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Thinking of purchasing a book but not sure whether it’s going to be worth the purchase price? Check here first to see if it’s been reviewed in Australian Archaeology!  All of the book reviews from recent volumes, listed alphabetically by book title, compiled in one place to make it easy for you to find what you’re looking for.





Abandonments of Settlements and Regions: Ethnoarchaeological and Archaeological Approaches edited by C.M. Cameron and S.A. Tomka (reviewed by Peter Veth).

Aboriginal Economy and Society: Australia at the Threshold of Colonisation by Ian Keen (reviewed by Peter Veth).

A Companion to Archaeology edited by John Bintliff (reviewed by Bruno David).

A Companion to Rock Art edited by Jo McDonald and Peter Veth (reviewed by Ken Mulvaney).

A Companion to Social Archaeology edited by Lynn Meskell and Robert W. Preucel (reviewed by Alistair Paterson).

A Critical Exploration of Frameworks for Assessing the Significance of New Zealand’s Historic Heritageby Sara Donaghey (reviewed by Jane Lennon).

Adventures in Fugawiland: A Computer Simulation in Archaeology, Second Edition by T. Douglas Price and Anne Birgette Gebauer (reviewed by Katrina MacDonald).

Aesthetics and Rock Art III Symposium: Proceedings of the XV USIPP World Congress edited by Thomas Heyd and John Clegg (reviewed by June Ross).

A Fearsome Heritage: Diverse Legacies of the Cold War edited by John Schofield and Wayne Cocroft (reviewed by Iain Stuart).

African Civilisations – Pre-Colonial Cities and States in Tropical Africa: An Archaeological Perspectiveby Graham Coonah (reviewed by Zoe Wakelin-King).

After Caption Cook: The Archaeology of the Recent Indigenous Past in Australia edited by Rodney Harrison and Christine Williamson (reviewed by Judy Birmingham).

After Modernity: Archaeological Approaches to the Contemporary Past by Rodney Harrison and John Schofield (reviewed by Alice Gorman).

Altered Ecologies: Fire, Climate and Human Influence on Terrestrial Landscapes edited by Simon Haberle, Janelle Stevenson and Matthew Prebble (reviewed by Bruno David).

Altered States: Material Cultural Transformations in the Arafura Region edited by Clayton Fredericksen and Ian Walters (reviewed by Christopher Chippindale).

American Beginnings: The Prehistory and Palaeoecology of Beringia edited by Frederick Hadleigh West (reviewed by Rob Gargett).

A Millenium of Culture Contact by Alistair Paterson (reviewed by Angela Middleton).

An Analysis of Ice Age Art. It’s Psychology and Belief System by Noel W. Smith (reviewed by Robert Bednarik).

An Annotated Bibliography of Theses in Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Studies at The University of Queensland, 1948–2000 by Sean Ulm, Anna Schnukal and Catherine Westcott (reviewed by Annie Ross).

Ancestors for the Pigs: Taxonomy and Phylogeny of the Genus Sus by Colin Groves (reviewed by Tim Flannery).

An Archaeology of Australian Since 1788 by Susan Lawrence and Peter Davies (reviewed by Iain Stuart).

An Archaeology of Institutional Confinement. The Hyde Park Barracks, 1848-1886 by Peter Davies, Penny Crook and Tim Murray (reviewed by Susan Piddock).

An Introduction to Landscape by Peter J. Howard (reviewed by Tom Kimber).

A Pacific Odyssey: Archaeology and Anthropology in the Western Pacific. Papers in Honour of Jim Specht edited by Val Attenbrow and Richard Fullagar (reviewed by Alison Crowther).

A Pictoral Guide to Identifying Australian Architecture by R. Apperly, R. Irving and P. Reynolds (reviewed by Susan Lawrence Cheney).


Archaeological Dimensions of World Heritage: From Prevention to Social Implications edited by Alicia Castillo (reviewed by Ian Lilley).


Archaeological Investigation by Martin Carver (reviewed by David Frankel).

Archaeological Typology and Practical Reality: A Dialectical Approach to Artifact Classification and Sorting by W.Y. Adams and E.W. Adams (reviewed by Glenn R. Summerhayes).

Archaeology and Colonialism: Cultural Contact from 5000 BC to the Present by Chris Godsen (reviewed by Rodney Harrison).

Archaeology and Linguistics: Aboriginal Australia in Global Perspective edited by P. McConvell and N. Evans (reviewed by Ian Lilley).

Archaeology as Long-Term History edited by Ian Hodder (reviewed by Matthew Spriggs).

Archaeology of the Chinese Fishing Industry in Colonial Victoria by Alister M. Bowen (reviewed by Neville Ritchie).

Archaeology of the Coastal Exchange System: Sites and Ceramics of the Papuan Gulf edited by David Frankel and James W. Rhodes (reviewed by J. Peter White).

Archaeological Theory and the Politics of Cultural Heritage by Laurajane Smith (reviewed by Thomas F. King).

Archaeological Theory in Practice by Patricia Urban and Edward Schortmann (reviewed by Martin Porr).

Archaeological Theory: Who Sets the Agenda? edited by Norman Yoffee and Andrew Sherratt (reviewed by Laurajane Smith).

Archaeologies of Memory edited by Ruth M. van Dyke and Susan E. Alcock (reviewed by Rodney Harrison)

Archaeologies of Mobility and Movement edited by Mary C. Beaudry and Travis G. Parno (reviewed by Thomas G. Whitley).

Archaeology and the Media edited by Timothy Clark and Marcus Brittain (reviewed by Hilary du Cros).

Archaeology in Practice: A Student Guide to Archaeological Analyses edited by Jane Balme and Alistair Paterson (reviewed by Annie Ross).

Archaeology of Ancient Australia by Peter Hiscock (reviewed by Brian Fagan).

Archaeology of Asia edited by Miriam T. Stark (reviewed by Bill Boyd).

Archaeology of Oceania: Australia and the Pacific Islands edited by Ian Lilley (reviewed by Richard Fullagar).

Archaeology to Delight and Instruct: Active Learning in the University Classroom edited by Heather Burke and Claire Smith (reviewed by Martin Gibbs).

Arrernte Present, Arrernte Past: Invasion, Violence and Imagination in Indigenous Central Australia by Diane Austin-Broos (reviewed by John White).

Art and Archaeology: Collaborations, Conversations, Criticisms edited by Ian Alden Russell and Andrew Cochrane (reviewed by June Ross).

Artefact Classification: A Conceptual and Methodological Approach by Dwight W. Reed (reviewed by David Frankel).

At a Crossroads: Archaeology and First Peoples in Canada edited by George P. Nicholas and Thomas D. Andrews (reviewed by Paul S.C. Tacon)

Australia’s Fossil Heritage: A Catalogue of Important Australian Fossil Sites by the Australian Heritage Council (reviewed by Judith Field).

Australia and the Origins of Agriculture by Rupert Gerritsen (reviewed by Harry Lourandos).

Australian Apocalypse: The Story of Australia’s Greatest Cultural Monument by Robert G. Bednarik (reviewed by Paul Tacon).

Australian Archaeology ’95: Proceedings of the 1995 Australian Archaeological Association Annual Conference edited by Sean Ulm, Ian Lilley and Annie Ross (reviewed by Peter Veth).

Australian Rock Art: A New Synthesis by Robert Layton (reviewed by Claire Smith).

Australia’s Eastern Regional Sequence Revisited: Technology and Change at Capertee 3 by Peter Hiscock and Val Attenbrow (reviewed by Chris Clarkson).

Between Plateau and Plain by June Anderson (reviewed by Madge Schwede).

Beyond Art: Pleistocene Image and Symbol edited by Margaret W. Conkey, Olga Soffer, Deborah Stratmann and Nina G. Jablonski (reviewed by Linda Conroy).

Blue Mountain Dreaming: The Aboriginal Heritage by Eugene Stockton (reviewed by Val Attenbrow).

Bodies in the Bog and the Archaeological Imagination by Karin Sanders (reviewed by Miranda Aldhouse-Green).

Box Office Archaeology: Refining Hollywood’s Portrayals of the Past edited by Julie M. Schablitsky (reviewed by Peter Hiscock).

Bradshaws: Ancient Paintings of North-West Australia by Graeme L. Walshe (reviewed by Mike Morwood).

Bridging the Divide: Indigenous Communities and Archaeology into the 21st Century edited by Caroline Phillips and Harry Allen (reviewed by Chris Wilson).

Bruising the Red Earth: Ochre Mining and Ritual in Aboriginal Tasmania edited by Antonio Sagona (reviewed by Bruno David).

Burning Bush. A Fire History of Australia by Stephen J. Pyne (reviewed by Lesley Head).

Bushfires and Bushtucker: Aboriginal Plant Use in Central Australia by Peter Latz (reviewed by Wendy Beck).

Catalogue of the Roth Collection and Aboriginal Artefacts from North Queensland by Kate Khan (reviewed by Paul Gorecki).

Cave Art: A Guide to the Decorated Ice Age Caves of Europe by Paul Bahn (reviewed by Iain Davidson).

Climate Change: The Science, Impacts and Solutions by A. Barrie Pittock (reviewed by Mike Rowland).

Coastal Themes: An Archaeology of the Southern Curtis Coast, Queensland by Sean Ulm (reviewed by Bryce Barker).

Colouring the Past: The Significance of Colour in Archaeological Research edited by Andrew Jones and Gavin MacGregor (reviewed by Noelene Cole).

Conserving Australian Rock Art: A Manual for Site Managers by David Lampert (reviewed by Christopher Chippendale).

Constructing Frames of Reference: An Analytical Method for Archaeological Theory Building using Ethnographic and Environmental Data Sets by Lewis R. Binford. (reviewed by F. Donald Pate).

Consultation and Cultural Heritage: Let us Reason Together by Claudia Nissley and Thomas F. King (reviewed by Lynley A. Wallis).

Contemporary Archaeology in Theory: A Reader by R.W. Preucel and Ian Hodder (reviewed by Bryce Barker).

Continent of Hunter-Gatherers: New Perspectives in Australian Prehistory by Harry Lourandos (reviewed by Ian McNiven).

Conversations with Landscape edited by Karl Benediktsson and Katrin Anna Lund (reviewed by Harry Lourandos).

Coobool Creek: A Morphological Analysis of the Crania, Mandibles and Dentition of a Prehistoric Australian Human Population by Peter Brown (reviewed by Phillip J. Habgood).

Cultural Heritage, Ethics and the Military edited by Peter G. Stone (reviewed by Umberto Albarella).

Cycles of the Sun, Mysteries of the Moon: The Calender in Mesoamerican Civilization by Vincent H. Malmstrom (reviewed by Gabrielle Vail).


Desert Peoples: Archaeological Perspectives edited by Peter Veth, Mike Smith and Peter Hiscock (reviewed by Mike Basgall).

Digging it up Down Under: A Practical Guide to Doing Archaeology in Australia by Claire Smith and Heather Burke (reviewed by George Nicholas).

Digging up a Past by John Mulvaney (reviewed by Bruno David).

Dingo Makes Us Human by Deborah Bird Rose (reviewed by Peter Thorley).

Dirty Diggers: Tales from the Archaeological Trenches by Paul Bahn (reviewed by Duncan Wright).

Documentary Archaeology in the New World edited by Mary V. Beaudry (reviewed by Tim Murray).

Documental Filmmaking for Archaeologists by Peter Pepe and Joseph W. Zarzynski (reviewed by Karen Martin-Stone).

Doing Archaeology: A Cultural Resource Management Perspective by Thomas F. King (reviewed by John L. Craib).

East of Wallace’s Line: Studies of Past and Present Maritime Cultures of the Indo-Pacific Region edited by Sue O’Connor and Peter Veth (reviewed by Sandra Bowdler).

East of Wallace’s Line: Studies of Past and Present Maritime Cultures of the Indo-Pacific Region edited by Sue O’Connor and Peter Veth (reviewed by Martin Williams).

Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, society and cultureedited by D. Horton (reviewed by Sharon Wellfare).

Entangled: An Archaeology of the Relationships between Humans and Things by Ian Hodder (reviewed by Martin Porr).

Environmental Archaeology: Principals and Practice by Dena Dincauze (reviewed by Tim Owen).

Excavations, Surveys and Heritage Management in Victoria, Volume 1 edited by Ilya Berelov, Mark Eccleston and David Frankel (reviewed by Pamela Ricardi).

Exhuming Loss: Memory, Materiality and Mass Graves of the Spanish Civil War by Layla Renshaw (reviewed by Jon Prangnell).

Explorations into Highland New Guinea, 1930-1935 by Michael J. Leahy (reviewed by J. Peter White).

Exploring Central Australia: Society, the Environment and the 1984 Horn Expedition by S.R. Morton and D. J. Mulvaney (reviewed by June Ross).

Fantastic Dreaming: The Archaeology of an Aboriginal Mission by Jane Lydon (reviewed by Celmara Pocock).

Faunal Extinction in an Island Society: Pygmy Hippopotamus Hunters of Cyprus by Alan H. Simmons and Associates (reviewed by Mike Smith).

‘Fire and Hearth’ Forty Years On: Essays in Honour of Sylvia J. Hallam edited by Caroline Bird and Esmee Webb (reviewed by Harry Lourandos).

First Farmers: The Origins of Agricultural Societies by Peter Bellwood (reviewed by Tim Denham).

First Footprints: The Epic Story of the First Australians by Scott Cane (reviewed by Douglas Bird).

First in their Field: Women and Australian Anthropology edited by Julie Marcus (reviewed by Claire Smith).

First Light by Peter Ackroyd (reviewed by Tony Smith).

Flintknapping: Making and Using Stone Tools by John C. Whittaker (reviewed by Katerina McDonald).

Frauds, Myths and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology by Kenneth L. Fedden (reviewed by F. Donald Pate).

Gendered Archaeology edited by Jane Balme and Wendy Beck (reviewed by Stephanie Moser).

Geoarchaeology: The Earth-Science Approach to Archaeological Interpretation by G. Rapp Jr and C.L. Hill (reviewed by Rob Gargett).

Gunyah, Goondie and Wurley: The Aboriginal Architecture of Australia by Paul Memmott (reviewed by Cherrie de Leiuen).

Handbook of Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology edited by Soren Blau and Douglas Ubelaker (reviewed by Judith Littleton).

Handbook of Landscape Archaeology edited by Bruno David and Julian Thomas (reviewed by David S. Whitley).

Heritage, Communities and Archaeology by Laurajane Smith and Emma Waterton (reviewed by Amy Roberts).

Heritage: Critical Approaches by Rodney Harrison (reviewed by Keir Reeves).

High Lean Country: Land, People and Memory in New England edited by Alan Atkinson, J.S. Ryan, Iain Davidson and Andrew Piper (reviewed by Sharon Sullivan).

Historical Archaeologies of Cognition: Explorations into Faith, Hope and Charity edited by James Symonds, Anna Badcock and Jeff Oliver (reviewed by Edwina Kay).

Historical Archaeology edited by Martin Hall and Stephen W. Silliman (reviewed by Jon Prangnell).

Historical Archaeology: Why the Past Matters by Barbara J. Little (reviewed by Alasdair Brooks).

Hominid Adaptations and Extinctions by David W. Cameron (reviewed by Sylvia Hallam).

How a Continent Created a Nation by Libby Robin (reviewed by Veronia Strang).

Human Evolution, Language and Mind: A Psychological and Archaeological Enquiry by William Noble and Iain Davidson (reviewed by Howard Morphy).

Hunters and Collectors: The Antiquarian Imagination in Australia by Tom Griffiths (reviewed by Mike Smith).

Hunter-Gatherers in History, Archaeology and Anthropology edited by Alan Barnard (reviewed by Ian McNiven).

Inauthentic Archaeologies: Public Uses and Abuses of the Past by Troy Lovata (reviewed by Denis Gojak).

Indigenous Peoples and the Collaborative Stewardship of Nature: Knowledge Binds and Institutional Conflicts by Anne Ross, Kathleen Pickering Sherman, Jeffrey G. Snodgrass, Henry D. Delacore and Richard Sherman (reviewed by Joe Watkins).

Inscribed Landscapes: Marking and Making Place edited by Bruno David and Meredith Wilson (reviewed by Michael Slack and Richard Fullagar).

Interpreting Ground-Penetrating Radar for Archaeology by Lawrence B. Conyers (reviewed by Ian Moffat).

Introduction to Rock Art Research by David S. Whitley (reviewed by Natalie R. Franklin).

Investigating Olduvai : Archaeology of Human Origins by Jeanne Sept (reviewed by Peter Grave).

Invitation to Archaeology Second Edition by Philip Rahtz (reviewed by Simon Holdaway).

Islamic Art and Archaeology of Palestine by Myriam Rosen-Ayalon (reviewed by Alan Walmsley).

Kakadu: Natural and Cultural Heritage and Management edited by Tony Press, David Lea, Ann Webb and Alistair Graham (reviewed by Sean Ulm).

Landscapes, Rock-Art and the Dreamings: An Archaeology of Pre-Understanding by Bruno David (reviewed by Tim Murray).

Lapita Design Form and Composition: Proceedings of the Lapita Design Workshop Canberra, Australia, December 1988 edited by Matthew Spriggs (reviewed by Jim Specht).

Late Holocene Indigenous Economies of the Tropical Australian Coast: An Archaeological Study of the Darwin Region by Patricia M. Bourke (reviewed by Sandra Bowdler).

Lessons for Human Survival: Nature’s Record from the Quaternary edited by Paul Bishop (reviewed by Scott Smithers).

Lithics Down Under: Australian Perspectives on Lithic Reduction, Use and Classification edited by Chris Clarkson and Lara Lamb (reviewed by Ian J. McNiven).

Lithics in the Land of the Lightning Brothers: The Archaeology of Wardaman Country, Northern Territory by Chris Clarkson (reviewed by Richard A. Gould).

Love’s Obsession: The Lives and Archaeology of Jim and Eve Stewart by Judy Powell (reviewed by Andrew Sneddon).

Making Archaeology Happen: Design versus Dogma by Martin Carver (reviewed by Tim Murray).

Managing Archaeological Resources: Global Context, National Programs, Local Actions edited by Francis P. McManamon, Andrew Stout and Jodi A. Barnes (reviewed by Thomas F. King).

Many Exchanges: Archaeology, History, Community and the Work of Isabel McBryde edited by Ingereth Macfarlane with Mary-Jane Mountain and Robert Paton (reviewed by Martin Gibbs).

Marine Molluscan Remains from Franchthi Cave by Judith C. Shackleton (reviewed by Moya Smith).

Maritime Archaeology: A Technical Handbook by J. Green (reviewed by Iain Stuart).

Material Culture of the North Wellesley Islands by Paul Memmott (reviewed by Asa Ferrier).

Measured on Stone: Stone Artefact Reduction, Residential Mobility and Aboriginal Land Use in Arid Central Australia by W. Boone Law (reviewed by Michael J. Shott).

