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Study Shows Riverland Region Aborigines Were Thriving 29000 Years Ago

Study Shows Riverland Region Aborigines Were Thriving 29000 Years Ago


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Researchers have established that Riverland region Aborigines lived in South Australia much earlier than previously thought. They determined that Riverland region Aborigines lived in the area an amazing 29000 years ago, thriving at a time when the environment was much harsher than it is today.

A team from Flinders University retrieved shells from a midden at an Aboriginal site on the Murray River. The shells were taken from an archaeological site that overlooks the Pike River floodplain which is 150 miles (280 km) north of the city of Adelaide, in an area known as the Riverland region. The Murray River has been the site of human settlements for millennia. According to the researchers the shells came from ‘remnants of meals eaten long ago.’ Shell middens consist of shells and other remains. They are very important because they can provide valuable evidence about ancient Aboriginal diets and food gathering strategies.

Mussel shells collected and dated from along the River Murray, downstream of Renmark in South Australia’s Riverland region. ( Flinders University )

29000-year-old Shells Eaten by Riverland Region Aborigines

A total of 31 shell samples were taken between 2018 and 2019 and analyzed at an Australian government facility and at Flinders University. These samples ‘were selected on the basis of their landscape context’ the researchers wrote in Australian Archaeology . Experts were able to carbon date the organic material based on the carbon-14 isotope deterioration rate. What they found came as a major surprise.

The data confirmed that a Riverland region Aborigine community occupied the site in South Australia some 29,000 years ago. Previously it was believed that the ancestors of the first Aboriginal Australians only lived in the area about 7000 years ago. Craig Westell, a PhD student who took part in the study, said that the results ‘extend the known Aboriginal occupation of the Riverland by approximately 22,000 years,’ reports Flinders University .

Flinders archaeologist Craig Westell conducting field work. ( Flinders University )

Riverland Region Aborigines Came After the Ice Age

The research findings also established that the site of the shell midden is the ‘oldest River Murray Indigenous site in South Australia’ according to Flinders University . It is believed that Modern Humans ( Homo sapiens ) arrived in Australia up to 50,000 years ago. However, others have claimed that they arrived more than 60,000 years ago.

The team also dated other materials from the site which showed that Aboriginal people lived in the area from 15,000 to 29,000 years ago, during a period of extreme climate and environmental change . Craig Westell, a PhD student who took part in the study said that, ‘These results include the first pre-Last Glacial Maximum ages returned on the River Murray in South Australia and extend the known Aboriginal occupation of the Riverland by approximately 22,000 years’ reports Flinders University .

Post-Ice-Age Period in Australia Like the Millennium Drought

This period after the ice age in Australia was possibly the most severe climate faced by any humans that ever settled on the vast island. The Daily Mail reports team members as saying that the river and region ‘were under stress during this time.’ Advancing dunes and salination of the water led to a drop in the food supply. And there were often flash floods as the river became more unpredictable. It was not like the beautiful and bountiful Riverland of the present day. The Daily Mail quotes the researchers as saying that the community ‘adapted to a river unrecognizable in the modern system, an image far removed from the verdant shoestring oasis we imagine this river to be.’

The post-ice-age period’s impact on the environment has been likened to the Millennium Drought, one of the worst droughts in Australian history which lasted from 1996 to 2010. The Daily Mail quotes the team as stating that this drought ‘provides an idea of the challenges Aboriginal people may have faced along the river during the Last Glacial Maximum and other periods of climate stress.’

The samples taken from the Riverland sites allowed the team to better understand how people adapted to a variety of environments and how their relationship with the landscape varied with a changing climate. The findings indicate that the Riverland region Aborigines had to have been very resourceful and adaptable to be able to live in such a changing environment.

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The Riverland region Aborigines’ project is on-going and researchers hope to discover more about the Aboriginal communities that lived in the area. During the research process, the team collaborated with The River Murray and Mallee Aboriginal Corporation. This group administers the archaeological site which is on land belonging to the local indigenous people.


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Modern humans are though to have arrived in Australia some 50,000 years ago, although previous research claims Kakadu National Park in Australia’s Northern Territory was home to some tribes at least 65,000 years ago.

