Archaeological find rewrites Tasmania's history

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A recently discovered cave, in Tasmania's remote south-west World Heritage Area, yields clues to early human occupation.

In the early 1980s, Australia was embroiled in a bitter environmental battle, centered on the Franklin River valley, an ancient rainforest wilderness that was due to be dammed in a massive hydro-electric scheme. The issue attracted worldwide attention, divided families and ultimately brought down the Federal government.

For a long time everyone thought that this remote area was uninhabitable and had never been inhabited by humans. When the Hydro-Electric commission justified the dam project it assumed that no archaeological remains were at risk. But then the discovery of a limestone cave revealed a hoard of human treasure.

Only now have the finds been analysed, by archaeologist Jillian Garvey, who has sifted through quarter of a million animal fragments and 75,000 tool fragments from the cave, and found that far from the area having never been occupied, there were people living here 15-20,000 years ago.

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