Category Archives: AUSTRALIA

Baby lyuba, the worlds most complete and Best-Preserved Woolly Mammoth

Baby lyuba, the worlds most complete and Best-Preserved Woolly Mammoth

She is 42,000 years old and has come a long way for her Australian debut. First, she was recovered from the frozen mud in Siberia that was her tomb for so long. Then she was packed into a crate at a tiny museum in Russia and flown to a humidity-controlled cube at the Australian Museum.

Mammoths – Giants of the ice age

The ice age world of woolly mammoths will be brought to life in Mammoths – Giants of the Ice Age, exclusive to the Australian Museum from 17 November 2017.

Baby Lyuba, the world’s most complete and best-preserved woolly mammoth, has arrived in Sydney. She is in remarkable condition, with her skin and internal organs intact. Scientists even found her mother’s milk in her belly.

The 42,000-year-old baby woolly mammoth was unveiled on Friday at the Sydney Museum

We will finally be able to see her when she is unveiled as the centrepiece of the museum’s Mammoths – Giants of the Ice Age exhibition.

Lyuba, who died at 35 days, is one of Russia’s national treasures, and the government is reluctant to let her out of its sight too often. This is only the fifth time Shemanovsky Museum has let her out, and it’s her first trip to the southern hemisphere.

The mammoth was first spotted in 2007 by Yuri Khudi, a Siberian reindeer herder, who found her as the frost thawed on a muddy bank of the Yuribey River. When he brought a team of scientists back to recover her, she was gone; someone else had got there first.

The 42,000-year old carcass was discovered by a reindeer herder

The team tracked her to a village deep within Siberia’s frozen wasteland. She was propped up on the door of a shop. The shop keeper had reportedly bought her for two snowmobiles and a year’s worth of food from Mr Khudi’s cousin.

“And while she was propped up, a dog came up and chewed off her tail and her ear. If only for that she’d be completely intact,” says Trevor Ahearn​, the Australian Museum’s creative producer.

Lyuba (Lay-oo-bah) means love in Russian. The museum has chosen to surround her with models of huge, ferocious adult mammoths, much as the herd would have surrounded and protected her in life.

It is thought her feet had become stuck in a muddy hole on the side of a Siberian riverbank. Before her mother could yank her out, Lyuba slipped below the surface, where the mud choked her mouth and trunk.

But the mud that killed her also contained sediments and bacteria that created an acid barrier around her body, in effect pickling her. When the river froze over, she was left perfectly preserved.

Had she lived a full mammoth life – 60 years – Lyuba would have grown to more than three metres in height and about five tonnes. To sustain that bodyweight she would have consumed up to 180 kilograms of grass and 80 litres of water a day. Mammoths lived in the late Paleolithic period, which stretched from about 200,000 BC, the time Homo sapiens first emerged in Africa, to 10,000 BC.

Mammoths were uniquely adapted for the conditions, with small ears and thick, woolly fur. They ate grass and bark and roamed across Europe, North America and Siberia.

That makes Lyuba the first of her kind to visit our shores, and it took the Australian Museum a fair bit of what director Kim McKay terms “cultural diplomacy” to get her over here. Negotiations involved the Shemanovsky Museum and the Russian government.

Mr Ahearn says: “One of the first things we had to do before we brought Lyuba over here was absolutely guarantee our Russian colleagues that there was no possibility of her getting seized because there is some controversy over who owns her.

“She’s a little controversial in Russia, with her association with an oil company that helped bring her into the museum. I think it’s paranoia. Russia is feeling a little bit of pressure, so I don’t know if it’s founded. There are lots of myths; it’s all very hazy.”

The prospect of mammoth cloning

Scientists have two competing theories on why mammoths became extinct about 10,000 years ago. Both have important things to tell us about the modern environment – and perhaps contain a message about why we shouldn’t be trying to bring mammoths back.

The first theory is climate change. The ending of the ice age about 10,000 BC may have dramatically reduced the area in which these cold-environment animals could survive.

The second theory is over-hunting. Mammoths, with their tonnes of fat, would have represented an incredibly valuable food source for early humans, who developed sharp spears to hunt them. Scientists think it is possible the mammoth is the first species humanity managed to push into extinction.

Mammoth cloning has always excited the popular imagination, and the exhibition dedicates a section to the possibilities. So far, we have sequenced about 70 per cent of mammoth DNA, so the raw material is not there yet. But even if we could, we shouldn’t, says David Alquezar​, manager of the Australian Museum’s genetics lab.

