Excavations at Jiyer Cave, NE Queensland: some results

Horsfall, Nicky (1983) Excavations at Jiyer Cave, NE Queensland: some results. In: Smith, Moya, (ed.) Archaeology at ANZAAS 1983. Western Australian Museum, Perth, WA, Australia, pp. 172-178.

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[Extract] Jiyer Cave is situated deep within the rainforests of northeast Queensland, on the banks of the Russell River near Cairns. Archaeological research in these tropical rainforests has been somewhat neglected, although some sites within and adjacent to the rainforests have been excavated (Wright 1971, Brayshaw 1977, Campbell 1979, 1982a, 1982b). None of this work, however, has thrown much light on the prehistoric occupation of this region.

Despite a general feeling amongst many Europeans that rainforests are not ideal places in which to live (eg Tindale 1940:149), the available ethnographic data can be interpreted as describing a large population which was well adapted to its environment, and which showed a fair degree of specialisation in the use of resources (Harris 1978). At certain times of the year, groups were heavily dependent on several species of nuts as a major food source. Many of these were toxic and were treated by a complex procedure of roasting and leaching to render them safe for consumption.

One of the aims of my current project is to investigate the prehistoric use of toxic food plants in the rainforest, as well as the development of the leaching process, following on from previous research such as Beaton's study of the use of cycads for food in the central Queensland highlands (Beaton 1977). Jiyer Cave has provided information on this topic, some of which is presented below. The cave has also, however, yielded additional data, which I interpret in this paper as demonstrating the early impact of European colonisation on Aboriginal society in this region.

Item ID: 27506
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-0-7244-9750-8
Date Deposited: 25 May 2017 00:55
FoR Codes: 21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2101 Archaeology > 210104 Archaeology of Australia (excl Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australias Past @ 100%
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