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Geomorphological context and formation history of Cloggs Cave: What was the cave like when people inhabited it?

New research undertaken at Cloggs Cave, in the foothills of the Australian Alps, employed an integrated geological-geomorphological-archaeological approach with manifold dating methods and fine resolution LiDAR 3D mapping. Long-standing questions about the site’s chronostratigraphy (e.g. the exact relationship between basal megafaunal deposits and archaeological layers), sedimentation processes and geomorphic changes were resolved. The cave’s formation history was reconstructed to understand its changing morphology and morphogenic processes, and to clarify how these processes shaped the cave’s deposits. Key findings include the identification of: 1) the geomorphological processes that caused the lateral juxtaposition of 52,000 year-old megafaunal and later occupational layers; 2) the existence of one and possibly two (now-buried) palaeo-entrance(s) that enabled now-extinct megafauna and extant large fauna to enter the cave, most likely via a free-roaming passage rather than a pit drop; 3) morphological changes to the cave during the time of the Old People, including the timing of changes to the inclination of palaeo-surfaces; and 4) modifications to stalactites, crushing of calcite formations for the manufacture of powder, construction of a stone arrangement, and movement of large limestone blocks by the Old People. Ultimately, these findings demonstrate that to properly understand what Cloggs Cave was like when the Old People visited the site requires the construction of a narrative that spans some 400 million years and the development of an approach capable of integrating the many scales and processes (e.g. geological, geomorphological, archaeological) that configured to shape the site.
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Delannoy, J.-J., David, B., Fresløv, J., Mullett, R., GunaiKurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation, Green, H., … Wong, V. N. L. (2020). Geomorphological context and formation history of Cloggs Cave: What was the cave like when people inhabited it? Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 33. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2020.102461
© 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/BY-NC-ND/4.0/).T