Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe: Modelling the Colonising of Australia

O'Connell & Allen have previously developed a speculative model of the colonisation by humans of Sahul-Pleistocene Australia and New Guinea. In this paper the authors1 elaborate that model by the use of behavioural ecology and Palaeoclimatology data, and ethnography of modern hunter-gathers. Their argument of colonisers is mainly focused on coastal ecotones during the Wallacea crossing, though in favourable habitats they spread more widely following the landing in Sahul. In terms of archaeology, movement was instantaneous, being primarily driven by serial depletion of high-ranged prey. O'Connell & Allen suggest that subsequently human populations remained much smaller than sometimes imagined, which was probably as a result of difficult climatic and environmental conditions, and archaeological data are generally consistent with these expectations. O'Connell & Allen suggest these findings challenge the frequent assertions that only human colonisation led to significant changes in the ecology of Sahul, and may go someway in explaining the simplicity of the lithic technology in the Pleistocene.

Sources & Further reading

  1. O’Connell, J.F. and J. Allen 2004 Dating the colonisation of Sahul (Pleistocene Australia-New Guinea): A review of recent research. Journal of  Archaeological Science 31:835-853.


Author: M. H. Monroe
Last updated: 12/10/2013
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