SEMINAR: Archaeology Seminar Series
|Archaeology Seminar Series : Fire and Fauna: Holocene Aboriginal land management in the northern Swan Coastal Plain, Western Australia
The Holocene was a time of substantial environmental and cultural
change across Australia, due to the combined effects of post-glacial
sea level rise and climatic shifts. However, not all observed
environmental changes can be explained by climatic variation.
Ethnographic and historical records indicate that at the time of
European colonisation, Aboriginal people engaged in a range of
targeted land management practices, many of which had a significant impact on plant and animal communities and can be viewed as a form of cultural niche construction. Fire was a
widespread and widely documented form of land management employed by Aboriginal people, and its recorded use in
southwestern Australia reflects similar practices observed across the continent.
This paper presents the results of research into the zooarchaeological evidence for landscape-scale environmental change
and its relationship with Aboriginal subsistence in the northern Swan Coastal Plain, southwester Australia. Archaeological
and palaeontological assemblages from three cave sites are used to explore Holocene Aboriginal exploitation of
mammals, and ecological change. Human activity in the caves and surrounding landscape appears to have been modest
until the late Holocene, when greater rates of artefact discard are noted at some sites, possibly linked to decreased
mobility and/or increased population density. Analysis of the faunal record demonstrates significant changes in mammal
community composition through time, associated with multiple factors including climatic changes and human
activity.The faunal records at all three sites indicate an increase in the abundance of the two highest-ranked prey taxa:
Isoodon obesulus and Macropus fuliginosus, at about the same time as the increased human activity. Analysis of prey and
non-prey species in the assemblages supports interpretations of the promotion of mosaic habitats, and suggests that
ethnographically documented activities – including patch burning practices – were in place at least since the late
Holocene and probably earlier.
Law Lecture Room 1, Room G.31
Ana Paula Motta
Thu, 11 Apr 2019 16:00
Thu, 11 Apr 2019 17:00
Karen Eichorn <[email protected]>
Fri, 05 Apr 2019 11:40
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