Please note that this is a hybrid event and will be recorded
A broad spectrum diet, including the exploitation of a wide variety of wild plant foods, has historically been considered a pre-cursor to the origins of agriculture. However, increasing evidence globally points to the use of a range of plant foods, including seeds and underground storage organs, by Pleistocene humans and their closest ancestors. At Madjedbebe, a rockshelter in northern Australia, early occupation by ~65 kya is associated with the use of a diverse diet of fruits, nuts, seeds, palm and underground storage organs, and evidence for intensive plant processing and associated technologies. This presentation considers this early diet and its change over time in response to changing environment and demography. This included a broadening of the diet during drier glacial stages, as well as changes in the seasonal round and incorporation of new foods with the formation of freshwater wetlands following sea level rise in the late Holocene. However, the foundations of the economy evidenced at Madjedbebe, including seasonal mobility, a broad diet and requisite plant processing and grinding technologies, were maintained through time. The exploitation of a broad spectrum diet is, therefore, a significantly older foraging strategy than once hypothesised, and a key component of the resilient economic system evidenced at Madjedbebe, allowing for cultural continuity in the face of pronounced environmental change.
About the speaker
Dr Anna Florin's research is focused on developing long-term perspectives on the role of plant foods, and their processing and management in world economies. Her research, focused in Australia, New Guinea and Island Southeast Asia, has implications for key topics in global archaeology. This includes the role of plant foods in early human migrations outside Africa, ongoing cultural adaptations to climate change, and new perspectives on plant and landscape management practices in “hunter-gatherer” societies.
Dr Anna Florin
Dr Anna Florin is a lecturer in Archaeological Science at ANU and Associate Investigator with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, University of Wollongong.