Motherland by Timothy O’Grady (reviewed by Tony Smith).

Much More than Stones and Bones: Australian Archaeology in the Late Twentieth Century by Hilary Du Cros (reviewed by Tracey Ireland).

Mungo over Millenia: The Willandra Landscape and its People edited by Helen Lawrence (reviewed by Josephine M. Flood).

Mystery Islands: Discovering the Ancient Pacific by Tom Koppel (reviewed by Matthew Spriggs).

Native Title and the Transformation of Archaeology in the Postcolonial World edited by Ian Lilley (reviewed by Alistair Paterson).

Neolithic by Susan Foster McCarter (reviewed by Phillip C. Edwards).

Ngarrindjeri Wurrawarrin: A World That Is, Was and Will Be by Diane Bell (reviewed by James Knight).

Nomads in Archaeology by Roger Cribb (reviewed by Ron Lampert).

Nonlinear Models for Archaeology and Anthropology: Continuing the Revolution edited by Christopher S. Beekman and William W. Baden (reviewed by Mal Ridges).

North American Archaeology edited by Timothy R. Pauketat and Diana DiPaolo Loren (reviewed by Michael Slack).

Object Lessons: Archaeology and Heritage in Australia edited by Jane Lydon and Tracey Ireland (reviewed by Celmara Pocock).

Oceania Explorations: Lapita and Western Pacific Settlement edited by Stuart Bedford, Christophe Sand and S.P. Connaughton (reviewed by Patrick V. Kirch).

Otoliths of Common Australian Temperate Fish: A Photographic Guide by Dianne Furlani, Rosemary Gales and David Pemberton (reviewed by Marshall Weisler).

Our People’ Series (reviewed by Anne Skates).

Owls, Caves and Fossils: Predation, Preservation and Accumulation of Small Mammal Bones in Caves, with an Analysis of the Pleistocene Cave Faunas from Westbury-Sub-Mendip, Somerset, United Kingdom by Peter J. Andrews (reviewed by David Cameron).

Pacific Production Systems. Approaches to Economic Prehistory edited by D.E. Yen and J.M.J. Mummery (reviewed by J.P White).

Palaeonenvironmental Change and the Persistence of Human Occupation in Southwestern Australian Forests by Joe Dortch (reviewed by Sylvia Hallam).

Palaeopathology of Aboriginal Australians: Health and Disease across a Hunter-Gatherer Continent by Stephen Webb (reviewed by Graham Knuckey and F. Donald Pate).

Patterns of Burning over Archaeological Sites and Landscapes: Prospection and Analysis by Alistair Marshall (reviewed by Kelsey Lowe).

Peopling the Cleland Hills: Aboriginal History in Western Central Australia 1850-1980 by Mike A. Smith (reviewed by Jo McDonald).

Pictures of Time Beneath: Science, Heritage and the Uses of the Deep Past by Kirsty Douglas (reviewed by Josephine M. Flood).

Pieces of the Vanuatu Puzzle: Archaeology of the North, South and Centre by Stuart Bedford (reviewed by Jennifer G. Kahn).

Pinning Down the Past: Archaeology, Heritage and Education Today by Mike Corbishey (reviewed by Craig Baxter).

Pitt Rivers. The Life and Archaeological work of Lieutenant-General Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt Rivers, DCL FRS FSA by Mark Bowden (reviewed by Ron Lampert).

Place as Occupational Histories: An Investigation of the Deflated Surface Archaeological Record of Pine Point and Langwell Stations, Western New South Wales, Australia by Justin Shiner (reviewed by Ben Marwick).

Plants in Australian Archaeology edited by Wendy Beck, Annie Clark and Lesley Head (reviewed by Bill Boyd).

Pleistocene Geology, Palaeontology and Archaeology of the Soa Basin, Central Flores, Indonesia edited by F. Aziz, M.J. Morwood and G.D. van den Bergh (reviewed by Jillian Garvey).

Port Essington: The Historical Archaeology of a North Australian Nineteenth Century Military Outpostby Jim Allen (reviewed by Charles E. Orser Jr).

Prehistoric Marine Resource Use in the Indo-Pacific Regions edited by Rintaro Ono, Alex Morrison and David Addison (reviewed by Mirani Litster).

Prehistory and Heritage: The Writings of John Mulvaney by D.J. Mulvaney (reviewed by R.J. Lampert).

Prodigious Birds. Moas and Moa-Hunting in Prehistoric New Zealand by Atholl Anderson (reviewed by Brendan Marshall).

Quantifying Diversity in Archaeology edited by Robert D. Leonard and George T. Jones (reviewed by Colin Pardoe).

Quaternary Environments by M.A.J. Williams, D.L. Dunkerley, P. De Deckker, A.P. Kershaw and T. Stokes (reviewed by F. Donald Pate).

Quaternary Environments (Second Edition) by M.A.J. Williams, D.L. Dunkerley, P. De Deckker, A.P. Kershaw and J. Chappell (reviewed by F. Donald Pate).

Quinkan Prehistory: The Archaeology of Aboriginal Art in S.E. Cape York Peninsula, Australia edited by Michael J. Morwood and Douglas R. Hobbs (reviewed by Bruno David).

Reading Material Culture: Structuralism, Hermeneutics and Post-Structuralism edited by Christopher Tilley (reviewed by Bruno David).

Recent Studies in Australian Palaeoecology and Zooarchaeology: A Volume in Honour of the Late Su Solomon edited by Jillian Garvey and Judith Field (reviewed by Joe Dortch).

Re-Constructing Archaeology: Theory and Practice by Michael Shanks and Christopher Tilley (reviewed by Bruno David).

Records in Stone: Papers in Memory of Alexander Thom edited by C.L.N. Ruggles (reviewed by R.J. Lampert).

Recovering the Tracks: The Story of Australian Archaeology by David Horton (reviewed by Sandra Bowdler).

Remains to be Seen: Archaeological Insights into Australian Prehistory by David Frankel (reviewed by Annie Ross).

Renewing Women’s Business: A Documentary by Julie Drew and Wardaman Aboriginal Corporation (reviewed by Sally Babidge).

Returning to Nothing: The Meaning of Lost Places by Peter Read (reviewed by Veronica Strang).

Rock Art and Ethnography: Proceedings of the Ethnography Symposium, Australian Rock Art Research Association Conference, Darwin, 1998 edited by M.J. Morwood and D.R. Hobbs (reviewed by Noelene Cole).

Rock Art and Posterity: Conserving, Managing and Recording Rock Art edited by C. Pearson and B.K. Schwartz (reviewed by Christopher Chippendale).

Rock Art of the Dreamtime: Images of Ancient Australia by Josephine Flood (reviewed by Annie Thomas).

Rock Art of the Kimberley: Proceedings of the Kimberley Society Rock Art Seminar held at the University of Western Australia, Perth, 10 September 2005 edited by Mike Donaldson and Kevin Kenneally (reviewed by Paul S.C. Tacon).

Roonka: Fugitive Traces and Climatic Mischief edited by Keryn Walshe (reviewed by Eleanor Crosby).


Salvage Excavation of Human Skeletal Remains at Ocean and Octavia Streets, Narabeen, Site #45-6-2747 by Jo McDonald Cultural Heritage Management Pty Ltd (reviewed by Judith Littleton).

Salvage Excavation of Six Sites along Caddies, Seconds Ponds, Smalls and Cattals Creeks in the Rouse Hill Development Hill Area by Jo McDonald Cultural Heritage Management Pty Ltd (reviewed by Fiona Hook).

Scribes, Warriors and Kings, the City of Copan and the Ancient Maya by William L. Fash (reviewed by Rene Viel and Jay Hall).

Second Nature: The History and Implications of Australia as Aboriginal Landscape by Lesley Head (reviewed by Harry Allen).

Secrets at Hanging Rock by Alan Watchman (reviewed by Claire St George).

Shamans, Sorcerers and Saints: A Prehistory of Religion by Brian Hayden (reviewed by Bryce Barker).

Shared Landscapes: Archaeologies of Attachment and the Pastoral Industry in New South Wales by Rodney Harrison (reviewed by Lynette Russell).

Sites and Bytes: Recording Aboriginal Places in Australia edited by Josephine Flood, Ian Johnson and Sharon Sullivan (reviewed by Peter Veth).

Social Theory and Archaeology by Michael Shanks and Christopher Tilley (reviewed by Bruno David).

Social Theory and Archaeology by Michael Shanks and Christopher Tilley (reviewed by Chris Godsen).

Structured Worlds: The Archaeology of Hunter-Gatherer Thought and Action edited by Aubrey Cannon (reviewed by Colin Pardoe).

Style, Society and Person: Archaeological and ethnological perspectives edited by Christopher Carr and Jill E. Neitzel (reviewed by Bruno David).

Surface Collection: Archaeological Travels in Southeast Asia by Denis Byrne (reviewed by Sarah Milledge Nelson).

Sustaining Heritage: Giving the Past a Future by Tony Gilmour (reviewed by Richard Mackay).


The Archaeologist’s Field Handbook by Heather Burke and Claire Smith (reviewed by Tim Ormsby).

The Archaeologist’s Fieldwork Companion by Barbara Ann Kipfer (reviewed by Ian J. McNiven).

The Archaeologist’s Manual for Conservation: A Gudie to Non-Toxic, Minimal Intervention Artifact Stabilization by Bradley A. Rodgers (reviewed by Brandy Lockhart).

The Archaeology of Australia’s Deserts by Mike Smith (reviewed by Peter Hiscock)

The Archaeology of Contextual Meanings edited by Ian Hodder (reviewed by Matthew Spriggs).

The Archaeology of Difference: Negotiating Cross-Cultural Engagements in Oceania edited by Robin Terrence and Anne Clark (reviewed by Jo McDonald).

The Archaeology of Drylands: Living at the Margin edited by Graeme Barker and David Gilbertson (reviewed by Mike Smith).

The Archaeology of Market Capitalism: A Western Australian Perspective by Gaye Nayton (reviewed by William Lees).

The Archaeology of Montebello Islands, North-West Australia: Late Quaternary Foragers on an Arid Coastline by Peter Veth, Ken Aplin, Lynley A. Wallis, Tiina Manne, Tim Pulsford, Elizabeth White and Alan Chappel (reviewed by Goeff Bailey).

The Archaeology of the Angophora Reserve Rock Shelter by Josephine McDonald (reviewed by Val Attenbrow).

The Archaeology of the Aru Islands, Eastern Indonesia edited by Sue O’Connor, Matthew Spriggs and Peter Veth (reviewed by Daniel Rosendahl).

The Archaeology of the Colonised by Michael Given (reviewed by Rodney Harrison).

The Archaeology of Time by Gavin Lucas (reviewed by Michael Morrison).

The Archaeology of Whaling in Southern Australia and New Zealand by Susan Lawrence and Mark Staniforth (reviewed by Peter Veth).

The Axe had Never Sounded: Place, People and Heritage of Recherche Bay, Tasmania by John Mulvaney (reviewed by Lyndall Ryan).

The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia by Bill Gammage (reviewed by Bruno David).

The Bone Readers: Atoms, Genes and the Politics of Australia’s Deep Past by Claudio Tuniz, Richard Gillespie and Cheryl Jones (reviewed by Iain Davidson).

The Bronze Age of Southeast Asia by Charles Higham (reviewed by Robert Theunissen).

The Cainozoic in Australia: A Reappraisal of the Evidence edited by M.A.J. Williams, P. De Deckker and A.P. Kershaw (reviewed by Scott Smithers).

The City in Time and Space by Aidan Southall (reviewed by Jim Walmsley).

The Dark Abyss of Time: Archaeology and Memory by Laurent Olivier (reviewed by Steve Brown).

The Death of Prehistory by Peter Schmidt and Stephen Mrozowski (reviewed by John Giblin).

The Dendroglyphs of ‘Carved Trees’ of New South Wales  by Robert Etheridge (reviewed by Jeanette Hope.

The Destruction of Cultural Heritage in Iraq edited by Peter Stone and Joanne Farchakh Bajjaly (reviewed by Dan Potts).

The Discovery of the Hobbit: The Scientific Breakthrough that Changed the Face of Human History by Mike Morwood and Penny van Oosterzee (reviewed by Michael Green).

The Discovery of the Past: The Origins of Archaeology by Alain Schnapp (reviewed by Heather Burke).

The Domestication of Europe by Ian Hodder (reviewed by Ron Paul Rainbird).

The Early Prehistory of Fiji edited by Geoffrey Clark and Atholl Anderson (reviewed by Yvonne Marshall).

The Fabrication of Aboriginal History. Volume One, Van Diemen’s Land 1803–1847 by Keith Windschuttle (reviewed by Sandra Bowdler).

The Goddess and the Bull: Catalhoyuk: An Archaeological Journey to the Dawn of Civilisation by Michael Balter (reviewed by Andrew Fairbairn).

The History and Archaeology of the Sydney Cove Shipwreck (1797): A Resource for Future Work by Shirley Strachan (reviewed by David Cameron).

The Illusion of Riches: Scale, Resolution and Explanation in Tasmanian Pleistocene Human Behaviourby Richard Cosgrove (reviewed by Judith Field).

The Illustrated History of Humankind edited by Goran Burenhult (reviewed by Jane Balme).

The Incas by Terence N. D’Altroy (reviewed by Dave Bulbeck).

The Languages of Archaeology: Dialogue, Narrative and Writing by Rosemary Joyce  (reviewed by Darren Griffin).

The Lost Legions: Culture Contact in Colonial Australia by Alistair Paterson (reviewed by Nan Rothschild).

The Makers and Making of Indigenous Australian Museum Collections edited by Nicolas Peterson, Lindy Allen and Louise Hamby (reviewed by Michael Westaway).

The Meaning of Water by Veronica Strang (reviewed by Ingereth Macfarlane).

The Naïve Lands: Prehistory and Environmental Change in Australia and the South-West Pacific edited by John Dodson (reviewed by Sandra Bowdler).

The Nature of Heritage: The New South Africa by Lynn Meskell (reviewed by Keir Reeves).

The New Archaeology and Aftermath: A View from Outside the Anglo-American World by K. Paddayya (reviewed by Tessa Corkhill).

The Northern Barbarians 100 BC-AD 300 by Malcolm Todd (reviewed by M. Ruth Megaw).

The Original Australians: Story of the Aboriginal People by Josephine M. Flood (reviewed by J. Peter White).

The Origins and Spread of Domestic Plants in Southwest Asia and Europe edited by Sue Colledge and James Connolly (reviewed by Tim Denham).

The Origins of Hereditary Social Stratification by Malcolm McKay (reviewed by Ian Lilley).

The Origins of War: Violence in Prehistory by Jean Guilaine and Jean Zammit (reviewed by Graham Knuckey).

The Politics of Suffering: Indigenous Australia and the End of the Liberal Consensus by Peter Sutton (reviewed by Luke Godwin).

The Prehistory of the Mind: A Search for the Origins of Art, Religion and Science by Steven Mithen (reviewed by Catherine Mitchell).

The Riches of Ancient Australia by Josephine Flood (reviewed by Wendy Beck).

The Rock Paintings of Arnhem Land, Australia: Social, Ecological and Material Culture Change in the Post-Glacial Period by Darrell Lewis (reviewed by Kim Sales).

The Rock Paintings of Arnhem Land, Australia: Social, Ecological and Material Culture Change in the Post-Glacial Period by Darrell Lewis (reviewed by Natalie Franklin).

The Rocks: Life in Early Sydney by Grace Karskens (reviewed by Jane Lydon).

The Roth Family, Anthropology and Colonial Administration edited by Russell McDougall and Iain Davidson (reviewed by Luke Godwin).

The Science of Human Origins by Claudio Tuniz, Giorgio Manzi and David Caramelli (reviewed by Iain Davidson).

The Shore Whalers of Western Australia: Historical Archaeology of a Maritime Frontier by Martin Gibbs (reviewed by Ian Smith).

The Social Archaeology of Australian Indigenous Societies edited by Bruno David, Bryce Barker and Ian J. McNiven (reviewed by Richard Cosgrove).

The Stone Mirror: A Novel of the Neolithic by Rob Swigart (reviewed by Andy Fairbairn).

The Uses of Style in Archaeology edited by Margaret W. Conkey and Christine A. Hastorf (reviewed by Robert G. Bednarik).

The Willandra Lakes Hominids by S.G. Webb (reviewed by Phillip J. Habgood).

Thinking from Things: Essays in the Philosophy of Archaeology by Alison Wylie (reviewed by Tim Murray).

Time, Energy and Stone Tools by Robin Torrence (reviewed by Dan Witter).

Time to Quarry: The Archaeology of Stone Procurement in Northwestern New South Wales, Australia by Trudy Doelman (reviewed by Justin Shiner).

Tracks, Scats and Other Traces: A Field Guide to Australian Mammals by Barbara Triggs (reviewed by Rob Gargett).

Transitions: Pleistocene to Holocene in Australia and Papua New Guinea edited by Jim Allen and J.F. O’Connell (reviewed by Sandra Bowdler).

Treasures of the Nicholson Museum, The University of Sydney edited by D.T. Potts and K.N. Sowada (reviewed by Vincent Megaw).

23°S: Archaeology and Environmental History of the Southern Deserts edited by Mike Smith and Paul Hesse (reviewed by Peter Thorley).


Uncommon Ground: Cultural Landscapes and Environmental Values by Veronica Strang (reviewed by Wendy Beck).

Uncovering Australia: Archaeology, Indigenous People and the Public by Sarah Colley (reviewed by Ian McNiven).

Understanding Sea-Level Rise and Variability edited by John A. Church, Philip L. Woodworth, Thorkild Aarup and W. Stanley Wilson (reviewed by Mike Rowland).

Uses of Heritage by Laurajane Smith (reviewed by Jane Lennon).

Virtual Archaeology: Re-Creating Ancient Worlds edited by Maurizio Forte and Alberto Siliotti (reviewed by Roland Fletcher).

Visions from the Past: The Archaeology of Australian Aboriginal Art by Mike J. Morwood (reviewed by Meredith Wilson).

Weipa Shell Mounds: Cultural or Natural Deposits? by Geoff Bailey (reviewed by Elizabeth Rich).

Whalers and Free Men: Life on Tasmania’s Colonial Whaling Stations by Susan Lawrence (reviewed by Martin Gibbs).

What is an Animal? edited by Tim Ingold (reviewed by Iain Davidson and William Noble).

What is Archaeology? An Essay on the Nature of Archaeological Research by Paul Courbin (translated by Paul Bahn) (reviewed by Allan Lance).

What’s Changing: Population Size or Land-Use Patterns? The Archaeology of the Upper Mangrove Creek, Sydney Basin by Val Attenbrow (reviewed by Brit Asmussen).

Women in Archaeology: A Feminist Critique edited by Hilary du Cros and Laurajane Smith (reviewed by Alexy Simmons).

Working with Rock Art: Recording, Presenting and Understanding Rock Art Using Indigenous Knowledge edited by Benjamin Smith, Knut Helskog and David Morris (reviewed by Sven Ouzman).

