Multidisciplinary approaches to Australian island pasts: late Pleistocene to historical perspectives on Australian island use

McNiven, Ian J., and Ulm, Sean (2015) Multidisciplinary approaches to Australian island pasts: late Pleistocene to historical perspectives on Australian island use. Quaternary International, 385. pp. 1-6.

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Abstract

In this review volume, we bring together researchers and institutions involved in Australian island research to provide a contemporary synthesis and benchmark on archaeological and palaeoenvironmental research of Australian island environments. The last major overview of Australian islands archaeological research appeared 16 years ago in the volume Australian Coastal Archaeology (Hall and McNiven, 1999). At that time, the main geographical areas of dynamic islands research in Australia were northwest Western Australia, and central and southeast Queensland. Since 1999, Torres Strait has developed as the most dynamic region of islands research in Australia, and this new volume showcases the range of recent research from Torres Strait and the adjacent region of southern Papua New Guinea.

All five INQUA Commissions (Coastal and Marine Processes; Humans and the Biosphere; Palaeoclimates; Stratigraphy and Chronology; Terrestrial Processes, Deposits and History) are represented in the papers in the volume. Key environmental themes explored through the volume are geoarchaeology, taphonomy, impacts of sea-level rise and climate change, chronology of island formation and colonisation, anthropogenic environmental modifications, island terrestrial and marine resource management, and intra- and inter-island occupation, mobility, and exchange relationships. Key socio-cultural themes explored include ritual and ceremonial sites, mortuary practices, canoe voyaging, and responses to colonial impact. Site types discussed include shell deposits (cultural and natural), villages, long-houses, gardens, rock art, ritual shrines, artificial reefs, and ceremonial stone arrangements. The contributions represent diverse multidisciplinary approaches adopting coordinated methodologies to the task of understanding the diversity of human use and modification of islands in the Australian context. Culturally and chronologically, the volume surveys the depth and breadth of Australian island societies, including studies of late Pleistocene island use in northwest Australia, late Holocene deltaic island societies of Papuan lowland rainforests, early-to-mid-Holocene tropical island use of Torres Strait and the Great Barrier Reef, and Holocene selective occupation and abandonment of Bass Strait and other Southern Ocean islands. The volume's geographic coverage is thus broadscale, spread from the hot and humid tropical north to the cold temperate waters of the Southern Ocean. Uniquely, the papers in this volume reveal the diversity and complexity of cultural practices (e.g. subsistence, mobility, technology, socio-religious institutions, cosmology, resource manipulation and management) and historical contingencies that structure and mediate long-term human use, engagement, and modification of islands.

Item ID: 39412
Item Type: Article (Editorial)
ISSN: 1873-4553
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2015 00:09
FoR Codes: 21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2101 Archaeology > 210101 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Archaeology @ 50%
21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2101 Archaeology > 210108 Historical Archaeology (incl Industrial Archaeology) @ 30%
21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2101 Archaeology > 210110 Maritime Archaeology @ 20%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australias Past @ 100%
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