Landscape rules predict optimal superhighways for the first peopling of Sahul

Crabtree, Stefani A., White, Devin A., Bradshaw, Corey J.A., Saltré, Frédérik, Williams, Alan N., Beaman, Robin J., Bird, Michael I., and Ulm, Sean (2021) Landscape rules predict optimal superhighways for the first peopling of Sahul. Nature Human Behaviour. (In Press)

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Abstract

Archaeological data and demographic modelling suggest that the peopling of Sahul required substantial populations, occurred rapidly within a few thousand years and encompassed environments ranging from hyper-arid deserts to temperate uplands and tropical rainforests. How this migration occurred and how humans responded to the physical environments they encountered have, however, remained largely speculative. By constructing a high-resolution digital elevation model for Sahul and coupling it with fine-scale viewshed analysis of landscape prominence, least-cost pedestrian travel modelling and high-performance computing, we create over 125 billion potential migratory pathways, whereby the most parsimonious routes traversed emerge. Our analysis revealed several major pathways—superhighways—transecting the continent, that we evaluated using archaeological data. These results suggest that the earliest Australian ancestors adopted a set of fundamental rules shaped by physiological capacity, attraction to visually prominent landscape features and freshwater distribution to maximize survival, even without previous experience of the landscapes they encountered.

Item ID: 68058
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2397-3374
Copyright Information: © National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, LLC under exclusive license to Springer Nature Limited 2021.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), ASU-SFI Center for Biosocial Complex Systems
Projects and Grants: ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CE170100015), ARC Laureate Fellowship (FL140100044)
Date Deposited: 18 May 2021 02:07
FoR Codes: 43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4301 Archaeology > 430101 Archaeological science @ 50%
45 INDIGENOUS STUDIES > 4501 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, language and history > 450101 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander archaeology @ 25%
45 INDIGENOUS STUDIES > 4513 Pacific Peoples culture, language and history > 451301 Archaeology of New Guinea and Pacific Islands (excl. New Zealand) @ 25%
SEO Codes: 13 CULTURE AND SOCIETY > 1307 Understanding past societies > 130703 Understanding Australia’s past @ 70%
13 CULTURE AND SOCIETY > 1307 Understanding past societies > 130799 Understanding past societies not elsewhere classified @ 30%
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