Material Culture and Behaviour in Pleistocene Sahul: Examining the Archaeological Representation of Pleistocene Behavioural Modernity in Sahul

Michelle Langley (2009). Material Culture and Behaviour in Pleistocene Sahul: Examining the Archaeological Representation of Pleistocene Behavioural Modernity in Sahul MPhil Thesis, School of Social Science, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Michelle Langley
Thesis Title Material Culture and Behaviour in Pleistocene Sahul: Examining the Archaeological Representation of Pleistocene Behavioural Modernity in Sahul
School, Centre or Institute School of Social Science
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2009-09
Thesis type MPhil Thesis
Supervisor Christopher Clarkson
Sean Ulm
Total pages 298
Total colour pages 88
Total black and white pages 210
Subjects 21 History and Archaeology
Abstract/Summary Sahul, the combined landmass of Australia and New Guinea, provides a record of behavioural modernity extending over at least the last 50,000 years. Colonised solely by anatomically and behaviourally modern humans, this continent provides an alternative record in the investigation of behavioural modernity to the extensively studied Middle Stone Age African and Upper Palaeolithic Eurasian archaeological records. In the past, the archaeological record of behavioural modernity in Sahul has been described as simple, sparse and essentially different to those records of Africa and Eurasia. These differences have been attributed to either low population densities during the Pleistocene or the loss of behavioural ‘traits’ on the journey from Africa to Sahul. While a number of studies have been undertaken, no single researcher has attempted to investigate the role of taphonomy and sampling on the representation of behavioural modernity in the archaeological record, despite Sahul being characterised by extreme environments, highly variable climates, and archaeologically, usually only small excavations. This study compiles the most complete record of chronology, evidence for behavioural modernity and excavation details for 223 Pleistocene sites yet attempted. It is also the most extensive dataset assembled for the examination of the issue of behavioural modernity on a single landmass. Site spatial and temporal distribution, site characteristics, excavations, absolute dating, preservation and sample size are examined to determine how the behavioural complexity of a modern human population is characterised on this isolated southern continent and the impact of taphonomy and archaeological sampling on that representation. Results demonstrate that preservation and sampling play a significant role in structuring the spatial and temporal representation of behavioural modernity in the archaeological record of Pleistocene Sahul. Contrary to previous findings, the evidence for behavioural modernity in Sahul is found to resemble the archaeological records of the African Middle Stone Age and Eurasian Upper Palaeolithic in terms of behaviour and artefact diversity. In terms of global narratives, these results also indicate that current understandings of behavioural modernity are incomplete and may misrepresent levels of behavioural complexity in early periods in some regions.
Keyword Sahul, Pleistocene, behavioural modernity, modern cognition, material culture, taphonomy, sampling
Additional Notes Title, iii, v, vi, vii, viii, ix, xiii, xvi, 1, 2, 3, 4, 9,12, 16, 17, 25, 26, 32, 34, 35, 37, 40, 49, 50, 52, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 65, 66, 67, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 79, 80, 83, 85, 91, 93, 95, 96, 98, 99, 100, 101, 104, 105, 107, 109, 111, 113, 114, 115, 117, 118, 119, 120, 121, 123, 124, 125, 126, 127, 129, 133, 135, 137, 138, 139, 141, 142, 145, 150, 153, 159, 218, 225, 267

 
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Created: Fri, 05 Feb 2010, 14:56:06 EST by Miss Michelle Langley on behalf of Library - Information Access Service