Remnants of 2,000-year-old Banana Farm Found in Australia


Original source of news from BBC, which probably sourced from the original academic paper from nature.com, where there is a paywall. If you wanna read it somehow anyway, you can email me, but I suggest don’t. Unless reading 13 pages of sentences like the following are exactly what you wanted in your life:

“Morphologically distinctive banana (Musa spp.) starch (n = 10; 5.7% of total count) recorded at Wagadagam comprise large (36–70 μm diameter), ovoid, pyriform, irregular elongate forms, with some individuals flattened or planoconvex (namely, flat on one side, convex on the other38) (Fig. 2). Granules are highly eccentric and show an irregular extinction cross under cross-polarized light (XPL). Lamellae are distinct and surface projections were observed around the proximal margin of some granules under plane-polarized light (PPL). Nine granules, including an aggregation of seven (Fig. 3), came from XU10 (32–36 cm) and one granule from XU13 (48–55 cm).”

So, what the hell is the simple version? 

Archaeologists found ancient banana farms by Australia’s Indigenous people dating back 2,145 years on Mabuyag Island, Torres Strait, an island north of mainland Australia. Torres Strait was always viewed as a separation between the indigenous in New Guinea (viewed as farmers), versus Australia (viewed as hunter-gatherer). 

13 Aug 2020 12 am GMT+8 Edit: I neglected to mention that Torres Strait Islanders are Melanesians, and are ethnically, culturally and linguistically different from Aboriginal Australians. 

From BBC

Discovering the farm shows that Australian natives were also farmers, where their diet also included yams, taro and bananas. 

Historians also argue that the British had denied evidence of Indigenous agriculture systems to claim that the land was unsettled and unoccupied. This might have led to the misconception that native Australians had been nomadic hunter-gatherers before British colonisation. 

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If you’re wondering how they found all these out, the team from the Australian National University and the University of Sydney found banana microfossils, stone tools, charcoal and a series of retaining walls.

They had to count over 5,000 phytolith microfossils and hundreds of starch grains under the microscope. Basically, looking at images like the following for more than a hundred hours.

Photomicrographs of individual banana starch granules

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