The early occupation of the Eastern Pilbara revisited: new radiometric chronologies and archaeological results from Newman Rockshelter and Newman Orebody XXIX

Slack, Michael Jon, Law, Wallace Boone, and Gliganic, Luke Andrew (2020) The early occupation of the Eastern Pilbara revisited: new radiometric chronologies and archaeological results from Newman Rockshelter and Newman Orebody XXIX. Quaternary Science Reviews, 236. 106240.

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Abstract

For over 30 years, the radiometric chronologies of Newman Rockshelter and Newman Orebody XXIX have been central to archaeological discussions on the Pleistocene Aboriginal occupation of the Hamersley Plateau and greater Pilbara region. Until 2009, these two sites were heralded as having the oldest evidence of human occupation on the plateau, dating to the last glacial maximum (LGM) ~ 26-20 ka. More recently however, the excavations at several other rockshelters have shown that ancient Aboriginal peoples occupied the Hamersley Plateau many thousands of years before the onset of the last glacial cycle, when regional climatic conditions were wetter and more amenable. This paper presents the results of our re-excavation of both Newman Rockshelter and Newman Orebody XXIX. Our research has resulted in the compilation and analysis of large lithic datasets for each of these sites and the construction of geo-chronologies using modern radiometric techniques, including AMS-radiocarbon dating and optically stimulated luminescence dating. These new radiometric chronologies and artefact data indicate that both sites were occupied between 45 and 40 ka. Despite having significant early occupational evidence, neither of the rockshelters present strong evidence for sustained or persistent site use during the LGM proper ca. 23-19 ka; however, there is substantial evidence for more routine occupation of these localities during the terminal Pleistocene and Holocene.

Item ID: 62828
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1873-457X
Keywords: Pilbara; Hamersley Plateau; Pleistocene occupation; optically stimulated luminescence; Australian archaeology
Copyright Information: © 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved
Date Deposited: 14 Apr 2020 23:42
FoR Codes: 21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2101 Archaeology > 210101 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Archaeology @ 70%
21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2101 Archaeology > 210102 Archaeological Science @ 30%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australias Past @ 100%
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