Unlocking the environmental archives of the Kimberley’s past ARC LP170100242
The project aims to provide new understanding of the causes of environmental change and impacts on Australia’s Kimberley region since the arrival of Australia’s earliest inhabitants, and to inform conservation policy that will preserve the region’s globally significant rock art against environmental change and economic development. Ultimately all researchers in the Kimberley will be able to access a paleo-environments and paleoclimate e-atlas for the Kimberley.
Providing a palaeoenvironmental framework for the Kimberley region which gives context to the archaeological and rock art record is a research priority for KFA. The Foundation previously funded a palynology pilot study of sediment cores from the North West Kimberley led by Prof. Hamish McGowan with PhD candidate Emily Field. This strategic funding led to the successful submission to the Australian Research Council in 2018 for funding over 3 years, led by KFA as major cash partner.
Research contracts and collaboration agreements for the new project were signed in mid-March after which the project’s first planning workshop was held at The University of Queensland on 29-30 May. Led by Professor Hamish McGowan the workshop was attended by Professor Jonathan Woodhead, The University of Melbourne, Professor Simon Haberle, Australian National University, Dr Nik Callow, The University of Western Australia, Dr Stuart Browning, Macquarie University and Associate Professor Patrick Moss, The University Queensland. Dr Sven Ouzman, the University of Western Australia also attended and provided members of the research team with an overview of his experiences of conducting research in the Kimberley. Team members gave short presentations on previous research they had conducted in the Kimberley or research expertise that they will apply in the project over the coming three years.
An international search was held for the project’s Postdoctoral Fellow with interviews completed in early July. The project was awarded a fully funded PhD scholarship by The University of Queensland. This scholarship will support a 3.5 yr PhD study to model the palaeoclimate of the Kimberley and has been advertised internationally.
A remote sensing analysis of sites in the Kimberley that hold water for the majority of each year, excluding rivers, has been completed to identify potential field sites (swamps, lakes, springs) for sampling. These have been ranked and the process of obtaining permission to access sites in preparation for the project’s major field season in 2020 is underway.
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Rock art research is central to answering some of the big questions about human migration. The impact made through KFA rock art research has the potential to rewrite the history of human migration. Recent research in Sulawesi has uncovered prehistoric stone tools thought to be 118,000 years old and nearby rock art at 35,500 years old.
It bears a close resemblance to one of the earliest Kimberley rock art styles. This research including KFA-backed research is the latest in a string of findings that is re-shaping ideas about human migration. It has shifted the focus of early archaeological research from traditional Western hotspots to Australia’s doorstep.
You can ensure the rock art is recognised for its international significance and protected accordingly by leaving a bequest to the Kimberley Foundation Australia. If you wish to make a bequest we welcome the opportunity to meet you and answer any questions or discuss specific details with you.
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You can support the Kimberley Foundation Australia by donating shares as well as cash. ShareGift Australia is a not-for-profit organisation that makes it easy for you to support us. Through ShareGift Australia you can ‘convert’ your shares into a charitable donation without paying brokerage fees. If the value of the share sale exceeds $50, you have the option to recommend Kimberley Foundation Australia as beneficiary.
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