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This is the first book-length study of the archaeology of Australia's deserts, one of the world's major habitats and the largest block of drylands in the southern hemisphere. Over the last few decades, a wealth of new environmental and archaeological data about this fascinating region has become available. Drawing on a wide range of sources, The Archaeology of Australia's Deserts explores the late Pleistocene settlement of Australia's deserts, the formation of distinctive desert societies, and the origins and development of the hunter-gatherer societies documented in the classic nineteenth-century ethnographies of Spencer and Gillen. Written by one of Australia's leading desert archaeologists, the book interweaves a lively history of research with archaeological data in a masterly survey of the field and a profoundly interdisciplinary study that forces archaeology into conversations with history and anthropology, economy and ecology, and geography and earth sciences.Read more
- Takes an interdisciplinary approach: each chapter builds a story about desert people from different literature
- Provides comprehensive coverage: this is a masterly survey of complex sources of science, history and archaeology
- Presents a unique work: no previous book has examined in detail the deep human and environmental history of Australian deserts
- Winner of the 2013 John Mulvaney Book Award, Australian Archaeological Association
Reviews & endorsements
"The Archaeology of Australia's Deserts is a masterpiece."
Ramiro Barberena, Historical Records of Australian ScienceSee more reviews
"… the most important exploration of Australia's ancient human history since John Mulvaney's The Prehistory of Australia was published forty-four years ago."
Tom Griffiths, Inside Story
"… a substantial undertaking … an impressive an elegant work. Informative, comprehensive and engaging, it [is] a pleasure to read and is a worthwhile addition to the Cambridge World Archaeology series and to the bookshelf of any practising or aspiring archaeologist."
Jacqueline Tumney, Quaternary Australasia
"Mike Smith has produced an impressive overview of the prehistory and environmental history of Australia's vast and variable arid interior. His expert synthesis of over forty years of scholarly archaeological, scientific and related research will appeal to anyone interested in the archaeology of deserts, hunter-gatherers and Aboriginal Australia."
"… the appeal of this well-illustrated volume supported with a current bibliography goes well beyond anthropology to include, more broadly, ecology and environmental studies. Clearly aimed at college and university audiences, archaeologist Smith's volume will find also interested readers in larger public libraries. Highly recommended."
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- Date Published: February 2013
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9780521407458
- length: 424 pages
- dimensions: 260 x 182 x 30 mm
- weight: 1.06kg
- contains: 80 b/w illus. 10 maps 45 tables
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
1. The archaeology of deserts: Australia in context
2. Deserts past: a history of ideas
3. The empty desert: inland environments prior to people
4. Foundations: moving into the deserts
5. Islands in the interior: last glacial aridity and its aftermath
6. The 'desert culture' revisited: assembling a cultural system
7. Rock art and place: evolution of an inscribed landscape
8. The chain of connection: trade and exchange across the interior
9. The last millennium: archaeology and the classic ethnographies.
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