The palaeoenvironmental history of Big Willum Swamp, Weipa: an environmental context for the archaeological record

Stevenson, Janelle, Brockwell, Sally, Rowe, Cassandra, Proske, Ulrike, and Shiner, Justin (2015) The palaeoenvironmental history of Big Willum Swamp, Weipa: an environmental context for the archaeological record. Australian Archaeology, 80. pp. 17-31.

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The environmental history of Big Willum (Waandriipayn) Swamp and the surrounding landscape is reconstructed for the last 8000 years through the analysis of pollen, charcoal and mineral magnetics. The data provide a Holocene record of vegetation and fire in an area where few records exist. Swamp initiation at Big Willum began prior to 8000 bp, with swamp-like conditions maintained until 2200 bp, after which time it became a permanent deep water body, reaching its present day extent around 400 bp. From 7000–1200 bp the surrounding woodland was essentially stable. Fire is present throughout the record, with only one period of pronounced burning outside of the historic period, at around 1000 bp, leading to a slightly more open understorey/woodland. The hydrological change at 2200 bp that led to Big Willum becoming a more permanent waterbody overlaps with the end of the most intensive period of shell mound formation and the commencement of earth mound building at nearby Wathayn. This is suggestive that change in, or diversification of, mound types may in part be linked to environmental transformations in the late Holocene. One possibility is that greater water security allowed for increasing and more permanent exploitation of inland locations.

Item ID: 39068
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0312-2417
Keywords: Holocene, pollen, palaeoenvironment, archaeology, Weipa, swamp, woodland, Cape York Peninsula, fire
Funders: Rio Tinto Alcan (RTA)
Date Deposited: 02 Jun 2015 23:35
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060206 Palaeoecology @ 40%
21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2101 Archaeology > 210104 Archaeology of Australia (excl Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) @ 30%
04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0406 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience > 040606 Quaternary Environments @ 30%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960805 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity at Regional or Larger Scales @ 40%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970121 Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology @ 30%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australias Past @ 30%
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