Human-environment interactions in the Holocene record from western NSW, Australia: an integrated geoarchaeological approach

Patricia Fanning, Simon Holdaway, Ed Rhodes

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


    Geomorphic processes that affect the archaeological record – by exposing it, destroying it or covering it up – are episodic. Recent landscape instability in western NSW, Australia (i.e. within the last 200 years), has had profound effects on the preservation and exposure of the surface archaeological record on timescales that can be as short as days. But the record of such instability extends much further back in time: valley fill chronologies show that episodic landscape change is typical of the palaeoenvironmental record of the Late Pleistocene and Holocene. There are three important consequences for understanding past human-environment interactions: 1. The archaeological record is discontinuous in time because geomorphic processes in the past have removed the record equating to particular time periods. This process is cumulative so that the record of recent times is much more common when compared to that from the more distant past. 2. The episodic nature of geomorphic processes has affected human behaviour, such that occupation of place was discontinuous. 3. Time and space are poorly correlated meaning that conventional approaches to the analysis of the archaeological record need to be modified. In this paper, we present data (radiocarbon determinations from heat-retainer hearths and OSL determinations from valley fill sediments) from our western NSW study locations that support the first two notions, and illustrate that an integrated geo-archaeological research framework can provide the contextual analyses needed to understand human-environment interactions in the past.
    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


    • surface archeological record
    • human environment interactions


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