'These results include the first pre-Last Glacial Maximum ages returned on the River Murray in South Australia and extend the known Aboriginal occupation of the Riverland by approximately 22,000 years,' said study author Craig Westell at Flinders University in Adelaide.

The shell midden were taken from a site that overlooks the Pike River floodplain, downstream of the town of Renmark, nearly 160 miles northeast of the South Australian capital of Adelaide.

Aboriginal shell middens consist primarily of concentrations of discarded shell and bone, botanical remains, ash and charcoal and contain evidence of past Aboriginal hunting, gathering and food processing activities.

Researchers used radiocarbon dating methods to analyse river mussel shells from a midden site overlooking the Pike River floodplain downstream of Renmark. Study area is marked by a small red square, with the Murray-Darling Basin - the 400,000-square-mile geographical area that spans southeastern Australia - also highlighted

A total of 15 samples, collected in April 2018 and May 2019, were analysed at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) Centre for Accelerator Science, a government facility at Lucas Heights in New South Wales.

A further 16 samples were analysed at the University of Waikato Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory using both accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) and conventional radiometric methods.

AMS is a form of mass spectrometry that accelerates ions to extraordinarily high kinetic energies before analysis and reveals the presence of isotopes.

Location map shows the areas studied by archaeologists and the River Murray and Mallee Aboriginal community in South Australia

WHAT IS AMS?

In order to measure the age of carbon samples it is necessary to find the amount of radiocarbon in a sample.

This measurement can be made either by measuring the radioactivity of the sample or by directly counting the radiocarbon atoms using a method called Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS).

AMS is performed by converting the atoms in the sample into a beam of fast moving ions (charged atoms).

The mass of these ions is then measured by the application of magnetic and electric fields.

Specifically, the scientists were looking for traces of carbon-14, a carbon isotope that is commonly used by archaeologists and historians to date ancient bones and artefacts.

The rate of decay of carbon-14 is constant and easily measured, making it ideal for providing age estimates for anything over 300 years old.

More than 30 additional radiocarbon dates were collected in the region, spanning 15,000 years ago to the recent present.

The calibrated age-determinations range across the period 283 to 0 years ago through to 29,470 to 28,720 years ago.

The period represented by the radiocarbon results brackets the Last Glacial Maximum, commonly known as the last Ice Age.

This period marks a time when climatic conditions were colder and drier and when the arid zone extended over much of the Murray-Darling Basin.

The river and lake systems of the Murray-Darling Basin – the 400,000-square-mile geographical area that spans southeastern Australia – were under stress during this time, the team said.

The Last Glacial Maximum is also the most significant climatic event to face modern humans since their arrival in Australia some 40,000-50,000 years ago.

Shot of the shell samples in clumped deposits at the research site – remnants of 'meals eaten long ago' that have had their ages estimated with radiocarbon dating

In the Riverland, dunes were advancing into the Murray floodplains, river flows were unpredictable, and salt was accumulating in the valley.

Salinisation of the floodplain waters are evident during the Last Glacial Maximum and it is likely that Aboriginal people would have had fewer and perhaps less reliable subsistence options.

Throughout this extended period, the river was also characterised by a regime of high energy though short-duration flood events.

The results, published in Australian Archaeology, used radiocarbon dating methods to analyse river mussel shells from a midden site overlooking the Pike River floodplain downstream of Renmark (pictured)

The ecological impacts witnessed during one of the worst droughts on record, the so-called Millennium Drought, which extended from late 1996 to mid-2010.

‘The dramatic collapse in floodplain ecology during this event provides a poignant reminder of the potential pace and scale of change, and the challenges posed to economic and social systems embedded within this seemingly bountiful, though ultimately fragile environment,’ the team write in their research paper, published in Australian Archaeology.

This recent drought period, provides an idea of the challenges Aboriginal people may have faced along the river during the Last Glacial Maximum, and other periods of climate stress, researchers conclude.

The results show that Aboriginal people had to respond and adapt to an ever-changing river landscape and managed to survive during times of hardship.

