A Problem of Settlement: Cultural Landscape Change on the Willunga Plains, South Australia, from 1840

01st December 2007

Ellen Stuart

BArch(Hons), Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, November 2005

While the concept of cultural landscapes has been around since the nineteenth century, the phrase itself was only coined in the twentieth century. Within archaeology, cultural landscape approaches have only recently been adopted and in the Australian context, such studies are poorly represented in the literature. Typically, most historical archaeologists tend to consider structures and forms within the landscape as opportunities for excavation, measurement and the collection of artefacts, with an emphasis on description and typology. It is only through a consideration of the landscape in its entirety that these features permit interpretation of human behaviour and values within a region. Researching a changing cultural landscape over time permits the interaction between settlers and the land to be better described and understood.

This thesis examines the changing vegetation patterns on the Willunga Plains, South Australia, since European colonisation in 1840 as settlers attempted to create a familiar environment. Taking the viewpoint that vegetation patterns are products of human activities, the relationship between this altered landscape and the economic development of the region is argued to be mutually dependent. The problems settlers experienced in establishing a sustainable livelihood are examined by the application of cultural landscape theory to interpret human behaviour through transposition of culture, use of prior farming knowledge and landscape learning. By researching historical, palaeoenvironmental and contemporary evidence of the Willunga Plains the continuing evolution of the cultural landscape of the region is realised.

Ellen Stuart
A Problem of Settlement: Cultural Landscape Change on the Willunga Plains, South Australia, from 1840
December 2007
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Thesis Abstracts
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