Was Aboriginal population recovery delayed after the Last Glacial Maximum? A synthesis of a terminal Pleistocene deposit from the Sydney Basin, New South Wales, Australia

Williams, Alan, McDonald, Josephine, Atkinson, Fenella, Toms, Phillip ORCID: 0000-0003-2149-046X, Hobbs, Alistair, Barry, Laressa, Sapienza, Tom, Wood, Jamie C. and Doelman, Trudy (2021) Was Aboriginal population recovery delayed after the Last Glacial Maximum? A synthesis of a terminal Pleistocene deposit from the Sydney Basin, New South Wales, Australia. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 40 (Part B). Art 103225. doi:10.1016/j.jasrep.2021.103225

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We present a synthesis of 14 compliance-based investigations of an archaeologically significant sand body on the banks of the Parramatta River. We find the alluvial deposit initially formed ~ 50,000 years ago (50 ka), but with extensive portions reworked between ~ 20–5 ka. There is limited evidence of past visitation, with only three excavations having recovered substantive material culture (i.e. > 20 lithics/m2 across small areas, ≤35 m2). Following equivocal evidence of visitation prior to the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), these assemblages generally demonstrate: i) widespread ephemeral, but repeated, activity between ~ 14–6 ka, dominated by indurated mudstone/tuff/chert raw materials (IMTC) and expedient technologies, overprinted by; ii) more extensive occupation of the landscape in the last few thousand years, with increasingly diverse and complex stone assemblages using heat-treated silcrete and additional raw materials from multiple geological sources. Notably, these two different phases are often found in the same locale, potentially suggesting a long continuity and repeated land use over 14,000 years. This synthesis demonstrates expansion away from cryptic refuges occupied during the LGM along the Hawkesbury-Nepean River corridor (some 40 km west of Parramatta) only occurred several thousand years after the height of this major climatic disruption. This timing is suggestive of a delayed recovery from the LGM and is coincident with changing environmental and sea-level conditions, which may have influenced, or been exploited by, people in the past. Our knowledge of Aboriginal societies during the terminal Pleistocene/early Holocene transition remains poorly understood in southeast Australia and is crucial to understanding demographic, symbolic and technological changes seen later in the Holocene.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Cultural heritage management; Cryptic refuge; Parramatta River Alluvial terrace; Terminal Pleistocene; Cumulative impact
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GB Physical geography
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human geography. Human ecology. Anthropogeography
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Education and Science
Research Priority Areas: Place, Environment and Community
Depositing User: Phillip Toms
Date Deposited: 09 Nov 2021 16:24
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2023 04:15
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/10345

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