Historical importance of Brighton bypass confirmed

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Melbourne, April 27 (ANI): The Brighton bypass, an Aboriginal site in the path of a major Tasmanian highway, contains the oldest evidence of human habitation in the southern hemisphere, it has been confirmed.

Nearly 3 million indigenous artefacts were found at the Jordan River levee north of Hobart.

The State Government of Tasmania asked archaeologists to examine the site after the Aboriginal community expressed concerns that construction of the Brighton bypass could damage it.

Rob Paton, the site's archaeological director, said the final report on the dig confirms some artefacts are nearly 40,000 years old.

"They're stone artefacts, they're used for day to day living, cutting and sharpening. It's that day-to-day stuff that really is rarely found," ABC News quoted him, as saying.

Paton added: "That's why to get a snapshot of what life was like 40,000 years ago is really quite unique, not just for Australia but for hunter-gatherer sites anywhere in the world."

Tasmania's Department of Infrastructure says the site will be protected.

Department Secretary Norm McIlfatrick said: "Our view is, and has always been, that we won't carry out any work on that site until we have a full permit from the Minister for Heritage.

"Now that Minister will receive the report from us and our management plan and will also have the view of the community before he makes the decision."

He supports the government's alternative of building a bridge over the site.

McIlfatrick said: "Most of the heritage, or all of the heritage that we're aware of, that is significant is under the ground."

However, Nala Mansell-McKenna from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre is not impressed with the plan.

She said: "Building a bridge across it, removing the artefacts, is definitely not an option."

The archaeologists' report will now be considered by new Heritage Minister David O'Byrne. (ANI)

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