Long-term occupation on the edge of the desert: Riwi Cave in the southern Kimberley, Western Australia

Jane Balme, Sue O'connor, Tim Maloney, Dorcas Vannieuwenhuyse, Ken Aplin, India Ella Dilkes-Hall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Aboriginal people occupied Riwi, a limestone cave in the south-central Kimberley region at the edge of the Great Sandy Desert of Western Australia, from about 46000 years ago through to the historical period. The cultural materials recovered from the Riwi excavations provide evidence of intermittent site use, especially in climatically wet periods. Changes in hunting patterns and in hearth-making practices about 34000 years ago appear to accompany a change to drought resistant vegetation in the site surrounds. Occupation during the Last Glacial Maximum highlights variation in aridity trends in the broader environmental record. The most intensive use of the cave was during a wet period in the early to middle Holocene, when people appear to have received marine shell beads from the coast through social networks. While there is less evidence for late Holocene occupation, this probably reflects deposition processes rather than an absence of occupation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-52
Number of pages18
JournalArchaeology in Oceania
Volume54
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019

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desert
occupation
drought
evidence
social network
trend
Western Australia
Last Glacial Maximum
Late Holocene
Coast
Shell Beads
Middle Holocene
Historical Periods
Aboriginal People
Drought
Limestone
Hearth
Excavation
Hunting
Vegetation

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Balme, Jane ; O'connor, Sue ; Maloney, Tim ; Vannieuwenhuyse, Dorcas ; Aplin, Ken ; Dilkes-Hall, India Ella. / Long-term occupation on the edge of the desert : Riwi Cave in the southern Kimberley, Western Australia. In: Archaeology in Oceania. 2019 ; Vol. 54, No. 1. pp. 35-52.
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abstract = "Aboriginal people occupied Riwi, a limestone cave in the south-central Kimberley region at the edge of the Great Sandy Desert of Western Australia, from about 46000 years ago through to the historical period. The cultural materials recovered from the Riwi excavations provide evidence of intermittent site use, especially in climatically wet periods. Changes in hunting patterns and in hearth-making practices about 34000 years ago appear to accompany a change to drought resistant vegetation in the site surrounds. Occupation during the Last Glacial Maximum highlights variation in aridity trends in the broader environmental record. The most intensive use of the cave was during a wet period in the early to middle Holocene, when people appear to have received marine shell beads from the coast through social networks. While there is less evidence for late Holocene occupation, this probably reflects deposition processes rather than an absence of occupation.",
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Balme, J, O'connor, S, Maloney, T, Vannieuwenhuyse, D, Aplin, K & Dilkes-Hall, IE 2019, 'Long-term occupation on the edge of the desert: Riwi Cave in the southern Kimberley, Western Australia' Archaeology in Oceania, vol. 54, no. 1, pp. 35-52. https://doi.org/10.1002/arco.5166

Long-term occupation on the edge of the desert : Riwi Cave in the southern Kimberley, Western Australia. / Balme, Jane; O'connor, Sue; Maloney, Tim; Vannieuwenhuyse, Dorcas; Aplin, Ken; Dilkes-Hall, India Ella.

In: Archaeology in Oceania, Vol. 54, No. 1, 01.04.2019, p. 35-52.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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