The curious case of Proteaceae: macrobotanical investigations at Mount Behn rockshelter, Bunuba country, Western Australia

Rose Whitau, India Ella Dilkes-Hall, Dorcas Vannieuwenhuyse, Susan O'Connor, Jane Balme

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Macrobotanical analyses, which offer important information about human-environment interactions of the past, are underdeveloped in Australia due to limited reference materials, poor preservation of organic remains and inadequate field sampling strategies. Wood, seeds, fibres and resin provide invaluable information on diet, technology and human-environment interaction. When excavated from stratified archaeological deposits, macrobotanical remains enable analysis at a scale that is spatio-temporally linked with human occupation, unlike broad-scale palaeo-environmental records, which defy correlation with short-time human responses. Identification and analyses of wood charcoal and seeds from Mount Behn rockshelter, Bunuba country, in the southern Kimberley region of Western Australia, where the largest stone point assemblage for the region was excavated. Neither the anthracological nor carpological records reflect the taxon richness of vegetation communities of the modern vegetation, precluding both palaeo-environmental reconstruction and in-depth exploration of resource management and use. Certain taxa are over-represented in the anthracological and carpological records, in particular, Proteaceae wood charcoal and Celtis spp. endocarps, and we explore how anthracological and carpological spectra are artefacts of preservation, with particular reference to other macrobotanical research that has been conducted in the Kimberley region and Western Australia.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)19-36
    JournalAustralian Archaeology
    Volume84
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2018

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