Writing Archaeology: Telling Stories about the Past by Brian Fagan (reviewed by Karen Murphy).


Part Past, Part Fiction: Being a Contribution to Mesolithic Shell Midden Research in Denmark Using Information from Aboriginal Australia


Paul Irish

MA, Institute for Archaeology and Ethnology, University of Copenhagen, July 1999

Research into shell midden sites of the Danish late Mesolithic (5400 BC to 3900 BC) over the last 160 years has largely gathered chronological and typological data. The high standard of excavations means that questions of site layout and usage can now be considered, but the use of a chronological approach limits the data available on these issues. In order to find better methods for investigating this and for interpreting the available data, research was undertaken into ethnographic and ethnohistorical records of shell midden usage by Aboriginal Australian people. The assumption was not that these records could be used to directly interpret Danish archaeological evidence, but to contemplate the spatial aspect of site use and the archaeological implications this may have.

The research undertaken involved classifying data on a range of aspects of shell midden/coastal usage by Aboriginal people in southeast and tropical northern Australia. These data were synthesised as an overview of aspects of shell midden use (from shellfish gathering to food preparation to discard). Consideration was then given to the archaeological implications of these historical/spatial data.

Results demonstrate that current excavation techniques employed in Denmark (and elsewhere) are inadequate for assessing how shell midden sites were used and formed through time. The area covered by even a small settlement is many times larger than the areas currently being excavated. Without understanding how these settlements were laid out and used by the people of the late Mesolithic, it is hard to draw conclusions about the way in which sites built up through time, and of their relationship with other sites. The best way to investigate site layout is to concentrate on methods which will help define contemporary midden surfaces, such as refitting, and to develop suitable excavation techniques.


Review of ‘Archaeology of Oceania: Australia and the Pacific Islands’ edited by Ian Lilley

Fullagar book review cover AA63Archaeology of Oceania: Australia and the Pacific Islands edited by Ian Lilley. Blackwell Publishing, Malden, 2006, xx+396 pp., ISBN 0-631-23083-1.

Richard Fullagar

Department of Archaeology, School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, Building A14, University of Sydney NSW 2006, Australia

This book targets Oceania, a portion of the Pacific with much in common, from its modern human origins to recent colonial invasions. Twenty-four authors (with Australians dominating) based in at least six countries (Australia, USA, PNG, New Zealand, UK, France and her overseas territory New Caledonia) have produced 18 papers that range over near Oceania (Greater Australia and western Melanesia) and remote Oceania (Polynesia and Micronesia). There are broad sweepings of prehistory, some essentially situated far from the sea, and others up to the gunnels with oceanic voyaging, island colonisation and remote cultural contact. In keeping with undergraduate teaching objectives of this new series (Blackwell Studies in Global Archaeology edited by Lyn Meskell and Rosemary Joyce), cultural chronologies for regional prehistories are spliced with political, indigenous and colonial threads which bind archaeologists and cultural heritage managers to pasts and presents alike. The mainstay of this book is its accessible style, with overviews of theoretical approaches (mostly uncluttered by references and jargon) alongside the challenges of selected research programmes.

Following a magisterial synthesis from Lilley (Chapter 1), the book is divided into three parts: Australia, The Pacific and Politics. As Lilley points out, the volume does not claim to be comprehensive and there are gaps we have to have (e.g. linguistics, physical anthropology and significant research in key places – notably New Zealand). Rather, chapters provide snapshots of summary sequences and current directions with a mix of theoretical approaches, data compilation and methodologies. Places with deeper time depth tend to encourage broader sweeps, but not always. David’s approach, which examines archaeological time depth of recent Aboriginal Australian worldviews, shows how archaeological components can be unpacked and considered in the context of place, but on their own merits – in this case primarily with charcoal, ochre and rock art. His approach strikes a chord with the conclusions of Walter and Sheppard, who stress the importance of the ethnographic and traditional records in the last 1000 years of Island Melanesian history – in contrast, they suggest, with Polynesian approaches where processual models link social change with environmental variables. Ethnography with its strengths and weaknesses provides a common thread throughout the region, and Conte, well-known for his research on fishing techniques in French Polynesia, further explores ethnoarchaeology in the Pacific.

Stone artefacts are central to other discussions, notably by Hiscock who describes, in one of the clearest expositions around, theoretical links between technological strategies, risk minimisation and climatically-induced environmental change in Holocene Australia. Pavlides postulates continuities in lithic technology, indicating internal local developments. Her lithic database from a southern New Britain rainforest suggests long-term trends towards decreased residential mobility, decreased home range and more intensive land management. Her functional study hints that lithic assemblages are more than a subtle record of responses to risk; gradual accumulations of specimens, dropped, discarded or lost by stressed male hunters.

O’Connor and Veth revisit interpretations of Pleistocene settlement, subsistence and demography in northern Australia. Such discussions are severely hampered in large part because there are so few archaeological sites and so few artefacts earlier than about 35,000 years ago. What was once seen as late colonisation of deserts is now seen as early habitation prior to desertification, followed by abandonment as aridity increased with the onset of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) with eventual recolonisation in the recent past. If a growing bunch of dates (harvested from northwest Australia) suggests sparse habitation, if not population abandonment in the desert by 24,000 years ago (and by 18,000 years ago in the west Kimberley), how different is human settlement prior to 40,000 years ago (a period for which stone artefact counts are also extremely low)? There is still much we don’t know about the nature of settlement during and before the LGM even in the arid zone, and the authors suggest the need for off-site, local palaeoclimatic records and excavation of open sites (cf. Ward et al. 2006). More debate is guaranteed on these topics, regional abandonment still a hypothesis and alternative reconfigurations of settlement begging to be articulated.

Rock art theory and methodology are canvassed for the Australian scene (David; McDonald and Veth; Clarke and Frederick) and for the Marquesas Archipelago (Millerstrom), with diverse approaches that invite comparisons as to how the subject matter of rock art is variously utilised by archaeologists as indicators of group identity, prestige, boundary markers, worldviews and cross-cultural contact. The Marquesas have the domestic and ritual architecture of megalithic structures and ceremonial complexes, in addition to the archaeological petroglyphs, pictographs and anthropomorphic sculptures (tiki). Millerstrom’s study illustrates the complexity of linking architectural and archaeological art. In another chapter, Rainbird argues that large monuments like Nan Madol in Micronesia, are not ‘the apogee of sociopolitical systems’ (p.315) as implied by culture-historical and processual approaches that see cultural change as a response to environmental change. Subtle aspects of environmental determinants are also taken up by McDonald and Veth in the Australian desert and the coast to explore arguments that link artistic heterogeneity with local intra-group identity and homogeneity with broader inter-group cohesion. No nice pictures of any rock art attest to the chapter’s theoretical bent!

Galipaud plays down the significance of decorated pottery of the Lapita Cultural Complex (again no nice pictures). Other papers further highlight problems with traditional views of directionality in cultural change and sociopolitical evolution (e.g. Leavesley in the Bismarcks; Rainbird in Micronesia). A clever study of Hawaiian territorial maps and boundaries by Ladefoged and Graves seems to most starkly distinguish Pacific island archaeology from far western Oceania (i.e. Australia). Perhaps Denham gets closest to arguments that might theoretically link Australia with Pacific prehistory. He examines early agriculture in the PNG Highlands and reviews theories on domestication, landscape use, and agriculture proposed by David Harris, Matthew Spriggs, Ian Hodder and others. Denham sees strengths in all three key approaches, and senses the ambiguities that arise from false dichotomies arising from the social construction of landscape and culture (see Head 2000).

The perceptions of, and contrasts between, natural and human environments or nature and culture shift uneasily from Rottnest Island (southwest Australia) to Easter Island; from the Roaring Forties to the Tropic of Cancer; and from Pleistocene to present. Should Australia really be in there, without more on Torres Strait and the Neolithic Divide that sets it apart? Is climate change a more powerful determinant of cultural change in Australia than elsewhere in the Pacific?

If there are major differences between Australian and Pacific prehistory, the politics that surround cultural heritage have much in common. Smith provides a case study of issues in the establishment of Levuka as a heritage site in Fiji. Indigenous perceptions of archaeological research in different parts of the New Caledonia are explored by several authors (Sand, Bole and Ouetcho; Cauchois; Gugay-Grist; Mandui). Training of indigenous people is a major need, and Herman Mandui is alarmed at the destruction of cultural heritage in economies driven by urban expansion and economic development.

The book certainly provides a good introduction to current research and issues in the region, with its common origin of human colonisation that has emerged in so many cultural directions. Although the coverage is uneven, key research questions are illuminated by current research with a clear, accessible style.


Head, L. 2000 Cultural Landscapes and Environmental Change. Arnold: London

Ward, I., R. Fullagar, T. Boer-Mah, L. Head, P. Tacon and K. Mulvaney 2006 Comparison of sedimentation and occupation histories inside and outside rock shelters: Evidence from the Keep River region, northwestern Australia. Geoarchaeology 21(1):1-27.


Earth mounds in northern Australia

Brockwell FIgure 1 AA63Sally Brockwell

Although earth mounds are a common archaeological feature of the northern Australian coastal plains, there has been little systematic investigation of them. This paper aims to redress the balance by reviewing and synthesising investigations into earth mounds in northern Australia. I examine several themes raised in the literature that are relevant to research on earth mounds in relation to a number of case studies from northern Australia. These include location, morphology, origins, chronology and the role of mounds in the wider context of settlement systems. I conclude that earth mounds in northern Australia can be divided into two distinct types, coastal/estuarine and freshwater. Both types proliferated in the late Holocene and represent seasonally occupied sites at the junction of a number of resource zones that may also have had social significance as territorial markers.

Image caption: Location map of earth mounds in northern Australia (published in Australian Archaeology 63:48).

US Salvage Law as Applied to Historic Shipwrecks: A Critique and Australian Case Study

Joel Gilman

Master of Law (LLM), School of Law, The University of Western Australia, March 2005

Despite an emerging international consensus for the need to protect historically significant shipwrecks, exemplified by the 2001 UNESCO Convention for the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, the United States federal courts continue to encourage commercial exploitation of historic shipwrecks in US waters through the application of salvage law and the related law of finds. The history of these legal doctrines makes them inappropriate to the discourse of archaeology when applied to the disposition of historic shipwrecks. US federal courts continue to employ these doctrines primarily for two reasons: (1) the widespread belief that US waters contain large amounts of submerged gold, silver and other precious items from shipwrecks dating back to the era of New World exploitation, and (2) the misconception that commercial recovery and sale of these treasures is consistent with good archaeological practice and heritage management, and thus in the nation’s best interest.

While salvage law affords some control over the manner in which submerged artefacts are located, recovered, conserved and disposed of, commercially-driven artefact recovery results in the loss of valuable archaeological data. Moreover, salvage law offers no protection to the great majority of shipwrecks in US waters that are of no commercial interest, leaving them vulnerable to casual looting.

Many nations, Australia in particular, have enacted laws to protect all historically significant shipwrecks in their waters from salvage, looting and souvenir hunting. The US Congress has also enacted protective legislation for shipwrecks on federal property, but should apply such protection to all historic wrecks in US waters, as Australia has done. There is no constitutional impediment to Congress adopting legislation similar to Australia’s comprehensive protection. The US, like the Commonwealth of Australia, inherited from English law the sovereign prerogative to wreck, and the US Congress needs only to enact protective legislation to give effect to this prerogative. The only impediment to such legislation is lack of the requisite political will when confronted by an organised and vocal commercial salvage industry.

Review of ‘Object Lessons: Archaeology and Heritage in Australia’ edited by Jane Lydon and Tracey Ireland

Pocock book review cover AA63Object Lessons: Archaeology and Heritage in Australia edited by Jane Lydon and Tracey Ireland. Australian Scholarly Publishing, Melbourne, 2005, viii+290 pp., ISBN 1 74097 068 3 (pbk).

Celmara Pocock

School of Management, University of Tasmania, Locked Bag 1340, Launceston Tas. 7250, Australia

Many Australian archaeologists find employment and careers in the world of heritage conservation and management and Australian heritage practices are well regarded internationally. However, heritage has attracted little research attention in Australia and few publications consider heritage beyond the confines of government process and legislation. This volume of edited papers by Jane Lydon and Tracy Ireland endeavours to address this deficiency and is a welcome addition to the Australian heritage literature.

Object Lessons is shaped by the archaeological perspectives of the majority of its contributors. This positions the volume slightly differently from some of the international literature where disciplines such as geography and anthropology have greater influence in heritage studies. The focus on archaeology is appropriate to the Australian context where heritage practices are principally shaped by this discipline. Nevertheless, the introduction makes reference to an extensive international literature and considers the local implications or focus of these issues in Australia. The inclusion of the few non-archaeological perspectives is refreshing and signals a shift in approaches to heritage research in Australia.

The volume comprises 14 chapters, including the introduction in which Lydon and Ireland construct problematised contexts for the remaining contributions. This provides a broad scholarly context for the varied case studies drawn from a broad geographic range within Australia. The title of the book, while a deliberate pun, suggests a greater focus on objects than is perhaps the case. The volume is most interesting for its focus on the ways in which heritage is perceived and misconceived, used and misused. It is these arguments and type of thinking that strongly link the varied contributions, and place the book in a unique position in the Australian literature.

The selection of papers is effective. The case studies are distinct and yet share enough common themes to allow each of the contributions to complement one another. The volume is also made relevant to a broad archaeological and heritage readership because of the diversity of site types considered. The case studies include Aboriginal prehistoric sites, contact sites, historic sites, shipwrecks, memorials and the hyperreal. The contributions from a range of scholars and practitioners including both established and early career Australian archaeologists provide a spread of experience and fresh approaches. The attempt to retain balance is supported by the inclusion of two papers with maritime content, and is significant because maritime heritage is frequently separated administratively and technically from other archaeological and heritage studies. This is a theme taken up in a paper by Martin Gibbs which suggests maritime heritage research and practice lags behind developments in Indigenous and historical heritage conservation. This traditional Australian triumvirate of heritage and archaeological site types – the artificial categories of historic, Indigenous and maritime – is also challenged by other contributors. Ian Lilley’s paper suggests that historical archaeologists are making the greatest contribution to a reinvestigation of ideas about Aboriginal history, continuity and change, and suggests that prehistoric studies should move away from restrictive technical and functional explanations to embrace social models of change.

Although the diversity of case studies is commendable, the volume pays little attention to two notable themes in Australian heritage research. Individual papers in the volume make reference to non-British migrant heritage in Australia (e.g. Birch), but this is not strongly represented in the volume. Similarly, the increasing trend (and challenge) to link cultural and natural heritage is largely overlooked by the volume. However, the extraordinary example of the William Ricketts Sanctuary that forms the focus of Marcia Langton and Bruno David’s analysis of an ‘imaginary, and yet hyperreal, Dream Time’ does partly address this question. Langton and David point to the crisis of identity and the links of primitivism and nature that have persistent ramifications for a distinctly Australian conception of people and land. Their unusual example goes to the heart of the issues of how culture and history are monumentalised and frozen through heritage practices – a theme that is followed in several papers in the volume.

Tracy Ireland identifies heritage as an arena in which the public can argue out the relative worth of its national myths. She makes the important point that archaeological relics and physical remains are always interpreted; that there is no intrinsic worth to the materials we recover. Instead they are interpreted for the present. In a similar vein, Tony Birch identifies the practice of selective (re)presentation of the past. He uses the site of Stieglitz to examine how particular histories are privileged in the presentation of the past through heritage sites. He points to the erasures and inventions that are used to deny and reinstate particular aspects of Australia’s past to present the dominant and privileged view of colonial stories at the expense of Indigenous and non-British migrant histories.

As a complement to this position, Jane Lydon demonstrates how shifting public perception is reflected in heritage management processes. She uses the case of the Blacktown Native Institution to show how increased public awareness of the Aboriginal stolen generations, and a public interest in reconciliation, has shifted attention away from colonial representations of the site’s history to a much greater interest in Aboriginal perspectives and experiences of the institution. Similarly Richard Mackay’s contribution considers how the conservation of Mawson’s Hut has moved from a focus on fabric to a much greater concern with social values. Interestingly, the concluding chapter by Sharon Sullivan suggests that this is particular to the Australian context. Sullivan’s case study is the only non-Australian example in the book, but one which is nevertheless rooted in Australian heritage practice. She describes the development of a conservation charter for China based on and informed by the Australian Burra Charter. Sullivan places this in the context of understanding how the Burra Charter was itself a response to particular Australian circumstances. In particular she considers how social significance has grown into an important aspect of heritage assessment in Australia, but which was not formally adopted in the Chinese context. The question of social significance is also interesting in relation to Mawson’s Hut and underwater sites. Both Mackay and Gibbs suggest that the physical inaccessibility of such remote sites raises questions about the way heritage is perceived. As these sites can only ever be experienced by a select few, their broader significance rests in how heritage is imagined and mythologised.

Myth-making is a strong theme throughout the volume, both for its positive and negative implications. Several papers point to the problematic implications that arise from myth creation. In particular there is concern for the impacts on everyday lives of particular groups and the contestation and conflict that can arise. Siobhan Lavelle’s paper on the strong mythologising surrounding the European exploration of the Blue Mountains demonstrates how ideas become enshrined in the popular consciousness and how some stories are privileged over others. Similarly Lilley’s paper articulates how myths and conceptions of Aboriginal people and culture as unchanging have great currency in the public mind, in spite of decades of archaeological research that points to change as well as continuity. He suggests that such preconceptions have negative implications for contemporary issues such as Native Title.

Several contributions (including Casey, Ireland, Lavelle, Lilley, Mackay and Murray) suggest that there is a division between the elite or scientific views of archaeologists and heritage practitioners and the general public. Both Mary Casey and Lilley challenge archaeologists to engage with these problems and to communicate more effectively and appropriately. Casey also makes the point that archaeology offers an alternative and more dynamic way to view the past than commonly represented through heritage. Tim Murray similarly suggests that such research can inform a complex presentation of the past to capture the interest of diverse groups. However, the paper by Birch reminds us of the complexity and difficulty in effectively representing such diversity, including the inherent difficulties of making Aboriginal sites, especially prehistoric archaeological remains, attractive to visitors with particular European aesthetic sensibilities.

The contribution by Birch and that of Clarke and Faulkner embrace their own experiences of heritage sites to provide reflective and personalised case studies. These narratives of engagement with heritage sites and landscapes further contribute to the liveliness of the volume. Anne Clarke and Patrick Faulkner’s paper takes a new look at community archaeology – typically seen as an opportunity to empower communities in shaping the design and implementation of research projects – to consider how researchers themselves come to experience, know and live through such community experiences. They identify how we write our own sense of place on the landscape. A similar theme is explored by Rodney Harrison in considering how archaeological fieldwork both shapes and is shaped by Aboriginal notions of the past. As with other kinds of heritage, Harrison suggests that collaborative archaeological research reflects present-day relationships between people and place and a particular articulation of the past by local Aboriginal people.

