History Podcasts

How did the early settlers of Australia settle the continent?

How did the early settlers of Australia settle the continent?

A simple question that is not so simple to answer. What technologies did they use on their journey? Can we trace the settlers lineage using dna sequencing now, or will we ever?


Australia was settled 40,000 to 60,000 years ago.

They arrived by sea during period of glaciation when portions of Australia were still joined to the main continent.

According to the below linked wiki page this makes them some of the worlds first mariners.

All in all, based on the fact that it was 40,000 to 60,000 years ago it would seem the technologies used to settle were some form of ancient boat. (I'm guessing no 1st class luxury cruise liner)

Once they arrived they settled into a hunter gatherer society. Here they developed basic stone technology which they used in their day to day lives.

Additional Info can be found here.


The first genomic history of Australia&rsquos peopling

Australia has one of the longest histories of continuous human occupation outside Africa. But who exactly were the first people to settle there? Such a question has obvious political implications and has been hotly debated for decades. The first comprehensive genomic study of Aboriginal Australians reveals that they are indeed the direct descendants of Australia's earliest settlers and diverged from their Papuan neighbours about 37'000 years ago (y.a.). The study also uncovers several other major findings on early human populations.

The research is published today in Nature and is the result of a close collaboration between international research teams and representatives of Aboriginal Australian communities. It includes six researchers from the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics -- among whom, lead author Anna-Sapfo Malaspinas and group leader Laurent Excoffier, both from the University of Bern.

The early peopling of Australia and the continent's subsequent population history has been a matter of scientific debate for decades. Until the present study, demographic inference was based on only three Aboriginal Australian genomes one was derived from a tuft of hair (taken from a deceased individual), and the other two from cell lines whose provenance is somewhat hazy. Recently, with the assistance of Aboriginal Australian co-authors, an international team of scientists sequenced 83 modern Aboriginal Australian and 25 modern Papuan genomes. The research teams used this genomic data and combined it with linguistic data to characterize the peopling of Australia. The work reveals -- among other things -- three key dates.

72'000 y.a.: A common race out of Africa

It has often been hypothesized that the ancestors of modern Papuans and Australians must have left Africa far earlier than any other population if they were to reach New Guinea and Australia

47'000 years ago, as suggested by the fossil record. The researchers discovered, however, that this is most probably not the case they estimate that around 72'000 years ago, an ancestral population common to Aborginal Australians, Europeans and East Asians left the African continent. Professor Laurent Excoffier of the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics and the University of Bern explains: "Discussions have been intense as to what extent Aboriginal Australians represent a separate Out-of-Africa exit to those of Asians and Europeans. We find that, once we take into account admixture with archaic humans, the vast majority of the Aboriginal Australian genetic makeup comes from the same African exit as other non-Africans."

37'000 y.a.: Down Under's first settlers diverge from their neighbours

The Aboriginal Australians would have diverged from the Papuans 37'000 y.a., long before New Guinea and Australia became geographically separated (10'000 y.a.). "Aboriginal Australians have been the subject of scientific mystery," notes senior author Professor Eske Willerslev, from the Copenhagen-based Centre for GeoGenetics, Cambridge University and the Sanger Institute.

"How did they get there? What was their relationship to other groups? And how does their arrival change our understanding of how populations spread? Technologically and politically, it has not really been possible to answer these questions until now."

31'000 y.a.: One continent, huge genetic diversity

While the authors found evidence for gene flow between sampled groups, the ancestral population of Aboriginal Australians started to become structured around 31'000 years ago thus creating the genetic diversity observed today. First author on the paper Assistant Professor Anna-Sapfo Malaspinas from the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, the Centre for GeoGenetics of Copenhagen and the University of Bern says: "The genetic diversity among Aboriginal Australians is amazing. Perhaps because the continent has been inhabited for such a long time by Aborginal Australians we find that groups from southwestern desert Australia are more genetically different from groups of northeastern Australia than are for example Native Americans and Siberians, and this is within a single continent."


The Portuguese

The quest for wealth and knowledge might logically have pulled the Portuguese to Australian shores the assumption has some evidential support, including a reference indicating that Melville Island, off the northern coast, supplied slaves. Certainly the Portuguese debated the issue of a terra australis incognita (Latin: “unknown southern land”)—an issue in European thought in ancient times and revived from the 12th century onward. The so-called Dieppe maps present a landmass, “Java la Grande,” that some scholarship (gaining strength in the early 21st century) has long seen as evidence of a Portuguese discovery of the Australian landmass, 1528 being one likely year.


How Did Aboriginal Australians Arrive on the Continent? DNA Helps Solve a Mystery

Human skeletons and archaeological remains in Australia can be traced back nearly 50,000 years before the trail disappears. Before then, apparently, Australia was free of humans.

So how did people get there, and when? Where did humans first arrive on the continent, and how did they spread across the entire landmass?

Answers to some of these questions are stored in the DNA of Aboriginal Australians. A genetic study of 111 Aboriginal Australians, published on Wednesday, offers an interesting — and, in some respects, unexpected — view of their remarkable story.

