Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Claire Smith

Kow Swamp

  • Julie Lahn
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_27


Kow Swamp is the name given to the largest Late Pleistocene cemetery thus far found in Australia. Site excavations led by Alan Thorne in the late 1960s and early 1970s revealed skeletal material belonging to more than 40 individuals with ages ranging from infant to adult. All but one were male. The morphological character of the material presented an important challenge to existing evolutionary theories of human settlement in Australia. Amid controversy, in 1991, the collection was repatriated to Aboriginal people and subsequently reinterred, heralding a significant shift in the ethics of conducting archaeological research to include a greater involvement with Indigenous Australians.

Key Issues

Early Humans in Australia

As the largest group of Late Pleistocene fossils found in Australia, the Kow Swamp material substantially increased the body of evidence from which archaeologists and physical anthropologists could theorize about a range of complex issues such as the...

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Further Reading

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia