Framing Australian Pleistocene coastal occupation and archaeology

Ditchfield, Kane, Ulm, Sean, Manne, Tiina, Farr, Helen, O'Grady, Damien, and Veth, Peter (2022) Framing Australian Pleistocene coastal occupation and archaeology. Quaternary Science Reviews, 293. 107706.

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There are few archaeological sites that contain records for Pleistocene coastal occupation in Australia, as is the case globally. Two major viewpoints seek to explain why so few sites exist. The first is that the Pleistocene coast was a relatively marginal environment where fluctuating sea levels actively inhibited coastal resource productivity until the mid-to-late Holocene. The second position suggests that the Pleistocene coast (and its resources) was variably productive, potentially hosting extensive populations, but that the archaeological evidence for this occupation has been submerged by sea level rise. To help reconcile these perspectives in Australia, this paper provides a review, discussion, and assessment of the evidence for Australian Pleistocene coastal productivity and occupation. In doing so, we find no reason to categorically assume that coastal landscapes were ever unproductive or unoccupied. We demonstrate that the majority of Pleistocene coastal archaeology will be drowned where dense marine faunal assemblages should only be expected close to palaeo-shorelines. Mixed terrestrial and marine assemblages are likely to occur at sites located >2 km from Pleistocene shorelines. Ultimately, the discussions and arguments put forward in this paper provide a basic framework, and a different set of environmental expectations, within which to assess the results of independent coastal research.

Item ID: 75914
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1873-457X
Keywords: Pleistocene; coastal archaeology; Australia; sea levels
Copyright Information: Published Version: © 2022 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Accepted Version may be made open access in an Institutional Repository under a CC BY-NC-ND license after a 24 month embargo.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CE170100015)
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2022 01:05
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 @ 50%
SEO Codes: 13 CULTURE AND SOCIETY > 1307 Understanding past societies > 130703 Understanding Australia’s past @ 100%
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