Our knowledge of early Australasian societies has significantly expanded in recent decades with more than 220 Pleistocene sites reported from a range of environmental zones and depositional contexts. The uniqueness of this dataset has played an increasingly important role in global debates about the origins and expression of complex behaviour among early modern human populations. Nevertheless, discussions of Pleistocene behaviour and cultural innovation are yet to adequately consider the effects of taphonomy and archaeological sampling on the nature and representativeness of the record. This chapter investigates the effect of preservation and sampling on the archaeological record of Sahul and explores the implications for understanding early cultural diversity and complexity. In contrast to previous interpretations of this region, which have concluded that Sahul’s Pleistocene record of complex behaviours (behavioural modernity) is ‘elusive’ and more similar to Middle Palaeolithic Eurasia, the results of this study argue that Sahul’s archaeological record (when taphonomy and sampling are taken into account) demonstrates more similarities to other modern human records (MSA Africa and UP Europe), than to Middle Palaeolithic Eurasia.
|Title of host publication||Southern Asia, Australia and the Search for Human Origins|
|Editors||Robin Dennell and Martin Porr|
|Place of Publication||New York, USA|
|Publisher||Cambridge University Press|
|Publication status||Published - 2014|