Washington, April 8 : Archaeologists have unearthed ancient knives that date back to at least 35,000 years, in a rock shelter in Australia's remote northwest, making it one of the oldest archaeological finds in that part of the country.
The excavation was carried out between October and February by archaeologists from Australian Cultural Heritage Management, who were hired by the local Aborigines to find and preserve heritage sites within the mine area run by resource giant Rio Tinto.
According to a report by Discovery news, the tools include a piece of flint the size of a small cell phone and hundreds of tiny sharp stones that were used as knives.
The tools, along with seeds, bark and other plant material, were found nearly 6 1/2 feet beneath the floor of the shelter - a slight crevice in the hillside protected by an overhang of rock - on the edges of an iron ore mine site about 590 miles northeast of Perth, the capital of Western Australia.
According to archaeologist Neale Draper, the tools included at least one "beautifully made" piece of flint from which sharp knifelike shards were knocked off, hundreds of tiny knives and pieces of grindstones.
"Very old sites are rare, and this is one of the oldest in this region," said Draper.
Draper hopes that testing of the knives will reveal residue that could indicate what the people ate.
"We're filling in a picture of who the first Australians were and what they were doing where they were really, really early," he said.
The archaeological team has sent other materials for carbon sampling - including a piece of charcoal - that were found in the dirt layers below the tools.
"These could be another 5,000 to 10,000 years old, and that would be really exciting," said Draper.
According to Iain Davidson, an archaeology professor at the University of New England in Armidale, Australia, the find was significant because it confirmed that the first people had moved into the more arid parts of Australia earlier than previously known and had adapted and stayed.