Together these case studies link the dynamics of contemporary politics, multiple meanings and conflict to challenge static views of the past. On the whole the papers in the volume are written in an engaging way with captivating case studies. The volume draws together some inspirational and aspirational positions and thoughts about heritage in Australia. While these are not groundbreaking in every instance, they are certainly optimistic about where heritage research and practice might be, and where it might go in future. The suggestion that policies increasingly treat heritage as social process may well reflect the authors’ own positions, rather than the more mundane and unquestioned practices of many Australian heritage agencies. Any questions raised by the introduction are more than addressed by the balance of the volume and the quality of the contributions. As such it provides a much needed starting point for a more enlightened view of heritage practices in Australia, and hopefully the beginning of more critical conversations among heritage practitioners and researchers. The book will be a good basis for collegial and classroom debates and is recommended for students, researchers, teachers and practitioners interested in heritage conservation.


Seeing slums through rose-coloured glasses: The Mountain Street Site, Sydney and its limitations in the search for vanished slum communities

Sneddon Figure 8 AA63Andrew Sneddon

In recent years there has been a tendency in some quarters to use the archaeological record uncritically to argue for a level of comfort and disposable wealth in nineteenth century Australian slums that rarely, if ever, existed there. The Mountain Street excavation, in what was once the Blackwattle Creek slum but which is now the fashionable inner-Sydney suburb of Ultimo, has demonstrated that site formation processes can seriously distort our perceptions of nineteenth century slum life. It demonstrated that even on sites where site formation processes could be expected to exaggerate the levels of poverty, the appalling living conditions and deprivation in these places were actually understated in the archaeological record. Thus, although some general observations could be made about the ways in which people lived in the area in the nineteenth century, the excavation data also demonstrated that ‘slum’ excavations should only be used with extreme caution in the so-called ‘slum debate’, which is presently occupying some sections of the Australian archaeological community.

Image caption: View of Numbers1-7 Howard street after completion of excavation (published in Australian Archaeology 63:6).

Trampling through the Pleistocene: Does taphonomy matter at Cuddie Springs?

Field Figure 9A AA63Judith H. Field

After 15 years of continuing investigation, analysis and publication of the sedimentary sequence at Cuddie Springs, the site and its contents continue to draw considerable attention from those investigating the timing and cause of the extinction of the megafauna. The archaeological record commences at Cuddie Springs around 36 ka and overlaps with a record of a handful of megafauna species for up to 10,000 years. The main issue for those supporting the popularly cited 46 ka terminal extinction date for megafauna are the ‘young’ dates for this site. Arguments have also been forwarded suggesting the sediments are reworked, that artefacts are intrusive in the megafaunal-bearing layers or that material has been redeposited in the claypan deposits as river bedload. These issues relate primarily to taphonomy, in particular site formation processes. However, interdisciplinary studies have shown that Cuddie Springs is an ephemeral lake in a landscape of low relief and within its sediments is preserved a highly-stratified record of environment, fauna and humans that has formed over many millennia. Rather than an incoherent mix of material from multiple sources, the data point to an intact accumulation of fossil fauna which, in the upper layers, co-occurs with an archaeological record of human occupation.

Image caption: Photograph of the base of SU6B in Square E10 at Cuddie Springs (published in Australian Archaeology 63:18).

Out of the box: Popular notions of archaeology in documentary programs on Australian television

Nichols Figure 1 AA63Stephen Nichols

Popular representations of archaeology are investigated through a content analysis study of documentary programmes screened on Australian free-to-air television. Although public opinion survey research suggests that mass media, particularly television, are one of the major ways in which the Australian public encounters archaeology, no systematic investigation of the archaeological content appearing on Australian television has previously been undertaken. The results of the study show that the archaeo-historical documentary genre reinforces and perpetuates many familiar archaeological stereotypes and that Australian archaeology rarely, if ever, features in these programmes. The implications for Australian archaeology are discussed and potential strategies for engaging mass media in a public archaeology context are considered.

Image caption: Totally Wild filming during the 2004 field season of the Mill Point Archaeological Project (published in Australian Archaeology 63:37).

Archaeology in Senior Schools: Perceptions and Possibilities

Neil Davies

MA, Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, February 2005

This thesis proposes and describes a curriculum plan featuring archaeology as a discrete subject for Year 11 and 12 students in the public education system of South Australia in particular, but also for Australia in general. It seeks to demonstrate the wider value of archaeology, justifies its inclusion in the school curriculum and presents an archaeology curriculum that reflects developments in modern teaching methods. This is achieved through two basic questions: whether archaeology should be included as a discrete part of the senior secondary curriculum, particularly in South Australian public schools; and whether an archaeology curriculum can be constructed along the lines of particular pedagogical or organisational styles.

Opening chapters present historical and social outlines of archaeology, demonstrating archaeology’s long history of relevance to society, how it has developed an extensive philosophy and system of theory, and why it represents a valuable addition to the curriculum as an area of study in its own right. The archaeology and anthropology of Australia is presented with a substantial historical underpinning deriving from the wider world situation. Knowledge and concepts deriving from Australian archaeology are shown to be of great current social relevance, making archaeology and anthropology particularly valuable subjects of study. The concept of heritage is considered together with its impact on society and any educational factors.

Having established archaeology as a worthwhile learning area, the second research question, concerning particular pedagogical or organisational styles, is the subject of later chapters. The idea of balance with respect to curriculums, in this case taken to mean the relationship between the aims and intentions of the teacher, as against the result in terms of not only what has been learned, but whether the knowledge acquired is useful to the learner, is examined in some detail. Educational philosophies are taken as starting points, establishing archaeology as a valid domain of learning, possessing exterior tests of truth and veracity, and also contributing to the growth of the rational mind.

Middle chapters demonstrate that archaeology has a theoretical basis and research methodology that seems particularly suited to Problem-Based Learning (PBL) as an appropriate and effective pedagogy. This teaching approach is examined in detail and an example is followed through to illustrate the principle. Possibilities for cross-curricular treatment for archaeology are explored. Principles and possibilities of outcomes-directed assessment methods are considered for their own value and for their possible correspondence with structuralist learning approaches.

The penultimate chapter of the thesis presents a curriculum document describing a course of archaeology intended for a Stage I South Australian Certificate of Education subject. It is modelled along more or less conventional lines and brings together the findings of the bulk of the thesis. Finally, some conclusions and recommendations in respect to findings of the thesis are set down, in particular highlighting the shortage of Australian learning material, especially the web-based material so valuable to the PBL approach.

Edward Roberts Fields (1933–2006)

Ted FieldsJudith Field, Aunty Flossy Kennedy, Bob Barrett and John Giacon

‘Uncle’ Ted Fields – Garruu Gambuu, a Euhlaroi elder from Walgett in northern New South Wales had a remarkable life, setting an example that few could emulate. Uncle Ted was a custodian of the language and culture of the Euhlaroi tribe, including knowledge of the Gamilaroi language.

One of five children (Flossy, Jimmy, Evelyn, Edward and Dawn) born to Greg Fields and Mary Hall, his first memories were of Yerranbah Shed near Angledool where people camped as they worked on the pastoral properties, burr cutting, pear poisoning, timber cutting and rabbitting. They were generally paid in rations: flour, tea, jam, sugar, golden syrup and bully beef. During his early years on the mission at Angledool, he was actively discouraged from speaking language and forced to speak English.

Getting to school at Angledool involved walking a few miles in bare feet through galvanised burrs and across a stoney ridge. At some stage, Greg Fields, Euhlaroi man, came from the Angledool area and worked in various jobs as a general handyman. He eventually moved to Bangate Station (the home of Katie Langloh-Parker) around 70 miles from Brewarrina where he worked as head stockman for many years. Mary was also Euhlaroi, they married in 1916, but she tragically died in childbirth in April 1938 in Brewarrina while living on the mission there. More than eight different tribes were forced to live together on the mission and this provided many tensions. After Mary’s death, Greg took the children to live with their tribal grandmother at the camp at Angledool.

Greg Fields continued to work at Bangate Station and Ted’s elder brother Jimmy also worked there. At one stage (c.1941) Ted was staying with an aunt at the Brewarrina mission. He made his father leave a pony in case he wanted to return to Angledool. After a period, he took his younger sister Dawn, and the pony his father had left them and they (Ted was then seven) walked the 70-odd miles (c.110km) back to Bangate station. The journey took three days, their path taking them along the Kato River and around the western side of Narran Lake and up the Narran River.

Ted was forced to work as an unpaid ‘houseboy’ on Bangate Station from the age of 10, working from 4am to late at night. At the age of 12 or 13 he was ‘arrested’ by the Aboriginal Welfare Board as a ward of the state and after absconding was finally sent to the Brewarrina Mission. Ted later went bush, and for the next few years travelled the big stock routes in western New South Wales and southwest Queensland doing odd jobs on stations. During the years of travelling and the immense amount of time spent alone, Ted taught himself to read and write.

During the 1950s, Ted (and Jimmy) contracted polio and spent three years in the hospital in Bathurst. His return to Bangate was delayed during the floods of 1956. After a period of about four years breaking horses again, and doing various jobs out west, he returned to Walgett where he based his life ever since.

In the late 1950s Ted became involved in Civil Rights, demonstrating alone to break the colour bar in Walgett. He was jailed three times and bailed by his employer each time. Ted recalls working on a property where a jackaroo refused to eat food prepared by an Aborigine. The manager told the jackaroo to go back to the camp and if he hadn’t eaten before the end of the camp (three weeks) they would discuss it again.

In the 1960s, Charles Perkins identified the need for an Aboriginal Community Hall in Walgett and promised that it would be financed by the Foundation for Aboriginal Affairs in Sydney. Ted recalls being laughed at by Perkins when he announced the local people would help finance and plan it. With the help of Alec Trevallion the Shire Clark they achieved their goal of providing the foundations.

In the late 1960s Ted came to the University of New England to work with Ned Iceton and Ray Kelly in the Department of Adult Education. The work involved running Aboriginal social development workshops and the Aboriginal Human Relations Newsletter. The progressive nature of this strategy produced a backlash and Ned and colleagues were banned from working with Aboriginal people after 1974.

It was clear to Ned and his colleagues that Ted had a clear understanding of the impact of European society on Aboriginal cultural heritage, contrasting, as Ned states ‘the imperial selfishness of our white cultural style as compared with the cooperative mutuality which was expected within Aboriginal society’. Ted was articulate, had an acute social imagination and had great fluency and style in his written expression – all from someone whose English literacy was self taught. For all this Ted was always filled with self doubt, a legacy of the hard life he lived as a child on the station and at the Brewarrina Mission. Ted never lost sight of the need to bequeath his knowledge and understanding of country to his people and to those who were genuinely interested in recording and documenting it.

In the early 1970s Ted worked with the Australian Federation of Credit Union Leagues (AFCUL) as a Field Service Officer. His job was to promote credit unions in Aboriginal communities throughout Australia. He assisted people in getting loans to help relocate people to their own houses.

Since this time, Ted has been involved in many cultural heritage projects – whether it be undertaking surveys, collaborating in the archaeological studies, relating the Dreamtime stories to those of us who would listen; or raising the general issue of our mismanagement of water resources. One of the most important projects was his involvement with Brother John Giacon, a Christian brother and linguist in Walgett. Between them they prepared and published the first Yuwaalaraay/Gamilaraay Dictionary and published the Dreamtime stories of Narran Lakes to the northwest. He cared about Australian society as a whole, both white and black.

Ted Fields was a remarkable Australian. A native Yuwaalaraay speaker, he taught himself to read and write English, he overcame huge obstacles in his personal life and in his everyday life as an Aboriginal man in outback Australia. His commitment to culture and heritage and communicating it to those around him – to ensure it lives on for his children and grandchildren – attests to his deep connection to country, his love of country and the associations therein.

Ted’s life partner, Wilma predeceased him and they are survived by their three children Laura, Dermott and Ted Jnr (Sonny) and their immediate and extended families. Uncle Ted (or ‘trouble’ as his siblings called him) is also mourned by his sisters Flossy (81), Evelyn (74) and brother Jimmy (76) and families.

The Overseas Chinese Social Landscape of Cooktown 1873–1935

Kevin Rains

PhD, School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, December 2004

This thesis is an historical archaeological examination of the socio-economic relations of the overseas Chinese of Cooktown in north Queensland. In 1873 alluvial gold was discovered on the remote Palmer River in Cape York Peninsula and this initiated a rush of miners and businesses into the area, with Cooktown being established on the coast as a supply port. The influx included a large number of Chinese and the Palmer River gold rush was to be a major event in Chinese migration into Queensland.

Chinese settlement of Cooktown and its district was part of a broader pattern of migration known as the Chinese Diaspora, which saw the movement of large numbers of people, mostly unattached males, from the coastal provinces of southern China to other parts of the world. Until relatively recently, studies of these Diasporic people, or overseas Chinese, have been limited by historical stereotypes and positivistic understandings of social groups and identity. Relations between the overseas Chinese and their host societies have also been coloured by simplistic, exaggerated statements on the effects of European racism and Chinese cultural difference. The overseas Chinese have been portrayed as homogenous, insular, culturally conservative people who were the victims of European exploitation and antagonism. Perspectives of the overseas Chinese in northern Queensland have been limited further by the promotion of a European history that stigmatises or ignores the Chinese participation in colonial expansion. More recent studies have, however, begun to recognise the diversity, social complexity and dynamism within the Diaspora, and to highlight the important roles Chinese played in the socioeconomic development of Australia.

It is within the context of this new approach that this thesis is presented. It adopts a framework based on current theories of social networks, power and landscapes to look at overseas Chinese social relations in terms of the interactions that occur at the level of individuals and factions. Within the concrete social settings of everyday life, human beings live a negotiated existence whereby they construct many social networks which they use to acquire material resources, social status, social identity and emotional fulfilment. These interactions can cut across, reinforce, or complicate ethnic group structure, and are manifested and expressed in the symbolic and physical aspects of the material world.

The social landscape of Cooktown is examined from data collected from archival material and a surface survey of archaeological deposits. Analysis of these data focuses on three core components of the social landscape: the socioeconomic history of the people, their way of life and social institutions; the physical landscape and built environment; and the importation, exportation and consumption of portable goods. What emerges from the analysis is a landscape of many complex social negotiations and intersections. Cooktown was a small and relatively isolated frontier town and the Chinese position within it was a powerful one as Chinese primary production, services and commerce were critical elements within the town’s economic fabric from the 1870s through to the early twentieth century. Socio-economic positioning and the struggle for social power among various social agents established networks that led to a society that was heterogeneous and possessed of multiple sources of self-identification. Within the overseas Chinese community social homogeneity was eroded by particularised alliances and divisions, while between the Chinese and other ethnic groups there were various close relations of mutual dependency and assistance.

Karrikajurren: Creating Community with an Art Centre in Aboriginal Australia

Sally K. May

PhD, Centre for Cross Cultural Research, The Australian National University, April 2006

In this thesis I explore the artistic community surrounding the primary place of art production and sale in the region, Injalak Arts and Crafts (henceforth, Injalak), an art centre established in Kunbarlanja in 1989. The premise of this thesis is that the group of people (not solely artists) that interact with and through Injalak form a unique community in Kunbarlanja. This is based on the argument that ‘community’, rather than a geographical notion, is a condition in which individuals are enmeshed in a web of ‘meaningful’ relationships with others. Using multiple methods including a focus on historical research, oral histories, statistical analysis and reflexive ethnography, I discuss the social context of art production in Kunbarlanja with a focus on Injalak as a core centre for art production and artist interaction. I argue that Injalak as a place activates and draws together particular social groupings to form a sense of identity and community. It is the nature of this community that is the primary focus of this thesis as well as the final artworks which bear witness to the relationships and historical events.

I present this story in two parts; personal and collective histories and place, people, and community. The first part begins with a focus on the long history of art trading around Kunbarlanja and an exploration of the influence of this history on the emergence of Injalak in the 1980s. Yet, rather than approaching the organisation as one that developed in isolation, this thesis attempts to place it in its community and regional setting. The individuals and organisations who have been directly involved with the production and marketing of art by Indigenous artists working in Kunbarlanja and who have been influential in establishing particular patterns of art trading are another primary concern. In line with this, I explore some general issues surrounding outside influences on the establishment of community art centres in remote communities around Australia. This includes changing government policies and the nature of the art market. In the second part of this thesis, I present stories and findings from my ethnographic fieldwork in context with statistical results on artwork and artists collected during fieldwork from 2001 to 2005. These stories come together through a merging of statistical results with ethnographic interactions and the theories and histories presented in the first part of this thesis.

Kurturniaiak (Badu) and the archaeology of villages in Torres Strait

David and Weisler Figure 3 AA63Bruno David and Marshall Weisler

Despite more than 30 years of archaeological research, not a single detailed site report has ever been published for a village site in Torres Strait. This paper presents the results of small-scale excavations at the 700 year old village of Kurturniaiwak on Badu island in mid-western Torres Strait. It represents the first in an ongoing series of systematic excavations of village sites in this part of Torres Strait. Initial results support conclusions of major socio-cultural change for the region as recently proposed by McNiven, and indicate that a major reconfiguration of settlement-subsistence-ritual systems probably took place in western Torres Strait sometime between 600 and 800 years ago.

Image caption: The site of Kurturniaiwak viewed from the south (published in Australian Archaeology 63:22).

Thomas Harold Loy (1942–2005)

Tom Loy 1Jay Hall, Richard Fullagar and Gail Robertson

On 19 August 2006, some 65 people from Australia and overseas attended a special symposium ‘Archaeological Science under a Microscope’ at the University of Queensland (UQ), to honour Dr Tom Loy, who was found dead at his home in Fig Tree Pocket, Brisbane, on Wednesday 19 October 2005. He had been suffering a debilitating illness for some time. This gathering of past students, colleagues and friends paid tribute to Tom’s influence as a teacher, most recently at UQ where he taught for 10 years, and also to his research contributions, particularly the study of tool residues and ancient DNA analysis, which earned him international recognition.

Thomas Harold Loy was born on St Valentine’s Day 1942, in Chino, California, the first son of a third-generation Methodist minister, Harold Loy and his wife Maxine, a musician and schoolteacher. In his early years, Tom spent much time in the desert among the Navajo, who stimulated his interest in prehistoric archaeology and deeply influenced his thinking. When he was five, he started a rock collection and by the age of 10 he was reading anthropology and archaeology books, but he especially loved being outside in the desert and wilderness.

In 1960 Tom began a geology degree at the University of Redlands, California, which was interrupted in 1963 when he married his high school sweetheart, Linda Anderson. They moved to Alaska, where Tom was employed as a seismologist, cartographer and consultant geologist. In his spare time, Tom surveyed and recorded archaeological sites. The marriage did not last. He married again in 1966, and with his new wife Coral moved to Vancouver, Canada. Having taken additional coursework in anthropology and archaeology at Alaska Methodist University, he was awarded a BSc degree in geology by the University of Redlands in 1970. He immediately commenced postgraduate studies in archaeology at the University of British Columbia, and was awarded an MA in 1972. Tom and Coral had two children, Ingelisa and Adam, and adopted two others, Curtis (Native American) and Kim (Korean).