All living Aboriginal Australians descend from a single founding population that arrived about 50,000 years ago, the study shows. They swept around the continent, along the coasts, in a matter of centuries. And yet, for tens of thousands of years after, those populations remained isolated, rarely mixing.

The DNA used in the new study comes from aboriginal hair collected during a series of expeditions between 1926 and 1963. The Board for Anthropological Research at the University of Adelaide sent researchers to communities across Australia, where they collected vast amounts of information about aboriginal languages, ceremonies, artwork, cosmologies and genealogy.

Many Aboriginal Australians today no longer live where their ancestors did. During the 1900s, the country’s government forcibly removed many from their traditional lands and separated children from families. Many Aboriginal Australians moved to cities far from where they grew up.

Thanks to the subjects’ age and detailed records, scientists suspected the hair samples might offer a glimpse of the pre-colonial past. “It seemed obvious that this collection is perhaps the best way to reconstruct Australian history,” said Alan Cooper, a pioneer in ancient DNA studies at the University of Adelaide.

He and his colleagues first sought consent for the tests from the descendants of the people whose hair samples had been collected. They traveled to aboriginal communities, spending several days talking to family members to address their concerns. All but one of the families they visited gave them permission to run the study.

Dr. Cooper and his colleagues knew extracting DNA would not be easy. Over the decades that the hair had been in storage, the genetic traces may have broken down beyond recognition.

Making matters worse, the hair had been cut with scissors. The best way to get genetic material from a strand of hair is to pull it out at its DNA-rich root.

Given these uncertainties, the scientists decided to increase the odds of success by searching for abundant mitochondrial DNA, which is situated outside the cell nucleus and is inherited solely from the mother. Eventually, the scientists managed to piece together all the mitochondrial genes in each of the hair samples.

By comparing the aboriginal sequences to DNA from other parts of the world, the scientists determined that they all belonged to a single human lineage, indicating that all aborigines descended from a single migration to the continent.

Mitochondrial DNA gradually accumulates mutations at a roughly regular rate, ticking like a molecular clock. By adding up the mutations in the hair samples, the scientists also estimated that their owners all descended from a common ancestor who lived around 50,000 years ago. That finding fits nicely with the estimated ages of the oldest archaeological sites in Australia.

The mitochondrial tree also provided clues to how people spread through the continent.

Fifty thousand years ago, sea levels were so low that Australia and New Guinea formed a single continent. Humans moved from Southeast Asia onto this landmass, some settling in what is now New Guinea, others traveling farther south into Australia.

They kept to the coastlines until they reached southern Australia 49,000 years ago. But once this great migration was finished, the new study suggests, the ancestors of today’s aborigines hunkered down in their new homes — for tens of thousands of years.

The mitochondrial DNA contains no evidence that these populations mixed in any significant way, surprising researchers. “We were fully expecting a fully diverse mix of people in all places at all times,” Dr. Cooper said.

This is not the sort of migratory pattern documented by gene testing on other continents. In Europe, for instance, new populations have swept in every few thousand years, mixing with the societies they encountered.

Farming explains the difference, Dr. Cooper suggests. Unlike Africa, Asia and Europe, Australia did not experience the rise of agriculture several thousand years ago. “If you don’t have cheap carbohydrates, you don’t increase in population size,” he said.

Populations grew on other continents, but they often risked catastrophic crop failure. When that happened, Dr. Cooper said, “there’s only one response — mass migration.”

In Australia, however, aborigines did not depend on crops and lived as nomads in discrete regions. They never needed to move across the continent.

“This is really very surprising, but also hard to doubt,” said Stephan Schiffels, a population geneticist at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany, who was not involved in the study. “The data is what it is.”

Peter Bellwood, an archaeologist at Australian National University who was not involved in the study, said much of the new data fit with archaeological findings. But he found it hard to see how Aboriginal Australians could have remained so sedentary for so long.

He pointed to tools shared by many aboriginal cultures across great distances, as well as to a family of languages spoken by many aboriginal groups. Dr. Bellwood doubted that they could have spread so far while individuals did not.

“If humans don’t move, why should languages and tools move?” he asked.

Dr. Schiffels and other researchers raised the possibility that the mitochondrial DNA was missing important details of Australian history.

DNA in the nucleus of each cell, coming from both parents, can offer clues to a wider range of ancestors.

It turns out, however, that Dr. Cooper and his colleagues were too pessimistic about the hair samples. Skin cells stuck to the hair shafts turn out to contain rich supplies of nuclear DNA.

“We can do the entire genome for each of these samples,” Dr. Cooper said. “So we’re returning to these communities to ask for permission to get a far more detailed look.”


How did the early settlers of Australia settle the continent? - History

Where did we come from?

The history of Britain’s population is all about arriving, staying and settling, or leaving, moving and settling elsewhere. People from continental Europe began to settle in different parts of Britain after the last Ice Age, around 12,000 years ago. Ever since, these islands have been continuously occupied as new arrivals mixed with existing residents.

