Archaeology

Duccio y Rogger Ravines Bonavia's Arqueología peruana: Precursores PDF

By Duccio y Rogger Ravines Bonavia

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2. In the western half of the arid zone, three sandy deserts (Great Sandy Desert, Little Sandy Desert and Great Victoria Desert) are grouped with the Gibson Desert (an expanse of lateritic gravel plains) and collectively called the ‘Western Desert’ (Gould 1977: 8). These deserts are part of a continental swirl of dunefields that ring the heart of the continent (Hesse 2010). Most of the dunes here are linear sandridges less than 15 m high and are often stable and vegetated. 6 million km2 of the Australian arid zone is covered by aeolian sand, either sandplain or dunefields.

For most desert hunter-gatherers, the main strategy was to be highly mobile and opportunistic, as resources ebb and flow over time and space, using pulses of rainfall to disperse across foraging territories and falling back on small wells and waterholes as the country dries out. The last of these strategies was the one adopted by Aboriginal groups in Australia’s deserts. Here, there are few sizable pockets with levels of productivity comparable to the oases in the Atacama in Chile or the deserts of North Africa, and the scale of the Australian arid zone largely rules out transhumance from desert margins.

17 18 The Archaeology of Australia’s Deserts Ostensibly, this glossed over the fact that Central Australian societies might also have a history, that contemporary Arrernte society might be more complex than its ancestral form. But, in fact, ‘evolutionism’ did little to dampen speculation about the deep history of these desert societies. Ideas about the nature of the desert itself also changed. And shifting environments of lakes, rivers and dunefields implicitly framed a changing geography against which ideas about desert people were set.

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