Behavioural inferences from Late Pleistocene Aboriginal Australia: seasonality, butchery, and nutrition in southwest Tasmania
Richard Cosgrove and Jillian Garvey
Detailed research into marsupial behavioural ecology and modelling of past Aboriginal exploitation of terrestrial fauna has been scarce. Poor bone preservation is one limiting factor in Australian archaeological sites, but so has been the lack of research concerning the ecology and physiology of Australia’s endemic fauna. Much research has focused on marine and fresh-water shell-fish found in coastal and inland midden sites. Detailed studies into areas such as seasonality of past human occupation and nutritional returns from terrestrial prey species have not had the same attention. This chapter reviews the current level of published Australian research into two aspects of faunal studies, seasonality and nutrition. It describes the patterns from well-researched faunal data excavated from the Ice Age sites in southwest Tasmania. Concentration is on the vertebrate fauna found in seven limestone cave sites to examine any temporal changes to seasonal butchery and identify any differences between seasonally occupied sites.
Sven Ouzman, Peter Veth, Cecilia Myers, Pauline Heaney, and Kevin Kenneally
The multiple Aboriginal rock art traditions of Australia’s Kimberley contain primary evidence of commensal human–plant relationships that we term ‘ecoscaping’. Produced over tens of thousands of years, Kimberley rock art contains up to 25% of sites with plant depictions in some of its earliest traditions, which date to at least 16,000 years ago. A finite range of food and medicinal plants are depicted (yams, tubers, fruits, as well as paint-soaked grasses pressed onto rock walls) in structured iconographic and landscape contexts. Very few gatherer-hunter rock arts globally offer such plentiful, detailed, and archaeologically and palaeoenvironmentally contextualized evidence of plants in both daily life and symbolic thought. We suggest that this rock art is evidence of an entangled landscape that combines geography, hydrology, biological vitality, and anthropological dynamics—an ‘ecoscaping’ that differs from more deterministic formulations such as ‘domiculture’. Kimberley plant rock art is best understood as a key artefact and practice in how people managed the often extreme environmental and concomitant social change the Kimberley has experienced.