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8 January 2011
Plans for Tasmanian bridge over ancient site move ahead

The government of the Australian state of Tasmania is moving ahead with plans to build a bridge - straight through an Aboriginal meeting site where archaeologists estimate there are more than three million artifacts dating back 40,000 years.
     The tools, stones, and spear tips found there represent the oldest evidence of human habitation in the Southern Hemisphere. But the Tasmanian government is pressing ahead with plans to build a bridge - part of a new four-lane highway - over the river. The government claims the construction will not threaten the riverbank's hidden riches. But an Aboriginal leader, Michael Mansell, has labeled the project 'cultural vandalism.'
     The archaeologist who led the dig, Rob Paton, wrote of the site: "It has the potential to give us a glimpse into an unknown part of world history and the spread of Homo sapiens across the earth." The Tasmanian government says it has examined eight alternative routes, but none are viable.

Edited from the Christian Science Monitor (6 January 2011)

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