Small island, 'big swamp', Kuiku Pad Reef: Sarbi 4200-3500 cal BP, western Torres Strait

Joseph Albert Stanton Crouch

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Excavation of an open midden site on the Mualgal (people of Mua) nonresidential island of Sarbi in western Torres Strait reveal occupation dating to c. 4200e3500 cal BP and a faunal assemblage displaying a degree of marine subsistence diversity previously undemonstrated for Torres Strait at this time. Results confirm that dugong hunting was practiced in (western) Torres Strait back to at least c. 4000 cal BP. The Sarbi midden joins a limited but growing set of pre-3500 cal BP sites located on small islands spatially clustered around Kuiku Pad Reef. This spatial and temporal patterning is discussed in terms of mid- Holocene seascape change, especially a phase of dense widespread mangrove forest, coral reef development and burgeoning marine resources, and specialised maritime settlement. Seasonal changes in wind direction, in addition to resource availability, are considered to have been important in scheduling visits to Sarbi.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88 - 101
Number of pages14
JournalQuaternary International
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Holocene environmental change
  • Seascape
  • Specialised maritime settlement
  • Torres Strait

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