In 1972 Tom gained employment as Research Director of the Glenrose Cannery Site Project which was funded by the National Museum of Man and the Canada Council and administered by the University of British Columbia. He was also employed as an Instructor at the University of British Columbia’s Archaeological Field School in the summer of 1973, by which time he had begun a PhD, the completion of which was curtailed by the demands of employment.

From 1973 until 1987 Tom was a curator of archaeological collections at the Royal British Columbia Museum, Victoria, Canada. He became the first editor of the Canadian Archaeological Association’s Newsletter in 1981. As well as developing and implementing a computerised collections management system for the National Museums of Canada, Tom conducted archaeological and ethnographic fieldwork in north-central British Colombia. It was while analysing these collections that he discovered the existence of prehistoric blood residues on well-preserved stone artefacts from arctic sediments. Tom noticed that certain residues adhered to some museum stone tools that had not undergone the standard washing and cataloging procedures, and having recognised residues during his own butchering experiments, he questioned whether the museum tool residues could be from such tasks in prehistory. Examining some of the unwashed tools microscopically, he took photomicrographs of the residues and identified matted hair and ancient blood in sufficient quantities for radiocarbon dating.

Tom is thus internationally renowned as the first researcher to discover the ubiquity and longevity of blood and other organic residues on ancient artefacts. His groundbreaking 1983 article ‘Prehistoric blood residues: Detection on tool surfaces and identification of species of origin’, in the journal Science, caused a stir in the archaeological community and not a little controversy. It also resulted in a reference to the ‘Loy Method’ in the bestselling novel, Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton! Subsequent papers focused on understanding the mechanisms of survival and the taxonomic identification of blood and other organic residues on tools from other environments and in other archaeological contexts, including rock art. Tom’s pioneering discoveries prompted intense scientific scrutiny, at times hurtful, but he worked tirelessly to revise and develop new methods for testing and evaluating his fundamental argument that identifiable blood and other organic residues often survived intact on tool edges, could be taxonomically identified and could provide critical evidence of how tools were used.

Tom’s move from Canada to Australia began when a group of Australians (including Dr Jim Allen, and a couple of stone tool analysts, Dr Richard Fullagar and Dr Johan Kamminga) heard him speak at the 1983 International Congress for Archaeological and Ethnological Sciences (ICAES) in Vancouver. Jim Allen elicited an invitation for Tom to visit Australia and speak about his discoveries of ancient blood at the Research School of Pacific Studies at the Australian National University (ANU). After a couple of short visiting fellowships, he was offered a three year position in 1987. Professor Jack Golson, then Head of the Department of Prehistory, and Dr Rhys Jones, vigorously supported Tom after a New York Times article publicised his dismissal from the Royal British Columbia Museum because his research had been questioned. Jack Golson told the Canberra Times (2 January 1988, p.10) that this was simply untrue, and that ‘Loy was the first person to say blood was on those stones … The reason we snapped him up here … was to give him opportunity and the facilities for the research and development of that fantastic breakthrough’. He moved to Canberra with his third wife Claudia Haagan, with whom he had two children, Max (born in Canada) and Emma (born in Australia). Tom was promoted to Research Fellow in 1991 and then Fellow in 1993. In 1996, Tom was awarded a PhD by the Institute of Advanced Studies, ANU.

Tom was extremely upset by attacks in the media and the scientific controversies that his research provoked, but found good friends and collegial support at the ANU. In his new laboratory, he set about building reference collections, developing new methods of residue identification, and began intensive investigation of ancient DNA extraction. His numerous publications from this period show that this work developed rapidly, and he collaborated widely with archaeological colleagues, dating experts, geneticists and other specialists at the ANU and in many parts of the world. His work with colleagues gave him opportunities to study countless artefacts from around the world, and he visited archaeological sites in many parts of Australia. His research on ancient starch granules deserves special mention; his landmark publication (with Professor Matthew Spriggs and Dr Steve Wickler) in the journal Antiquity (1992) identified taro starch grains on 28,000 year old stone tools from Kilu Cave, Solomon Islands. Tom’s most recent contribution with Jenna Lamb, one of his BA (Hons) students, in the Journal of Archaeological Science (2005) promises a new method for distinguishing prehistoric cooking and the processing of starchy plant foods. Ancient Starch Research, a volume edited by Dr Robin Torrence and Dr Huw Barton, and published shortly after Tom’s death, was dedicated to him because of his significant contribution to research in this area.

Although most of his research involved traces of blood and starch, he was interested in all aspects of artefact production and use, and initiated study of several other organic and inorganic tool residues (usually with highly distinctive shapes and optical properties) like haematite, collagen fibres, raphides (calcium oxalate crystals found in many plants) and feather barbules. Subsequently, one of Tom’s most recent PhD graduates, Dr Gail Robertson, found, for the first time, abundant feather fragments on Australian backed microliths.

In 1995, Dr Ken Reid, a former ANU science colleague who had taken a position at the University of Queenland’s Special Research Centre in the Centre for Molecular and Cellular Biology (CMCB), approached his director about offering Tom a position. As the CMCB was only able to fund a 50% position, the Department of Anthropology and Sociology (now the School of Social Science) at the urging of Dr Jay Hall readily agreed to fund the other half, and Tom was thus lured to a 3 year cross-faculty appointment as a Principal Research Fellow at the CMCB and Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Queensland. Here he began development of the current Archaeological Sciences Laboratory. Tom’s ability in the teaching sphere was unknown, but any concerns were dispelled when he gave a guest lecture on his Ice Man work to the introductory Discovering Archaeology class. Tom strolled into the large lecture theatre in Cuban-heeled cowboy boots, faded Levis, a Western belt buckle, Hawaiian-style shirt, and no notes. Armed with a full rack of 35mm slides he spoke in his quiet western drawl for over an hour to a spellbound audience of 150 first year students. He received a standing ovation!

Tom was a naturally gifted teacher and a great storyteller and was extremely successful at attracting students into undergraduate and postgraduate courses. His use of examples gleaned from his experiences as a geologist and archaeologist made the scientific method accessible to students who were largely from the Humanities, although eventually numbers of Science students enrolled in his various subjects (particularly Molecular and Forensic Archaeology). When his three year contract expired and the CMCB could no longer provide funding, the School of Social Science stepped in to fully fund the position until 1999, at which time Tom was appointed to a Senior Lectureship dedicated to developing Archaeological Science in the Archaeology Program. Over the years, Tom supervised a large group of PhD, Masters and Honours students with diverse interests. At the time of his death, he held a current Australian Research Council Linkage Grant, ‘Rehabilitation of Surface Collections’, which maintained ongoing fieldwork and collaboration with Indjilandji and Dugalunji Aboriginal peoples from the Camooweal area in western Queensland.

Other ongoing projects included the study of the clothes and toolkit of Ötzi, the famous glacier mummy found in 1991. With an international team, Tom visited Ötzi in Austria and Italy, and most recently was analysing DNA preserved in blood films that he found on Ötzi’s tools and clothing. Sadly, his monograph on this work remains unfinished. He set up ancient DNA and other analytical facilities for archaeologists in the University of Queensland, with the support and backing of Dr Ken Reid, from the CMCB. He convened the 7th International Ancient DNA and Associated Biomolecules Conference at UQ in 2004, and was Foundation President of the newly formed International Society for Ancient Biomolecules. Tom also forged links with Lyn Wadley and worked closely with students at the University of Wittwatersrand and other research teams in South Africa, where he worked on human remains, stone artefacts and bone assemblages spanning the last 2 million years.

Tom’s research often included projects with a high international profile that invited controversy (e.g. faunal extinctions, human evolution, plant food processing and direct dating of rock art) but he always made time for his many ardent students to whom he was both mentor and friend. He was an excellent cook and often produced his favourite spicy dishes for family and students. Tom was also a talented poet, musician and artist, finding relaxation in making exquisite woodcuts. His vibrant presence is sadly missed by his friends, students and colleagues the world over, and especially by his family, his only brother, Gareth, and his children: Inge, Curtis, Kim, Adam, Max and Emma.

Selected Publications

Loy, T.H. 1983 Prehistoric blood residues: Detection on tool surfaces and identification of species of origin. Science 220:1269–1271.

Loy,T.H. 1987 Radiocarbon dating blood residues on prehistoric stone tools. Radiocarbon 28(1):170–174.

Loy, T.H., R. Jones, D.E. Nelson, B. Meehan, J. Vogel, J. Southon and R. Cosgrove 1989 Accelerator radiocarbon dating of human blood proteins in pigments from late Pleistocene art sites in Australia. Antiquity 64:110–116.

Loy, T.H. and A.R. Wood 1989 Blood residue analysis at Cayönü Tepesi, Turkey. Journal of Field Archaeology 16(4):451-460.

Loy, T.H. 1990 Getting blood from a stone. Australian Natural History 23(6):470–479.

Loy, T.H. and B. Hardy 1992 Blood residue analysis of 90,000 year old stone tools from Tabun Cave, Israel. Antiquity 66:24–35.

Loy, T.H., M. Spriggs and S. Wickler 1992 Direct evidence for human use of plants 28,000 years ago: Starch residues on stone tools from the northern Solomons. Antiquity 66:898–912.

Loy, T.H. 1992 Destructive sampling in the analysis of rock art. Rock Art Quarterly 3(3–4):18.

Loy, T.H. 1993 The artefact as site: An example of the biomolecular analysis of organic residues on prehistoric tools. World Archaeology 25(1):44–62.

Loy, T.H. 1993 Prehistoric organic residue analysis: The future meets the past. In M. Spriggs, D.E. Yen, W. Ambrose, R. Jones, A. Thorne and A. Andrews (eds), A Community of Culture: The People and Prehistory of the Pacific, pp.56–72. Occasional Papers in Prehistory 21. Canberra: Department of Prehistory, Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian National University.

Loy, T.H. 1993 On the dating of prehistoric organic residues. The Artefact 16:46–49.

Loy, T.H. 1994 Identifying species of origin from prehistoric blood residues. Science 266:299–300.

Loy, T.H. 1994 Methods in the analysis of starch residues on prehistoric stone tools. In J.G. Hather (ed.), Tropical Archaeobotany: Applications and New Developments, pp.86–114. London: Routledge.

Loy, T.H. 1997 Ultrapure water, is it pure enough? Ancient Biomolecules 1:155–159.

Fullagar, R., T.H. Loy and S. Cox 1998 Starch grains, sediments and stone tool function: Evidence from Bitokara, Papua New Guinea. In R. Fullagar (ed.), A Closer Look: Recent Australian Studies of Stone Tools, pp.49–60. Sydney University Archaeological Methods Series 6. Sydney: Archaeological Computing Laboratory, University of Sydney.

Dixon, E.J. and T.H. Loy 1998 Blood residues on fluted points from Eastern Beringia indicate mammoth predation as part of a big-game hunting tradition. American Antiquity 63(l):21–46.

Wolski, N. and T.H. Loy 1999 On the invisibility of contact: Residue analyses on Aboriginal glass artefacts from western Victoria. The Artefact 22:65–73

Matheson, C.D. and T.H. Loy 2001 Genetic sex identification of 9400-year-old human skull samples from Cayönü Tepesi, Turkey. Journal of Archaeological Science 28:569–575.

Matheson, C.D., J. Hall, T.H. Loy and R. Viel 2001 The study of populations in the past. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 114(s32):103.

Brown, T. and T.H. Loy 2002 Preliminary detection of haemoglobin from extinct mammals using capillary electrophoresis. In S. Ulm, C. Westcott, J. Reid, A. Ross, I. Lilley, J. Prangnell and L. Kirkwood (eds), Barriers, Borders, Boundaries: Proceedings of the 2001 Australian Archaeological Association Annual Conference, pp.205–212. Tempus 7. Brisbane: Anthropology Museum, The University of Queensland.

Hlinka, V., S. Ulm, T. Loy and J. Hall 2002 The genetic speciation of archaeological fish bone: A feasibility study from southeast Queensland. Queensland Archaeological Research 13:71–78.

Walshe, K. and T.H. Loy 2004 An adze manufactured from telegraph insulator, Harvey’s Return, Kangaroo Island. Australian Archaeology 58:38–40.

Lamb, J. and T.H. Loy 2005 Seeing red: The use of Congo Red dye to identify cooked and damaged starch grains in archaeological residues. Journal of Archaeological Science 32:1433–1440.

Loy, T.H. 2006 Optical properties of potential starch look-alikes. In R. Torrence and H. Barton (eds), Ancient Starch Research, pp.123–124. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press.


Review of ‘The Archaeology of the Aru Islands, Eastern Indonesia’ edited by Sue O’Connor, Matthew Spriggs and Peter Veth

Rosendahl book review cover AA63The Archaeology of the Aru Islands, Eastern Indonesia edited by Sue O’Connor, Matthew Spriggs and Peter Veth. Terra Australis 22, Pandanus Books, Canberra, 2005, x+314 pp., ISBN 1 74076 113 8 (pbk).

Daniel Rosendahl

Aboriginal Environments Research Centre, School of Geography Planning and Architecture, The University of Queensland, St Lucia Qld 4072, Australia

The Aru Islands are situated southwest of New Guinea and are a part of the Maluku province of Indonesia, comprising several island groups. This compendium presents a synthesis of recent geomorphological, geological, environmental, archaeological, ethnographic, zoological, oesteological and historical research providing a record of human occupation on the Aru Islands from around 28,000 BP to the present. Recurring themes throughout the volume include: isolation and insularity around the time of the terminal Pleistocene and its impact on endemic biota; increasing evidence of trade and exchange in the last thousand years with the introduction of several exotic domesticated species such as dog, pig and deer; and the significance of the islands in understanding Pleistocene human migration pathways into Sahul.

The wide-ranging introductory chapter by Spriggs, O’Connor and Veth places the Aru Islands in their palaeoenvironmental and contemporary geographical and biogeographical contexts. During times of low sea-level the Aru Islands were situated on the western margin of the Torresian landbridge which connected Australia and New Guinea. These connections are reflected in the contemporary and fossil fauna of the islands. The Aru Islands are therefore ideally situated to contribute to understandings of the settlement and occupation of Australia. Across three field seasons the research team located and excavated two stratified Pleistocene rockshelter deposits on Pulau Kobroor, documenting continuous occupation of the islands throughout the marine transgression as well as a rich record of cultural shifts and environmental change. This chronology was complemented by the excavation of a late Holocene midden on Pulau Wamar that included a ceramic component.

Hope and Aplin (Chapter 2) use a range of techniques, including oxygen isotope analysis of foraminifera, palynology and analysis of excavated faunal assemblages, to construct a five-phase palaeoenvironmental sequence spanning the last 28,000 years. Each phase is characterised by changing suites of fauna, climatic transitions, demographic restructuring and/or shifts in subsistence strategies. The last 1000 years (Phase V) for instance is characterised by increasing marine specialisation, a decline in terrestrial resource exploitation and the introduction of several exotic mammal species to the islands.

Aplin and Pasveer (Chapter 3) report the analysis of the faunal mammal assemblages from the limestone rockshelter excavations at Liang Nabulei Lisa and Liang Lemdubu. With a total of 29 mammal species represented, the faunal assemblage represents a ‘complex admixture of open and closed and wet and dry’ (p.60) species. The analysis documented mammal species that have not previously been recorded on the Aru Islands and also the absence of several extant species. The authors characterise the Aru Islands as being on the edge of a biogeographical boundary with the faunal assemblage reflecting the impact of climatic change on endemic species.

Field surveys documented a rich archaeological record with 31 sites recorded, including pre-and post-European contact places and an historical archaeological record commencing with initial contacts with the spice trade (Chapter 4). The earliest historical site recorded is the ruins of Ujir (Chapter 5), a remnant pre-European fort possibly dating to the fifteenth century, left over from the rich spice trade. Ujir is an outstanding example that provides evidence of a complex history of trade predating the European expansion into the region.

Specialised analyses of the main classes of material recovered from each of the three excavations are presented, including a pottery sequencing, sourcing and typological study recovered from the mid-late Holocene site, Wangil Midden (Chapter 6). Peter Hiscock complements the data set with an analysis of the lithics from two Pleistocene cave excavations (Chapter 10), drawing parallels with artefact assemblages in northern Queensland. An excavation report, including stratigraphy, sediment matrix and features, is provided for Liang Nabulei Lisa (Chapter 7) and Liang Lemdubu (Chapter 9), with bone artefact analsyis (Chapter 11) and interpretation of human skeletal material (Chapters 8 and 12).

With only a limited sample the editors have succeeded in synthesising a broad swathe of current knowledge to illustrate the rich archaeological potential of the Aru Islands. With an emphasis on trade and exchange, cultural adaptations to environmental change, palaeo links to Australia and New Guinea, historic Aru Islands and the spice trade, this work provides insight into the role of the Aru islands and the Arafura plain in the migration pathways between southeast Asia and Australia.

Review of ‘Lithics Down Under: Australian Perspectives on Lithic Reduction, Use and Classification’ edited by Chris Clarkson and Lara Lamb

McNiven book review cover AA63Lithics Down Under: Australian Perspectives on Lithic Reduction, Use and Classification edited by Chris Clarkson and Lara Lamb. BAR International Series 1408, Archaeopress, Oxford, 2005, iv+125 pp., ISBN 1 84171 851 3 (pbk).

Ian J. McNiven

Programme for Australian Indigenous Archaeology, School of Geography and Environmental Science, Monash University, Clayton Vic. 3800, Australia

Lithics ‘Down Under’ assembles key papers on technological analyses of Aboriginal flaked stone artefacts. The focus on reduction reflects its central role in modern technological analyses of stone artefact assemblages. By definition, stone artefact manufacture, use and curation is a reductive process: each flaking event results in an artefact progressively becoming smaller and smaller. Thus, a focus on reduction emphasises the morphological dynamism of stone artefacts and embeds such dynamism within the contingencies of technological requirements usually linked to land-use strategies. If artefact engagement depends on place-specific requirements, then artefact reduction must contend with three dimensions – first, a matrix of differing functional requirements across a landscape; second, the fact that each flaking event reduces the size of the artefact towards a critical threshold of usability; and third, replacement raw materials for artefact manufacture are unevenly distributed across the landscape and have access costs. Significantly for archaeological enquiry, each reduction event produces a material signature in the form of flaking debris. While stone artefacts are not immune from taphonomic processes, it is likely that most flaking events by humans over the last 2.5 million years have an archaeological expression today. As Clarkson and Lamb point out, such tangibility allows stone artefacts, through reduction analyses, to provide powerful and unique insights in the dynamics of past human landscape engagements.

