Defining settlement systems: the interaction of space and time as a means of identifying the modern human behavioural repertoire

Simon Holdaway, Patricia Fanning

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


    Recent research conducted on the stone artefacts from the Tasmanian Pleistocene site of Bone Cave concluded that, although change in the typology and technology of the artefacts was lacking across the Late Glacial Maximum, technological organization as manifest in a ‘settlement system’ did show change. It was argued that the identification of such systems form an alternative means of identifying modern human behaviour since, in Australia, neither artefact form nor reduction strategies show the types of variation evidenced in the European Upper Palaeolithic or the African Late Stone Age. Here we explore the types of variability that exist in the Australian archaeological record from which we might construct such settlement systems. We present analyses of Holocene artefact data sets gathered in western NSW, a region and time period where the record is unassailably the product of modern humans. The record is largely formed from flaked and heated stone and so is comparable to the types of materials that dominate the archaeological record of the earliest modern humans and our archaic ancestors. Application of a new geoarchaeological methodology has in addition provided precise chronological and contextual controls. We focus on marrying the nature of inferences that can be drawn from the archaeological record with the time scales over which this material is deposited. We suggest that the formation of the archaeological record in large measure determines the specificity of settlement systems used to identify the repertoire of past human behaviour.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2006
    EventAustralian Archaeology Association Annual Conference - Beechworth, VIC
    Duration: 8 Dec 200610 Dec 2006


    ConferenceAustralian Archaeology Association Annual Conference
    CityBeechworth, VIC


    • human behaviour
    • settlement systems

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