Kow Swamp, Victoria, Australia

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An early burial ground close to the Murray River, Victoria, southern Australia, excavated by Alan Thorne from 1968 to 1972. Dating to between 11 000 bc and 7000 bc, the 40 individual burials represent a range of practices, while the skeletal material represents an anatomically robust population that lies outside the extremes of the range of recent Aboriginal populations. Some stone tools consisting of quartz flakes and bipolar cores are typical of the period but shed little light on the origins and associations of the population. On the basis of the finds from Kow Swamp, however, Thorne suggests a dual origin for Australia's Aboriginal population. Overall, the Kow Swamp collection is the largest single late Pleistocene population so far recovered: the remains themselves were returned to the local Aboriginal community for reburial.


A. G. Thorne and P. G. Macumber, 1972, Discoveries of Late Pleistocene man at Kow Swamp, Australia. Nature, 238, 316–19;D. J. Mulvaney, 1991, Past regained, future lost: the Kow Swamp Pleistocene burials. Antiquity, 65, 12–21

Subjects: Archaeology.

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