Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/2440/128305
Type: Thesis
Title: Using Advanced Remote Sensing Technologies to Discriminate Patterns of Ancient Aboriginal Land Use in the Australian Arid Zone
Author: Law, Wallace Boone
Issue Date: 2020
School/Discipline: School of Biological Sciences
Abstract: 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. The first case study demonstrates how satellitederived digital elevation data can be used to construct a digital terrain model, offering a more objective interpretation of the land units in which stone arrangement sites are likely to be constructed. The second example uses airborne hyperspectral imagery to map silicified rock sources, showing how spectral analysis can be used to discriminate where potential ‘tool-stone’ could be procured for artefact manufacture. The third case study shows how multiple remote sensing and geospatial datasets can be combined to model habitat suitability across the Western Desert of Australia, testing previous models of human ecology in a detailed way that previous landscape analyses could not. The outcomes of this research allow us to better understand a greater range of Aboriginal subsistence and settlement practices in this vast arid region. The thesis concludes with the recognition that environmental remote sensing has much to offer Australian archaeological research, and the discipline seems to be on the cusp of a technological revolution. In recent years, an increasing diversity of remotely sensed information has become readily accessible, with many data sources providing open access through numerous online platforms and cloud-based processing systems. It is predicted that the future of Australian archaeology is poised for a period of substantial growth and development of applied remote sensing research, which will only be hindered by a lack of interdisciplinary awareness and spatial science training opportunities.
Advisor: Lewis, Megan M.
Ostendorf, Bertram
Hiscock, Peter
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Biological Sciences, 2020
Keywords: Remote Sensing
GIS
Archaeology
Aboriginal
Australian Arid Zone
Desert Ecology
Provenance: This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at: http://www.adelaide.edu.au/legals
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