‘Life adapted to a river unrecognisable in the modern system, an image far removed from the verdant shoestring oasis we imagine this river to be,’ they say.

The dating forms part of a much larger and ongoing research program led by Associate Professor and study co-author Amy Roberts at Flinders University.

The program is a broad-ranging investigation of past and contemporary Aboriginal connections to the Riverland region and the central River Murray corridor.

WHAT IS CARBON DATING AND HOW IS IT USED?

Carbon dating, also referred to as radiocarbon dating or carbon-14 dating, is a method that is used to determine the age of an object.

Carbon-14 is a carbon isotope that is commonly used by archaeologists and historians to date ancient bones and artefacts.

The rate of decay of carbon-14 is constant and easily measured, making it ideal for providing age estimates for anything over 300 years old.

It can only be used on objects containing organic material - that was once 'alive' and therefore contained carbon.

The element carbon apears in nature in a few slightly different varieties, depending on the amount of neutrons in its nucleus.

Called isotopes, these different types of carbon all behave differently.

Most of the stable, naturally occurring carbon on Earth is carbon 12 - it accounts for 99 per cent of the element on our planet.

While carbon-14 is a radioactive version of carbon.

Carbon-14 occurs naturally in the atmosphere as part of carbon dioxide, and animals absorb it when they breathe.

Animals stop taking it in when they die, and a finite amount of the chemical is stored in the body.

Radioactive substances all have a half-life, the length of time it takes for a material to lose half of its radioactivity.

Carbon-14 has a long half-life, 5,370 years to be exact.

This long half-life can be used to find out how old objects are by measuring how much radioactivity is left in a specimen.

Due to the long half-life, archaeologists have been able to date items up to 50,000 years old.

Radiocarbon dating was first invented in the 1940s by an American physical chemist called Willard Libby. He won the 1960 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery.


29,000 years of Aboriginal history

In the first comprehensive survey of the region, one of the oldest Indigenous sites along Australia's longest river system has been discovered. The results, published in Australian Archaeology, used radiocarbon dating methods to analyse river mussel shells from a midden site overlooking the Pike River floodplain downstream of Renmark.

"These results include the first pre-Last Glacial Maximum ages returned on the River Murray in South Australia and extend the known Aboriginal occupation of the Riverland by approximately 22,000 years," says Flinders University archaeologist and PhD candidate Craig Westell.

More than 30 additional radiocarbon dates were collected in the region, spanning the period from 15,000 years ago to the recent present. Together, the results relate Aboriginal people to an ever-changing river landscape, and provide deeper insights into how they responded to these challenges.

The period represented by the radiocarbon results brackets the Last Glacial Maximum (commonly known as the last Ice Age) when climatic conditions were colder and drier and when the arid zone extended over much of the Murray-Darling Basin. The river and lake systems of the basin were under stress during this time.

In the Riverland, dunes were advancing into the Murray floodplains, river flows were unpredictable, and salt was accumulating in the valley.

The ecological impacts witnessed during one of the worst droughts on record, the so-called Millennium Drought (from late 1996 extending to mid-2010), provides an idea of the challenges Aboriginal people may have faced along the river during the Last Glacial Maximum, and other periods of climate stress, researchers conclude.

"These studies show how our ancestors have lived over many thousands of years in the Riverland region and how they managed to survive during times of hardship and plenty," says RMMAC spokesperson Fiona Giles.

"This new research, published in Australian Archaeology, fills in a significant geographic gap in our understanding of the Aboriginal occupation chronologies for the Murray-Darling Basin," adds co-author Associate Professor Amy Roberts.

The dating, which was undertaken at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and Waikato University, forms part of a much larger and ongoing research program led by Associate Professor Amy Roberts which is undertaking a broad-ranging investigation of past and contemporary Aboriginal connections to the Riverland region.


29,000 Years of Australian Aboriginal History

Mussel shells collected and dated from along the River Murray downstream of Renmark in SA’s Riverland.
29,000 years of Aboriginal history on the Murray – News

Does anyone still take the story of Noah's Ark seriously, apart from simple-minded creationists and Bible literalists?