Until recently we had only tantalising postcards from the past, in the form of archaeological finds and much later written accounts, to tell the stories of the early arrivals. Our family journeys are written in our genes, and now genetic analysis can provide new clues to our diverse origins. Geneticists are working side by side with geographers and archaeologists to piece together the evidence of Britain’s earliest occupants.

The story continues in modern Britain, as people come from every corner of the globe to settle in their turn.

The first people in Britain

Humans have been on the move since our ancestors first evolved in Africa, meeting and mixing, staying and separating, as we try to survive in changing circumstances. Human relatives of the species Homo erectus began to spread across the world two million years ago. Modern people are all descended from members of our species, Homo sapiens (first skull image), some of whom came out of Africa much more recently – less than 100,000 years ago.

The period when human relatives first arrived in Britain – the period, geologically speaking, in which we still live – has swung between ice ages and relatively warm interludes such as we enjoy today. Species of Homo – such as Homo neanderthalensis (second skull image) and Homo heidelbergensis (third skull image) – were in Britain from 800,000 years ago, living by hunting wild animals and gathering plant foods as long as the climate was warm enough.

About 340,000 – 300,000 years ago, when conditions were slightly warmer than at present, Neanderthal hunters lived alongside a channel of the Thames near Oxford where the village of Wolvercote now stands. They made flint hand axes – all-purpose butchering, digging and chopping tools – and hunted animals now extinct in Britain.

About 340,000 – 300,000 years ago, when conditions were slightly warmer than at present, Neanderthal hunters lived alongside a channel of the Thames near Oxford where the village of Wolvercote now stands. They made flint hand axes – all-purpose butchering, digging and chopping tools – and hunted animals now extinct in Britain.

People of our own species, Homo sapiens, may have reached Britain around 44,000 years ago. Like their predecessors, they were hunter-gatherers who made and used stone tools. At the time, sea levels were lower, and Britain was connected to northern Europe by land.

The last ice age was still under way: at times the temperature fell so low that sheets of ice covered the country and made it uninhabitable, driving people and animals to seek warmer environments farther south. The ice reached its greatest extent around 26,000 years ago, and life for humans was impossible in Britain until it had retreated again around 11,600 years ago.

At that point the temperature rose very rapidly. Bands of hunters returned to Britain following the herds of reindeer and horses as they grazed the newly-growing grasslands, and later the deer, wild cattle and pigs that foraged in woodland. Others may have travelled up the Atlantic coast by sea. People have been living continuously in Britain ever since.

Sea levels around Britain 26,000 years ago. Blue: sea white: ice light grey: land dark grey: present-day land.

Sea levels around Britain 26,000 years ago. Blue: sea white: ice light grey: land dark grey: present-day land.

Sea levels around Britain 10,000 years ago. Blue: sea light grey: land dark grey: present-day land.

Sea levels around Britain 10,000 years ago. Blue: sea light grey: land dark grey: present-day land.

Molar of mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) - Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire, England. Cold-tolerant mammals including mammoths, woolly rhinoceros, brown bear and hyena were present in Britain around 50,000 - 40,000 years ago, during the last glaciation, when temperatures were perhaps 10ଌ lower than at present.

Molar of mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) - Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire, England. Cold-tolerant mammals including mammoths, woolly rhinoceros, brown bear and hyena were present in Britain around 50,000 - 40,000 years ago, during the last glaciation, when temperatures were perhaps 10ଌ lower than at present.

Molar of straight-tusked elephant (Palaeoloxodon antiquus), Wolvercote, Oxfordshire, England

Molar of straight-tusked elephant (Palaeoloxodon antiquus), Wolvercote, Oxfordshire, England

The ‘Red Lady’ of Paviland

Early in the 19th century, geologists digging in Goat&aposs Hole Cave near Paviland on the Gower Peninsula in South Wales discovered a partial human skeleton. The body had been ceremonially buried, covered in red ochre and accompanied by decorations of pierced shell and ivory. A mammoth skull had been placed nearby, possibly to watch over the burial.

Because of the beads, the geologists believed that the skeleton was a woman, and assumed she came from the Roman period, around 2,000 years ago. We now know that the bones of the so-called ‘Red Lady’ are those of a young man, and far more ancient.

A young hunter?

How did this young man come to die in Wales so long ago? Stone tools and burned animal bones show that he could have been one of the hunters that used the cave over many thousands of years. How he died is a mystery but his friends or family clearly thought it was important to bury him in style.

In 2008, scientists used improved radiocarbon dating techniques to give a date of around 33�,000 years ago to the bones. This makes the ‘Red Lady’ one of the earliest examples of a ceremonial burial in Europe. Scientists are currently trying to extract DNA from a sample of the bone to find out more about who he was and where he came from.

Britain&aposs genetic story

Our genes make us who we are, and they are made of DNA. Our human and non-human ancestors have passed this DNA down to us over millions of years. Groups of settlers who gradually populated Britain after the last Ice Age ended 11,600 years ago each contributed their own genetic signatures.