In an attempt to quantify degrees of assemblage reduction, considerable attention has been directed at retouched flakes. As Clarkson and Lamb discuss in their introduction (Chapter 1), such studies have rendered many typological studies moribund by revealing the mutability of retouched artefact forms and the existence of morphological continuums. Following pioneering work by Dibble on Mousterian scraper reduction continuums, Australian archaeologists have been producing robust studies documenting similar reduction continuums. Although the tula adze reduction continuum has been known for many decades, it is primarily with the conceptual and methodological advances of Peter Hiscock, Chris Clarkson and Val Attenbrow that Aboriginal retouched flake reduction continuums have gained an international audience. In Chapters 2, 3 and 5, these three scholars elaborate notions of reduction continuums to produce what I consider to be the centre-piece papers of the volume.

In Chapter 2, Hiscock and Clarkson reassess the validity and utility of a number of reduction indexes, particularly Kuhn’s Geometric Index of Unifacial Reduction, through their own experimental and controlled reduction of retouched flakes. Results, described in statistical detail, reveal that a strong positive relationship does indeed exist between amount of retouching (% of original weight lost) and the Kuhn Index. Other reduction indexes, based on platform area or platform thickness, are found wanting.

The Kuhn Index is put to good use in a number of papers in the volume, including Clarkson’s (Chapter 3) paper which I believe will become an instant classic. Clarkson applies a range of measures of reduction intensity to 338 retouched flakes excavated from four stratified rockshelters from Wardaman country in the Northern Territory. All measures reveal reduction continuums which fly in the face of typological approaches, including staged reduction models, which attempt to identify discontinuous and discrete scraper types. To further demonstrate this point, the same sample of retouched flakes was classified according to eight scraper classes defined by McCarthy. Results not only show considerable overlap between classes but also subsume artefacts from different parts of the reduction continuum. Clarkson makes the important conclusion that ‘the notion that types represent real, discrete and discontinuous ‘kinds’ that are tightly bounded and internally consistent must be rejected’.

In Chapter 5, Hiscock and Attenbrow crystallise a profound and paradoxical implication of reduction continuums – ‘How can implements be designed for, and be efficient in, a specific use if their morphology is continuously changing?’. It is similarly ironic that every resharpening event to extend the use-life of an artefact simultaneously decreases the size of the artefact and increases its likelihood of approaching a usability threshold. The paradox establishes a conceptual cul-de-sac for use-wear studies hoping to find discrete relationships between form and function. Continuing with their analysis of retouched flakes from Capertee 3 (excavated by Fred McCarthy), Hiscock and Attenbrow demonstrate that different ‘scraper’ types identified by McCarthy are arbitrary as they form part of a non-segmented, morphological/reduction continuum. In other words, the scraper types have no inherent meaning or discreteness and therefore any morpho-functional ascription is likewise arbitrary. It is pointed out that if function changed to accommodate morphological change with serial reduction, then we would be faced with the untenable proposition that artefact reduction drives function and by extension land-use strategies!

In Chapter 4, Lara Lamb looks at retouched artefact reduction, particularly backed versus non-backed, from the extraordinary South Molle Island quarry located off the central Queensland coast. Used for at least 9000 years, the quarry was a place where large backed artefacts (‘Juan Knives’) and other large retouched flakes were manufactured. Lamb demonstrates the distinctiveness of the backed artefacts as a retouched artefact class and argues that they were used largely as sources of small flakes across the Whitsunday archipelago. Oliver MacGregor (Chapter 6) examines through controlled experiments the issue of abrupt terminations and the problems knappers encounter if they wish to extend the use-life of artefacts through continued reduction. Taking a landscape approach, subsequent chapters explore the relationship between reduction intensity, raw material proximity, mobility and occupation intensity for the arid/semi-arid zones of NSW (Justin Shiner et al. – Chapter 7), central Australia (Boone Law – Chapter 8) and Queensland (Alex Mackay – Chapter 9). Of these three interesting papers, I found Law’s analysis of retouched flake reduction intensity at Puritjara particularly engaging because of its clarity and focus. This paper integrates nicely chronological changes in reduction intensity with changes in residential duration, mobility and climate. Michael Shott (Chapter 10), one of the big guns of international lithic studies, ends this ‘landmark’ volume with an authoritative, reflective and highly instructive overview.

Overall, the quality of production is good but a final proof read would have picked up a series of annoying typos. This volume should be mandatory reading for all Australian archaeologists. For those of you not into the intricacies of stone artefact technology, some of the papers will be hard going. However, your perseverance will be amply rewarded as the heavily referenced papers will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the current state of play of technological analyses both in Australia and abroad. For those wishing to take the plunge into technological analyses, the volume will become something of a bible. Lithics ‘Down Under’, reflecting the long-term commitment of Peter Hiscock and his students to technological analyses, consolidates Australia’s cutting-edge place in the dynamic international arena of lithic studies. The fact that the volume was skillfully assembled by two younger generation archaeologists (both students of Hiscock) demonstrates that the future of our discipline is in good

Painting Patterns: Torres Strait Region Rock Art, Northeast Australia

Liam M. Brady

PhD, School of Geography and Environmental Science, Monash University, November 2005

This thesis examines the results from seven community-based rock art recording projects carried out in Torres Strait (northeast Queensland), in the context of inter-regional interaction. The extensive interactional sphere that links Torres Strait Islanders, Papuans and Aboriginal people from Cape York is a well-recognised feature of this dynamic region. However, despite the anthropological and post-European contact historical research conducted in Torres Strait, the study of rock art has been sorely neglected across the region. Prior to 2000, only sporadic recordings of rock art could be located in the ethnographic literature. This research project systematically recorded Torres Strait region rock art, using computer enhancement techniques, to investigate artistic patterning in the rock art record based on similarities and differences of designs across space. The use of computer enhancement as a methodological tool has allowed for a more comprehensive recording of rock paintings that have deteriorated considerably in the harsh coastal, tropical climate of Torres Strait. The key outcomes of this project reveal that there are no consistent grouping of islands based on motif types. Rather, specific islands – Dauan, Kirriri, Pulu and Somerset – differentiate themselves from other islands in several statistical tests involving group motifs and individual motifs. Incorporation of comparative designs from portable media – decorative material culture objects and scarred designs on people – indicate that the spatial extent of some individual designs is much more widespread than originally anticipated. A distinctive Papuan influence is clearly visible in the north with Dauan’s rock art assemblage; that influence extends southwards into the mid-western islands but is absent in the south-western islands. Consequently, rock art alone cannot be an adequate indicator of inter-regional interaction in Torres Strait. Examination of the patterning of designs in rock art needs to consider the broader role of decorated material culture objects. The portable nature of such objects is a crucial element in the investigation of the artistic system in the Torres Strait region. That designs are found on more than one decorative medium in Torres Strait is symptomatic of a much larger and widespread artistic system that utilises different media for the sharing of design conventions across space.

Review of ‘Nonlinear Models for Archaeology and Anthropology: Continuing the Revolution’ edited by Christopher S. Beekman and William W. Baden

Ridges book review cover AA63Nonlinear Models for Archaeology and Anthropology: Continuing the Revolution edited by Christopher S. Beekman and William W. Baden. Ashgate Publishing, Hampshire, 2005, xvii+178 pp., ISBN 0 7546 4319 0.

Mal Ridges

Department of Environment and Conservation, Armidale NSW 2350, Australia

Nonlinear Models for Archaeology and Anthropology is an edited volume organised into eight chapters, with each of the papers illustrating the application of non-linear systems theory (i.e. complexity theory, chaos theory, dynamical systems etc) in what are mostly anthropological examples. The examples include exploring how human groups operate as ecaptive (rather than adaptive) systems; basic forms of underlying organisation (based on complexity theory) in different societies from kinship-based though to corporations; use of agent-based modelling of social dynamics in Pre-Columbian Western Mexico; using quasi-group formation to understand factional dynamics in Hopi villages; use of dissapative structures to explain Iroquoian maize agriculture; and using agent-based modelling to improve site catchment analysis. As you can already see, this is a jargon-loaded volume but, thankfully, for the most part, the jargon is well-explained within individual chapters, although it does make for hard going at times.

The editors of the volume describe the application of non-linear systems theory as a ‘revolution’ in the discipline of science, which it has been in some fields, but not universally so. For the social sciences, the editors argue that non-linear systems theory offers to help ‘rebuild after the devastating critiques of Post-Modernism’ (p.1). There really is no hiding their enthusiasm for this branch of theory. But on more than one occasion when working through the volume, I was left wondering whether this really constitutes a ‘theoretical revolution’, or whether what is really being promoted is just another rebadged theoretical vogue? My own reading of the philosophy of science is that the latter is more likely to be the case. Nonetheless, there are some very insightful approaches to tackling particular anthropological problems, but I wouldn’t see the body of theory as a solution to all our theoretical woes.

In its favour, the papers illustrate some very useful applications of how non-linear systems theory can provide a framework for describing the complexities of social dynamics. This is really where non-linear systems theory comes into its own. In particular, its most interesting application is in setting-up simulations of operating societies (or parts thereof), and using that as a test-bed for exploring the implications of theoretical statements about social processes. In this regard, there is great potential, as the contributing authors variously recognise, for non-linear systems theory to be used as a vehicle for integrating theoretical schools, and operationalising some of the tenets of post-processualism. It does this by breaking down the requirement of traditional taxonomic classifications, and permits much more complex interactions between data and theory. Gone are the days where theory is reworked to explain anomalous observations. The real advantage of complexity theory is its ability to not only explain anomalies, but even predict them.

There are similarly some good take-home theoretical points that emerge from the volume. These are that when studying social systems, and their archaeological implications, it is important to realise that there are inevitably a variety of processes operating at different scales (temporal, spatial and categorical) that affect the phenomena we observe. We often acknowledge this, but the difficulty is dealing with it in explanatory statements. The tendency is to focus on a single process and situate explanations in the context of that process, since our research has led to a better understanding of that process. Non-linear systems theory provides some hooks from which multiple processes can be situated relative to each other, and provides for more complex interactions than just simple cause and effect. Potentially, this should provide for more penetrating explanations of the past.

Despite this potential, however, there were two aspects of the volume that disappointed me. The first is that, despite the title, there really is very little application of non-linear systems theory to archaeological problems. Where the archaeology does get a mention, it is limited to providing the tangible evidence of the social processes that are the real focus of the volume. A related issue is that of the eight chapters in the volume, only one deals with middle-range societies, and even then relies heavily on historical data to explore group dynamics. Only at the very end of this chapter is there some discussion of the implications for archaeology. It would have been nice to see some application of non-linear systems theory to deriving statements about the past solely from archaeological data, if only to indicate the different insights it can provide. I can foresee that this body of theory could have very useful applications in Australian archaeology through the study of rock art, for example, as well as exploring the dynamics of stone artefact production and use. However, the application of non-linear systems theory to our discipline is still quite new, so hopefully this might be something we’ll see in the near future.

The second disappointment was that none of the papers in the volume explored the limitations of non-linear systems theory, or how it performs relative to existing theoretical approaches. There is a strong sense in the volume that the benefits of applying non-linear systems theory are self-evident, rather than needing to be established. Collectively, the papers in the volume do a good job of illustrating the advantages of this body of theory, but I was left wondering what the potential pitfalls are of applying it haphazardly. This might be forgiven in a volume that is trying enthusiastically to sell the ideas of a new theoretical approach for anthropology. But its take up more broadly would require this issue to be addressed specifically. Something that all the papers in the volume had in common, for example, was a high degree of reliance on ethnographic and historical data on social dynamics. Complex data lend themselves to complex explanations. If anything, this illustrates that it may not necessarily be straightforward to pick up non-linear systems theory and apply it in other contexts where there is greater time depth, or the data that is being worked upon is not so closely linked to its social context.

Overall this is an interesting, if somewhat difficult read owing to the amount of jargon. Certainly archaeologists who work closely with Aboriginal communities who maintain a rich source of traditional knowledge will be able to see the parallels with their own work. Potentially there are some very interesting applications for non-linear systems theory in Australian archaeology, especially rock art. I just hope that this doesn’t go the way of other theoretical vogues, which sees it applied simply because everyone else is doing it. Owing to the nature of complexity theory, there are certainly some traps for the unwary.

Years of Occupation at Ngarrabullgan (Southeast Cape York Peninsula, North Queensland): The Stone Artefact Technological Evidence

Jerome Mialanes

PhD, School of Art History, Cinema, Classics and Archaeology, University of Melbourne, June 2005

This thesis investigates 50,000 years of temporal changes in stone artefact technology and land-use patterns at Ngarrabullgan (Mt Mulligan), southeast Cape York Peninsula, Far north Queensland. The technological sequence is the oldest and longest investigated to date for Aboriginal Australia.

Processes involved in stone artefact manufacture were reconstructed by analysis of lithic assemblages from five rockshelter sites. After comparing current methods of investigation in lithic studies, a technological approach was considered best suited to the research question and the tendency for the Ngarrabullgan assemblages to be typologically ‘amorphous’. Temporal units were created in relation to changes in artefact discard rates for the four main raw materials (chert, quartz, rhyolite and porphyritic rhyolite). These temporal units, in conjunction with the different occupational histories of each site, provide the basis for identification of major chronological changes in technology and land-use. By employing variable temporal scales of analysis, it was possible to shed light on time periods that were otherwise too coarse-grained to provide any insights or when the sample size for any given period was too small to generate reliable inferences.

Two sites on the mountain-top, Ngarrabullgan Cave and Nonda Rock, were used to establish a master chronology. Nonda Rock presented the most complete data as the shelter was occupied more or less continuously from 50,000 years ago until its abandonment 600 years ago, while Ngarrabullgan Cave was occupied from 40,000 years ago but abandoned for some 30,000 years until reoccupation in the last 6000 years. Several temporal changes were identified both in the nature and intensity of the lithic reduction sequences as well as in the preferential use of raw materials. Changes in rates of stone artefact discard were interpreted as responses to changes in raw material access and procurement linked to changing mobility patterns.

For 50,000 years the mobility magnitude of people frequenting the mountain and its surrounds remained the same. In contrast, mobility frequency showed major alterations during the last 6000 years in conjunction with changes in rates of site establishment and site use. The hypothesis for a period of high mobility frequency between 6000 and 2000 years ago was confirmed by reliance on off-the-mountain raw materials and use of multifunctional, portable flake-cores (flakes used functionally as cores) while frequenting the mountain-top. Technological change during the last 2000 years was marked by a decrease in mobility frequency with increasing use of local raw materials and the disappearance of flake-cores.

Based on these technological trends, I hypothesise that while Aboriginal occupation of the mountain was greatly influenced by environmental conditions, particularly during the Last Glacial Maximum (when the mountain was rarely frequented), changes during the Holocene were more sociocultural in nature.

Review of ‘Archaeology of Asia’ edited by Miriam T. Stark

Boyd book review cover AA63Archaeology of Asia edited by Miriam T. Stark. Blackwell Publishing, Malden, 2006, xvi+364 pp., ISBN 1-4051-0213-6.

Bill Boyd

School of Environmental Science and Management, Southern Cross University, Lismore NSW 2480, Australia

This volume is the eighth in the series Blackwell Studies in Global Archaeology, a series intended to cover the central areas of undergraduate archaeological teaching. While this is certainly a suitable market for the series, this particular volume presents an overview and depth that will also, and perhaps more so, be a welcome addition to the libraries of postgraduate and research archaeologists. Bringing together 15 chapters by 19 contributors, Stark has edited a rich and widespread account of current archaeological trends in the study of Asia, defined by the content as East, Southeast and South Asia, Japan through to India.

In her valuable opening chapter, ‘Contextualizing an Archaeology of Asia’, Stark places the following chapters into the broad picture of archaeology in Asia. She acknowledges that the volume should not serve as an introductory text; rather she helpfully points to the many books covering various parts of the region. She also notes that the volume cannot be exhaustive, and rather modestly comments on its incompleteness. Certainly, for example, the absence of a contribution on Southeast Asia from Charles Higham is notable, especially given recent developments in the archaeology of prehistoric Thailand. Equally, Stark acknowledges that the volume is not a comprehensive review of social theory of Asian archaeology. She does, however, encourage the reader to consider Asian archaeology in the light of the epistemological, cultural and socio-political frames in which it operates, and which differ importantly from Euro-American archaeology. This is an important point, and is reinforced by Glover’s chapter (‘Some National, Regional, and Political Uses of Archaeology in East and Southeast Asia’), a precursor to what may be considered more conventional archaeology chapters. Glover covers issues I can recall him explaining many years ago, useful reminders that archaeology can never be context free, and in regions of significant social and political change, archaeology in deed plays an important role in the construction of social and political identity and relationships. This theme continues elsewhere in the book with Nelson, for example, discussing the purposes of Korean archaeology.

The book is organised into four themes. In addition to Glover’s and Nelson’s chapters on the socio-political context of Asian archaeology, Mizoguchi’s ‘Self-Identification in the Modern and Post-Modern World and Archaeological Research’ explores the relationships between Japanese archaeology and post-Word War II rebuilding of national identity. The following theme, examining formative developments in ancient Asia, is covered in only two chapters, Crawford’s valuable review of the emergence of domestication of plants in East Asia, and Bellwood’s wide-ranging (geographically) overview of the spread of language and genes. This section could usefully have been supplemented by Morrison’s later chapter on hunter-gathering, a chapter that appears in the final section on crossing boundaries. Morrison’s chapter draws attention to what she sees as an under-recognised role of hunting and gathering in Holocene societies, reflecting, indeed, the geographic realities of practices placed in diverse landscapes and internally diverse societies that can be seen throughout the world in many seemingly non-hunter-gatherer societies at present. Her focus on power, history and ecology provides a welcome break from the strong resource focus of many studies on hunter-gatherer situations.

While these early chapters address broad generic issues, the following chapters focus more on specific archaeological themes. The third theme covers the emergence and development of complex systems and contains four chapters on economic and prehistoric socio-political organisation and change in China. Underhill and Habu, Liu and Chen and Sheldach and Pines overview early East Asian, Chinese Neolithic and Bronze Age and Qin archaeology respectively. They are complemented by a chapter on writing in Neolithic and Shang China, in which Keightley explores the social and cultural implications of this remarkable development in early society in the region. The final theme, examining the crossing of boundaries, reminds us not just about the development of societies and their internal complexities and organisations so evident especially in the East Asian region, but of their interactions. As is so often the case, edges or boundaries often reveal as much as the core. Remaining in East Asia, Allard examines the southern Han boundary, while Honeychurch and Amartuvshin take us into the Inner Asian confederations and empires; Ray and Sinopoli close the volume with two chapters on Southern and South Asia respectively, Ray charting the archaeology of early Buddhism, and Sinopoli examining the Indian empires of what she calls the ‘Empires at the Beginning of History’.