If so, they have some explaining to do now we have yet more evidence of human activity from way before the alleged global flood which is central to the biblical story of a vengeful, genocidal god drowning nearly everything and everyone just a few thousand years ago.

A team of archaeologists from Flinders University has discovered evidence of human occupation of South Australia’s Riverland region 29,000 years ago. Their results are published in Australian Archaeology:

Abstract

This paper presents a preliminary occupation chronology for the Riverland region of South Australia, based on 31 radiocarbon age determinations. This region has represented a significant geographic gap in understanding occupation chronologies for the broader Murray-Darling Basin. The dating forms part of an ongoing research program exploring the long-term engagements of Aboriginal people with the habitat mosaics of the central River Murray corridor. Dating targets were selected on the basis of their landscape context. Results relate occupation evidence to an evolving riverine landscape through the period extending from approximately 29 ka to the late Holocene. These results include the first pre-Last Glacial Maximum ages returned on the River Murray in South Australia and extend the known Aboriginal occupation of the Riverland by approximately 22,000 years.

©2020 Taylor & Francis
Reprinted with kind permission

These results include the first pre-Last Glacial Maximum ages returned on the River Murray in South Australia and extend the known Aboriginal occupation of the Riverland by approximately 22,000 years.

The known timeline of the Aboriginal occupation of South Australia’s Riverland region has been vastly extended by new research led by Flinders University in collaboration with the River Murray and Mallee Aboriginal Corporation (RMMAC).

In the first comprehensive survey of the region, one of the oldest Indigenous sites along Australia’s longest river system has been discovered. The results, published today in Australian Archaeology, used radiocarbon dating methods to analyse river mussel shells from a midden site overlooking the Pike River floodplain downstream of Renmark.

These studies show how our ancestors have lived over many thousands of years in the Riverland region and how they managed to survive during times of hardship and plenty.

The shells – remnants of meals eaten long ago – capture a record of Aboriginal occupation that extends to around 29,000 years, confirming the location as one of the oldest sites along the 2500km river, also becoming the oldest River Murray Indigenous site in South Australia.

More than 30 additional radiocarbon dates were collected in the region, spanning the period from 15,000 years ago to the recent present. Together, the results relate Aboriginal people to an ever-changing river landscape, and provide deeper insights into how they responded to these challenges.

So, what we can expect now is yet another attempt to misrepresent science and mislead their dupes as creationist frauds attempt to discredit the basis of this discovery - carbon-dating of shells from middens. Fortunately there are several excellent articles which explain how carbon-dating works, to counter creationist disinformation.

So that just leaves creationist/Bible-literalists to explain why this evidence from 29,000 years ago wasn't destroyed in the alleged global flood just a few thousand years ago.


Australian Aboriginal Site Much Older Than Previously Thought, Say Researchers

An indigenous site explored along the South Australian river has vastly changed the known timeline of the Aboriginal occupation, according to a new study, conducted under the guidance of Adelaide-based Flinders University in collaboration with the River Murray and Mallee Aboriginal Corporation (RMMAC).

In the first comprehensive study of South Australia's Riverland region, researchers noted that the area was inhabited around 29,000 years ago. As per the findings, which were published in Australian Archaeology, researchers used radiocarbon dating methods to analyze river mussel shells from a midden site, overlooking the Pike River floodplain downstream of Renmark.

Shells exposed on the Pike cliff line on the River Murray Flinders University

The shells, the remnants of meals eaten long ago, have revealed a record of Aboriginal occupation that extends to around 29,000 years. It is now confirmed that the location is one of the oldest sites along the 2,500 km river, becoming the oldest River Murray Indigenous site in South Australia.

Aboriginal History New Timeline

"These results include the first pre-Last Glacial Maximum ages returned on the River Murray in South Australia and extend the known Aboriginal occupation of the Riverland by approximately 22,000 years," said Craig Westell, Flinders University archaeologist and Ph.D. candidate.