Modern genetic analysis can read the patterns of variation in our complete set of DNA – the human genome – that change subtly over time. Comparing these patterns in modern British people has provided new evidence about their geographical origins.

The DNA you inherit – and the DNA you don’t – is partly down to chance. Click above to play the Inheritance Lottery and see how in each generation some DNA is passed on, and some is lost. This interactive is not designed for mobile devices and is best viewed on desktop in latest version of Chrome or Firefox.

The DNA we share

The genetic code is written in a DNA alphabet with only four letters, A, C, G and T. There are three billion letters in the complete human genome. On average, one in 1,000 letters differs between any two unrelated individuals, which means that genetically speaking we are 99.9 per cent the same as every other human, yet we are all unique.

Every living thing is descended from the first life forms that evolved on Earth, so that although the genetic sequences of all the species alive today have diverged over millions of years, there are still many genetic similarities between humans and other species.

If our DNA is 99.9 per cent the same as everyone else&aposs, how can we find differences?

Humans share 85 per cent of their genes with the mouse.

Humans share 85 per cent of their genes with the mouse.

The DNA you inherit – and the DNA you don’t – is partly down to chance. Click above to play the Inheritance Lottery and see how in each generation some DNA is passed on, and some is lost. This interactive is not designed for mobile devices and is best viewed on desktop in latest version of Chrome or Firefox.

DNA: A Rich Tapestry: Whether it&aposs the way we speak, or the team we support, the little differences between us can carry clues to our origins. See more at Oxford Sparks

DNA: A Rich Tapestry: Whether it&aposs the way we speak, or the team we support, the little differences between us can carry clues to our origins. See more at Oxford Sparks

The People of the British Isles study

To learn more about the early history of Britain’s population, in 2004 researchers started to collect DNA from volunteers at rural locations throughout the UK. From these they selected around 2,000, all four of whose grandparents had been born in the same area.

These people are less likely than most of us to come from families that have been part of the great movements of people – from the country to cities, from north to south, or into and out of Britain – that have taken place since the middle of the 19th century.

While a minority of people in Britain today come from families long settled in the same place, those studied in the  People of the British Isles project are likely to retain genetic signatures that reflect how the population of these islands developed historically. Many more people will also share elements of these patterns, but as their grandparents and parents moved and married others from different geographical locations, especially since the 19th century, the patterns will have become more jumbled up.

A genetic map of Britain

This map, created by the People of the British Isles study, is the result of comparing patterns in the DNA of a carefully selected sample of around 2,000 modern British people. It provides new evidence about links between genetic ancestry and geographical origins.

Like all of us, each of the People of the British Isles volunteers has a unique profile of variation in his or her DNA sequence. With the help of a powerful computer program, researchers compared all the profiles, and sorted them into clusters with others that were most similar. The 17 clusters that came out of the analysis are based on differences that are very small, but nonetheless clear.

To find the origins of these clusters, the researchers compared DNA from the British volunteers with DNA from modern populations across Europe. Each 𠆋ritish’ cluster turned out to be made up of different mixtures of European DNA, mostly corresponding with known movements of people over more than a thousand years.

How to read this map

  • The map plots the geographical locations and genetic profiles of 2,039 people.
  • People with similar patterns of genetic variation are grouped into clusters, and each is given a distinct coloured symbol.
  • Each marker on the map represents one individual from the study sample.
  • Individuals are plotted on the map according to the birthplaces of the grandparents, all four of whom had to be born in the same rural location. Each genetic cluster is named based on the main area it covers.

What the map is telling us

  • People in the same genetic cluster are also very likely to live in the same region, centuries after their ancestors first settled there.
  • The Central and Southern England genetic population – red squares – is dominant in England.
  • Nine smaller genetic groups are identified in England and Wales.
  • Western Scotland and Northern Ireland share genetic populations.
  • Groups that we think of as �ltic’ – Cornish, Welsh, Irish and Scottish – are genetically diverse.

Genetic Ancestry and the People of the British Isles

Genetic journeys and cultural connections

Between the end of the last Ice Age, around 11,600 years ago, and the Norman invasion in 1066, settlers arrived in Britain from various locations in Europe. The objects they left behind show that they brought with them cultural changes such as agriculture, metalworking and new languages. The genetic data from the People of the British Isles study, combined with the archaeological evidence, gives a more complete story of how society changed.

In some cases there is a clear genetic signature associated with cultural change. For example, the genetic data suggests a large movement of people from Northern France into England and Scotland between 6,000 and 3,000 years ago, at about the same time that agriculture began to be widespread. In contrast, the Norman invaders, who greatly changed the language and government of Britain, have left little genetic legacy.

The first permanent settlements

When the ice finally retreated, Britain was still part of the European mainland. It was easy for people to arrive on foot, although some also travelled around the coast. Traces of their genetic signatures survive all over the country, but particularly in Wales.

