Puntutjarpa rockshelter revisited: a chronological and stratigraphic reappraisal of a key archaeological sequence for the Western Desert, Australia

Michael Smith, Alan Williams, June Ross

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Puntutjarpa Rockshelter was the first archaeological site excavated in the Australian desert. Dug between 1967 and 1970, the archaeological sequence was originally interpreted as a continuous record spanning the last 10,000 years BP. With a new series of radiocarbon and OSL dates we show that Puntutjarpa primarily contains a mid-Holocene deposit with a veneer of last millennium material and a thin underlay of terminal Pleistocene evidence. We show that over the last 12.0 kyr, there were three discrete phases of site-use at Puntutjarpa–12.0–9.7 kyr, 8.3–6.2 kyr and ∼1.1–0 kyr–each with differences in the nature and intensity of occupation. This removes key field evidence for the ‘Australian Desert Culture’, a concept that has increasingly become an anomaly since the 1980s.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)20-31
    Number of pages12
    JournalAustralian Archaeology
    Volume83
    Issue number1-2
    Early online date2017
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2017

    Keywords

    • Australian desert culture
    • Holocene discontinuities in site use
    • radiocarbon and OSL dating
    • Western Desert

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