Australia′s ancient Mungo Man returned to Aboriginal burial ground | News | DW | 17.11.2017
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Australia's ancient Mungo Man returned to Aboriginal burial ground

The remains of an Aboriginal man who roamed Australia some 42,000 years ago were brought back to his burial ground after spending decades in Canberra. The return of the so-called Mungo Man marks the end of a long battle.

Members of several Aboriginal groups hosted a large ceremony to mark the return of the Mungo Man to his ancestral homeland on Friday. The indigenous man was laid to rest with traditional funeral rites for the second time, some 42,000 years after he last roamed the Willandra Lakes region in New South Wales.

"His spirit will be released and he will be released when we return him to the land where he came from," Aunt Patsy, of the Mutthi Mutthi community, told the press before the funeral.

Read more: How Australia is failing its indigenous people

Scientists believe Mungo Man was 1.70 meter (5ft 6 inches) tall, about 50 years old, and suffered from severe arthritis at the time of his death.

Australian reporter Nakari Thorpe posted a video showing a hearse with his remains traveling to tribal lands.

He was first discovered by archeologist Jim Bowler in 1974 at the shore of the dry Lake Mungo. Researchers found evidence of funeral rites next to his resting place in the remote Australian area, including the remains of an ancient bonfire. Mungo Man was also buried in a specific way, with his hands crossed over his groin and painted in ocher paint which was extracted from an area 200 kilometers (124 miles) away from the burial site.

The discovery rewrote Australian history, painting a picture of an indigenous culture with complex customs and a rich belief system.

David Edwards, Mutthi Mutthi Elder dances next to a fire (Getty Images/L. Maree Williams)

An Aboriginal elder performs a 'smoking ceremony' to welcome Mungo Man's return

University apologizes for disturbing Mungo Man

Aboriginal peoples have long protested over the decision to remove the ancient remains and transport them to Canberra for studies at the Australian National University. The University made a formal apology to Aboriginal elders two years ago. The remains were also placed in a museum ahead of the return to burial grounds.

"It's been a long road for our people, a lot of our old people have passed on now that started this same fight that we've had. They've left us this legacy," said Aboriginal elder Mary Pappin from the Muthi Muthi community.

Over 100 other remains of ice-age tribespeople were buried with Mungo Man on Friday.

dj/kl (dpa, EFE)


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