Rock art bears witness to Australia’s changing landscape: archaeologists explore Giglio Rosso Lake
Archaeologists map the hidden landscape of Arnhem Land and its transformation with sea level rise
Scientists from Flinders University used underground imagery and aerial surveys to see through the floodplains of the Red Lily Lagoon area in West Arnhem Land, northern Australia. These innovative methods showed how this important landscape in the Northern Territory was changed by rising sea levels some 8,000 years ago. The discovery shows that the ocean has reached this now inland region, which has important implications for understanding the archaeological record at Madjedbebe, Australia’s oldest archaeological site. The finds also provide a new way of interpreting rock art in the region, recognized worldwide for its distinctive style and significance.
By studying how sediment, now buried under the floodplain, changes as sea level rises, researchers can see how the transformation of the Red Lily Lagoon led to the growth of mangroves that supported animal life and anchorage in the area where ancient indigenous rock art was found. This transformation, in turn, fostered an environment that inspired the themes and animals of ancient art.
In their findings, published today in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, the researchers say so The ecological changes of the lake were reflected in the rock art Why fish, crocodiles, and birds were represented in art as floodplains shifted to support freshwater habitats for new species. Dr Jarad Nulsar, senior author and research associate in the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at Flinders University, says cartography is fundamentally changing our archaeological understanding of Arnhem Land’s extraordinary landscape. “This is a key landscape for understanding early human occupation of Australia. Our reconstruction allows for efficient predictive modeling of key cultural sites and provides an important method for interpreting the presence and provenance of Aboriginal cultural materials.” “The timing of the rock art is consistent with the broader environmental changes we think have occurred in this landscape. This is evidenced by changes in art subjects, such as large macropods, and the emergence of art of infected animal species such as fish and crocodiles. The inclusion of freshwater species, such as fish and birds, is present in the modern artistic styles of this region and reflects the stages of environmental change in which the freshwater plains shaped the landscape.Or.” Co-author Professor Ian Moffat says electrical resistance tomography (ERT) is a fast, low-cost, non-invasive method that can map large areas of the Australian landscape to better understand its early history. “We show how ERT data can be used to develop landscape models Natural resources that are useful for understanding known places and predicting buried archaeological sites. We have demonstrated that landscape mapping of this region can be effectively mapped by non-invasive methods. This has important implications for the identification of new sites, but also for developing a more accurate understanding of regional geography and its influence on past human behavior.” “Red Lilly Lagoon is of exceptional archaeological importance for Arnhem Land, as it lies at one of the easternmost points of the Crocodile River floodplain The eastern, where the modern river, the Arnhem Plateau, forms a large boundary between low-altitude floodplains and sandstone plateaus, has been occupied by humans for more than 60,000 years and is home to countless sites of interest, including some of Australia’s most famous rock art. “.
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