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Australian Atlantis: 10 thousand years ago, a piece of land where half a million people lived sank

Off the northern coast of Australia, about 10,000 years ago, a vast expanse of land submerged underwater, nearly twice the size of Great Britain.

This territory, now officially known as the Northwest Shelf, was extensively populated by humans 70,000 years ago, with estimates suggesting that up to 500,000 people lived there.

The area included archipelagos, lakes, rivers, and even a large inland sea. Historians believe that ancient people crossed through these lands from Indonesia to Australia, eventually becoming the present-day Aboriginal inhabitants.

The “Australian Atlantis” was submerged as sea levels rose due to melting glaciers after the end of the Ice Age, and now the Timor Sea, with depths ranging from 90 to 250 meters, occupies its place.

A new study of this area was conducted by archaeologist Kasih Norman and his team from Griffith University, Queensland, Australia.

“We are uncovering the details of the complex landscape that existed on the Northwest Shelf of Australia. It was unlike any landscape seen on our continent today.”

The last ice age ended about 18,000 years ago, and the melting ice gradually inundated the territory of the ancient continent of Sahul, which included the lands of Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea. Due to the flooding, the “Australian Atlantis” disappeared underwater, while New Guinea and Tasmania became separate islands, as they still exist today.

The lands of the Northwest Shelf during its habitation by humans had very favorable living conditions, with an abundant supply of fresh water and animals, as evidenced by recent archaeological discoveries. Excavating on the seabed is challenging, but even with limited work, a considerable number of stone tools were found there.

Archaeologists do not provide an exact number of people who lived there, but they estimate that there could have been at least 50,000, up to a maximum of 500,000 people.

These lands were not flooded abruptly but rather over a period of about 400 years, allowing most people the opportunity to slowly leave the inundated territories. They migrated to the nearby Australian regions of Kimberley and Arnhem, as evidenced by the emergence of a new style of rock art in those areas, which appeared precisely at that time.

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