Around 11,600 years ago the temperature began to rise very rapidly and the ice that had covered most of Britain began to retreat to the Arctic. The first settlers entered Britain across Doggerland, the lowlands of what is now the North Sea, probably following animals such as reindeer, or travelled in boats along the Atlantic coast to the western parts of Britain. As the climate continued to warm, sea levels rose, and from around 8,500 years ago Britain became an island.

Reindeer antler (Rangifer tarandus) – British, late Glacial

Reindeer antler (Rangifer tarandus) – British, late Glacial

The genetic evidence suggests that people from Wales are most closely related to the Palaeolithic (Old Stone Age) settlers who first moved across from west Germany and the Atlantic coast of Europe as the ice retreated. Those first settlers spread all over the British Isles, but the descendants of those in England, Scotland and Ireland were more likely to encounter and mix with groups of later arrivals, and so gradually acquired different patterns of genetic variation from those in Wales.

Agriculture, trade and technology

By 6,000 years ago Britain had become a collection of islands, and new cultures transmitted through Europe made their way across the Channel. People continued to move and settle: DNA from northern France turns up in the genetic record throughout England and Scotland, but not Wales.

Throughout the Neolithic (New Stone Age) and Bronze Ages, from around 6,000 to 3,000 years ago, people continued to pass back and forth across the English Channel, importing their distinctive styles of pottery and metalwork.

The genetic study revealed a pattern of DNA dated to around this time that is shared by people now living in northern France and those in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland, but none of those in Wales. It looks as though substantial numbers of people took the opportunity to cross the narrow Channel, and spread through most of the country.

These people may have included the first farmers at the start of the Neolithic Age. Or they may have been some of the �ker people’, who introduced characteristic decorated pottery, developed copper working and traded metal with other parts of Europe.

Beaker pottery vessel, 2500 – 2150 BC, Oxfordshire. Towards the end of the Neolithic, around 4,500 years ago, people using distinctive beaker-shaped pottery vessels spread across Europe and into Britain. Their skill in copper working led to the Bronze Age, which lasted until about 2,800 years ago. Image: The Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford

Beaker pottery vessel, 2500 – 2150 BC, Oxfordshire. Towards the end of the Neolithic, around 4,500 years ago, people using distinctive beaker-shaped pottery vessels spread across Europe and into Britain. Their skill in copper working led to the Bronze Age, which lasted until about 2,800 years ago. Image: The Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford

Subjects of empire

Roman armies and administrators controlled Britain from the year 43 until the empire collapsed in the 5th century.

From the year 43, Roman influence transformed the way of life of people in southern and eastern Britain. The rulers organised agriculture and economic activity, some based on slave labour, around villas in the countryside. They expanded towns and built roads to speed the progress of their legions between military forts. Yet in the more remote areas of western and northern Britain, life continued much as before.

The legions were recruited from all across the Roman Empire. However, there is very little evidence today of a genetic legacy from other Roman dominions. Only small numbers settled: as the Empire collapsed, Rome withdrew the legionaries and high-ranking officials.

Tombstone of a Roman soldier from North Africa, found in South Shields, Tyne and Wear, in the 1880s. The inscription reads: ‘To the spirits of the departed (and) of Victor, from the Moorish nation, aged 20, freedman of Numerianus, trooper of the First Cavalry Regiment of Astruians, who most devotedly conducted him to the tomb.’ Image: © Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums / Bridgeman Images

Tombstone of a Roman soldier from North Africa, found in South Shields, Tyne and Wear, in the 1880s. The inscription reads: ‘To the spirits of the departed (and) of Victor, from the Moorish nation, aged 20, freedman of Numerianus, trooper of the First Cavalry Regiment of Astruians, who most devotedly conducted him to the tomb.’ Image: © Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums / Bridgeman Images

When the ice finally retreated, Britain was still part of the European mainland. It was easy for people to arrive on foot, although some also travelled around the coast. Traces of their genetic signatures survive all over the country, but particularly in Wales.

By 6,000 years ago Britain had become a collection of islands, and new cultures transmitted through Europe made their way across the Channel. People continued to move and settle: DNA from northern France turns up in the genetic record throughout England and Scotland, but not Wales.

Roman armies and administrators controlled Britain from the year 43 until the empire collapsed in the 5th century.

Tribes and kingdoms

The population of Britain fell from a few million to fewer than one million people after the Romans left in the 5th century. Over the next few centuries, groups of Angles and Saxons arrived from northwest Germany and southern Denmark, taking advantage of this �iled state’ and establishing Anglo-Saxon as the dominant culture in England.

The genetic map of Britain shows that most of the eastern, central and southern parts of England form a single genetic group with between 10 and 40 per cent Anglo-Saxon ancestry. However, people in this cluster also retain DNA from earlier settlers. The invaders did not wipe out the existing population instead, they seem to have integrated with them.

The number of Norse place names in the Danelaw, the region that fell under the control of the Danes and Norwegians in the 9th century, shows the extent of the Vikings’ cultural influence. But only in Orkney is there a substantial legacy of Viking DNA.

