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The Traditional Settlement Pattern in South West Victoria Reconsidered. (Book Note).

The Traditional Settlement Pattern in South West Victoria Reconsidered

Rupert Gerritsen

Intellectual Property Publications, LPO Box A145, Australian National University, ACT 0200, 2000 (no ISBN)

Gerritsen, in this long paper (iv+45pp plus appendices, including nine figures and eight plates), has surveyed a large amount of historical, ethnographic and archaeological literature in his `reconsideration' of Indigenous settlement patterns in southwestern Victoria--his report contains seventeen pages of endnotes and another five pages of references. His geographical focus is southwestern Victoria, and particularly upon the Lake Condah area, and his topical concerns are the origins, nature and extent of habitations and settlement, and the matter of sedentary subsistence practice versus mobility.

Gerritsen interprets the historical ethnographic evidence to indicate that large structures `capable of accommodating around 40 people, were constructed in the north west of the region', and that circular stone structures in the vicinity of Condah and Louth swamps and Lake Condah represented `short-term, post-contact, occupation of habitations' (p. 43). He argues that previous archaeological investigations of supposed village sites outside the Condah area arrived at mistaken conclusions because investigators failed to integrate historical ethnographic evidence. He sets his conclusions in an analysis of habitation and settlement data, from which he constructs a typology of habitation and of settlement, one that he sees as `indicative of a settlement hierarchy ... that appeared to correspond to the frequency and distribution of the mounds' found in southwestern Victoria (p. 44). His consideration of evidence for sedentism from studies elsewhere results in a revised classification of sedentism and mobility, and the identification of `"multi-season" sedentism' in southwestern Victoria, comparable with `early agricultural settlements in other parts of the world'.

He concludes that `different mobility patterns, "embedded", "seasonal" and "radiating", the last being associated with "logistic procurement strategies", may have been followed' there, and that aspects of the `traditional settlement patterns, as observed early in the contact period, may have commenced as early as 550 BP' (p. 44).

Graeme K. Ward, AIATSIS
COPYRIGHT 2001 Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
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Author:Ward, Graeme K.
Publication:Australian Aboriginal Studies
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 22, 2001
Words:326
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