“The money to do that could be better invested in species that are endangered right now, rather than focusing our efforts on a species that has been extinct for 10,000 years,” says Dr Alquezar.

7,000 years old Australian Aboriginal Sites Discovered Underwater

7,000 years old Australian Aboriginal Sites Discovered Underwater

According to a report released July 1 , 2020, in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Jonathan Benjamin of Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia and colleagues, ancient submerged Aboriginal archaeological sites await underwater rediscovery off the coast of Australia.

Sea levels were about 80 metres lower than today when humans first settled in Australia as early as 65,000 years ago. As the global atmosphere cooled, sea levels fluctuated but continued to fall.

As the world plunged into the last ice age, which peaked around 20,000 years ago, sea levels dropped to 130 metres lower than they are now.

Between 18,000 and 8,000 years ago the world warmed up. Melting ice sheets caused sea levels to rise. Tasmania was cut off from the mainland around 11,000 years ago. New Guinea separated from Australia around 8,000 years ago.

The sea-level rise flooded 2.12 million square kilometres of land on the continental shelf surrounding Australia. Thousands of generations of people would have lived out their lives on these landscapes now underwater.

In this study, Benjamin and colleagues report the results of several field campaigns between 2017-2019 during which they applied a series of techniques for locating and investigating submerged archaeological sites, including aerial and underwater remote sensing technologies as well as a direct investigation by divers.

Site location in northwest Australia, left, and the Dampier Archipelago, right.

They investigated two sites off the Murujuga coastline of northwest Australia.

In Cape Bruguieres Channel, divers identified 269 artefacts dating to at least 7,000 years old, and a single artefact was identified in a freshwater spring in Flying Foam Passage, dated to at least 8,500 years old. These are the first confirmed underwater archaeological sites found on Australia’s continental shelf.

A selection of stone artefacts found on the seabed.
A stone tool associated with a freshwater spring, now 14m underwater.

These findings demonstrate the utility of these exploratory techniques for locating submerged archaeological sites.

The authors hope that these techniques can be expanded upon in the future for systematic recovery and investigation of ancient Aboriginal cultural artefacts.

They further urge that future exploration will rely not only on careful and safe scientific procedures but also on legislation to protect and manage Aboriginal cultural heritage along the Australian coastline.

Benjamin says, “Managing, investigating and understanding the archaeology of the Australian continental shelf in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander traditional owners and custodians is one of the last frontiers in Australian archaeology.” He adds, “Our results represent the first step in a journey of discovery to explore the potential of archaeology on the continental shelves which can fill a major gap in the human history of the continent.”

Hundreds of Rock Art Images Documented in Australia

Hundreds of Rock Art Images Documented in Australia

Cosmos Magazine reports that 572 Maliwawa Figures have been documented for the first time at 87 different rock art sites in northern Australia’s Arnhem Land. Paul Taçon of Griffith University said the red figures, drawn between 6,000 and 9,400 years ago, depict humans and animals living in relationships and engaging in different activities.

Hundreds of Rock Art Images Documented in Australia
Maliwawa macropod over 3MFC hand stencil, Namunidjbuk.

The researchers suggest they are a missing link between early-style Dynamic Figures, 12,000 years in age, and X-ray figures made in the past 4,000 years. 

The images were created in various shades of red, with stroke-infill or outline forms and a few red strokes as infill. Some are more than 50-centimeters high.

Large male Maliwawa human figures from an Awunbarna site.

The scenes depict humans and macropods, including three bilbies and a dugong, and lead researcher Paul Taçon, from Australia’s Griffith University, suggests the presence of various forms of headdresses shows they are not just simple depictions of everyday life.

“Maliwawas are depicted as solitary figures and as part of group scenes showing various activities and some may have a ceremonial context,” he says.

“Human figures are frequently depicted with animals, especially macropods, and these animal-human relationships appear to be central to the artists’ message.

“Indeed, animals are much more common than in the Dynamic Figure style rock art in terms of percentage of subject matter, as 89% of Dynamic Figures are human, whereas only about 42% of Maliwawa Figures are human.”

Griffith colleague and co-author Sally May says the discovery of bilby images at an Awunbarna site was surprising as Arnhem Land historically has not been within their range. 