From the 8th century, Vikings from Norway and Denmark mounted raids all around the coasts of Britain and fought the Anglo-Saxons for control of the English kingdoms. While Norwegian DNA is still detectable in northern groups, especially in Orkney, no genetic cluster in England corresponds to the areas that were under Danish control for two centuries. The Danes were highly influential militarily, politically and culturally but may have settled in numbers that were too modest to have a clear genetic impact on the population.

In 1066 William Duke of Normandy defeated the last Anglo-Saxon King, Harold, at the Battle of Hastings. Norman rule transformed the English language and culture, but there is no genetic evidence to suggest that more than a small number of elite families settled in Britain.

The map of Britain’s tribes and kingdoms at the start of the 7th century corresponds remarkably closely with the map of genetic clusters in the People of the British Isles map. The south and east of England, which experienced the greatest early Anglo-Saxon settlement, forms a single large cluster (red squares) with a component of its DNA from northwest Germany.

Oxford Castle mound, Norman motte constructed by Robert D&aposOyley in 1071 – 73. Image: Oxford Castle Unlocked

Oxford Castle mound, Norman motte constructed by Robert D&aposOyley in 1071 – 73. Image: Oxford Castle Unlocked

The number of Norse place names in the Danelaw, the region that fell under the control of the Danes and Norwegians in the 9th century, shows the extent of the Vikings’ cultural influence. But only in Orkney is there a substantial legacy of Viking DNA.

The map of Britain’s tribes and kingdoms at the start of the 7th century corresponds remarkably closely with the map of genetic clusters in the People of the British Isles map. The south and east of England, which experienced the greatest early Anglo-Saxon settlement, forms a single large cluster (red squares) with a component of its DNA from northwest Germany.

The making of modern Britain

After the Middle Ages, Britain’s developing global connections as an aggressive imperial and commercial power led millions of its people to migrate elsewhere in the world, and eventually brought new settlers to Britain. As in the time of the first settlers, changing political, economic or climatic circumstances have kept people in restless movement – unsettled – as they seek new opportunities, or try to escape famine, persecution or war.

At the same time, mostly stimulated by the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries, people became much more likely to move from their birthplaces to other parts of the British Isles: from the countryside to cities, from Ireland, Scotland and Wales to England, from the north to the south.

When people move and mix, patterns of genetic variation become more complicated, but genetic links to geography persist through the generations.

Changing world, changing lives

What drove the first people to come to Britain? Some moved because new opportunities arose, such as the expanding area for hunting revealed as the ice retreated. Some, such as the Anglo-Saxons, may have moved because it was less risky to leave than to stay where they were. Some, including the Vikings, followed leaders who were hungry for territorial conquest.

Broadly speaking, the same reasons have driven people to move ever since. Improvements in methods of transport, from sailing ships, roads, railways and canals to ocean liners, motor vehicles and aircraft, have greatly increased mobility both within and between countries. Global political and economic changes have sent people from Britain all over the world, and brought new settlers in their turn.

World events and changing conditions affect patterns of migration to Britain. Click above to open an interactive timeline to see trends since 1841. This interactive is not designed for mobile devices and is best viewed on desktop in latest version of Chrome or Firefox.

Colonisation: From the arrival of the first Europeans in the Americas in the late 15th century, Britain ceased to be peripheral to the known world and used its central position and seafaring expertise to become a global colonial and commercial power. In competition with other imperialists such as the Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese, it sent soldiers, administrators and settlers to subdue indigenous populations on every continent and exploit their natural resources. By the end of the 19th century the British Empire covered a quarter of the world’s land area. Image: Alamy

Decolonisation: In 1776 America won a war of independence from Britain, and during the 20th century, under pressure at home and abroad, Britain granted independence to other former colonies. Until the 1960s all citizens of the Commonwealth – countries that had formerly been part of the British Empire – had the same rights to live and work in the UK as British citizens: since then immigration rules have gradually become much more restrictive. Image: Alamy

Religious and racial oppression: Protestant refugees came to Britain from the Netherlands and France in the 16th and 17th centuries. Religious dissenters were among those who left Britain in the 17th century to make a new life in America. Jews were expelled from Britain in the 13th century and remained banned until the 17th century, but in the 19th century over 100,000 persecuted Russian Jews found a safe haven in Britain’s cities, and a similar number of Jewish refugees, many of them children, came to Britain from Nazi-occupied Europe in the 1930s. Image: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-S69279 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de

Economic pressures: Lack of the means to live in their home countries has driven thousands of people both to leave Britain and to settle here. In the early part of the 20th century – this poster dates from 1928 – the British government offered people the chance to make a new life in colonies such as Australia, often subsidising their fares. From 1945 until 1972, the Australian government’s Assisted Passage Migration Scheme charged people only ꌐ to make the trip: one million ‘ten pound Poms’ left the British Isles under the scheme. Image: © Commonwealth of Australia (National Archives of Australia) 2017. CC BY 3.0 AU

