Glen Thirsty: The history and archaeology of a desert well

M. A. Smith, J. Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The archaeology of Glen Thirsty, a desert well in the Amadeus Basin, Central Australia, illustrates the changing relationship between the ranges and desert lowlands during the last 1500 years. Historical records and Aboriginal accounts of the site document the regional importance of Glen Thirsty as one of the few wells in this part of the desert. Archaeological excavations and rock art research show that despite its proximity to Puritjarra with its long, late Pleistocene record of occupation. Glen Thirsty only became an important focus of occupation after 1500 BP. Several lines of evidence independently suggest the establishment and consolidation of a new cultural and economic landscape in the Glen Thirsty area around this time. Growing population pressure and shifts in patterns of land-use and economy in the Central Australian ranges may have provided the impetus for more intensive use of the Glen Thirsty area, although the timing of this was constrained by climatic factors. As a rain-fed well in the lower part of the Amadeus Basin, Glen Thirsty is sensitive to shifts in palaeoclimate and its history reflects changes in regional rainfall patterns during the late Holocene.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-59
Number of pages15
JournalAustralian Archaeology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • desert well
  • Amadeus Basin
  • rock art research


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