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If there were water: prehistoric settlement patterns in the Victorian Mallee

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posted on 2022-11-13, 23:00 authored by Anne Ross

'If there were water, the Thunder said, there are a number of things we could do, particularly 'stop and drink'. Without water 'one cannot stop or think ... one can neither stand nor lie nor sit'. With aridity there is sterility - 'thunder without rain' no life. The Thunder in T. S. Eliot's poem from The Waste Land (1922) was making a number of assumptions about human responses to plenty and drought. Many anthropologists and archaeologists studying hunter gatherer settlement patterns have made, and still make, very similar assumptions. Their arguments, like the Thunder's, rely on the premise that where people will 'stop' in the landscape, and leave archaeological remains, depends largely upon ecological parameters, particularly the presence of water. In this thesis this fundamental assumption will be tested by a consideration of the prehistoric settlement patterns of the Aborigines of north western Victoria.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. The Noble Savage and the Child of Nature -- Chapter 2. Ecological and social models -- Chapter 3. The present environment of the Victorian Mallee -- Chapter 4. The reconstruction of prehistoric environments in north western -- Victoria -- Chapter 5. Archaeological sites of the Mallee: method and theory -- Chapter 6. Archaeological evidence for prehistoric site location over time in the Victorian Mallee -- Chapter 7. The absence of evidence -- Chapter 8. Population increase and intensification -- Chapter 9. Ethnohistorical and linguistic evidence for site patterning -- Chapter 10. Conclusions and implications -- Appendix A. Past environments of south eastern Australia -- Appendix B. Description of sites in the study area -- Bibliography


A thesis submitted to Macquarie University in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


Thesis (PhD), Macquarie University, Faculty of Science and Engineering, School of Earth Sciences, 1984

Department, Centre or School

School of Earth Sciences

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Richard Wright

Additional Supervisor 1

Peter White

Additional Supervisor 2

Martin Williams


Copyright: The Author Copyright disclaimer: This thesis was digitised for the purposes of InterLibrary Loan. Macquarie University attempted to locate the author but where this has not been possible; we are making available, open access, the thesis which may be used for the purposes of private research and study. If you have any enquiries or issues regarding this work being made available please contact




Victoria Australia


466 pages

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