University of Cambridge > > Pitt-Rivers Archaeological Science Seminar Series > 65,000 years of changing plant food and landscape use at Madjedbebe, Mirarr Country, northern Australia

65,000 years of changing plant food and landscape use at Madjedbebe, Mirarr Country, northern Australia

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  • User Anna Florin, University of Cambridge
  • ClockFriday 25 February 2022, 13:15-14:00
  • HouseOnline via zoom.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Ruairidh Macleod.

Recent re-excavations at Madjedbebe rockshelter not only confirmed its antiquity, but also included the application of a diverse array of scientific techniques to explore the nature of occupation at the site over the past 65,000 years. Here we present the results of archaeobotanical analysis, exploring diachronic changes in diet, plant processing practices, landscape use and seasonal mobility. We show that a diverse diet of fruits, nuts, seeds, palm and underground storage organs was consumed from earliest occupation, with intensive plant food processing evidenced. The diet varied through time as foraging strategies were altered in response to changes in environment and demography. This included a broadening of the diet during drier glacial stages, as well as changes in the seasonal round and incorporation of new foods with the formation of freshwater wetlands following sea level rise in the late Holocene. The foundations of the economy evidenced at Madjedbebe, including seasonal mobility, a broad diet and requisite plant processing and grinding technologies, were maintained through time. This points to a resilient economic system in the face of pronounced environmental change.

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