Over 30 additional radiocarbon dates were collected by the team of researchers in the region, spanning from 15,000 years ago to the recent present. The period represented by the radiocarbon results brackets the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), also known as the last Ice Age, when climatic conditions were colder and drier and when the arid zone extended over much of the Murray-Darling Basin. The river and lake systems of the basin were under stress during this time.

In the Riverland, dunes were advancing into the Murray floodplains, river flows were unpredictable, and salt was accumulating in the valley. The region was undergoing the ecological impacts of one of the worst droughts on record, the Millennium Drought, which happened between late 1996 and mid-2010, that has given an idea of the challenges Aboriginal people may have faced along the river during the Last Glacial Maximum, and other periods of climate stress.

Mussel shells collected from the archaeological site Flinders University

The co-author, Associate Professor Amy Roberts, said that this new research has filled the significant geographic gap in "our understanding of the Aboriginal occupation chronologies for the Murray-Darling Basin."

The dating, which was undertaken at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and Waikato University, forms part of a much larger and ongoing research program led by Roberts which is probing past and present Aboriginal connections to the Riverland region.

The Last Glacial Maximum is the most significant climatic event for modern humans since their arrival in Australia 50,000 years ago. Recent studies have shown that the LGM in Australia was a period of significant cooling and increased aridity peaking around 20,000 years ago.


一分赛车-首页

Study fills gaps in history of Aboriginal Australians.

Archaeologists are continuing to unravel the complex history of Australia’s Aboriginal people, the world’s oldest civilisation.

A new study shows they have occupied South Australia’s Riverland region for 29,000 years – since before the Last Glacial Maximum – which is 22,000 more than previously thought.

It also offers insights into how the first Australians adapted to periods of dramatic environmental change, given the uniquely fluctuating, unpredictable nature of this section of the River Murray.

As the 2500 kilometre-long river enters South Australia, it starts to flow through a deeper confined valley, explains Flinders University’s Craig Westell, first author of a paper published in the journal Australian Archaeology.

“This setting is a bit of a double-edged sword,” he says “it contains flood water when it arrives, but when flows are low, saltwater enters the floodplains from saline aquifers around the cliff lines.”

The impact of these changing climates became profoundly clear during Australia’s prolonged drought from late 1996 to 2010, when extensive salinisation had critical ecological ramifications.

Mussel shells collected from along the River Murray. Credit: Flinders University

Such conditions would have challenged Aboriginal people during periods of climatic stress, including the cold, dry environment of the Last Glacial Maximum.

“When we look at the deeper timeline of floodplain development, it’s clear that there were prolonged periods of severe stress – the Millennium Drought on steroids,” says Westell.

“The dating aims to inform a picture of how people have adapted and innovated in this unique setting.”

The researchers conducted an extensive survey spanning 200 kilometres of the River Murray to find archaeological sites they could map to different periods of physical landscape development, up to the late Holocene.

They applied radiocarbon dating to 31 samples of freshwater mussel shells (primarily Alathyria jacksoni), reflecting meals eaten by Aboriginal people long ago, carefully collected from an area overlooking the Pike River floodplain downstream from Renmark.

A standout feature of the findings, says Westell, includes the rapid appearance of extensive freshwater mussel shells that blanketed the valley cliff lines around 15,000 years ago.

This coincides with profound changes in the river, when it was replaced by a more sinuous, regularly flowing body of water. This would have provided a better environment for freshwater mussels, which the ancien一分赛车官网t tribes exploited.

“The development of these middens points to the dynamism in Aboriginal societies: here we see a change in hydrology and ecology met with a rapid reconfiguration, or a changing emphasis in economy,” says Westell.

“It speaks to that deep, intimate knowledge of country and an ability to respond quickly to change.”

According to co-author Amy Roberts, the work forms part of a larger five-year collaboration with traditional owners – the River Murray and Mallee Aboriginal Corporation – to explore the region’s past and contemporary connections to country.

Natalie Parletta

Natalie Parletta is a freelance science writer based in Adelaide and an adjunct senior research fellow with the University of South Australia.

