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

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    25 Citations (Scopus)

    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 - Apr 2019

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