Charcoals as indicators of ancient tree and fuel strategies: An application of anthracology in the Australian Midwest

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Abstract

Anthracology (charcoal analysis) can inform about palaeoenvironments and human choices concerning the use of wood resources. While charcoal is commonly recovered during excavations, anthracology is poorly developed in Australian archaeology. This paper presents the first application of anthracology in the Midwest of Western Australia, at the Weld-RS-0731 (WA Department of Aboriginal Affairs Site ID 28793) site in the Weld Range. It uses methodological approaches developed by European anthracologists but not previously applied to Australian charcoal assemblages. The diversity and frequency of taxa identified in the late Holocene Weld-RS-0731 charcoal assemblages correspond to known vegetation communities, similar to those found in the area today. Nevertheless, the assemblages' compositions demonstrate the targeting of specific habitats, as well as the purposeful selection and avoidance of certain taxa. Our results confirm that wood gathering was not a separate specialist activity, but likely occurred alongside other subsistence tasks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-106
JournalAustralian Archaeology
Volume77
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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