Prehistoric archaeological investigations on King and Flinders Islands, Bass Strait, Tasmania




Sim, Robin

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This thesis examines the question of prehistoric land use patterns in the Bassian region, and specifically addresses the problem of Holocene human occupation on King and Flinders Islands in the period after these islands became separated from mainland Tasmania. Although the islands were not occupied at the time of first European contact, prehistoric archaeological evidence has been found on them. It was suggested that these remains were from human populations who had been stranded on the islands as a consequence of the last marine transgression, and who subsequently became extinct. This proposition formed the main focus for this thesis research. Extensive field work was undertaken on King and Flinders Islands to provide a data base from which the nature of island occupation could be examined. This comprised test excavations on King Island, and collection of charcoal and cultural shellfish remains from midden sites on both islands. Analysis and radiocarbon dating results indicate that although both islands were occupied in the island phase, sometime after the sea reached a level similar to that at present, the nature of human occupation on both islands was markedly different. The evidence from Flinders Island is considered to be that of a stranded extinct population whereas that from King Island strongly suggests that the island was being visited from northwest Tasmania in recent Holocene times. This latter evidence is of considerable interest in tight of previous assumptions regarding the prehistoric maritime technology of the Tasmanians.






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