The Australian Government has returned the remains of an Aboriginal man dating 40,000 years to his original resting place, allowing a ceremonial burial within the Ngiyampaa community.
Nicknamed the ‘Mungo Man’, the intact skeleton was transferred from Canberra where it had been studied for over 40 years to southwest New South Wales.
After being discovered in 1974, scientific analysis of his remains revealed that humans had been on the continent 20,000 years earlier than previously thought.
His remains, along with those of 104 other Aboriginals, arrived in a hearse with the Aboriginal flag painted on one side.
Ngiyampaa tribal elder Joan Slade said after waiting for many years the community was happy to lay him in his final resting place.
The human fossil has been buried in a traditional ceremony in which gomero leaves were burned over a small bonfire.
Indigenous elder Michael Young said the Mungo Man would be kept safe so the legacy of Aboriginal people could be passed on to the next generations.
“This is one of those catalytic moments (…) that makes us the guardians of our culture,” he said.