The solitary dugong painting, which is the oldest known image, also appears out of place. “It indicates a Maliwawa artist visited the coast, but the lack of other saltwater fauna may suggest this was not a frequent occurrence,” May says.

However, the intrigue of the paintings goes beyond what they depict, with researchers curious about the artists and the techniques they used.  

“The Maliwawa back-to-back figures are the oldest known for western Arnhem Land and it appears this painting convention began with the Maliwawa style. It continues to the present with bark paintings and paintings on paper,” Taçon says.

As for the people behind the paintings, Taçon says they cannot rule out the possibility that a small group of artists produced Maliwawa rock paintings.

There is also the possibility that only a couple of artists made the paintings with one responsible for the outline forms, the other creating the fuller stroke-line infill examples. 

Mining exec steps down after company destroys ancient Australian sacred sites

Mining exec steps down after company destroys ancient Australian sacred sites

The chief executive of Rio Tinto, the world’s second-largest mining company, will step down after a shareholder revolt over the company’s willful destruction of prehistoric rock shelters sacred to two Australian Indigenous groups. 

Rio Tinto CEO Jean-Sébastien Jacques.

“Significant stakeholders have expressed concerns about executive accountability for the failings identified,” Rio Tinto said in a statement.

By mutual agreement, Jacques will step down once a replacement has been appointed or on March 31, whichever happens, sooner, the statement said.

Executives Chris Salisbury and Simone Niven will leave the company on Dec. 31.

Rio Tinto announced last month that Jacques would lose $3.5 million in bonuses and Salisbury and Niven around $700,000 each over the destruction in May of two rock-shelters in Juukan George in Western Australia state that had been inhabited for 46,000 years.

Rio Tinto concluded in an internal review last month that there was “no single root cause or error that directly resulted in the destruction of the rock shelters.”

But internal documents revealed last week that Rio Tinto had engaged a law firm in case the traditional owners, the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people, applied for a court injunction to save the rock shelters

The Western Australian government has promised to update Indigenous heritage laws that allowed Rio Tinto to legally destroy the sacred sites.

Jamie Lowe, chief executive of the National Native Title Council, which represents Australia’s traditional owners of the land, said he had called on Rio Tinto to take more action than cutting executive bonuses.

Lowe welcomed the decision to replace the three executives.

“There needs to be a consistent theme of them showing that they are conscious of Aboriginal cultural heritage and its protection,” Lowe said of mining companies.

The rock shelters’ traditional owners had no comment to make on the Rio Tinto leadership changes, Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura Aboriginal Corp. said.

“We will continue to work with Rio Tinto in the aftermath of the Juukan Gorge disaster. Our focus continues to rest heavily on preserving the Aboriginal heritage and advocating for wide-ranging changes to ensure a tragedy like this never happens again,” the corporation said in a statement.

“We cannot and will not allow this type of devastation to occur ever again,” the statement added.

oldest evidence of life on land found in 3.48 billion-year-old Australian rocks

Oldest evidence of life on land found in 3.48 billion-year-old Australian rocks

Whether you are looking at an actual fossil or crinkles in the rock itself can be hard to tell in the search for the earliest life on earth. The discovery of 3.5 billion – year – old fossils in the Australian desert in the 1980s has long shadowed these doubts Now, scientists think they ended up putting the matter to bed

The Dresser formation in the Pilbara Craton contains evidence of ancient hot spring activity.

In ancient fossilized microbe formations called stromatolites, found in the Dresser Formation fossil site of the Pilbara region, researchers have finally detected traces of organic matter.

“This is an exciting discovery – for the first time, we’re able to show the world that these stromatolites are definitive evidence for the earliest life on Earth,” said geologist Raphael Baumgartner of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia.

You may remember the time scientists claimed to have found 3.7 billion-year-old fossils in Greenland. Later research determined that these fossils were just plain old rocks, and the crown was returned to the Pilbara fossils.

But, although everyone was pretty sure the Pilbara fossils were the real deal, it hadn’t actually been conclusively proven. They had the shape and structure of microbial stromatolites, but no evidence of organic matter to back it up.

There’s more riding on this than a tiara and a sash reading “Oldest fossils.” It’s deeply relevant to one of the fundamental questions about our very existence: When and how did life develop on this sloshy blue marble?

So, Baumgartner and his team went digging. Not literally, though; they analyzed previously drilled core samples from deep underground, below where the rocks could have been affected by the weather. This means these samples were much better preserved than those from the surface; in their paper, the team said the preservation was “exceptional”.

