Trekking the Shore

Part of the series Interdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology pp 441-461


Coastal Foragers on Southern Shores: Marine Resource Use in Northeast Australia since the Late Pleistocene

  • Sean UlmAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, Archaeology and Sociology, School of Arts and Social Sciences, James Cook University Email author 

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The sea is central to the lives of contemporary coastal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across northeast Australia. Indigenous histories and documentary sources show the sea to be a vital source of subsistence, raw materials, spirituality and connection with other peoples. Coasts, and especially islands, were a focus of occupation, with high population densities linked to low mobility along the length of the Queensland coast. But what are the antecedents of these people–sea relationships? In this review, the archaeological evidence for coastal foraging across northeast Australia from the late Pleistocene is explored and the main themes and challenges in developing an understanding of how coastal resources figured in the lives of ancient Australians are discussed.