Pleistocene maritime economies of northwest Australia

Author(s): Peter Veth

Year: 2015


This paper will critically assess new evidence for the antiquity of maritime economies from North West Australia. Northwest Australia has evidence for hunter-gatherer occupation from 50,000 years ago from sites now located in the interior. The evidence for antiquity of coastal resource use extends back to over 41,000 cal BP, however this is soon expected to approach the earliest dates from these interior sites. Recent research on continental islands of the Northwest Shelf illustrates rich early Holocene middens with records extending back to the low sea stands of the Last Glacial Maximum. There is now clear evidence for economic reliance on coastal resources procured from procumbent shorelines through the marine transgression from 17,000 BP to the Present from the Carnarvon Bioregion of North West Australia. Shellfish assemblages and hearth charcoals provide direct evidence for use of estuarine and mangrove communities. It is not clear whether the oldest marine remains are dietary, however. Current propositions about delayed maritime adaptations due to precipitous and depauperate coastlines and the early depletion of high-ranked coastal resources by colonising groups (sensu O’Connell and Allen 2012) are examined with this new data from North West Australia.

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Cite this Record

Pleistocene maritime economies of northwest Australia. Peter Veth. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397555)

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min long: 111.973; min lat: -52.052 ; max long: -87.715; max lat: 53.331 ;