War and political oppression: The 1951 UN Convention on Refugees gave people fleeing war and persecution in their home countries the right to seek asylum elsewhere. Since the 1980s Britain has processed between 4,000 and 84,000 asylum applications per year, of which fewer than half were granted. The vast majority of the world’s refugees remain displaced within their own country or in neighbouring countries. Image: Alamy

International treaties: From 1993 the European Union made it possible for European citizens freely to settle and work throughout the area, and many responded to the demand for labour in Britain in sectors such as agriculture and the caring professions. British workers also left for jobs in Europe, while many have retired to warmer Mediterranean locations. 𠆋rexit’, Britain’s planned departure from the EU in 2019, may have major consequences for the movement of people between Britain and the rest of the EU. Image: Alamy


Early 19 th Century

The onset of the 19 th century saw the denial of rights to the Aboriginals reach a new level. Acts of depopulation of the Aboriginal people via mass killings became rampant in spite of laws being enacted to encourage the settlers to live in harmony with the locals. The denial of right to life and justice was exhibited best during the state of Emergency in the 1820’s and the Myall Creek killings and the ensuing trials.

The Aboriginal had more land taken away from them as well as environmental degradation with the approval of the British administration.

Calamity in Van Diemen’s Territory (The early 1800’s)

By 1816 Indigenous opposition around Sydney was quelled by Governor Macquarie. British settlements had been established beyond Sydney. In 1803 and 1804, the Port Dalrymple – later renamed Launceston – and Hobart town was built on Van Diemen’s territory which was later to become a separate protectorate in 1825.

There’s no valid evidence regarding the Aboriginal population in Tasmania before colonisation. The popular estimates say between 4,000 to 7,000 locals. However, by 1832, only 203 had survived, and their numbers dwindled further after the renaming of Van Diemen’s Land to Tasmania.

Some historians reckon what happened there as genocide. It was so severe was the obliteration of Tasmania tribes that most of the present-day Aboriginal Tasmanians are descendants of Indigenous women who had been kidnapped or enslaved by the settlers. The question of how an entire population was almost annihilated in a short span remains a mystery.

Scores of Indigenous Tasmanians were murdered in 1803 when they sought to stop the service men and felons constructing huts close to the present day Hobart. The next couple of years hordes of prisoners attacked Aboriginal camps kidnapping women and killing their men. Scores of abductions and killings were undertaken by lawless whalers, sealers, and kangaroo hunters. Diseases or European origin took their toll.

The white settlers slaughtered the indigenous animals which were the primary source of food for the locals. There were accounts of raids on settlers’ huts and shepherd’s being speared. The colonists shot any indigenous people that went close to their dwellings.

State of Emergency (the 1820’s)

The official government code was to treat the Indigenous Tasmanians with camaraderie but, by 1820’s eastern Australia was at war. In 1828 all Aboriginal persons were ordered to vacate the settled districts by Governor Arthur. In 1830, over two thousand servicemen, settlers, and felons were formed into lines with an aim to seize all the Aborigines in the war zone or walk them through the attenuated strip of land which forms Eaglehawk Neck and straight into the Tasman Peninsula far away from the settlers. Notwithstanding, the size of the undertaking, only two indigenous persons were apprehended.

The Scramble for Port Phillip (1835)

The year 1835 isn’t celebrated, commemorated or mentioned in Australian history despite being a decisive moment in the colonial masters’ occupancy of Australia. For a long time, Tasmanian wool growers contemplated expanding their flocks they looked to the Port Phillip District, present-day Victoria. The land seemed available open and there for the taking.

Business persons aiming to gain in the wool industry coupled with the approval of the British government began a scramble for land, unprecedented in history. A frantic race to occupy the grasslands of Victoria ensued, with the Europeans moving stock and supplies at an incredible speed. By 1838, the sheep population had risen to 300,000 a number that increased to more than a million in 1841 and by 1851, had reached five million. Driven by profit, these settlers had no regard for the Indigenous people of Port Phillip.

This occupation pattern was emulated across Australia. As routes were made inland, the squatters seized more of the Aboriginal land. Native animals were killed, and deforestation became rampant to increase grazing land. The source of food for the Aborigines was destroyed. The majority of Europeans assumed ownership of the land and even forbade the original owners to utilise the ground for ceremonies, gathering or hunting.

Myall Creek Mass Killings (1838)

The Myall Creek mass killings were peculiar in that it marked the first and perhaps the last time the white settlers suffered punishment for killing Aborigines under the British rule. This unwarranted and calculated act is perhaps the most embarrassing example injustices committed against the Aboriginals during the borderline conflict. It’s also among the best recorded.

