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3,000 people made up population of first Australians


New research suggests that approximately 3,000 people, more than originally thought, made up the founding population of Australia.

To determine the head count in Australia’s founding population, Williams compiled the most complete estimate to date of the continent’s prehistoric population. He turned to a database of 5000 cooking pits, human burials, shell heaps, and charcoal deposits. All were from Australian archaeological sites, and all had been assigned a date using radiocarbon dating methods. As the human population grows, the number of archaeological sites and artifacts available for radiocarbon dating grows, too. That makes radiocarbon dates a yardstick of population, or so think Williams and some other researchers who employ this technique.

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Story: Traci Watson, Science Magazine | Photo: Alan Williams

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