Archaeological geophysics, human migration and adaptation: An Aboriginal Australian case study

Date & time

12–1pm 3 August 2016


J7, Hales Seminar Room


Aaron Fogel (Griffith University)

The mobile hunter-gatherer economic model utilised by Aborigines for 50,000 years results in ephemeral impacts to the local environment. Though it produces an abundance of archaeological sites they can be difficult to identify and investigate because of the limited amount of physical remains present at any one site. This limitation is exacerbated by the significant deep-time of human occupation and taphonomic processes that destroy archaeological sites. This reality has restricted the inclusion of some of the most common site types in theoretical models describing human migration into Australia and Aboriginal adaptation to changing climatic regimes. For the first time in Australia a systematic assessment of the efficacy of archaeological geophysics for identifying, investigating and managing archaeological sites has been initiated to address this shortcoming.

This presentation will focus on recent investigations of archaeological sites on various landforms (lake margins, river floodplains, lunettes and coastal beaches) with a range of common archaeological features (fire hearths, shell middens and mounds) using archaeological geophysics. This work has resulted in the identification of geophysical signatures for these feature types that will improve the identification and investigation of similar sites. With increasing implementation in both heritage management and scientific investigations these non-invasive and non-destructive techniques will serve to improve theoretical models of human migration and adaptation in Australia.

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