Regime change: An anthracological assessment of fuel selection and management at Madjedbebe (Malakunanja II), Mirarr country, Australia
This working paper is a presentation of my PhD thesis – its conceptualisation, results, and conclusions. My thesis explored fuel wood selection strategies at the site of Madjedbebe (Malakunanja II), in Kakadu National Park. This investigation found fuel wood selection remained locally focused over the past 20,000 years. The inhabitants of Madjedbebe consistently targeted two vegetation communities open Eucalypt woodland and monsoon vine forest for their fuel wood, with minor contributions from a third – Grevillea/Banksia shrubland. There was a clear diachronic change in the taxonomic composition of the hearths from Acacia sp. dominance to increased taxon richness. This shift did not align with any major shifts in climate or woodland composition and was probably due to a change in anthropogenic selection preferences over time.
This thesis was the first to develop a conceptual model for fuel wood selection in Australian anthracology. This model was developed in response to calls in the international anthracology literature for fuel wood to be conceptualised as a socially mediated and historically situated landscape practice. The model developed proposes anthropogenic landscape burning as a hypothesised post-LGM landscape management practice. This model offers the first conceptualisation of fuel wood within the Indigenous Australian landscape and economy.
About the Presenter
Xavier Carah is a PhD candidate in the School of Social Science at the University of Queensland. He recently submitted his PhD thesis on Australian anthracology and fuel wood management. Prior to his PhD Xavier worked as a consultant archaeologist in Queensland and New South Wales, and has also worked in Collections Management at the Queensland Museum.