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University of Adelaide (2020)

Using Advanced Remote Sensing Technologies to Discriminate Patterns of Ancient Aboriginal Land Use in the Australian Arid Zone

Law, Wallace Boone

Titre : Using Advanced Remote Sensing Technologies to Discriminate Patterns of Ancient Aboriginal Land Use in the Australian Arid Zone

Auteur : Law, Wallace Boone

Université de soutenance : University of Adelaide

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2020

Résumé partiel
There is a long-standing perception amongst some scholars in the Australian archaeological community that aerial and satellite remote sensing technologies have little to offer researchers because, in general, the imagery derived from such platforms is not of sufficient spatial resolution to detect and identify the architectural structures, cultural features or landscape modifications made by ancient Aboriginal peoples. This thesis suggests this perception is unjustified, and it argues that remote sensing can provide valuable information on the distribution of natural resources, which is important for understanding the archaeological record of Australia. Thus, rather than focusing on how remote sensing technologies can be used to detect how Aboriginal Australians transformed the environment, this research proposes that remote sensing should be used to investigate how precontact forager groups interacted with the natural environment itself. The past three decades of Australian archaeological research has placed particular emphasis on human ecology and in particular, how the location of water, plant communities and stone resources are important for understanding traditional Aboriginal subsistence and settlement practices in Australian arid zone. This type of information is important for understanding where particular kinds of archaeological sites may occur and how people positioned themselves amongst natural resources in an environmentally varied desertic landscape. The arid land systems of central and western Australia offer an ideal context to investigate the archaeological record with remote sensing technologies, as these sparsely vegetated arid environments provides ample opportunity to obtain bare-earth observations of natural resources with satellite and aerial imagery. These characteristics are ideal for assessing the usefulness of a wide range of forms of remote sensing and exploring the overarching theme of this thesis—the relevance of advanced remote sensing technologies for our understanding of past Aboriginal land use and site distribution in the Australian arid zone. In this thesis, it is shown how many kinds of remotely sensed information are useful to the investigation of the Aboriginal archaeological record. The research is presented in three case studies, each leading to a changed perception and understanding of the archaeological record informed by use of aerial and satellite remote sensing investigations.

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