Aboriginal sites in a submerged landscape at Lake Jasper, southwestern Australia

24th May 2014

Map of Lake Jasper (published in Australian Archaeology 31:29).

Map of Lake Jasper (published in Australian Archaeology 31:29).

Charlie Dortch and Ian Godfrey

Introduction*

Western Australian Museum diver/archaeologists have identified submerged Aboriginal sites at depths to 10 m on the floor of Lake Jasper, a 4 sq km freshwater lake located in the D’Entrecasteaux National Park, 6 km from the Southern Ocean coast in the extreme southwestern corner of Western Australia (Lat. 340 24’30” S. Long. 1 150 40’30” E.). The lake is in a swampy corridor of coastal sand plain between a low plateau (40–60 m asl) to the north, and, on its seaward side, high coastal dunes (150–195 m as1) having a massive calcarenite substrate. One of us (CD) first saw some of the sites (1–3: Fig. l) in April 1988. At this time severe 1987–1988 drought conditions had lowered the water level at Lake Jasper, exposing parts of its floor and revealing, above water and at shallow depths (ca 1 m), scatters of flaked stone artefacts and numbers of large tree and blackboy (Xanthorrhoea preissit) stumps in growth position. It was suspected that the stumps were essentially the remains of a pre-inundation landscape, since it is improbable that trees and blackboys could have become established in an inshore zone of fluctuating water levels. This probability seemed greater when, a few months later, wood samples from two submerged tree stumps—one from Site 3 on the southwest side of the lake, and the other at Site 1 on the lake’s opposite shore, 2 km east, yielded a pair of ca 3800 BP radiocarbon dates (Table 1; Fig. 1). No Aboriginal sites had been recorded previously around Lake Jasper, and there are no ethnohistorical or ethnographic data for the locality.

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

Dortch, C.E. and I.M. Godfrey
Aboriginal sites in a submerged landscape at Lake Jasper, southwestern Australia
December 1990
31
28–33
Article
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