In closing her introductory chapter, Stark notes that the volume is titled An Archaeology of Asia, a title probably changed by the publishers at the last minute: rather than the cover title of Archaeology of Asia, Stark’s title sums up the book. It is simultaneously rigorous and incomplete. It does, however, provide a valuable insight into how archaeology can draw so usefully on a range of sources, texts and material remains. In doing so, Stark has assembled a valuable resource for students and scholars alike, a resource made all the more useful by not shying away from the scholarly and national politics reflected in so much Asian archaeology. Modestly, she claims that the volume’s chapters seek to illustrate some ways that the archaeological past may be understood in Asia. Judging by the positive reactions I have received from both students and colleagues, Stark can be proud of her efforts.

History Submerged: A Legacy of Modernity

Bradley L. Garrett

Masters of Maritime Archaeology, James Cook University, February 2006

This thesis explores the role of intentionally-induced inundation in historical contexts and the creation of underwater archaeologies. The topic is discussed by analysing varied archaeological signatures before and after inundation events and subsequent reflexive human reactions in relation to the submergence of these places. The study is limited to the context of human-induced inundation due to modern waterway ‘development’. In particular, this study examines the effects of dam construction on the archaeological record in the western United States. One goal of the thesis is to make explicit the concept that many of these places hold deep value to living people and mean more than simply lost ‘data’ from the perspective of an archaeologist or cultural resource manager. The thesis also seeks to articulate the concept that underwater archaeological and cultural landscapes should not be ignored simply because they are submerged. Dam deconstruction and site re-emersion are also discussed. Finally, the thesis briefly discusses the role of United States federal legislation in the management of submerged cultural sites.

The approach included a rigorous background literature review, as well as analysis of discussions with archaeologists and people who lost access to cultural areas due to submergence. This provided insight into what sort of behaviours and responses inundation events in the past may have provoked, and how these reactions may have affected the material record. These are issues integral to the establishment of appropriate management regimes for submerged locals, which in many cases has never been proposed.

Review of ‘Pieces of the Vanuatu Puzzle: Archaeology of the North, South and Centre’ by Stuart Bedford

Kahn book review cover AA63Pieces of the Vanuatu Puzzle: Archaeology of the North, South and Centre by Stuart Bedford. Terra Australis 23, Pandanus Books, Canberra, 2006, xx+326 pp., ISBN 1 74076 093 X (pbk).

Jennifer G. Kahn

School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, St Lucia Qld 4072 Australia

Vanuatu has played an important role in archaeological debates concerning the presence of pre-Lapita settlements and/or non-Lapita ceramics in Remote Oceania. As coherently argued in Pieces of the Vanuatu Puzzle, this is a remnant of initial research carried out in Vanuatu, much of which was completed in the 1960s and a failure of archaeologists in the decades since to provide empirical data from new fieldwork needed to refute these earlier assertions. Bedford’s monograph, largely based on Vanuatu fieldwork carried out as part of his dissertation research, fills this void in providing a plethora of empirical data concerning the timing and nature of initial colonisation of Vanuatu, and the later transformations which ensued in the post-Lapita era, most notably in the Mangaasi ceramic tradition. In doing so, Bedford approaches the archaeology of Vanuatu from a comparative perspective, in which the interactions between islanders and outsiders are emphasised through investigating temporal change and regional variation in the proposed ceramic sequences and non-ceramic artefacts.

Each of the 11 chapters is nicely written and well-illustrated. In Chapter 1, Bedford outlines his five major research objectives for the Vanuatu fieldwork: testing for evidence of pre-Lapita settlement; clarifying data from the pioneering works in Vanuatu archaeology by establishing a tighter chronological sequence; establishing baseline data for subsistence patterns; clarifying settlement pattern histories; and evaluating data for the existence of a pan-Melanesian incised and applied relief ceramic tradition. Previous archaeological work is synthesised in Chapter 2, with Bedford arguing that pre-1994, Vanuatu archaeology was stuck in a pioneering phase, leaving the region largely a terra incognita. This influenced his decision to produce an empirical, data-rich monograph which provides new regional sequences useful for testing hypotheses largely developed from the previous (and quite patchy) archaeological work.

In Chapter 3, Bedford describes the excavated sites, providing site plans, illustrations of stratigraphy and stratigraphic descriptions. While some discussion of the decisions leading to site sampling and excavation methodology (test pits, trenches, areal excavation) are offered, a more lengthy discussion of site sampling issues, particularly how they either facilitated or hindered inter- and intra-site comparisons, would have been best presented in this chapter, rather than interspersed throughout the later artefact analyses.

Chapters 4–8 provide detailed data on the ceramic analyses. I appreciated the clear and concise definitions of the variables chosen for use in the analysis (Chapter 4), but as a non-specialist (I am a lithic analyst) I would have preferred a lengthier discussion of why these particular attributes were chosen for study over others. In particular, why are these specific attributes the most useful for studying the specific research questions Bedford posed? Chapters 5–7 present in-depth data on the ceramics recovered from Erromango, Efate and Malekula. These data-rich chapters, accompanied by clear data tables and well-presented illustrations of vessel forms and decorative motifs, will clearly have long-lasting value to researchers studying in Remote and Far Oceania. Throughout, Bedford interprets the ceramic sequences in reference to his major research questions and objectives, clearly outlining how his ceramic data show support for basic cultural continuity in Vanuatu between Lapita cultures and those which followed. While less frequent, Bedford at times inserts brief explanations for some of the social and economic reasons behind the shifts in the ceramic sequences. Thus, at Ponamla, the high degree of homogeneity in ceramic fabric and vessel form and decoration reflect the short-term nature of the occupation, while the c.2600 BP proliferation in motif form might indicate numerous potters who were actively expressing and delineating intra-household identities.

Chapter 8 is the most useful ceramic-focused chapter for the non-specialist, as it synthesises the empirical data from Chapters 5–7. The vessel form and motif figures accompanying the discussion provide excellent visual aids. The chapter clearly demonstrates Bedford’s success in developing regional phases in the Vanuatu ceramic sequences and using these to propose inter-island and extra-regional comparisons. Among the important findings are that the Erromango sequence follows its own trajectory post-dating the plain ware phase, with a multitude of finger-nail incised motifs characterising the Early and Late Ifo stages, and the description of distinctive late period ceramics from Malekula with coil-made ‘bullet’-shaped vessels, termed the Chachara phase. The author clearly establishes that, based on current data, the initial settlement of New Caledonia and Vanuatu were associated with Lapita ceramics, yet starting immediately post-Lapita, ceramic sequences in each area followed their own trajectory. There is no convincing argument for anything other than in situ development of post-Lapita ceramic styles in Vanuatu and, based on robust datasets and tight temporal control, Bedford can firmly argue for a high degree of complexity in post-Lapita Vanuatu assemblages, particularly temporal changes in motif forms. He also can discount earlier claims of widespread homologous ceramic traits indicating cultural interactions or diffusion between Vanuatu and its neighbors at least up to 1000 BP.

Chapters 9 and 10 provide data for the non-ceramic artefacts and faunal remains. Their analysis once again highlights issues pertinent to the major research questions, notably chronological synthesis and change through time. While an in-depth analysis of manufacturing sequences, and production and use locales is beyond the scope of this work, a brief discussion of how the varied non-ceramic objects (shell adzes, armbands, pendants etc) were perhaps manufactured, traded, used and discarded would have been helpful in order to situate them within the prehistoric Vanuatuan political economies. As it stands, it is hard to interpret what the variation in materials by site and through time means, and as the author states, this is partially owing to sample size problems lending difficulty to inter- and intra-site comparisons. In contrast, the limited faunal data lend greater detail to the chronological interpretations and inter-site comparisons despite the small sample sizes, and it is with this dataset that Bedford proposes some of his more behaviour-based interpretations. Bedford argues that assemblages throughout Vanuatu provide evidence, albeit limited, for avian extinctions associated with initial human settlement and the Arapus site also provides evidence for the rapid disappearance of the now extinct terrestrial crocodile. Decreasing exploitation of the sea turtle through time may be related to over-predation, while analysis of the shellfish remains indicates optimal gathering of the closest resources, as well as over-predation of pristine populations, the latter particularly effecting sand-dwelling bivalve species. As the author notes in the concluding chapter, the evidence for faunal extinctions are with the earliest dated Lapita sites, lending further support that they represent the first settlement on Vanuatu and thus, providing another line of evidence laying to rest the old notion of pre-Lapita settlements.

It is clear in the discussion and conclusions (Chapter 11) just how aptly Bedford has used his extensive dataset to clearly address his research questions and major objectives. The monograph furnishes a wealth of new data that will be of great importance to archaeologists in Vanuatu and Near and Remote Oceania for decades to come. After more data have been gathered at a greater range of site types, future Vanuatu-based studies should use Bedford’s work as a stepping point for modelling new explanations for processual change, including the social and economic reasons for shifts in material goods production, and testing the role local innovation in artefact styles played at the household or community level in creating the changes seen in the regional chronological sequences. As Bedford notes, more work is also needed to outline elements of horticultural systems, and one would expect micro- and macro-botanical studies for reconstruction of prehistoric Vanuatuan subsistence in the future.

On a final note, while overall I was pleased with the monograph’s production, the binding had already split before I was finished with my review. This is a recurring problem with the Terra Australis series. The publishers need to rethink their method of book binding.

Review of ‘Aboriginal Economy and Society: Australia at the Threshold of Colonisation’ by Ian Keen

Veth book review cover AA63Aboriginal Economy and Society: Australia at the Threshold of Colonisation by Ian Keen. Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 2004 (reprinted 2006), xi+436 pp., ISBN 0 19 550766 5 (pbk).

Peter Veth

Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, GPO Box 553, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia

Given the burgeoning interest of archaeologists in the dynamics of Aboriginal societies at the time of British colonisation, this substantial volume focusing on seven peoples and regions from around mainland Australia is both timely and relevant. This book describes mainland Aboriginal economy and society with three major sections profiling the ecology, institutions and economy of the seven study areas. Torres Strait and Tasmanian study sites are not included. Chapters are divided into themes including environments and resources; technology; population; settlement and mobility; identities; kinship and marriage; cosmology and quasi-technology; governance; control of the means of production; distribution and consumption; and exchange and trade. Most of these are problem areas that come clearly within the theoretical purvey of contemporary archaeologists in Australia, regardless of their theoretical bent. That a complex and interdisciplinary exercise of this kind has resulted in such a clearly structured and parsimoniously written text is a great credit to the author. It speaks to meticulous and exhaustive research from myriad sources including social anthropology, linguistics, history, ecology and, not the least, archaeology. The volume sets out to compare the following groups to explore their similarities and differences:

• Kunai people of Gippsland, eastern Victoria
• Yuwaaliyaay and neighbours of the Darling/Barwon River NSW
• Pitjantjatjara and neighbours of the Western Desert
• Wiil and Minong of the southwest of Western Australia
• ‘Sandbeach’ people of eastern Cape York Peninsula
• Ngarinyin and neighbours on northwest Kimberley
• Yolngu people of northeast Arnhem Land

Keen makes it clear at pp.14-16 and elsewhere that the quality and quantity of ethnographic sources varies predictably between these study areas and that the post-contact trajectories experienced by different groups (e.g. Cape York versus Western Desert) will result in different levels of fine-grained information on topics such as settlement and mobility and relations of power. The relative weightings given to these different historical sources remain somewhat opaque, however, being touched on in different ways throughout the text rather than comprehensively at the beginning. Given that this volume must by definition be a reconstructive exercise this seems somewhat of an omission. So, for example, at p.63 we have Sue O’Connor’s (1999) southwest Kimberley pre- and post-contact island archaeology (Koolan and Montgomery Islands) being treated with equal valency as her ethnographic observations – which actually are explicitly and largely based on work by Valda Blundell and previous twentieth century ethnographers. Elsewhere (pp.275-276) while tracing the history of remote social mapping by British social anthropologists such as A. W. Howitt, Keen acknowledges that the first models of pre-contact societies ‘were made decades after people from Britain had appropriated their land and waters, and had begun to farm, while other immigrants mined for gold and other metals’. As any archaeologist struggling under the albatross of ethnographic analogy being potentially a mischievous reflection of pre- or immediately post-contact societies (be they dynamic or normative), I couldn’t help but wonder how the historic linguistics, ethnohistory, early ethnography and contact archaeology were being moderated or correlated against each-other? This methodological quandary was recently addressed in part by Smith (2005) by looking at historic processes of demography and language spread in the Western Desert. This need for a more detailed discussion of the methodology of handling disparate (and unquestionably different quality) datasets is probably my only major and substantive criticism of the volume.

Keen provides a coherent conclusion to the volume whereby the comparisons of 11 previous chapters are brought together, major points of similarity and difference are noted, and explanations for some of these are provided. I will highlight some of these here.

Four broad resource regions are identified comprising the southeast, the ‘grain’ belt, the southwest and the tropical zone. While many resources were shared in common between these areas, the key baskets of staples varied. Key staples which varied across regions included grass and other seeds, Macrozamia, cycad palm nuts, yams and mangrove pods in the tropics. Population densities and technological differences were largely seen to reflect key resources and environment, as was apparel and habitation structures. Residential and logistical mobility configurations were also seen to correlate between these regions.

Identity as established through language was seen to have context-driven ‘shifters’ such as mapping the way groups spoke onto both people and countries. The estimated size of the language/locality identity for all seven study areas was a few hundred people – as Birdsell had originally proposed. Resource richness was linked with patterns of marriage to close kin or people in geographic proximity (but not always), while dispersed affinal alliances were observed for both more arid and some richer resource areas. Shared and long-distance totemic ancestor routes were a mark of more patchy environments and regional interdependence.

Four common themes of governance included (a) the regional ceremonial basis of shared Ancestral law, (b) initiation and revelatory rites providing the formal basis for socialisation, (c) the fact that kin networks enforced ‘norms’, and (d) power relations lay mainly along age and gender lines.

With respect to the means of production Keen (p.390) notes that ‘People framed what has been called ‘local organisation’ or ‘land tenure’ according to kin relations combined with idioms of ancestral connections, totemic geography, and totemic identity’. The discussion of organisation of production is, however, cursive noting some basic divisions in gender-specific resource procurement (game versus plant food procurement, and so on) which does not give voice to the detailed human behavioural ecology studies which have now been carried out in Australia in many of these areas (Bird and Bliege-Bird 2005). In my view the treatment of organisational strategies for procurement of food, lithics and general energy harnessing overall, came across as a little binomial/oppositional than more recent treatments indicate. I believe foraging versus logistical mobility ratios shift through the emic cycle in phase with environmental stochastisity; organisational strategies in production of lithics can shift due to episodic phases of environmental stress as a risk-minimising response and so on. The ratios of men to women to children in foraging groups and their prey selections (and companion food suites) are more fluid and responsive than the text suggests in places.

With respect to the major differences between groups, Keen notes that population density and mobility clearly correlate to environment, while phenomena such as cosmological doctrine are more likely to be historical in character. It is clear that he is assiduously eschewing environmental determinism without wishing to downplay the commonality of the configurations of the seven societies on this uniquely arid continent (elaborated on at length in Chapter 2).

Keen reminds us that while correlation does not equal causality (p.394), there may be some explanations for the associations noted (Table 13.10), such as multibased affiliations to totemic sites in arid, unpredictable landscapes as a risk-minimising strategy. In short Keen (p.397) concludes that ‘Environments provided resources and enabling conditions … [while] … social institutions provided instruments for acting in relation to people and the world’. This unquestionably resonates with recent reviews of ecological approaches employed by Australian archaeologists (Veth et al. 2000). Encouragingly, a social anthropologist has for the first time mobilised comparative pre- (and indeed post-) colonial datasets to draw fascinating first-order explanations about the nature and extent of variation across the continent. This material is accessible to and directly relevant to archaeology of contact and the recent period.

Overall this is an overwhelmingly detailed, useful and beautifully crafted comparative volume which is a ‘must-buy’ for all students of past and present Aboriginal societies. This book deservedly won the Stanner Award from the Council of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies in 2005.


Bird, D. and R. Bliege-Bird 2005 Evolutionary and ecological understandings of the economics of desert societies: Comparing the Great Basin USA and the Australian deserts. In P. Veth, M. Smith and P. Hiscock (eds), Desert Peoples: Archaeological Perspectives, pp.81-99. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

O’Connor, S. 1999 30,000 Years of Aboriginal Occupation: Kimberley, North West Australia. Terra Australis 14. Canberra: ANH Publications and Centre for Archaeological Research, Australian National University.

Smith, M.A. 2005 Desert archaeology, linguistic stratigraphy, and the spread of the Western Desert Language. In P. Veth, M. Smith and P. Hiscock (eds), Desert Peoples: Archaeological Perspectives, pp.222-242. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Veth, P., S. O’Connor and L.A. Wallis 2000 Perspectives on ecological approaches in Australian archaeology. Australian Archaeology 50:54-66.


Rock of Ages: Use of the South Molle Island Quarry, Whitsunday Islands, and the Implications for Holocene Technological Change in Australia

Lara Lamb

PhD, School of Archaeology and Anthropology, The Australian National University, December 2005

There is evidence to suggest that the South Molle Island stone quarry, in the Whitsunday Islands off the central Queensland coast, has been used by the indigenous inhabitants of the region from at least 9000 BP to the historical present. Known distribution of stone from the quarry extends for 170km along the coast, from Abbott Point in the north to the Repulse Islands in the south. A comprehensive technological characterisation of the quarry has demonstrated that a range of manufacturing behaviours was conducted onsite, including the initial extraction of the raw material, through to the final stages of artefact retouch. The systematic production of backed artefacts is included among this suite of technological practice. This research has demonstrated that the antiquity of backed artefacts and the timing of high production rates of backed artefacts occurs earlier in the Whitsunday region than elsewhere in southern Australia. In the Whitsunday Islands backed artefact production has been shown to be present from the beginning of the Holocene and to have been a key technological element in the early Holocene. A new understanding of backing technologies in Australia can be developed in light of this recognition of regional variation. A risk-oriented model of Holocene technological change in the Whitsunday region is presented, as well as a discussion of the implications for other coastal and island technological systems throughout the Holocene.

Chinese Sojourners in Victoria: A Collection of Artefacts from the Upper Ovens Goldfields

Jennifer Chandler

BArch(Hons), Archaeology Program, School of Historical and European Studies, La Trobe University, October 2005

Chinese immigrants came to Australia throughout the second half of the nineteenth century to mine gold. Substantial numbers of Chinese lived and worked in the rural area of the Upper Ovens Goldfields, Victoria, and apart from the information that historical accounts provide, little is known about them. This thesis analyses a collection of artefacts originally used by this community and contributes to the body of information about Chinese historical artefacts. In the process of this analysis, some information about the Chinese in the Upper Ovens Goldfields was revealed.

The methods adopted in this project were similar to those used in other overseas Chinese research, such as the United States, New Zealand and, to a lesser degree, Australia, and allowed comparisons to be made. Artefact analysis revealed that there is little variation within types in the collection and that overall the collection represents a fairly typical selection of artefact types from this era. Results indicated that the Chinese in the Upper Ovens Goldfields maintained some traditions, a pattern noted in other sites of the overseas Chinese. They did this through the types of food that they consumed, the medicine they used and their leisure activities, such as gambling and opium smoking.