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This month in Archaeology: Early South Australian Riverland occupation dates to at least 29,000 years ago

Recently published research in Australian Archaeology by Craig Westell, PhD candidate at Flinders University, and colleagues has vastly extended the known timeline of Aboriginal occupation in the Riverland region of South Australia. The broader research program, led by Associate Professor Amy Roberts has been conducted in collaboration with the River Murray and Mallee Aboriginal Corporation (RMMAC). The authors present evidence for the oldest River Murray site in South Australia. This site dates to approximately 29,000 years ago and extends the archaeological evidence for Aboriginal occupation of the South Australian Riverland by approximately 22,000 years. “These studies show how our ancestors have lived over many thousands of years in the Riverland region and how they managed to survive during times of hardship and plenty,” says RMMAC spokesperson Fiona Giles.

Toggle Caption

Midden shell exposed on the Pike cliff line.

Image: Dr Amy Roberts
© Flinders University

At one of the study sites (PikeAWE15_10), a high cliff-line next to the Pike River in the Murray valley and 35 km downstream of Calperum, the team found a shell lens that dated to 29,000 years. This thin lens of shell was an Aboriginal midden which was exposed in a windblown sand sheet, which capped the Pike cliff. Aboriginal shell middens are distinct concentrations of shell. They often contain evidence of past Aboriginal food processing activities including ash from fires associated with cooking.

This very old midden was found in association with many other younger shell middens, hearth (fireplace) features and stone artefacts in eroded surface features. Together these formed a broad site complex extending over 8 km along the cliff line. Thirty-one dates are reported in this paper, with ages ranging between approximately 2,600 and 29,000 years, and show a dramatic increase in the number of fresh-water mussel middens around 15,000 years ago. The authors argue that this long sequence demonstrates that this cliff line has remained relatively stable through time.

Toggle Caption

Freshwater mussel, staple food for Aboriginal people of the Riverland for at least 30,000 years.

Image: Flinders University
© Flinders University

What was the climate like back then?

This occupation sequence predates the last Ice Age, or Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), approximately 20,000 years ago. This means the people living in this area at that time experienced radical changes in landscape, climate and ecology. Before the LGM the climate was relatively humid. It then entered an increasingly arid and cooler period through the LGM, which continued until mid-Holocene approximately 6,000 years ago when the climate became wetter and then more variable.

How does this site fit into the bigger River Murray picture?

The broader southwest Murray Darling Basin has evidence of occupation to at least 45,000 years ago. This is found at the Willandra Lakes (Allen and Holdaway 2009 Bowler et al. 2003 Fitzsimmons et al. 2014 O’Connell and Allen 2004), the Menindee Lakes (Cupper and Duncan 2006 Hope et al. 1983) and Lake Tyrell (Richards et al. 2007 Westell et. al. 2020).

The first evidence of occupation along the River Murray is similar to that reported in this paper. It consists of radiocarbon evidence from 29–25 ka from small single lens middens at Karadoc Swamp (Luebbers 1995), Monak Swamp (Edmonds 1997) and Lake Victoria (Abdulla et al. 2019 Gill 1973 Kefous 1981).

It is unclear why the first River Murray sites appear so much later than the 45,000 year old sites found in the broader southwest Murray Darling Basin. The River Murray sites would have displayed similar environmental and ecological conditions to the Basin sites to the north. Quite possibly, this gap in the record is due to site visibility and landscape changes over time, which can serve to erode and cover evidence of occupation.

While the results of this study extend the known occupation timeline in the Riverland to approximately 29,000 years ago, there is a significant gap between both the earliest Murray Darling Basin dates of 45,000 years, and the next phase of occupation in this study which begins approximately 15,000 years ago. The team’s next goal is to explore whether the absence of occupation in the Riverland through these periods means that this Riverland area was sparsely occupied in the earliest period and then vacated during the last Ice Age, approximately 20,000 years ago.

The team will investigate whether earlier evidence, in line with that found in the broader Murray Darling Basin, can also be found along the Murray River. The research team plan to conduct additional dating and explore new sites in the Pike River region.

