Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Mackintosh 90/1 Cave

This limestone cave is in a bluff 320 m above sea level, facing east, with a floor area of about 12 m2. Human occupation of this cave is restricted to a 50 cm-deep layer of cultural material dated to between 17,000 and 15,000 years ago, just after the glacial maximum. This makes it an unusual site, other sites in Tasmania being occupied continuously for up to about 20,000 years. The main artefacts are made of quartz similar to those of other caves in southwest Tasmania. Included among the artefacts are thumbnail scrapers, some of which are made of Darwin glass, the site being about 70 km north of Darwin Crater, making it the most northerly site known to contain Darwin glass in Tasmania. Darwin glass was found in layers dating from 15,160 +/- 210 and 17,030 +/- 430 years ago. (Stern & Marshall, 1993; Cosgrove, 1995; Holdaway & Porch, 1996).

Nearly all the prey animals were red-necked wallabies and wombats. The cave appears to have been used progressively less over an extended period, rather than abruptly, as the amount of scat from marsupial carnivores, mainly the tiger cat (Dasyurus maculatus), increased gradually over time.

Ochre has been found in a layer between layers dated to 17,030 +/- 430 BP (Beta-45808 and 16,010 +/- 300 BP (Beta-46306. (Stern & Marshall, 1993).

The artificial Lake Mackintosh is used for electricity generation, varies in depth and the cave is completely flooded when the water is at its highest and the rising and falling of the water level damages the deposits and erodes the slope in front of the cave.

When the site was occupied it would have been about 20 m above the river. It has been suggested that the river valley may have been used as a transit corridor for hunting or gathering groups, making a convenient sheltered stop along the way, or possibly as a base for hunting expeditions into the surrounding area. The abandonment doesn't appear to have been abrupt, as indicated by the increasing amount of scat from various animals leading up to the latest evidence of human occupation.

see also Stone Tools

Sources & Further reading

  1. Josephine Flood, Archaeology of the Dreamtime, J.B. Publishing, 2004
  2. Phillip J. Habgood & Natilie R. Franklin, The revolution that didn't arrive: A review of Pleistocene Sahul, Journal of Human Evolution, 55, 2008
  3. The Tasmanians: Part 8b: Archaeology and the Oldest Tasmanians


Technological organization and settlement in southwest Tasmania after the glacial maximum

Last Updated 21/10/2016


Aboriginal Australia
Anthropological History
Aboriginal History
Aboriginal Occupation Sites-Tasmania
Aboriginal physical type
Archaeological Sites
Birrigai Shelter
Fire-Stick Farmers
Genetic Evidence
H. erectus near Australia
Cloggs Cave
The First Boat People
Evidence from Lake George
Regional Continuity Theory
Social Organisation
Trade - Macassan Traders
Journey Back Through Time
Experience Australia
Aboriginal Australia
National Parks
Photo Galleries
Site Map
                                                                                           Author: M.H.Monroe  Email:     Sources & Further reading