• ‘A truly sublime appearance’: using GIS to find the traces of pre-colonial landscapes and land use

    Author(s):
    Imogen Wegman (see profile)
    Date:
    2020
    Subject(s):
    Landscape history, Colonial history, Indigenous history, Australian history, GIS, History, Tasmania
    Item Type:
    Article
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/cp0q-4t48
    Abstract:
    When the British landed on the island of Van Diemen’s Land in 1803, they found lands seemingly prepared for them. Abundant open plains drew the newcomers further inland, attracted by the prospects of further pastoral and agricultural success. What they neither understood nor acknowledged were the thousands of years of cultivation prior to their arrival. As the custodians of the island, the Tasmanian Aboriginal people used fire to manage and maintain a landscape that nourished them. This article proposes that analysis of land-use continuities can reveal new understandings of pre- colonial landscapes. This article uses two case studies to demonstrate two complementary approaches for uncovering this story. The first study follows a traditional approach that relies on historic sources such as maps, artwork and journals. The second methodology incorporates modern resources to build a Geographic Information System (GIS) from environmental and historic spatial data. The GIS compensates for an absence of traditional sources, and thus enabling researchers to investigate areas of colonial expansion that have previously been undervalued. Using GIS to understand this continuity of land use gives historians another tool for researching landscapes that have been obscured by subsequent occupiers.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    3 weeks ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved
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