AustArch: a database of 14C and non-14C ages from archaeological sites in Australia: composition, compilation and review

Williams, Alan N., Ulm, Sean, Smith, Mike, and Reid, Jill (2014) AustArch: a database of 14C and non-14C ages from archaeological sites in Australia: composition, compilation and review. Internet Archaeology, 36. 6. pp. 1-12.

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This dataset represents an invaluable compilation of 14C and non-14C ages from archaeological sites for most of the 89 bio-regions of Australia. Critically harvesting some 5,000 14C and 500 non-14C dates from over 1,000 publications, the dataset provides information on each date in 26 fields including its location, site type, biogeographic zone, sample material, context and age details (including 13C and error). This data provides a comprehensive foundation for any regional archaeology in Australia illustrating past research foci, strengths and biases in sampling of bioregions, geomorphic context, site type, sample type, and adequacy of contextualisation (e.g. association with cultural events). Such datasets can improve time series and summed probability methods and are being used as a mainstream proxy to explore archaeological trends and specifically demographic fluctuations for the tropical northern, central arid zone and southern ocean provinces. Such reconstructions will always rely on coverage and adequacy of sampling (52 bioregions register less than 50 dates). While both closed rockshelter sites and open/midden sites account for a similar proportion of dates, less than 14% of sites have returned 4 or more dates. Given that 74% of dates fall within the Holocene epoch, this period is most amenable to archaeological enquiry at a fine-scaled regional level. For the Pleistocene era, larger scale questions such as occupation patterns during the LGM might reasonably be addressed and refined. The data may be re-used for studies of a) timing of colonisation of differing bioregions, b) characterising varying mobility patterns of groups occupying the arid zone, c) identifying gaps in previous research (the Great Victoria and Tanami Deserts), d) as proxy for demographic changes, e) the responses of groups to environmental stochasticity such as OIS2 and ENSO, f) the relationship between occupation and phases of rock art production through time, g) the nature of coastal occupation during lower sea stands and specifically following mid-Holocene stabilisation, and h) not least, as a fundamental building block for any regional archaeology of Australia.

Item ID: 34160
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1363-5387
Keywords: Australian archaeology; radiocarbon; OSL; TL
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© Author(s). Except where otherwise noted, content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported licence, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided that attribution to the author(s), the title of the work, the Internet Archaeology journal and the relevant URL/DOI is given.

Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC FT120100656
Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2014 02:37
FoR Codes: 21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2101 Archaeology > 210101 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Archaeology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australias Past @ 100%
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