Islands of the dead? Prehistoric occupation of Kangaroo Island and other southern offshore islands and watercraft use by Aboriginal Australians

Neale Draper

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    4 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Kangaroo Island has long been a source of creation mythology for Indigenous Australians. Over the last century, it has also been a source of creation mythology for Australian archaeology. The theme of the archaeological mythology has been the notion, based on culture-historical interpretations of stone artefact typologies, that the Island was occupied by people belonging to successive large-tool ("Kartan") and small-tool "Cultures". A fundamental tenet of the "Kartan Mystery" has been the notion that the Island was abandoned for several thousand years prior to the European colonisation of South Australia, and following the attainment of modern sea-levels, the Indigenous people of southern Australia lacked either the watercraft or the will to continue to inhabit Kangaroo Island and other offshore islands along the southern coastline. From at least as far east as Tasmania to as far west as Rottnest Island off Fremantle (Western Australia), there are islands which have a prehistoric archaeological record and/or an ethnographic status as uninhabited "Islands of the Dead" for adjacent, mainland or Tasmanian Aboriginal societies. This paper explores these notions and refers to evidence that Aboriginal Australians of the southern Australian coastal regions both used watercraft and visited offshore islands such as Kangaroo Island throughout the pre-colonial Holocene period.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)229-242
    Number of pages14
    JournalQuaternary International
    Volume385
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

    Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Islands of the dead? Prehistoric occupation of Kangaroo Island and other southern offshore islands and watercraft use by Aboriginal Australians'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this