Talk:Prehistory of Australia

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Initial anthropology[edit]

From my reading, 'anthropology' was all the rage in the 18th C. (ie from initial contact): and has continued ever since.Thus I have removed sentence which claims otherwise. Eric A. Warbuton 03:08, 27 September 2005 (UTC)'


The term 'arid' has a technical definition of 'less than 250mm pa' from Groves 'Australian vegetation' (This is an encyclopedia-not the womans weekly-so can we be accurate) which is less than 40% of the land mass of Aust. And importantly the majority of tribal Aboriginals do not live in these areas- they live in the tropics and sub tropics. Also I dont know the reason for leaving 'remote' in the text is: it adds nothing to it. Can someone tell me? Eric A. Warbuton 06:15, 26 September 2005 (UTC)

You initially said the issue was POV, not accuracy. If you can show that the majority of Aboriginal people live in areas which are not technically "arid," fine, delete it. I have no problems with deleting "remote" or replacing it with a less eurocentric word. Adam 08:20, 26 September 2005 (UTC)

extended periods of glaciation?[edit]

In the section on migration there is the phrase 'repeated episodes of extended glaciation' which I cant get my head round. In the period being talked about Im led to believe that there was a slow retreat from say 10,000bp. So are the dates correct as they now read in the text? Do they need adjusting? Can you provide some refs on the above process for us to peruse? Eric A. Warbuton 02:22, 28 September 2005 (UTC)

The sentence reads: "Repeated episodes of extended glaciation resulted in decreases of sea levels by some 100-150 m." What is difficult about this? It doesn't mean glaciation in Australia, it means globally. It means that global glaciation has fluctuated over the past million years, causing sea levels to rise and fall. Adam 06:14, 28 September 2005 (UTC)

Well: the context is at the end of the pleistocene epoch where there weren't 'repeated episodes of extended glaciation' : there was only deglaciation from at least 10000bp: can you provide refs to show otherwise?Eric A. Warbuton 08:37, 28 September 2005 (UTC)

Perhaps it was a little clumsily-phrased; when I wrote that sentence my intention was to avoid the implication that this was a singular event (rather, sea-levels have repeatedly fluctuated), whilst maintaining a link to a predominant factor in this fluctuation- ie, glaciation. As Adam points out, I of course did not mean to imply that the most-recent glaciation referred to had a presence in Australia itself. The context of the sentence refers to not just the last 10,000 yrs ("end of the Pleistocene" is rather broad), but the whole of the extensive period in which it is possible (or it is claimed) that humans could have migrated to AU. Although generally-speaking, the trend after the Last Glacial Maximum was for sea-levels to rise, this did not happen uniformly and was influenced by other local factors, such as the topology of the shelf itself, which is quite shallow (particularly at the Torres Strait end), and ridged in several places. The Gulf of Carpentaria was several times in this period the Lake of Carpentaria, for example. Mini transgressions and regressions occurred, even when the overall trend was for general ocean encroachment in this area. If you've some ideas on how best to capture the essence of this, would be happy to hear them.--cjllw | TALK 08:46, 28 September 2005 (UTC)

Well to achieve accuracy and momentum in the paragraph I'd remove this sentence: 'Repeated episodes of extended glaciation resulted in decreases of sea levels by some 100-150m' as it now stands it clogs it up with notions that are to vague and though of great importance should belong elsewhere. Yes? Eric A. Warbuton 09:00, 28 September 2005 (UTC)

The point of the sentence is that humans migrated to Australia during the last major glaciation in the northern hemisphere, which caused sea-levels world-wide to fall, creating the land-bridge to Australia. Someone should write a clear sentence to that effect. Adam 09:08, 28 September 2005 (UTC)

Adam there was never any landdridge to Australia. Even at the Glacial maximum 20,000 years ago, there was still a sea voyage of 160 kilometres needed across the Timor Gap, and by then Aborigines had already been resident in Australia sometime between 20,000 and 50,000 years. Hope this helps John D. Croft (talk) 11:51, 22 April 2011 (UTC)

