| 1 March 2014
Move to reunite Mungo Man with his Lady
The 43,000-year-old Mungo Man, whose discovery in the far west of New South Wales in 1974 dramatically up-ended the dominant view of Australia's history, could finally be heading home 40 years after he was removed from his burial place.
The skeleton remains the oldest human discovered in Australia, doubling the known anthropological history of the continent and revealing Aborigines as belonging to the oldest surviving culture in the world.
Mungo Man is kept under lock and key in a box at the Australian National University. Researchers have long since stopped studying him. The university has been waiting for Aboriginal elders to formally request his return, expected in the coming weeks, coinciding with the discovery's 40th anniversary on 26 February.
Former ANU professor Jim Bowler, now in his 80s, discovered a female skeleton, known as Mungo Lady, in 1968. It had been cremated. In 1974 Bowler returned to the site and discovered Mungo Man, separated from Mungo Lady by 450m in distance and 20,000 years in time.
Bowler has long called for the return of Mungo Man to a temporary keeping place at Lake Mungo National Park where the bones of Mungo Lady are locked away, awaiting reburial. She was returned by former ANU archeologist Alan Thorne in 1991.
A spokeswoman for the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage told The Australian it was "still early days" in any attempt to repatriate the skeleton. "OEH and the Aboriginal community at Mungo are having discussions about how to best manage the repatriation of remains to Mungo National Park, including those of Mungo Man," she said.
Edited from Cueva de la Pileta (19 February 2014)
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