A flawed vision: Sex and robusticity on King Island

23rd January 2014

Distirbution of recent Australian Aboriginal male and female crania from the Murray River region (top) and terminal Pleistocene dates (below) (published in Australian Archaeology 38:2).

Distirbution of recent Australian Aboriginal male and female crania from the Murray River region (top) and terminal Pleistocene dates (below) (published in Australian Archaeology 38:2).

Peter Brown

Introduction*

Sim and Thorne (1990) report on the discovery of human skeletal remains, radiocarbon dated to 14,270±640 BP, from King Island in Bass Strait. Given the location of King Island, and the long debate over the biological origins of the Tasmanians (Pardoe 1991a; Brown in press a), the discovery and description of the King Island skeleton is of considerable historical significance. The skeleton was excavated under difficult circumstances and could only be retained for examination for a short period. On the basis of their assessment of the skeleton’s size and robusticity Sim and Thorne conclude that the skeleton is that of a male, with an overall cranial morphology similar to Keilor and Thorne’s (1977, 1980) ‘gracile’ Pleistocene population. Irrespective of the historical reality of this ‘gracile’ population an important issue in relation to Sim and Thorne’s assessment of King Island is their identification of sex. As Pardoe (1991b) has recently pointed out, at least one earlier attempt to support the dual Pleistocene population model (Webb 1989) appears to be an artefact of a limited understanding of sexual dimorphism. There were indeed two human populations present in the Pleistocene of Australia, one of them more robust than the other, but these are called men and women.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Brown, P.
A flawed vision: Sex and robusticity on King Island
June 1994
38
1–7
Article
You must be a member to download the attachment ( Login / Sign up )