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Towards an accurate and precise chronology for the colonization of Australia: The example of Riwi, Kimberley, Western Australia

Journal Article


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Abstract


  • An extensive series of 44 radiocarbon (14C) and 37 optically stimulated luminescence

    (OSL) ages have been obtained from the site of Riwi, south central Kimberley (NW Australia).

    As one of the earliest known Pleistocene sites in Australia, with archaeologically sterile

    sediment beneath deposits containing occupation, the chronology of the site is important in

    renewed debates surrounding the colonization of Sahul. Charcoal is preserved throughout

    the sequence and withinmultiple discrete hearth features. Prior to 14C dating, charcoal has

    been pretreated with both acid-base-acid (ABA) and acid base oxidation-stepped combustion

    (ABOx-SC) methods at multiple laboratories. Ages are consistent between laboratories

    and also between the two pretreatment methods, suggesting that contamination is easily

    removed from charcoal at Riwi and the Pleistocene ages are likely to be accurate. Whilst

    some charcoal samples recovered from outside hearth features are identified as outliers

    within a Bayesian model, all ages on charcoal within hearth features are consistent with

    stratigraphy. OSL dating has been undertaken using single quartz grains from the sandy

    matrix. The majority of samples show De distributions that are well-bleached but that also

    include evidence for mixing as a result of post-depositional bioturbation of the sediment.

    The results of the two techniques are compared and evaluated within a Bayesian model.

    Consistency between the two methods is good, and we demonstrate human occupation at

    this site from 46.4–44.6 cal kBP (95.4% probability range). Importantly, the lowest archaeological

    horizon at Riwi is underlain by sterile sediments which have been dated by OSL

    making it possible to demonstrate the absence of human occupation for between 0.9–5.2

    ka (68.2% probability range) prior to occupation.

Authors


  •   Wood, Rachel (external author)
  •   Jacobs, Zenobia
  •   Vannieuwenhuyse, Dorcas (external author)
  •   Balme, Jane (external author)
  •   O'Connor, Sue (external author)
  •   Whitau, Rose (external author)

Publication Date


  • 2016

Citation


  • Wood, R., Jacobs, Z., Vannieuwenhuyse, D., Balme, J., O'Connor, S. & Whitau, R. (2016). Towards an accurate and precise chronology for the colonization of Australia: The example of Riwi, Kimberley, Western Australia. PLoS One, 11 (9), 0160123-1-0160123-25.

Ro Full-text Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=5211&context=smhpapers

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/smhpapers/4187

Start Page


  • 0160123-1

End Page


  • 0160123-25

Volume


  • 11

Issue


  • 9

Abstract


  • An extensive series of 44 radiocarbon (14C) and 37 optically stimulated luminescence

    (OSL) ages have been obtained from the site of Riwi, south central Kimberley (NW Australia).

    As one of the earliest known Pleistocene sites in Australia, with archaeologically sterile

    sediment beneath deposits containing occupation, the chronology of the site is important in

    renewed debates surrounding the colonization of Sahul. Charcoal is preserved throughout

    the sequence and withinmultiple discrete hearth features. Prior to 14C dating, charcoal has

    been pretreated with both acid-base-acid (ABA) and acid base oxidation-stepped combustion

    (ABOx-SC) methods at multiple laboratories. Ages are consistent between laboratories

    and also between the two pretreatment methods, suggesting that contamination is easily

    removed from charcoal at Riwi and the Pleistocene ages are likely to be accurate. Whilst

    some charcoal samples recovered from outside hearth features are identified as outliers

    within a Bayesian model, all ages on charcoal within hearth features are consistent with

    stratigraphy. OSL dating has been undertaken using single quartz grains from the sandy

    matrix. The majority of samples show De distributions that are well-bleached but that also

    include evidence for mixing as a result of post-depositional bioturbation of the sediment.

    The results of the two techniques are compared and evaluated within a Bayesian model.

    Consistency between the two methods is good, and we demonstrate human occupation at

    this site from 46.4–44.6 cal kBP (95.4% probability range). Importantly, the lowest archaeological

    horizon at Riwi is underlain by sterile sediments which have been dated by OSL

    making it possible to demonstrate the absence of human occupation for between 0.9–5.2

    ka (68.2% probability range) prior to occupation.

Authors


  •   Wood, Rachel (external author)
  •   Jacobs, Zenobia
  •   Vannieuwenhuyse, Dorcas (external author)
  •   Balme, Jane (external author)
  •   O'Connor, Sue (external author)
  •   Whitau, Rose (external author)

Publication Date


  • 2016

Citation


  • Wood, R., Jacobs, Z., Vannieuwenhuyse, D., Balme, J., O'Connor, S. & Whitau, R. (2016). Towards an accurate and precise chronology for the colonization of Australia: The example of Riwi, Kimberley, Western Australia. PLoS One, 11 (9), 0160123-1-0160123-25.

Ro Full-text Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=5211&context=smhpapers

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/smhpapers/4187

Start Page


  • 0160123-1

End Page


  • 0160123-25

Volume


  • 11

Issue


  • 9