Skeletal Remains of the Mungo Man and Mungo Woman

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  • Topic: Burial, Thermoluminescence, Skeleton
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  • Published : November 26, 2011
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History Assignment – Mungo Man

The discoveries at Lake Mungo are potentially the most important discoveries made in Australia, if not the world. The skeletal remains uncovered a world that we know very little about. They gave us an insight to the burial practices of the earliest people for both males and females of the time. The skeletal remains were subject to numerous forms of dating, but primarily radiocarbon dating or C-14 dating.

Mungo I also known as Mungo woman or LM1 was the first skeleton to be discovered at the site. In 1968 geologist Jim Bowler was conducting research on the Willandra Lakes region, more specifically Lake Mungo. His original intention for the site was to study the Pleistocene layers of the area, looking at the ancient geography of the land. However in one of the lunettes (extended, crescent shaped sand ridges) he happened to notice a bone fragment protruding from an exposed calcrete block. Upon closer inspection he realised that it was not animal but human. Bowler marked the site with a peg for further excavation by archaeologists.

Similarly in 1974 Jim also discovered Mungo III/LM3, this time dubbed Mungo Man. His skeleton was discovered after a prolonged period of rain in 1973. The rain has eroded the outer layers of the dirt to reveal a carbonated human skull. These remains were discovered just some 500m from the site of Mungo I. Again marked and excavated later on by archaeologist.

Mungo I was the remains of a woman. She was described as a gracile woman, with fine bones and features. She was not found as a whole intact skeleton, rather 175 bone fragments. It was concluded that she was cremated; the charring of the bone fragments supported this theory. From this primary evidence we can hypothesise that the people of the time believed in the ritual passing of an individual, that the deceased should have a physical recognition of the change between the worldly life and the afterlife. We can also guess that from this they...
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