Toggle Caption

New insights into survival of ancient Western Desert peoples

Researchers at the University of Adelaide have used more than two decades of satellite-derived environmental data to form hypotheses about the possible foraging habitats of pre-contact Aboriginal peoples living in Australia's Western Desert.

As one of the most arid and geographically remote regions of Australia, the Western Desert has always presented severe challenges for human survival. Yet despite the harsh conditions, Aboriginal peoples have maintained an enduring presence, continuously adapting to environmental variations through complex socioeconomic strategies.

In the study published in Scientific Reports, the researchers used Earth Observation data to model the most suitable habitats for traditional foraging activities, identifying where surface water was most abundant and vegetation was greenest to infer which areas of the landscape past Aboriginal peoples were likely to have utilised. The study also drew on previous research into traditional subsistence and settlement practices, enabling researchers to estimate daily foraging range in proximity to water.

Lead author of the study, Postdoctoral Researcher Dr Wallace Boone Law, says the fine scale of the satellite model developed enabled the team to depict the highly variable nature of environmental and hence potential foraging habitats in the Western Desert.

"Where earlier studies depicted the Western Desert as a relatively uniform environment, our study shows the region to be highly dynamic and variable, both in its environmental conditions and foraging potential," Dr Law said.

"For example, desert dunefields were once thought to have been a periodic barrier to occupation, but our work shows this is not true for all sandridge deserts. Some dunefield areas offer good foraging habitats, particularly amongst interdunal swale areas.

"However, we also found that there are large, impoverished regions of the Western Desert that would have been extremely challenging for survival, based on terrain ruggedness and access to food and water resources.

"We believe it is likely that some of these poorly-suited foraging areas would have been difficult for survival for the past 21,000 years, and because Aboriginal peoples were highly knowledgeable about the distribution of resources across the Western Desert, we hypothesise those locations would have been rarely used in the past. And further, we predict that the archaeological record of these difficult habitats will point to ephemeral episodes of occupation.

"We suggest that some low-ranked areas of habitat suitability were resource-poor and not economically attractive to foraging activities, even in the best environmental circumstances," said Dr Law.

The researchers hope that archaeologists can use the study to explore many large areas of the Western Desert that have yet to be thoroughly investigated.

"Our findings highlight how future models of forager land use can be integrated with Earth Observation data to better comprehend the environmental complexity and fine scale of resource variability in these vast, remote and diverse places," said Dr Law.

"We hope our research into the changing environment in pre-contact Australia will assist with fostering a new era of research in partnership with Indigenous communities to provide further understanding of the industrious, versatile and resilient Aboriginal peoples of the Western Desert."


Australian Aboriginal site older than previously thought, new study shows

An Indigenous site along a South Australian river has "vastly extended" the known timeline of the Aboriginal occupation, according to a new study published on Tuesday.

The study led by researchers at the Adelaide-based Flinders University found that Aboriginals inhabited the area along South Australia's Riverland region some 29,000 years ago.

"These results. extend the known Aboriginal occupation of the Riverland by approximately 22,000 years," said Craig Westell, the study's author and an archaeologist with Flinders University.

The study was published Tuesday in the Australian Archaeology journal and was conducted in collaboration with the local Aboriginal community.

The researchers said the study was conducted along River Murray, Australia's longest river system, at a site that overlooks the Pike River floodplain downstream of Renmark.

The scientists used radiocarbon dating methods to analyze mussel shells found at the site, which were remnants of meals eaten long ago.

The findings have made the area along the 2,500 kilometer-long (1,553 mile) river the oldest Indigenous site in South Australia.

The researchers said the results date the region's occupation by Aboriginals back to the Last Glacial Maximum, between 33,000 and 19,000 years ago. During that time ice sheets were at their greatest extent, covering much of the northern hemisphere.

The climatic conditions were colder and drier and an arid zone extended over much of the Murray river basin, putting the river and lake systems under stress, the researchers said.

"These studies show how our ancestors have lived over many thousands of years in the Riverland region and how they managed to survive during times of hardship and plenty," said Fiona Giles, a spokesperson for the River Murray and Mallee Aboriginal Corporation.


Watch the video: Aboriginal People and Groundwater (June 2022).


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