The most ancient civilisation on Earth is still around today

A new world-first DNA study has revealed that Indigenous Australian civilisation dates back more than 50,000 years.

Map showing Australia with insets of Melbourne and Port Phillip, Tasmania, and Sydney and Vicinity, circa 1902, from the 10th edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Getty Images/Universal Images Group

A new study has revealed that Indigenous Australians are the most ancient continuous civilisation on Earth. First migrating from Africa between 51,000 and 72,000 years ago (earlier than the ancestors of present-day Eurasians), Indigenous Australians have lived in Australia since. Leaving Africa in that period would also make them the first human population to traverse the ocean.

Scientists traced the age and journey of Indigenous Australians and Papuans through DNA markers in modern Australian and Papua New Guinea populations.

While there have been claims that Indigenous Australians were the world's oldest civilisation for some years, the genomic study published in the science journal Nature is the first time extensive DNA evidence has been able to prove it.

The study has revealed that not only did Indigenous Australians first come to Australia some 50,000 years ago, they remained almost entirely isolated on the continent until around 4,000 years ago.