The past thirty years have seen a transformation of Tasmanian prehistoric research. Analysis of shell middens established a sequence documenting coastal adaptation over the past 8 kyr. Fishing ceased in mid-Holocene times, and explanations for this as being due either to the effects of isolation on Tasmanian Aboriginal society or to a structural reorganization of coastal economic strategies have caused considerable debate. From the early 1980s excavations in limestone caves within wilderness valleys in the southwest have shown that this region was occupied throughout the Last Glacial Maximum, back to 35 kyr B.P. The technological, subsistence, and symbolic systems of these southern Ice Age hunters is linked to paleoenvironmental conditions when Tasmania was joined to the mainland by the low-sea Bassian landbridge. The Aborigines of Tasmania, long constructed as an abstract frozen metaphor for Paleolithic man, are now seen as the inheritors of a deep real past.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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