Spherical bubbles preserved in 3.48 billion-year-old rocks in the Dresser Formation in the Pilbara Craton in Western Australia provide evidence for early life having lived in ancient hot springs on land.
Microbial evidence from Dresser formation hot spring

The researchers analyzed the samples in thin slices using multiple techniques, including scanning electron microscopy and scanning transmission electron microscopy; energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, and Raman spectroscopy; nano-scale secondary ion mass spectrometry; and stable carbon isotope analysis. 

If that seems like overkill, well, it’s not really. If one of those lines of inquiry showed a positive result and the rest didn’t, it would mean much shakier ground for drawing a conclusion. But things looked good across the board.

The team’s analyses revealed that the stromatolites are predominantly made up of a mineral called pyrite, riddled with nanoscopic pores. And in the pyrite are inclusions of nitrogen-bearing organic material, as well as strands and filaments of organic matter that closely resemble the remnants of biofilms formed by microbe colonies.

“The organic matter that we found preserved within pyrite of the stromatolites is exciting – we’re looking at exceptionally preserved coherent filaments and strands that are typically remains of microbial biofilms,” Baumgartner said.

“I was pretty surprised – we never expected to find this level of evidence before I started this project.”

Previously, a different team of UNSW researchers found evidence of 3.48 billion-year-old microbes in hot spring deposits in the Pilbara.

An Australian Geographic segment on Karijini National Park.
Two hikers gaze at the rock formations in Dales Gorge at Karijini National Park in Pilbara, western Australia.

Because those deposits are about the same age as the crust of Mars, it’s thought that they could tell us how to find potential fossils on Mars – especially since there’s evidence the Red Planet once had hot springs too.

Indeed, NASA has been investigating the Pilbara to try to learn the possible geological signatures that could indicate the presence of stromatolites.

“Understanding where life could have emerged is really important in order to understand our ancestry,” Baumgartner said. “And from there, it could help us understand where else life could have occurred – for example, where it was kick-started on other planets.”

42,000 years old Mungo Man skeleton, the oldest human remains found in Australia

42,000 years old Mungo Man skeleton, the oldest human remains found in Australia

First, a skull, then a torso and eventually an entire skeleton emerged from the sands of south-west New South Wales. When the bones of Australia’s oldest and most complete humans were unearthed in the 1970s it rewrote history.

An Environment Ministry photograph of an ancient human footprint in the Mungo National Park.

Dubbed Mungo Man after the dried-up lake basin where he was found, the skeleton dates back about 42,000 years. But his removal from his burial site to a Canberra university 43 years ago caused his traditional owners great angst.

He’s now been returned to his country, but there’s a fresh dilemma to be resolved: Should Mungo Man be interred forever or should his remains still be accessible to science?

It’s a fraught question which goes to the heart of who owns the rights to access Mungo Man’s history, traditional owners of the Willandra Lakes World heritage region — the Mutthi Mutthi, Ngyiampaa, and Paakantyi/Barkandji peoples — will meet to begin discussions on his ultimate resting place.

Geologist Jim Bowler found Mungo Man in the sands of the Willandra Lakes Region in 1974.

“My preferred option is to bury him and put a nice plaque on him, rather than have him lying in a box waiting for someone to come and poke him again,” Ngyiampaa elder Roy Kennedy said, adding researchers “have had him long enough”.

But many scientists fear burying Mungo Man will close off any chance of future research. Future techniques may become available that will tell us so much more about the story of Mungo Man,” said Dr. Jim Bowler, the geologist who found the skeleton.

“The prospect of possible future access must be resolved.”

Finding Mungo Man

Dr. Bowler stumbled across Mungo Man in 1974 while researching the semi-arid landscapes of south-west New South Wales. The wide scrubby basins fringed by sand dunes were once an ancient series of lakes, brimming with freshwater and teeming with life.

Among them was Lake Mungo, which dried up about 15,000 years ago, leaving behind a stunning landscape. Dr. Bowler had ventured out after a rainstorm when he spotted a white object poking out of the sand, glinting in the afternoon sun. It was a skull.

He alerted archaeologists at the Australian National University and the team rushed to the scene, carefully excavating Mungo Man and taking him 800 kilometers away to Canberra. Mutthi Mutthi elder Mary Pappin’s view is that it was Mungo Man who found Dr. Bowler, not the other way around. Mungo Man was very clever because he revealed himself to a man of science,” she said.

