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Human-environment interactions in Australia and New Guinea during the Holocene

Denham, Timothy; Mooney, Scott

Description

Exploratory time-series analysis of radiocarbon data from archaeological contexts is used to reconstruct the population history of arid Australia, allowing this to be read in concert with records of climatic variability over the last 20 000 years. Probability distribution plots of 971 radiocarbon ages from 286 sites in five dryland regions (the arid west coast, Pilbara and Murchison, Nullarbor, arid interior and the southeastern arid zone) provide a proxy record of prehistoric population...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorDenham, Timothy
dc.contributor.authorMooney, Scott
dc.date.accessioned2015-12-13T22:31:02Z
dc.identifier.issn0959-6836
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/75113
dc.description.abstractExploratory time-series analysis of radiocarbon data from archaeological contexts is used to reconstruct the population history of arid Australia, allowing this to be read in concert with records of climatic variability over the last 20 000 years. Probability distribution plots of 971 radiocarbon ages from 286 sites in five dryland regions (the arid west coast, Pilbara and Murchison, Nullarbor, arid interior and the southeastern arid zone) provide a proxy record of prehistoric population fluctuations in these areas. There is regional variation, but the radiocarbon density plots suggest a step-wise pattern of population growth and expansion, with significant thresholds at 19, 8 and 1.5 cal. kyr BP. Within this, the plots suggest a saw-tooth pattern of rapid population growth and decline on a 1-3 kyr frequency, with a marked collapse of dryland hunter-gatherer populations around 3-2.5 cal. kyr BP affecting most regions. Comparison with climate data shows broad correlations with past temperature and rainfall variability, sea-level change and ENSO activity, but the interaction of prehistoric populations and these environmental changes is not well resolved. High amplitude environmental changes appear to have triggered stadial changes in population, rather than smooth transitions. Dryland populations may also have become more sensitive to small environmental changes in the late Holocene, as population density increased. A large increase in population around 1.5 cal. kyr BP is associated with small changes in regional palaeoecology, which are not otherwise represented in palaeoclimatic data sets. Spectral analysis identifies two cyclical periodicities of 1340 and 175 years within the population histories, also suggesting responses to millennial and submillennial climatic variability, a pattern most marked in the late Holocene.
dc.publisherSage Publications Inc
dc.sourceHolocene
dc.subjectKeywords: archaeology; arid environment; climate variation; comparative study; El Nino-Southern Oscillation; geographical variation; Holocene; nature-society relations; paleoecology; population density; radiocarbon dating; reconstruction; record; settlement history Australian arid zone; Holocene archaeology; Human-environment interactions; Hunter-gatherer demography; Population history; Radiocarbon probability plots; Time-series analysis
dc.titleHuman-environment interactions in Australia and New Guinea during the Holocene
dc.typeJournal article
local.description.notesImported from ARIES
local.identifier.citationvolume18
dc.date.issued2008
local.identifier.absfor160104 - Social and Cultural Anthropology
local.identifier.ariespublicationf5625xPUB4472
local.type.statusPublished Version
local.contributor.affiliationDenham, Timothy, College of Arts and Social Sciences, ANU
local.contributor.affiliationMooney, Scott, University of New South Wales
local.description.embargo2037-12-31
local.bibliographicCitation.issue3
local.bibliographicCitation.startpage365
local.bibliographicCitation.lastpage371
local.identifier.doi10.1177/0959683607087929
dc.date.updated2015-12-11T08:58:33Z
local.identifier.scopusID2-s2.0-44449175089
local.identifier.thomsonID000256236000001
CollectionsANU Research Publications

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