Thesis abstract ‘Fishers, Gatherers and Hunters on the Moreton Fringe: Reconsidering the Prehistoric Aboriginal Marine Fishery in Southeast Queensland, Australia’

23rd January 2014

Sean Ulm

BA(Hons), Department of Anthropology and Sociology, University of Queensland, St Lucia, October 1995

In this thesis I present a critical examination of Walters’ (1987, 1989, 1992a, 1992b) model of late Holocene intensification of Aboriginal marine fishing in southeast Queensland, Australia. I demonstrate significant problems in three premises central to his interpretation of prehistoric cultural change in the region. Firstly, environmental, ethnohistorical and archaeological evidence do not support the proposition that the coastal lowlands were a marginal landscape for human occupation at any time in the Holocene or that a time-lag occurred between sea level stabilisation and Aboriginal occupation of the coast. Nor is there any palaeoecological evidence to support Walters’ argument that periods of greater sedimentation occurring around 3000 BP caused increases in marine resource productivity. Secondly, even if this enrichment did occur it does not correlate with changes documented in the archaeological record from this time. The occupational chronology demonstrates that significant increases in the number of occupied sites and the rate of site establishment does not occur until around 1000 BP, some 2000 years after the proposed enrichment of Moreton Bay. Finally, there is no consistent pattern of increase through time in the quantity of fish remains recovered from archaeological sites in the region. In interpreting this evidence I discuss major taphonomic issues and research biases which have played a significant role in structuring the archaeological database for the region. The Holocene archaeological record of southeast Queensland emerges as much more complex and variable than is generally portrayed.

References

Walters, I.N. 1987 Another Kettle of Fish: The Prehistoric Moreton Bay Fishery. Unpublished PhD thesis, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, The University of Queensland, St Lucia.

Walters, I.N. 1989 Intensified fishery production at Moreton Bay, southeast Queensland, in the late Holocene. Antiquity 63:215–224.

Walters, I.N. 1992a Farmers and their fires, fishers and their fish: Production and productivity in pre-European southeast Queensland. Dialectical Anthropology 17:167–182.

Walters, I.N. 1992b Antiquity of marine fishing in southeast Queensland. Queensland Archaeological Research 9:35–37.

Ulm, S.
Thesis abstract 'Fishers, Gatherers and Hunters on the Moreton Fringe: Reconsidering the Prehistoric Aboriginal Marine Fishery in Southeast Queensland, Australia'
June 1996
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Thesis Abstracts
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