In 1838 over 30 children, women and old men of the Wirrayaraay tribe lived close to the Henry Dangar Myall Creek Station in northern NSW. They lived in harmony with the whites. One day the young men of the tribe were away a station owner cut bark. William Hobbs, the station head had taken cattle to greener pastures. Two assigned felons, James Kilmeister and George Anderson, were the only whites left at the station. On that day, the 9th June, eleven armed herdsmen comprised of assigned felons or ex-felons rode up. The cattlemen claimed to be on the hunt for Aboriginals to punish them for scaring their livestock. With Kilmeister’s help, they chained the defenceless Wirrayaraay and killed them. Anderson didn’t take part in the killings instead, he hid one young boy.

Myall Creek Trials

Upon the killers being brought to trial, a public outrage ensued for the government aiming to convict white settlers for murdering the Aboriginals. During the first proceedings, the accused were backed by many wealthy squatters, a magistrate included and were found innocent of any wrongdoing.

Later seven men were convicted of killing an Aboriginal child after remains were found at the murder scene. They faced the hangman’s noose in December 1838.

Frontier Violence: Strife at Port Phillip (1840)

One followed by the other, the Aborigine groups across the continent engaged the settlers to save their land. Inevitably, by the close of the 19th century, the British settlers controlled a significant stake of the valuable land. In many regions, this was attained by bloodshed.

Melbourne was a rather peaceful area, but that changed in 1840 when a group of 300 Aboriginals was trapped by police and soldiers in their campsite south of Yarra. The locals were indicted of several thefts. Windberry, one of the headmen, was gunned down. The rest were apprehended, and ultimately thirty were locked up for a month pending trial, while ten were found culpable.


Conclusion

Just as once the convict stain prevented navel-gazing, the conquest of Aboriginal Nations provides a profound and lasting scar on society that has often been more comfortable to ignore. It is a sign of maturity that such difficult issues are now being confronted. A grand narrative of spectacular economic growth does not drown out Black History: it was predicated upon it.

Convict Australia is a story of sharp contrasts. The colonial cocktail mixed coercion with freedom, deprivation with opportunity, a state that was both strong and weak, economic miracle with calamity, black with white. Colonists annihilated property rights and simultaneously lauded them. A self-styled civilised nation justified genocide. All this resulted from penal policy, but that policy was also at the service of British imperial ambitions, especially against the French. The British government had landed some 160,000 criminals in Australia’s convict colonies, and commenced a process that dispossessed perhaps one million indigenous people. Persisting consequences across the centuries make Australia’s colonial history a live political topic.


A very short history of Australia

By the end of the 19th century, there were only less than 100.000 Aboriginal people. Since the arrival of the settlers, the native population died from new diseases, alcohol and poverty, as their native land was taken away from them. They had to move to places where they couldn’t live in their traditional way. Most of their languages died out. Until the 1960s, children were taken away from their families and forced to live in childrens’ homes (&bdquoStolen Generation&ldquo). The idea was to make them „good“ Australians by educating them „properly“.

Stolen Generation: children were taken away from their families and forced to live in childrens’ home.

Bild: iStockphoto.com (Kerrie Kerr)


How did the early settlers of Australia settle the continent? - History


Thousands of years before the arrival of the British, Australia was settled by the indigenous people of Australia called the Aborigines. This timeline begins when the Europeans first arrived.

  • 1606 - The first European to land at Australia is Dutch explorer Captain Willem Janszoon.
  • 1688 - English explorer William Dampier explores the western coast of Australia.
  • 1770 - Captain James Cook lands at Botany Bay with his ship, the HMS Endeavour. He then proceeds to map the eastern coast of Australia, claiming it for Great Britain.
  • 1788 - The first British settlement is established at Sydney by Captain Arthur Phillip. It is the start of the British penal colony which is made up of mostly prisoners.
  • 1803 - Australia is proven to be an island when English navigator Matthew Flinders completes his sail around the island.



Brief Overview of the History of Australia

Australia was first inhabited perhaps 40,000 years ago by aboriginal peoples. During the Age of Exploration, the land was discovered and mapped by many Europeans including the Spanish, Dutch and English. However, Australia wasn't really explored until 1770 when Captain James Cook explored the east coast and claimed it for Great Britain. He named it New South Wales.


The first colony was established at Sydney by Captain Arthur Phillip on January 26, 1788. It was initially considered a penal colony. This was because many of the first settlers were criminals. Britain would sometimes send their criminals to the penal colony rather than jail. Oftentimes, the crimes that people committed were small or even made up to get rid of unwanted citizens. Slowly, more and more of the settlers were not convicts. Sometimes you will still hear people refer to Australia as being started by a penal colony.

Six colonies were formed in Australia: New South Wales, 1788 Tasmania, 1825 Western Australia, 1829 South Australia, 1836 Victoria, 1851 and Queensland, 1859. These same colonies later became the states of the Australian Commonwealth.

On January 1, 1901 the British Government passed an act to create the Commonwealth of Australia. In 1911, the Northern Territory became part of the Commonwealth.

The first federal Parliament was opened at Melbourne in May 1901 by the Duke of York. Later, in 1927, the center of government and parliament moved to the city of Canberra. Australia took part in both World War I and World War II allied with Great Britain and the United States.


Watch the video: The First English Settlements (January 2022).