Well, 10,000y bp Tasmania was glaciated and the treeline in Victoria was at 600m so conditions in the N hemisphere are not the point. The direct mention of global glaciation wouldl be complex and problematic as over the last 70000 years there has been much flux of ice, as Mr Wright has rightly mentioned and if it is to be discussed I dont think this the correct text for it to go. Eric A. Warbuton 09:19, 28 September 2005 (UTC)

Uh, yes, conditions in the northern hemisphere are the point. Glaciation in the southern hemisphere was trivial by comparison, because the land area down here is much smaller than up there. Glaciers don't float. It was the glaciation of Eurasia and North America that locked up all the water and made sea levels drop, so that humans could walk to Australia. Adam 10:53, 28 September 2005 (UTC)

I agree that this is not the place to go into the finer points of the whys and wherefores of sea level changes in this period (and in fact the present passage does not do this). However, in this context the fact the continent had a much-extended coastline for much of this time is key in understanding how people could have reached it in the first place. If we mention that eustatic sea levels had generally receded for lengthy periods, we also ought to explain even if briefly the understood mechanisms for this- namely, increased glaciation over significant portions of the globe (itself caused by other factors). Perhaps the present sentences are not the best, but the ideas still needs to be communicated that there were extended periods from 75k yrs ago when the coastline was much further out; the trend up to about 18k yrs ago was for seas to recede, and thereafter to rise, but local conditions saw fluctuations in this; and that AU and New Guinea were joined several times at various places, but Sahul is not believed to have been connected to Wallacea so some sort of navigation would have been required, whenever the 1st migrations took place.
That people once quite likely were living happily in areas which are now 50m or more below the ocean, and 100's of km out from the present shoreline, is probably not common knowledge, and probably deserving of an article in itself (say, human settlement of Sahul); in the absence of such an article I'm quite happy with the present summary of events, but if you can tweak it to cover the key points, pls do.--cjllw | TALK 11:10, 28 September 2005 (UTC)
Thanks Eric, your revision looks just fine.--cjllw | TALK 02:37, 30 September 2005 (UTC)

Politics and Social Orginization[edit]

Can someone add another chapter about how the tribe leader is chosen or who can marry who and so on. Efansay 09:57, 11 June 2007 (UTC)

There was no "leader" in a group. Elders were respected and obeyed due to the fact they were a) a source of knowledge, and b) experienced. But there was no single leader for any group. In excessively simplistic terms, you might say Aboriginal societies were egalitarian gerontocracies, but that's fitting Western concepts onto Aboriginal forms of social organisation. Regarding marriage, see skin group. Aridd (talk) 09:56, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

The Savage Frontier[edit]

What do we make of this?

Theredchief (talk) 10:36, 22 April 2011 (UTC)

Theredchief, this material is seriously outdated and mistaken. It was based upon the idea that Aborigines as seen in the 1850-1900 period were not the first inhabitants of Australia, but dispossessed an earlier "race" just as the Europeans were now "dispossessing" the Aboriginal inhabitants. This first race, presumed to be closer to the "apes" was the "negritto" found as pigmy races in the Highlands in New Guinea, various pre-Malay people's of South East Asia, the Andaman islanders, and the pignies of Africa. The racist theories upon which this was based have been thoroughly discredited and disproven. It now has only historical interest, although various racists still "trot it out" from time to time. Hope this helps, John D. Croft (talk) 11:47, 22 April 2011 (UTC)

It was discussed previously here, after being brought up by a sockpuppet of Premier, who was eventually banned for sock abuse. IIRC the consensus was that it was self-published and hence not a reliable source. --GenericBob (talk) 12:56, 22 April 2011 (UTC)

What about the sources the author relied on as current and correct? I'd question whether it is racist to claim aborigines were part of a second wave of immigration.

It's interesting that Boomerangs were found in King Tut's tomb [1].

Was there really a land bridge to New Guinea and is there only evidence of a curly haired race in Tasmania and no dingoes?

If you read the whole book, he said evidence of a pre-historic stone quarry was discovered in NSW one time, and academics were quick to attribute it to aboriginal society, even though aborigines apparently avoided heavy manual labor.

