflections Inspired by the Native Peoples of the World (Random House, 1995).
4. Allan C. Wilson & Rebecca L. Cann, “The Recent African Genesis of Humans: Genetic Studies Reveal That an African Woman of 200,000 Years Ago Was Our Common Ancestor,” Scientific American 266, no. 4. (April 1992), 68.
5. Ibid. 72.
6. Ibid. 68.
7. Ibid. 68.
8. Robert Lawlor, Voices of the First Day: Awakening in the Aboriginal Dreamtime (Inner Traditions International, 1991), 26.
9. Ibid. 26
10. Ibid. 26.
11. Ibid. 26.
12. Ibid. 26.
13. Leigh Dayton, “DNA Clue to Man’s Origin: How Mungo Man Has Shaken the Human Family Tree,” The Australian, 9 January 2001, 1(n).
14. Jacqui Hayes, “Ancient Odyssey,” Cosmos issue 35, 2010, 42.
15. Ibid. 39.
16. Ibid. 40.
17. Ibid. Front Cover.
18. Ibid. 45.
19. Ibid. 45.
20. Steven Strong & Evan Strong, Constructing a New World Map, 1st ed. (University Press of America Inc., 2008), 42.
21. Martin Redfern (producer/reporter), Pauline Newman (producer) & Robyn Williams (presenter), “Oldest American Footprints” (transcript), The Science Show, ABC Radio National, 11 Feb. 2006, http://abc.net.au/rn/sciencesshow/stories/2006/1564746.htm
22. Strong & Strong, Constructing a New World Map, 48.
23. Redfern, Newman & Williams, The Science Show.
25. Strong & Strong, Constructing a New World Map, 49.
26. Christopher Hardaker, The First American: The Suppressed Story of the People Who Discovered the New World (New Page Books, 2007), 187.
27. Ibid. 45.
28. Redfern, Newman & Williams, The Science Show.
29. Walter A. Neves & Mark Hubbe, “Cranial Morphology of Early Americans from Lagoa Santa, Brazil: Implicatons for the Settlement of the New World,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 102, no. 51 (2005), www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1317934, 467.
30. Ibid. 467.
31. Ibid. 467.
32. Michael Winkler, “Rock Star of the Kimberley,” The Age, 20 Sept. 2004.
33. Strong & Strong, Constructing a New World Map, 47.
34. “First Americans Were Australian,” BBC News, 26 Aug. 1999, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/430944.stm.
36. Winkler, “Rock Star of the Kimberley.”
38. Hugh Cairns & Bill Yidumbuma, Dark Sparklers, 2nd ed. (H.C. Cairnes, 2004), 42.
39. Ibid. 39.
40. Ibid. 42.
41. AAP, “First Australians Were Indian: Research,” Sydney Morning Herald, 23 July 2009(n); Within Steven Strong & Evan Strong, Forgotten Origin (University Press of America, Inc., 2010), 16.
42. AAP, “First Australians Were Indian: Research”; Within Strong & Strong, Forgotten Origin, 16.
43. Lawlor, Voices of the First Day, 120.
44. Strong & Strong, Forgotten Origin, 17.
45. Lawlor, Voices of the First Day, 120-121.
STEVE STRONG, with his son Evan, have co-written Constructing a New World Map, Mary Magdalene’s Dreaming, Forgotten Origin and soon to be released fourth book Shunned Legacy. With close to 30 years of contact with the Gumilaroi people and tribes of the Bundjalung confederation, and the benefit of extensive consultation with many Elders, the history revealed is part of an Aboriginal history that was almost lost. For more information, visit their website www.forgottenorigin.com.
The above article appeared in New Dawn No. 125 (March-April 2011).
© New Dawn Magazine and the respective author.
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