Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952453 | Print ISBN: 9780761930297 | Online ISBN: 9781412952453| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The first evidence of human habitation on Tasmania dates from around 23,000–25,000 years ago, when the Bass Strait was actually a land bridge and allowed for easy passage between the mainland and Tasmania. Then, between 8,000–12,000 years ago, with the warming of the Earth, the Strait flooded, leaving the small population stranded for the longest period of human isolation ever. These aboriginal Tasmanians were hunter-gatherers who ate marsupials such as wombats and kangaroos, seafood such as crayfish and crab, and plant foods such sea kelp, roots, berries, and fungi. Their political organization was akin to many other food collecting societies in that homestead groups of between two and eleven were joined together through both kinship and geography into acephalous bands of 40 or 50 people. Bands were the primary landholding units, not landowning as there was no private property recognized, while tribes were the largest political units. Contemporary aboriginal organizations ...