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Geoarchaeology of Aboriginal Landscapes in Semi-arid Australia

  • Integrates geochronology, geomorphology and archaeology
  • applied at a landscape scale
  • Provides a critique of the current approaches to archaeological survey in Australia
  • Describes methods for understanding the raw material selection and technology of flake production
  • Shows how this geoarchaeological approach to studying the Australian arid zone can be related to similar approaches worldwide

By: Simon J Holdaway(Author), Patricia C Fanning(Author)

224 pages, photos, illustrations


Paperback | Mar 2014 | #211402 | ISBN-13: 9780643108943
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £60.50 $77/€68 approx

About this book

Geoarchaeology of Aboriginal Landscapes in Semi-arid Australia provides readers with a unique understanding of the ways in which Aboriginal people interacted with their environment in the past at one particular location in western New South Wales. It also provides a statement showing how geoarchaeology should be conducted in a wide range of locations throughout Australia.

One of the key difficulties faced by all those interested in the interaction between humans and their environment in the past is the complex array of processes acting over different spatial and temporal scales. The authors take account of this complexity by integrating three key areas of study – geomorphology, geochronology and archaeology – applied at a landscape scale, with the intention of understanding the record of how Australian Aboriginal people interacted with the environment through time and across space.

This analysis is based on the results of archaeological research conducted at the University of New South Wales Fowlers Gap Arid Zone Research Station between 1999 and 2002 as part of the Western New South Wales Archaeology Program. The interdisciplinary geoarchaeological program was targeted at expanding the potential offered by archaeological deposits in western New South Wales, Australia.

Geoarchaeology of Aboriginal Landscapes in Semi-arid Australia contains six chapters: the first two introduce the study area, then three data analysis chapters deal in turn with the geomorphology, geochronology and archaeology of Fowlers Gap Station. A final chapter considers the results in relation to the history of Aboriginal occupation of Fowlers Gap Station, as well as the insights they provide into Aboriginal ways of life more generally. Analyses are well illustrated through the tabulation of results and the use of figures created through Geographic Information System software.


Chapter 1 Geoarchaeology
Chapter 2 Surface Archaeology in the Arid Zone: a Geoarchaeological Framework for Survey and Sampling
Chapter 3 The Surface Archaeological Record at Fowlers Gap: Preservation, Exposure and Visibility
Chapter 4 A Chronology of Aboriginal Landscape Use at Fowlers Gap
Chapter 5 Stone Artefacts and Mobility
Chapter 6 Synthesis: spatial and temporal patterns of landscape use by Aboriginal people

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Simon Holdaway is Professor of Archaeology in the Department of Anthropology at The University of Auckland. He has research interests in human–environment interactions, geoarchaeology, landscape archaeology and stone artefacts. He has researched in south-west Tasmania, western New South Wales and Cape York in Australia, the Fayum region of Egypt and in Taranaki, New Zealand.

Patricia Fanning is a geomorphologist based in the Graduate School of the Environment at Macquarie University, with research interests in landscape evolution, environmental change and human–environment interactions in arid, semi-arid and tropical savannah landscapes. 

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