“He thought he [Dr. Bowler] would be the ideal person to make white Australia understand just how long us Aboriginal people had been here.”

The excavation of skeleton remains from the Willandra Lakes Region has angered local Indigenous people.

What has Mungo Man taught us?

During Mungo Man’s excavation in 1974, Dr. Bowler dated the earth in which he was buried and estimated his age at 30,000 years or older. Later, scientists would redate the bones at 42–44,000 years. For many Aboriginal people, this was a welcome confirmation of what they had long been saying.

“We believe he came because he wanted to tell the rest of Australia as well as the world just how long us Aboriginal people have been walking on this landscape,” Ms Pappin said.

It wasn’t just the skeleton’s antiquity that astonished scientists. It was the complexity of his burial. Mungo Man had been carefully laid out, his hands placed in his lap, and his body covered in red ochre. The substance was transported from hundreds of kilometers away.

The remains of a small fire were close by.

“To find on the shores of Lake Mungo the extraordinary ritual of ochre and fire was a moment of sheer wonder,” said Dr Bowler, now aged 88.

“We were blown away by it.”

Mungo Man is the oldest and most complete skeletal remains found in Australia.

Further research found Mungo Man’s lower teeth had been deliberately extracted during adolescence, suggesting initiation rites. Arthritis in his right elbow pointed to a life of spear throwing. Scientists say Mungo Man showed these ancient people had culture, complex language, complex tools, and ceremonies. Paakantyi man Michael Young said this cultural sophistication changed all prior perceptions of Aboriginal people.

“That idea that Aboriginal people were nomadic and primitive people have been blown away,” he said. As a result of the unique cultural and environmental features uncovered in the Willandra Lakes, the region was listed on the world heritage register in 1981.

Australian scientists discover ancient underwater Aboriginal sites

Australian scientists discover ancient underwater Aboriginal sites

Aboriginal archeological sites were found first underwater in the northwest of Australia a thousand years ago when the current seabed was dry land.

The study included maps of the sites.

Artifacts of Aboriginal discovered off the Pilbara coast in Western Australia represent Australia’s oldest known underwater archaeology. The observations were carried out through a series of archeological and geophysical surveys in the Dampier Archipelago, as part of the Deep History of Sea Country Project, funded through the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Project Scheme.

The Murujuga Aborigines Company has collaborated with a team of International Archeologists from Flinders University, University of Western Australia, James Cook University, ARA – Airborne Research Australia and York University to find and investigate ancient artifacts at two underwater sites that have created hundreds of stone tools made from aboriginal peoples including grinding stones.

Underwater artefacts dated back thousands of years when the sea bed was dry land, found by researchers from Flinders University, University of Western Australia and James Cook University, are seen in this undated handout picture taken from a video.

In a study published in PLOS ONE, the ancient underwater sites, at Cape Bruguieres and Flying Foam Passage, provide new evidence of Aboriginal ways of life from when the seabed was dry land, due to lower sea levels, thousands of years ago. The submerged cultural landscapes represent what is known today as Sea Country to many Indigenous Australians, who have a deep cultural, spiritual, and historical connection to these underwater environments.

Archaeologists announce the discovery of two underwater archaeological sites that were once on dry land. This is an exciting step for Australian archaeology as we integrate maritime and Indigenous archaeology and draw connections between land and sea,” says Associate Professor Jonathan Benjamin who is the Maritime Archaeology Program Coordinator at Flinders University’s College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.

“Australia is a massive continent but few people realize that more than 30% of its landmass was drowned by sea-level rise after the last ice age. This means that a huge amount of archaeological evidence documenting the lives of Aboriginal people is now underwater.

“Now Archaeologists finally have the first proof that at least some of this archaeological evidence survived the process of sea-level rise. The ancient coastal archaeology is not lost for good; we just haven’t found it yet. These new discoveries are a first step toward exploring the last real frontier of Australian archaeology.”

Chelsea Wiseman and Jonathan Benjamin after they discovered Australia’s first underwater Aboriginal archaeological sites

The dive team mapped 269 artifacts at Cape Bruguieres in shallow water at depths down to 2.4 meters below modern sea level. Radiocarbon dating and analysis of sea-level changes show the site is at least 7000 years old.

The second site at Flying Foam Passage includes an underwater freshwater spring 14 meters below sea level. This site is estimated to be at least 8500 years old. Both sites may be much older as the dates represent minimum ages only; they may be even more ancient.