Theredchief (talk) 03:02, 23 April 2011 (UTC)

Since it's not a reliable source, its analysis of previous sources is not something we can use. As to the boomerangs, all it means is that the laws of aerodynamics were the same in ancient Egypt as they were in prehistoric Australia. And I seem to recall Premier's last sockpuppet raising exactly these same issues over on Indigenous Australians a while back. --GenericBob (talk) 05:15, 23 April 2011 (UTC)

I know, I've seen that thread, and believe that editor was hard done by and was essentially dismissed out of hand.

Theredchief (talk) 10:43, 26 April 2011 (UTC)

Hard done by? Trying to mislead other editors via sockpuppet abuse is a serious breach of trust; as far as I'm concerned banning is an entirely appropriate sanction for somebody who demonstrates that they have no respect for their fellow editors. It doesn't stop them from creating a new single-purpose account and coming back to try pushing the same agenda on the same pages, but fortunately most of them (Premier included) are pretty heavy-handed about it and easy to spot.
If you get my meaning. --GenericBob (talk) 08:44, 28 April 2011 (UTC)

Copyright problem removed[edit]

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Engineering of landscape[edit]

i'm parking some links here for further work, maybe should also be in History_of_Indigenous_Australians &/or History_of_Australia#Aboriginal_Australia but this seems like a good start because of the "Culture and technology" section.

Brewarrina Aboriginal Fish Traps / Baiame's Ngunnhu State of New South Wales and Office of Environment and Heritage

Portland: Indigenous History

"Fishers and Farmers: historicising the Gunditjmara freshwater fishery, western Victoria" Ian J. McNiven and Damein Bell, The La Trobe Journal, No 85, May 2010

Figure 15 Pencil sketch plan of an extensive eel channel facility covering 6ha, near Mt William (Robinson journal, 9 July 1841)

Figure 16 Aboriginal pencil drawing of an extensive eel channel facility at Mt William (Robinson journal, 18 July 1841)

"No Stone Unturned" Broadcast: 17/05/2015 5:27:25 PM, Reporter: Prue Adams, Landline, Australian Broadcasting Corporation

David Woodward ☮ ♡♢☞☽ 12:51, 21 January 2016 (UTC)

Fires and extinctions[edit]

The text states that fires became frequent over the last 70000 years a.o. because of human activity, but this is confusing since there were certainly no humans in Australia 70000 years ago. Probably the meaning is that the initial fires had natural causes but later fires may in part have been caused by humans. Please correct.Helenuh (talk) 09:37, 26 January 2017 (UTC)

No humans in Australia 70,000 years ago? That's actually far from certain... Yeti Hunter (talk) 23:28, 26 January 2017 (UTC)
this still cannot proof anything. The only thing is that the fire increased but nobody can proof this like a DIRECT man action. The continous attempts to show, by many wikipedians, that all the exictions are belonged to human activity is simply annoying.

No matter about this, but this paragraph is cleary unbalanced: Archaeological evidence (in the form of charcoal) indicates that fire, over 100,000 years (from ash deposits in the Coral Sea) was already a growing part of the Australian landscape.[26] Over the last 70,000 years it became much more frequent as hunter-gatherers used it as a tool to drive game, to produce a green flush of new growth to attract animals, and to open up impenetrable forest.[27] Densely grown areas became more open sclerophyll forest, open forest became grassland. Fire-tolerant species became predominant: in particular, eucalyptus, acacia, banksia, casuarina and grasses. The changes to the fauna were even more dramatic: the megafauna, species significantly larger than humans, disappeared, and many of the smaller species disappeared too. The direct cause of the mass extinctions is uncertain: it may have been fire, hunting, climate change or a combination of all or any of these factors, although the rapid decline of many species is still a matter of dispute.[29] With no large herbivores to keep the understorey vegetation down and rapidly recycle soil nutrients with their dung, fuel build-up became more rapid and fires burned hotter, further changing the landscape.

Those are frankly speaking, WEASEL WORDS to describe what happened in Australia 50,000 yrs ago. Evidently a lot of editors are posed their knowledge with Flannery babbling, that is itself, barely scientific, just like the 'blitzkrieg' model, that in Australia simply wouldn'work. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:55, 4 April 2017 (UTC)