Australia is known for its varied geography and landscapes. With beautiful vast coastline, sandy beaches such as the breathtaking Palm Cove, tropical rain forests, wide mountain ranges, dry desert basins, and the world's largest coral reef—Australia has the climate and scenery to impress anyone. Any country or region on this has some amount of archeological insight to offer us that can help bring a stronger understanding of our own cultural and evolutionary history—Australia is no different. Believed to have been first inhabited just under 50,000 years ago, there are several archeological sites being explored and examined today in Australia that demonstrate aspects of early indigenous life on the continent. These three archaeological sites are some of the most historically and culturally significant on the island continent.
Lake Mungo Remains
The Lake Mungo remains consist of three separate sets of fossils found in the Willandra Lakes Region of New South Wales, Australia. These remains are referred to as Lake Mungo 1 (Mungo Lady), Lake Mungo 2 (LM2), and Lake Mungo 3 (Mungo Man). Discovered in 1969 by Jim Bowler, the Mungo Lady remains are not well preserved, but do hold special significance to the archaeological world. These early human inhabitant remains are some of the oldest anatomically modern human remains to be found in Australia and are the oldest evidence of ceremonial burial and cremation in ancient human societies in the world. The Mungo Lake remains are found in a vast, dry lake region, providing numerous sources of archaeological evidence for early human habitation. Excavating stone tools and objects dating back before the last ice age, this region is one of the most significant archaeological sites in the entire Australian continent.
Sunbury Earth Rings
Located on hills near Sunbury, Victoria, the Sunbury Earth Rings are prehistoric aboriginal sites first investigated in the early 1970s. The site consists of five separate "rings" created by scraping off grass and topsoil and then piling it in a circular ridge around the outside of the rings. The rings very somewhat in size (from 10 to 25 meters diameter) and are all placed on gently sloping hills. The rings were first excavated in the early 1970s by archaeologist Dr. David Frankel. He excavated one of the rings to try to determine its origin, revealing the remains of two stone cairns and several sharp stone knives. Archaeologists believe that these rings represent aboriginal ceremonial sites where ritual scarification or circumcision ceremonies took place. Some evidence suggests that these sites are over 1000 years old. While the rings hold archaeological and historical significance to the early aboriginal inhabitants of Australia, modern development has encroached on the sites significantly.