The Archaeology of Australia's Deserts (Cambridge World - download pdf or read online

By Mike Smith

This is often the 1st book-length research of the archaeology of Australia's deserts, one of many world's significant habitats and the most important block of drylands within the southern hemisphere. during the last few many years, a wealth of recent environmental and archaeological facts approximately this interesting area has develop into to be had. Drawing on quite a lot of assets, The Archaeology of Australia's Deserts explores the past due Pleistocene payment of Australia's deserts, the formation of designated wilderness societies, and the origins and improvement of the hunter-gatherer societies documented within the vintage nineteenth-century ethnographies of Spencer and Gillen. Written by way of one in all Australia's top wasteland archaeologists, the publication interweaves a full of life historical past of analysis with archaeological info in a masterly survey of the sphere and a profoundly interdisciplinary research that forces archaeology into conversations with historical past and anthropology, financial system and ecology, and geography and earth sciences.

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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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