Archaeology Magazine

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Seventeenth-Century Skull Raises Questions

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA—History credits Captain Cook as the first European to reach Australia’s eastern seaboard in 1770. But Stewart Fallon of Australian National University in Canberra has carbon-dated the collagen and tooth enamel from the skull of a “white man” discovered on the country’s east coast and recovered by police. “Using [the dates] together we can do some modeling as to what we expect the calendar age to be. We have about an 80 percent probability that the person was born somewhere around the 1650s and died somewhere between 1660 and 1700,” he explained. The skull could have been part of a private collection from the nineteenth century, or it may have been left for police to find as a hoax, points out Melbourne-based archaeologist Adam Ford.