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

Part of the Interdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology book series (IDCA)


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.


Late Pleistocene Marine Resource Marine Transgression Coastal Resource Torres Strait Islander People 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Thanks to the editors for the invitation to contribute to this volume and to Mike Rowland, Bryce Barker, Jay Hall, Ian Lilley, Annie Ross, Ian McNiven, Dan Rosendahl, Richard Robins, Jill Reid, Deborah Brian, Pat Faulkner and Deb Vale for long and sometimes passionate discussions about coastal occupation in northeast Australia. Many thanks to Michael Morrison and Richard Robins for providing photographs. Iain Davidson, Mike Rowland, Nuno Bicho, Annie Ross and Patrick Faulkner graciously provided comments on manuscript drafts. This research was supported under the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Projects funding scheme (project number DP0663047).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anthropology, Archaeology and Sociology, School of Arts and Social SciencesJames Cook UniversityCairnsAustralia

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