Archaeological settlement patterns and mobility strategies on the lower Adelaide River, Northern Territory

  • Celia Jane Brockwell

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    This thesis investigates settlement patterns and mobility strategies on the lower Adelaide River in the late Holocene period. As earth mounds are the dominant site type in the study area and have a chronology spanning at least 4000 years, they provide opportunities for research into Aboriginal adaptive strategies in an environment that changed dramatically over the mid to late Holocene period. Earth mounds have been reported from a number of locations in northern Australia, but until now have not been studied intensively. Several themes raised by the literature in relation to the earth mounds in both northern and southern Australia will be addressed, including location, morphology, chronology, origins and the role that earth mounds play in wider settlement systems. The earth mounds are located next to the vast floodplains of the Adelaide River, one of the major tropical rivers draining the flat coastal plains of the north. The floodplains of the northern rivers underwent dynamic environmental change from extensive mangrove swamps in the mid Holocene, through a variable estuarine and freshwater mosaic environment c. 3000 years ago, to the freshwater floodplains that are extant today.
    Geomorphological research into floodplain evolution in northern Australia has provided a framework within which the archaeology can be interpreted. I will argue that the earth mounds represent base camps and that occupation of the floodplain margins has been the major settlement strategy in the region from at least 4000 years ago until the recent past. However within that time the occupants of the earth mounds have adapted their foraging patterns and altered their mobility strategies according to floodplain conditions.
    Date of AwardAug 2001
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorPeter Hiscock (Supervisor) & Ian Walters (Supervisor)

    Cite this