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Horticultural experimentation in northern Australia reconsidered

  • Tim Denham (a1), Mark Donohue (a2) and Sara Booth (a1)

Did the banana, yam and taro arrive in Australia at the hands of Europeans or come across the Torres Strait 2000 years before? Reviewing the evidence from herbaria histories and anthropology, the authors propose a ‘hierarchy of hypotheses’ and consider a still earlier option, that these food plants were potentially grown in Australia at least 8000 years ago, while it was still joined to New Guinea. This hypothesis, first proposed by Jones and Meehan in 1989, locates early horticultural experiments among peoples too often seen as inveterate hunter-gatherers.

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