Exploring palaeoecology in the Northern Territory: the Walanjiwurru rockshelter, vegetation dynamics and shifting social landscapes in Marra Country

Rowe, Cassandra, Ash, Jeremy, Brady, Liam M., Wesley, Daryl, Evans, Shaun, and Barrett, David (2023) Exploring palaeoecology in the Northern Territory: the Walanjiwurru rockshelter, vegetation dynamics and shifting social landscapes in Marra Country. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, 32. pp. 405-414.

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Abstract

This paper presents a palynological analysis of sediments from Walanjiwurru 1, a rockshelter located in the Country of the Marra Aboriginal people at Limmen National Park in the Northern Territory (Australia). Analysis seeks to test rockshelter sediments as a framework for research in an environmentally difficult location, and to explore how the palaeoecological record may capture the diversity of people-nature relationships over time in the Northern Territory. The Walanjiwurru 1 pollen record provides an approximate 500-year insight into the rockshelter’s surrounding landscape. Two plant communities demonstrate local presence across this time frame—foremost a drier eucalypt woodland, and a wetter fringing Melaleuca dominated habitat, each with an integrated series of monsoonal forest taxa. With only subtle shifts in vegetation, the Marra’s consistent maintenance of relations with their landscape is observable, and this is discussed in relation to the Walanjiwurru 1’s archaeology and regional European settler colonialism. Charcoal recovery from Walanjiwurru 1 is derived from in situ campfires, making it difficult to conclude on the response of plant types and vegetation communities to long-term landscape burning. Future palaeoecological research off-site from the rockshelter has therefore been recommended.

Item ID: 78521
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1617-6278
Keywords: Charcoal, Collaborative research, Late-Holocene, Northern Australia, Pollen, Rockshelter
Copyright Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC CE170100015, ARC FL140100044, ARC DP170100015, ARC FT180100038
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2023 02:45
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310306 Palaeoecology @ 50%
43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4301 Archaeology > 430103 Archaeology of Australia (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) @ 25%
45 INDIGENOUS STUDIES > 4503 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander environmental knowledges and management > 450304 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander environmental knowledges @ 25%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1806 Terrestrial systems and management > 180606 Terrestrial biodiversity @ 50%
21 INDIGENOUS > 2104 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage and culture > 210402 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander connection to land and environment @ 25%
21 INDIGENOUS > 2104 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage and culture > 210405 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander places of significance @ 25%
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