Thursday, 30 May 2019

The Moyjil site, south-west Victoria, Australia - 120,000 Years ?

The scientific papers are available here
in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria 130(2).

These papers are on Open Access and can be downloaded.

The abstract of the introduction by John E Sherwood follows

"Moyjil (also known as Point Ritchie) is the site of an unusual shell deposit in south-west Victoria showing many characteristics of a midden. Earlier research established an age of 60 ka or older for the shell deposit but could not establish whether humans or animals such as seabirds were responsible for its formation. This paper, the first of six in this special issue, summarises the most recent phase (~10 years) of investigations. The site’s age is now fixed as Last Interglacial and following the stage MIS 5e sea-level maximum (i.e. younger than 120–125 ka). Fragmentation and the limited size distribution of the dominant marine shellfish (Lunella undulata syn. Turbo undulatus) confirm the site as a midden. There is also evidence for fire (charcoal and discoloured and fractured stones) and two hearth-like features, one of which has been archaeologically excavated. None of the evidence collected is able to conclusively demonstrate a human versus animal origin for the site. Significantly, a human origin remains to be disproved. These papers provide the basis for a new phase of research into the possible cultural status of the Moyjil site."

I heard Bruce Pascoe of Dark Emu fame referring to this date as fact on the ABC program "The Drum" yesterday.

It is also worth bearing in mind the time an estimate like this was made in 1996 in the paper
 Fullagar, R., Price, D. & Head, L. 1996. Early human occupation of northern Australia: stratigraphy and dating of the Jinmium rockshelter, Northern Territory. Antiquity 70: 751-73.
 which made headlines throughout the country. It is available here.

A further paper appeared in 1998

Optical and radiocarbon dating at Jinmium rock shelter in northern Australia
Roberts et al, Nature 393, 358–362(1998)

The Abstract follows -

The Jinmium rock shelter is located in the Kimberley region of northern Australia. Claims for ancient rock art and an early human presence at this site1 were based on thermoluminescence ages of 50–75 thousand years (kyr) for quartz sands associated with buried circular engravings (pecked cupules) and on thermoluminescence ages of 116–176 kyr for the underlying artefact-bearing deposits. Here we report substantially younger optical ages for quartz sand, and ages based on measurements of radioactive carbon in charcoal fragments, from the occupation deposit. Using conventional (multiple-grain) optical dating methods, we estimate that the base of the deposit is 22 kyr. However, dating of individual grains shows that some have been buried more recently. The single-grain optical ages indicate that the Jinmium deposit is younger than 10 kyr. This result is in agreement with the late-Holocene ages obtained for the upper two-thirds of the deposit from radiocarbon measurements. We suggest that some grains have older optical ages because they received insufficient exposure to sunlight before burial. The presence of such grains in a sample will cause age overestimates using multiple-grain methods, whether using thermoluminescence or optical dating.

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Some Odds and Ends

In sorting out the contents of some boxes in a cupboard I came across the following items I obtained years ago.

(1) Junga Yimi Issue No. 2 1995
Produced by the Bilingual Resources Development Unit at the Yuendumu Education Centre.
Amongst other things it contains photos of school classes and names of pupils for the following

Pre-school, Transition, Year, Year 2, Year 3/4, Year 4/5, Year 5/6, Post Primary Boys, Year 7 Girls, Year 8 Girls, Year 9 Girls

(2) Four pamphlets produced by the Aboriginal History Foundation of Victoria

Lake Condah Mission (1984) - Lists births, deaths and marriages after the Mission had closed
Framlingham Mission (1989) - Lists some families and people of Framlingham
Cummeragunga (1984) - Cummeragunga 1920 Aunty Cissie remembers these people
Lake Tyers (1987) - Family surnames that resided at Lake Tyers from 1878 - 1924

(3) Central Australian Religion by T G H Strehlow

Contains a partial genealogical chart from the Ellery Creek area of the Northern Territory.
The base date is for Sarah born 2. 4.1892.