August 14, 2020


Aim for Excellence

29,000 years of Aboriginal history

Image: Midden shell exposed on the Pike cliff line on the River Murray. perspective more  Credit...

Image: Midden shell exposed on the Pike cliff line on the River Murray.
perspective more 

Credit rating: Flinders College

The regarded timeline of the Aboriginal occupation of South Australia’s Riverland area has been vastly prolonged by new investigation led by Flinders College in collaboration with the River Murray and Mallee Aboriginal Company (RMMAC).

Radiocarbon dating of shell middens – remnants of meals eaten prolonged in the past – capture a history of Aboriginal occupation that extends to all over 29,000 several years, confirming the location as a single of the oldest websites along the 2500km river to develop into the oldest River Murray Indigenous web page in South Australia.

In the very first thorough study of the area, a single of the oldest Indigenous websites along Australia’s longest river program has been identified. The results, released in Australian Archaeology, utilized radiocarbon dating techniques to analyse river mussel shells from a midden web page overlooking the Pike River floodplain downstream of Renmark.

“These results consist of the very first pre-Last Glacial Greatest ages returned on the River Murray in South Australia and increase the regarded Aboriginal occupation of the Riverland by about 22,000 several years,” states Flinders College archaeologist and PhD candidate Craig Westell.

More than 30 additional radiocarbon dates have been collected in the area, spanning the interval from fifteen,000 several years in the past to the new existing. Alongside one another, the results relate Aboriginal people today to an at any time-changing river landscape, and give deeper insights into how they responded to these problems.

The interval represented by the radiocarbon results brackets the Last Glacial Greatest (generally regarded as the last Ice Age) when climatic circumstances have been colder and drier and when the arid zone prolonged above significantly of the Murray-Darling Basin. The river and lake techniques of the basin have been beneath strain throughout this time.

In the Riverland, dunes have been advancing into the Murray floodplains, river flows have been unpredictable, and salt was accumulating in the valley.

The ecological impacts witnessed throughout a single of the worst droughts on history, the so-referred to as Millennium Drought (from late 1996 extending to mid-2010), offers an strategy of the problems Aboriginal people today may have confronted along the river throughout the Last Glacial Greatest, and other periods of local weather strain, scientists conclude.

“These reports present how our ancestors have lived above numerous countless numbers of several years in the Riverland area and how they managed to endure throughout situations of hardship and lots,” states RMMAC spokesperson Fiona Giles.

“This new investigation, released in Australian Archaeology, fills in a significant geographic hole in our comprehension of the Aboriginal occupation chronologies for the Murray-Darling Basin,” adds co-writer Associate Professor Amy Roberts.

The dating, which was carried out at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technological know-how Organisation (ANSTO) and Waikato College, types element of a significantly larger and ongoing investigation program led by Associate Professor Amy Roberts which is undertaking a wide-ranging investigation of previous and modern Aboriginal connections to the Riverland area.

The paper, ‘Initial results and observations on a radiocarbon dating program in the Riverland area of South Australia’ (2020) by C Westell, A Roberts, M Morrison, G Jacobsen and the River Murray and Mallee Aboriginal Company has been released in Australian Archaeology DOI: ten.1080/03122417.2020.1787928

The Last Glacial Greatest is the most significant climatic function to facial area modern day individuals since their arrival in Australia some forty,000-fifty,000 several years in the past. Modern reports have demonstrated that the LGM in Australia was a interval of significant cooling and elevated aridity beginning ?30 ka and peaking in between ?23 and eighteen ka.


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