The team of archaeologists and geoscientists employed predictive modelling and various underwater and remote sensing techniques, including scientific diving methods, to confirm the location of sites and the presence of artifacts.

Artifacts recovered from under water from Cape Bruguieres off the coast of Dampier in the Pilbara

“At one point there would have been dry land stretching out 160 km from the current shoreline. That land would have been owned and lived on by generations of Aboriginal people.

Our discovery demonstrates that underwater archaeological material has survived sea-level rise, and although these sites are located in relatively shallow water, there will likely be more in deeper water offshore” says Chelsea Wiseman from Flinders University who has been working on the DHSC project as part of Ph.D. research.

“These territories that are now underwater harboured favourable environments for Indigenous settlements including freshwater, ecological diversity and opportunities to exploit marine resources which would have supported relatively high population densities” says Dr Michael O’Leary, a marine geomorphologist at The University of Western Australia.”

The discovery of these sites emphasizes the need for stronger federal legislation to protect and manage underwater heritage across 2 million square kilometers of landscapes that were once above sea level in Australia, and hold major insights into human history.

“Managing, investigating and understanding the archaelogy of the Australian continental shelf in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander traditional owners and custodians is one of the last frontiers in Australian archaeology” said Associate Professor Benjamin.

“Our results represent the first step in a journey of discovery to explore the potential of archaeology on the continental shelves which can fill a major gap in the human history of the continent,” he said.

In Murujuga, this adds substantial additional evidence to support the deep time history of human activities accompanying rock art production in this important National Heritage Listed Place.

Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation CEO Peter Jeffries says the discoveries will help the community add to the story of Aboriginal people in the Pilbara.

“Further exploration could unearth similar cultural relics and help us better understand the life of the people who were so connected to these areas of land which are now underwater.

“With this comes a new requirement for the careful management of Aboriginal sea country as it’s not automatically protected by current Heritage legislation, however, plans are progressing to lead this change and protect our sea country land and heritage.”

Mining Camp Found in Southeast Australia

Mining Camp Found in Southeast Australia

Researchers from Macquarie University were examining remains of industrial equipment that was used to haul shale out of the valley when New South Wales National Parks rangers alerted them to the presence of other structures and artifacts, including wall foundations, hearths, paving, corrugated iron roofing, ceramics, and glass that had been previously hidden by vegetation.

Chris Banffy, NPWS ranger, and Dr. Bec Parkes, a principal archaeologist with Lantern Heritage at the remains of an old hut.

Since the summer bushfires, a staff camp has emerged near the Ruined Castle in the Jamison Valley. The fires uncovered previously vegetated remnants and artifacts, including the wall bases, hearths’ paving, and corrugated iron roofing, as well as ceramics and glass.

The remains of a shale mining settlement used by workers from the 1880s until around 1914 was studied by a team at Macquarie University.

Associate professors Tanya Evans and Shawn Ross, from the history and archaeology department, are working on the project with Professor Lucy Taksa from the Centre for Workforce Futures at Macquarie Business School.

The team was originally invited by NPWS and the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute to survey the industrial remains associated with the Bleichert Ropeway, which was erected to haul the shale from the valley up the escarpment.

“Then NPWS approached the team about some ‘huts’ they had noticed while doing other work,” Associate Professor Evans said.

Local Katoomba identity, Phil Hammon, knew that workers had lived there during the mining period and encouraged that focus of the project. The team is now concentrating on new archaeological surveys and excavations in and around the mining settlement.

“Archaeologist members of the team will head to the Mountains ASAP to undertake another survey of the site, building on two earlier surveys,” Professor Evans said.

“Historian members will undertake archival research and organize oral history interviews and focus groups with local community members as soon as COVID-19 restrictions allow us.”

Professor Taksa said the team will combine archival, documentary, oral, photographic, and material evidence to reconstruct life in the village.

“The aim is to give ‘flesh and voice’ to the people who lived and worked at this place,” she said.

The summer fires will also enable them to assess the impact of bushfires on heritage sites.

“The study will be looking at the effects of ‘de-industrialization’ on the landscape – that is, the story of how this industrial village basically has returned to nature but has left certain impacts on the landscape.”

The information discovered through the study will be used for conservation and heritage, and also for tourism and education purposes.

Down the track, Professor Evans said they hope to gather more information on the area’s rich history through oral history interviews and focus groups.