Palaeoecological evidence associated with earth mounds of the Murray Riverine Plain, south-eastern Australia
Author: Martin, Sarah
Source: Environmental Archaeology, Volume 16, Number 2, October 2011 , pp. 162-172(11)
Publisher: Maney Publishing
Abstract:The characteristic mounded cultural deposits on the Murray Riverine Plain, regionally known as 'mounds', 'earth mounds' or 'oven mounds', are unique archives of palaeoecological information. Excavations of two large mounds on a distributary of the Lower Murrumbidgee River provide tangible evidence of past environments and human exploitation of these environments. The excavation data bridge the nearly 5000-year time gap between the construction of the excavated mounds and the 19th-century ethnohistorical observations linking women to specialised knowledge of wetland management, plant harvesting and preparation, and co-operative cooking in heat retainer ovens on mounds. Macroscopic charcoal, pollen and plant imprints from the mounds suggest that the ethnohistorically observed baking/steaming of carbohydrate-rich wetland plant foods such as Typha, Bolboschoenus and Triglochin in baked clay heat retainer ovens on mounds had its origins during the mid-Holocene. The consistent amounts of wetland faunal bone and shell and the clustered spatial patterning of mounds around specific types of current and former 'reed-beds', swamps and lakes, also provide evidence of a mid to late Holocene focus on wetland environments. This paper aims to encourage new palaeoecological research into these relatively neglected but extremely significant cultural deposits.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: PO Box 272, Broken Hill, NSW 2880, Australia
Publication date: 2011-10-01