Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Backed Artefacts in Southeast Australia - Changing Abundance Possibly Linked to Holocene Climate?

There has been much debate concerning the time of introduction, proliferation and decline of backed artefacts in Australia. The earliest known instance of backed artefacts in southeast Australia has been dated to about 8,500 BP, then 4,000-3,500 BP they proliferated greatly and have been found in many sites, also occurring in large numbers in individual sites from that time. Their numbers declined markedly after about 1,500 BP, appearing to be completely absent by the time of European colonisation. According to the authors1 the suggestion that the increased levels of backed artefact production was triggered by a heightened foraging risk and/or a social reorganisation as a response to changing climate to a cooler, drier regime than at any other time in the Holocene, as well as intensified ENSO climatic conditions, has been advanced by models explaining their proliferation. The study by the authors1 develops this hypothesis, inferring the use of backed artefacts at Mussel Shelter in the Sydney Basin by an integrated analysis of use-wear and residue analysis. New insights have been provided by these inferences into the nature of evolutionary changes in the production and use of tools as a response to the period in which climatic conditions changed.

Sources & Further reading

  1. Attenbrow, Val, Gail Robertson, and Peter Hiscock. "The Changing Abundance of Backed Artefacts in South-Eastern Australia: A Response to Holocene Climate Change?". Journal of Archaeological Science 36, no. 12 (12// 2009): 2765-70.


Author: M. H. Monroe
Last updated: 16/03/2013

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