Shown within Northern Territory
Madjedbebe (Australia)
Alternate name Malakunanja II
Location Arnhem Land
Region Northern Territory
Coordinates 12°30′S 132°53′E / 12.500°S 132.883°E / -12.500; 132.883Coordinates: 12°30′S 132°53′E / 12.500°S 132.883°E / -12.500; 132.883
Type Rockshelter Site
Periods Pleistocene
Cultures first Australians
Site notes
Excavation dates 1973, 1989, 2012, 2015
Archaeologists Chris Clarkson
Management Mirrar Tradition Aboriginal (Bininj) Owners of lands

Madjedbebe or Malakunanja II is a rock shelter in Arnhem Land, in the Northern Territory of Australia. It is about 50 km from the coast.[1] Madjedbebe was first occupied by humans around 65 thousand (at least 59.3 thousand) years ago.[2][3] This is the oldest known site showing the presence of humans in Australia. This date sets a new minimum age for: the arrival of humans in Australia, the dispersal of modern humans out of Africa and the subsequent interactions of modern humans with Neanderthals and Denisovans. More than 1500 items have been found in the shelter, including stone tools and grinding stones, ochre, and charcoal. Some of these were buried more than 2.5 metres below the surface. The shelter also includes faded paintings on the walls. The paintings are drawn with ochre. Archaeobotanical investigations have demonstrated a clear exploitation of plant foods, including: seeds, tubers and pandanus nuts. Fuel wood was also sourced from a local eucalyptus and moonson vine thicket forest.


  1. "How old is Australian Rock Art?". Aboriginal Art Online. 2004. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
  2. Clarkson, Chris; Smith, Mike; Marwick, Ben; Fullagar, Richard; Wallis, Lynley A.; Faulkner, Patrick; Manne, Tiina; Hayes, Elspeth; Roberts, Richard G.; Jacobs, Zenobia; Carah, Xavier; Lowe, Kelsey M.; Matthews, Jacqueline; Florin, S. Anna (June 2015). "The archaeology, chronology and stratigraphy of Madjedbebe (Malakunanja II): A site in northern Australia with early occupation". Journal of Human Evolution. 83: 46–64. doi:10.1016/j.jhevol.2015.03.014. PMID 25957653.
  3. Chris Clarkson; Zenobia Jacobs; Ben Marwick; Richard Fullagar; Lynley Wallis; Mike Smith; Richard G. Roberts; Elspeth Hayes; Kelsey Lowe; Xavier Carah; S. Anna Florin; Jessica McNeil; Delyth Cox; Lee J. Arnold; Quan Hua; Jillian Huntley; Helen E. A. Brand; Tiina Manne; Andrew Fairbairn; James Shulmeister; Lindsey Lyle; Makiah Salinas; Mara Page; Kate Connell; Gayoung Park; Kasih Norman; Tessa Murphy; Colin Pardoe (2017). "Human occupation of northern Australia by 65,000 years ago". Nature. 547 (7663): 306–310. doi:10.1038/nature22968.

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