Sumatra 1903

For those readers who don’t follow the news too closely, perhaps the most astonishing news this week was presented in (of all places!) the prestigious scientific journal Nature.

As the article preview here suggests, the central discovery was evidence that Australia’s indigenous people arrived, at some 65,000 years ago, much, much earlier than previously believed. Note that this is simply a new minimum, as additional evidence may yet push the date back further, but this discovery is already extraordinarily significant.

As you read this you may wonder what the link is to Southeast Asia. Well, the answer this time is pretty simple. If these first humans arrived in Australia much earlier than previously believed, then they are also anticipated to have passed through Southeast Asia much earlier than previously believed.

Somewhere, in caves, under the ash of Indonesian vocanoes or in locations we have either not looked or haven’t yet recognised, the chances of finding stunning evidence in Southeast Asia that could dramatically rewrite the story of our human species’ emergence from Africa has suddenly become more realistic. The discovery of the Flores Hobbit mentioned here may yet be dwarfed in the annals of Southeast Asian archeology.

And that, to me, is tremendously exciting.