65,000 years of isolation in Aboriginal Australia or continuity and external contacts? An assessment of the evidence with an emphasis on the Queensland coast

Rowland, Michael J. (2018) 65,000 years of isolation in Aboriginal Australia or continuity and external contacts? An assessment of the evidence with an emphasis on the Queensland coast. Journal of the Anthropological Society of South Australia, 42. pp. 211-240.

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Abstract

Recent dating of archaeological sites across northern Australia suggest that Aboriginal Australians may have arrived on the continent by 65,000 years ago or earlier though other general reviews propose a more conservative arrival date of around 50,000 years. Regardless of when they actually arrived, the people of the late Pleistocene landmass of Sahul (mainland Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea), which were only separated by rising sea levels approximately 8000 years ago, likely shared some aspects of a common history over a period of perhaps as much as 50,000 years. It would seem unlikely that this shared community of culture and ideas would have ended abruptly with the rise in sea level. Early commentators, operating within social evolutionism and diffusionism frameworks, argued that much of Aboriginal culture was developed through external contact since Aboriginal culture was too ‘primitive’ to have developed higher level cultural traits. Subsequent reaction to this negative view has tended to limit further enquiry. More recently, it has been recognised that transformations occurred in Aboriginal societies across Australia particularly in the mid to late Holocene which have been attributed to population growth and internal social change (‘intensification’), environmental change and/or external contacts. This paper reviews evidence for external culture contact with an emphasis on the Queensland coast via the Torres Strait and Cape York. It is apparent that contact did occur though the timing and extent of impacts on the development of Aboriginal culture has yet to be fully understood. It is important to periodically review what innovations might have reached Australia from external sources (and vice versa) as new evidence and theories develop. This will enhance an understanding of how Aboriginal peoples coped with and adapted to the substantive transformative processes of the contact and post-contact eras which is the theme of this volume.

Item ID: 56563
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1034-4438
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Papers from the journal are available free of charge (open access) – excluding the most recent edition, at the publisher's website.

Date Deposited: 11 Dec 2018 04:55
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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