During the course of this research some issues stemming from working with collections surfaced. These deal with government legislation and collectors’ viewpoints. As there is potential for future research in this area, some steps need to be taken to try to protect this heritage by unifying the groups involved.

The Archaeology of Aulong Island and the Colonisation of Palau

Duncan Wright

MA, School of Archaeology and Anthropology, The Australian National University, February 2005

This thesis examines initial colonisation and post-colonisation settlement in Palau. These issues are addressed through archaeological excavations and analysis, with an attempt to identify shifts in the material records. A model of adaptational change is proposed and, in light of early radiocarbon dates, the colonisation of Western Micronesia is re-examined.

Cultural materials analysed for this study belong to the Unit 4 excavation on Ulong Island, Palau. The primary aim of the study was to develop a chronology for the island, using radiocarbon dates and relative sequences of cultural materials. Ceramics were central to the project, with a physical analysis allowing for comparisons with other Western Micronesian assemblages and the formation of a relative sequence for Palau. Further analysis of non-ceramic artefacts offered evidence for shifts in island occupation.

Aulong offers not only one of the earliest sites recorded to date in Palau, but also a stratified sequence of changing cultural materials. Within the stratigraphy, potential shifts in island occupation are observed, with particularly clear stylistic change found in the ceramic record. This remains the first stratified sequence of stylistically distinct ceramics yet found in the archipelago. The Ulong excavations therefore provide important archaeological information about the colonisation of Palau, as well as reopening dialogue on the spread of people into Western Micronesia.

Our Home Our Country: A Case Study of Law, Land and Indigenous Cultural Heritage in the Northern Territory, Australia

Daryl L. Guse

Masters of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, School of Australian Indigenous Knowledge Studies, Charles Darwin University, May 2006

The Reynolds River region contributes significantly to the natural and cultural heritage of the Northern   Territory. This thesis documents the Aboriginal heritage places of the Reynolds River, using current heritage methodologies to determine the appropriateness of the current regime of legislation and practices. The suite of cultural heritage places in the Reynolds River region demonstrates the continuous and large-scale occupation by Aboriginal people of the region from the beginning of the Holocene through to the present. These sites also reflect the many changes that were occurring in the natural environment and ecology over the last 3000 years. Geomorphic changes culminated in the creation of the freshwater wetlands that are a fundamental part of the Werat traditional owner’s cultural landscape. The wetlands, and their flora and fauna, feature significantly in Werat mythology and beliefs and have always been an important economic source.

This thesis attempts to document archaeological sites and the cultural significance these places have to Werat traditional owners. Heritage places in the Reynolds River area are of national significance as they are representative of, and can contribute significantly to our understanding of, the intensification of the diverse activities undertaken by Aboriginal people in the past. Many of these cultural heritage places are under threat from natural, animal and human agents with the distinct possibility of significantly diminishing the heritage values if left unchecked. This thesis demonstrates that when applying the current suite of Territory and Commonwealth legislation to Indigenous heritage places of the Reynolds River region, blanket protection cannot be afforded to all values if they are not attached to an archaeological or sacred site. Consequently, with varying degrees of protection come varying degrees of ability for Aboriginal traditional owners to conserve and protect their heritage places.

Review of ‘Archaeology in Practice: A Student Guide to Archaeological Analyses’ edited by Jane Balme and Alistair Paterson


Ross BR coverArchaeology in Practice: A Student Guide to Archaeological Analyses edited by Jane Balme and Alistair Paterson. Blackwell Publishing, Malden, 2006, xxvi+438 pp., ISBN 978-0-631-23574-3 (pbk).

Anne Ross

School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, St Lucia Qld 4072, Australia

It is rare that a book is written as a text book but also provides an important contribution to the discipline and this volume deserves this dual recognition. As a text book it introduces undergraduate students to non-excavation techniques in archaeology, including site recording, sediment interpretation, artefact analysis, documentary research and report writing. For postgraduate students there is an emphasis throughout the volume on the importance of the links between research questions, methods and conclusions. As a contribution to the discipline, it evaluates a range of different methods used in excavation research, and both reviews and grounds several theoretical approaches to analysis.

The chapters follow a standard format, commencing with a detailed summary that lists the key elements addressed and provides an overview of the theoretical direction of the chapter. The main body of text uses a number of headings and sub- headings, located in the wide margins, to guide the reader, step- by-step, through the arguments and ideas presented. Case studies in shaded boxes present grounded examples of more abstract ideas and analytical techniques. At the end of each chapter there is a summary and conclusion along with an evaluation of other resources on the topic; ideas for future research ensure that students and researchers can extend their understanding of the topics raised by further detailed reading and research.

The book is structured logically. It commences with survey and site location, then proceeds through community consultation to rock art research, stratigraphic analysis and site dating, before introducing the main core of the volume, which is techniques for analysing finds. This core addresses artefact analyses (stone tools, residues and ceramics), the study of food remains (bone, plants and shells), and other relevant aspects of archaeological research (sediment analysis, documentary research and research into modern artefacts). The book ends with a chapter on writing up results for both reports and publication. As in any edited volume, the quality of the chapters varies, although in the main I was pleasantly surprised by how easy the volume is to read, how interesting the case studies are and how engagingly the analytical techniques are presented.

The first chapter, ‘Finding Sites’ by Andrew David, was the most disappointing for me. Focusing almost entirely on remote sensing of large structures, with an emphasis on the United Kingdom, the relevance of this chapter for teaching undergraduate students in Australia about site survey techniques for Aboriginal sites is marginal. Without any critique of survey design techniques or site recording problems, its value for many Australian archaeology courses is limited.

By contrast, the second chapter on ‘Consulting Stakeholders’ by Larry Zimmerman is extremely relevant to Australian archaeology and research. Consultation with traditional owners and members of the local community is now recognised as an integral component of both Aboriginal and historical archaeological research. As well as practical guidelines for undertaking consultation, Zimmerman also develops the idea of multivocal constructions of the past, an important development in cultural heritage discourse over recent years.

The notion of varying cultural constructions of the past is taken up in the third chapter, ‘Rock Art’, by Jo McDonald. The multivocal nature of rock art interpretation is clearly discussed in this chapter, which also includes a variety of practical measures for recording rock art in a way that ensures that all the relevant voices are able to be heard in the analysis process. The practical tips and illustrations provided for achieving best results is an additional highlight of this chapter.

The fourth chapter, ‘Stratigraphy’, by Jane Balme and Alistair Paterson, relates to stratigraphic recording and interpretation. It is a well-written and easy to follow review of geomorphic processes and laws of stratigraphic layering and includes step-by- step instructions for disentangling natural and cultural processes in sediment accumulation, using useful case studies.

The fifth chapter on ‘Absolute Dating’ by Simon Holdaway concentrates on interpreting dates rather than on describing dating procedures, which is a sensible focus for an archaeological text. Holdaway presents a list of likely contaminants (although unfortunately does not gives clues to avoiding contamination during sample collection) and reviews advantages and disadvantages of different dating techniques. Case studies demonstrate the problems of time averaging and the use (abuse?) of depth-age curves.

I was lucky enough to have Chris Clarkson present the approach to stone tool analysis outlined in Chapter 6 (by Clarkson and Sue O’Connor) to a class in 2005. Although I personally prefer a more technological/reduction approach to stone tool analysis than the rather typological approach to classification provided in this chapter, the methods introduced by Clarkson and O’Connor are easy to apply and the diagrams supplied make for easy explanation of terms commonly used in literature.

In Chapter 7, ‘Residues and Usewear’, Richard Fullagar cautions against the widely held misconception that all use leaves residues and that all use-wear traces found on an artefact relate to object use. However, where residues and use-wear traces do occur, Fullagar’s guide for artefact handling, preparation of comparative collections, key to the identification of residues and wear patterns, and sample recording forms are very useful.

Linda Ellis examines ‘Ceramics’ in Chapter 8. As well as giving guidance on artefact handling, analytical techniques, and generating interpretations, Ellis describes how pottery is made and, therefore, how analysis must be conducted to reveal the steps of manufacture. Ellis also emphasises the importance of conducting all artefact analysis in a research context – a vital message for any archaeology student.

The importance of analysis within a research framework is also well demonstrated in Chapter 9, ‘Animal Bones’, by Terry O’Connor and James Barrett. For example, O’Connor and Barrett argue that there is no need to struggle to identify all finds to species level if the research question only requires identification to genus or even class. The chapter also provides a thorough review of sampling strategy (including mesh size), taphonomic processes, sample handling, and basic analytical techniques.

In Chapter 10,‘Plant Remains’, Wendy Beck demonstrates that plant remains are often better preserved than people think and she provides tips on retrieval and analysis of plant remains, as well as an interesting and useful discussion on the interpretation of results from plant analysis.

Sandra Bowdler, in Chapter 11 ‘Molluscs and Other Shells’, provides a useful flow chart of midden analysis, from sampling and sorting to analysis and interpretation. Bowdler summarises the debate on how to separate cultural from natural shell deposits and provides thought-provoking ideas on advanced analysis and interpretation. Figures and diagrams to assist in the identification of shell fragments are very valuable.

In my view, the chapter on ‘Sediments’ by Gary Huckleberry would have fitted better with Chapter 4 ‘Stratigraphy’, with its emphasis on the contextual value of sediments for chronology, site formation and palaeoenvironments. The clear explanation of particle size analysis and interpretation of soil formation processes would have linked nicely to Chapter 4, as both chapters share an emphasis on the importance of disentangling cultural and natural factors in soil formation and deposition processes.

The thirteenth chapter on ‘Artefacts of the Modern World’ by Susan Lawrence looks at cataloguing based on attribute analysis and provides a step-by-step guide with useful definitions and examples. The fourteenth chapter on ‘Historical Sources’ by Barbara Little relates concepts of ways of knowing to the notion of multivocal pasts as introduced in Chapters 2 and 3. This chapter provides an excellent framework for the development of a research plan, which is a particularly useful tool for Honours and postgraduate students.

The final Chapter 15 by Peter White is arguably the most useful chapter in the volume. Entitled ‘Producing the Record’, it is all about how to write, and is an echo of every annotation made on an undergraduate essay or Honours thesis by an assessor, every editor’s mark, every anguished plea for clarity by any reader! This chapter sets out the steps needed to write an essay, a thesis, a report and a journal article. White sets out guidelines that include:

• Answer the question
• Define the topic
• Plan the work
• Write drafts
• Don’t rely on spell-checkers
• Don’t plagiarise

and also provides tips for producing clear yet concise figures and tables.

Overall this is an excellent book and should be the handbook of every student of archaeology, regardless of age and level of knowledge.

Review of ‘Shared Landscapes: Archaeologies of Attachment and the Pastoral Industry in New South Wales’ by Rodney Harrison

Russell BR coverShared Landscapes: Archaeologies of Attachment and the Pastoral Industry in New South Wales by Rodney Harrison. University of New South Wales Press, Sydney, 2004, xiv+240 pp., ISBN 0 86840 559 0 (pbk).

Lynette Russell

Centre for Australian Indigenous Studies, Monash University, Clayton Vic. 3800, Australia

The research contained within this monograph was funded by the Cultural Heritage Division of the New South Wales Department of Environment and Conservation. Testament to the collaborative nature of such research the book is jointly published by University of New South Wales Press and the Department of Environment and Conservation. As such it is both well-produced and academically rigorous. Pleasingly, especially for students, the book is competitively priced, which hopefully will ensure a deserved wide readership. Shared Landscapes emerges from an ambitious project which aimed not merely to approach an understanding of the historical and archaeological aspects of the landscape but to also delve into, critique and assess the current state of interpretation and management in New South Wales.

Shared Landscapes was a three year project concerned with two substantial regional case studies. The first was the East Kunderang Pastoral Station, now contained within the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, west of Kempsey. The second case study involved the former Dennawan Aboriginal Reserve, now contained within the Culgoa National Park, in northern New South Wales (near Goodooga).The two regions were subject to extensive and thorough historical and archaeological survey, behavioural mapping and what might be termed oral testimony or even memory research. Behavioural mapping is described as ‘recording the places that people use and their activities at them, including both maps of contemporary muse as well as “oral history mapping”’ (p.58). The interpretation and analysis of these various means of recording locations, places and sites of significance are fascinating, showing that dual occupation (Aboriginal/non-Aboriginal) is rarely a form of sharing as the two (or many other) groups know the landscape in very different ways.

A note should be made about problematic nature of the use of the term ‘shared’. A concern Harrison would appear to hold, having reflected on the concept more fully than in previous publications. In a recent book, Ian McNiven and I have attempted to engage with and critique the categorisation of the contact period as a shared space (McNiven and Russell 2005). Our concern is both terminological and conceptual. We argue that the term to ‘share’ suggests an invitation to participate or partake in. This term emphasises ideas of common possession and even common enjoyment. To ‘share’ denies the reality that for much of Australia’s past, Aboriginal people were imposed upon; they were coerced and forced to occupy these locations that many researchers now consider to be shared. We have a lengthy and detailed critique of the term and the concept which does not need to be laboured here. Suffice to say, Harrison is much more optimistic than we are, suggesting that ‘shared histories’ can play a role in the renewal and maintenance of Indigenous culture and the conservative Anglo-Australian discourse of reconciliation.

Structurally Shared Landscapes comprises four sections. The first section is entitled ‘History, Heritage and the Pastoral Industry’. This section considers and elaborates the project’s methodology and its theoretical underpinnings. The second section is concerned with the first of the case studies – the East Kunderang Pastoral Station. In the third section, Harrison outlines the second case study – the Dennawan Aboriginal Reserve in northern New South Wales. In a reasonably short concluding chapter, Harrison attempts to develop the findings of the research and postulate a new model ‘or understanding of what constitutes pastoral heritage in New South Wales, and throughout Australia’ (p.218). This chapter also, significantly, explores some of the tensions and confluences around notions of shared histories, shared landscapes and shared heritage.

Harrison embeds the research within contemporary historical archaeological practice, heritage studies and landscape theory, which involves consideration of the natural, cultural (socially constructed), spiritual and biographical qualities of landscape. This approach in Harrison’s hands ensures Shared Landscapes is focused on the relationships ‘between travel, landscape, history and narrative’ (p.57). In part, the strength of this approach comes from its collaborative nature. Harrison worked closely with historians to understand the documentary history of New South Wales’s pastoral industry. The result is a rich text which demonstrates how both the cultural and natural landscapes were fundamentally impacted upon by pastoralism. This approach means that the interpretive model and the historical representation developed is landscape-based. Although individual locations such as stations, cattle and sheep corrals, shearing sheds and shearers’ quarters are important, the history is instead understood through the entirety of the landscape.

Although heavily illustrated, Harrison does not undertake a study of the images per se. This should not be read as a criticism, rather that there is a potential future research project considering the rich archive of visual images relating to the pastoral history of southeast Australia and the Aboriginal and newcomer workers who maintained and extended it. Shared Landscapes is well-presented (though I fail to see the point of the flap inside the cover which could easily be printed on the reverse side of the cover card). The text is empirically rich and highly detailed. Harrison writes well, in a lucid manner with enough theoretical substructure to sustain the reader through the depth of the empirical material.

Ultimately Harrison’s primary focus is the relationship(s) that Aboriginal people had with the pastoral industry and how their lifeways, culture, stories and connections were transformed by these interactions. Race and racism are conceptually and thematically woven through this history, affecting and controlling both people and their interactions. Aboriginal people in New South Wales are shown to have maintained their connections to and relationships with their country through the mechanism of the pastoral industry. As with any culture over time these relationships changed. However, the pastoral industry enabled Aboriginal people to ‘maintain cultural identity and cultural traditions … often in the face of explicit government policies to … remove their distinct identity’ (p.219). As such, there is optimistic hope that the same relationships, through the vehicle of this research, might now result in Native Title designations or other forms of land justice.

Shared Landscapes represents a new and important field of research. It will be a valuable resource for professionals in the heritage industry, academic researchers and students. In many ways, this project should be used as a benchmark against which other heritage surveys might be measured.


McNiven, I.J. and L. Russell 2005 Appropriated Pasts: Indigenous Peoples and the Colonial Culture of Archaeology. Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press.

Review of ‘The Archaeology of Time’ by Gavin Lucas

Morrison BR coverThe Archaeology of Time by Gavin Lucas. Routledge, London, 2005, ix+150 pp., ISBN 0-415-31198-5.

Michael Morrison

School of Anthropology, Archaeology and Sociology, James Cook University, Townsville Qld 4811, Australia

The concept of time is of substantial consequence in contemporary debates in archaeology whether we acknowledge it or not. It underlies how we do what we do, for it is the very nature of our discipline to understand the void that exists between ourselves and the subjects (or objects) of study. To this end Lucas’ book is timely because it complicates the notion of time as it relates to archaeological theory and practice, presenting a coherent series of arguments that work over some old ground as well as developing much that is new. It is also valuable because it is the most recent in a fairly limited number of books that have attempted to come to terms with the problems associated with time and archaeological interpretation (Gosden 1994; Knapp 1992; Murray 1999).

The first chapter sets out to examine taken-for-granted assumptions about time in archaeology. This consists of an argument against the uncritical use of chronology as the sole temporal framework that archaeologists use to explain change. He suggests that chronology is not a universally held conception of time and that a reliance upon chronological temporal frameworks results in inherently singular and linear interpretations of archaeological change. Such approaches simplify the past and limit the possibility of understanding historical processes operating over different scales and durations. He reviews several alternatives to chronological (i.e. linear) temporal frameworks including Annales and non-linear dynamics which do not abandon chronology as such, but replace a linear conception of time with the well-established idea of temporal rhythms. That is, different historical processes have their own tempo or pace which perate over particular durations.

In Chapter 2 Lucas reviews some of the ways that archaeologists see time in relation to the archaeological record. A number of important themes are explored here: the temporal characteristics of the archaeological record (such as ‘the Pompeii premise’), palimpsests and timescales, time perspectivism, and temporal structures of archaeological narratives. Indeed, it is a dense chapter that covers a great deal of ground. In particular, Lucas is critical of the idea that the archaeological record is a snapshot or frozen record of past cultural systems; he convincingly argues that archaeologists are not above or outside history, but instead that we engage with and interpret it and it is therefore inseparable from our present. This idea is similar in form to arguments first popularised by Shanks and Tilley (1987) and it is clear from Lucas’ work that they have aged well. Lucas also rejects the popular notion of palimpsest as a simple layering of events in place of a more complex view whereby they are construed as multiple overlapping events of various duration, and which have different impacts on the archaeological record. Even the concept of time perspectivism, an approach commonly advocated by some (Bailey 1981, 1983; Fletcher 1992; Knapp 1992), is criticised, for although there is recognition of multilayered temporal processes operating at different scales, time perspectivism is still reliant upon an essentially linear, chronological framework. As would perhaps be expected, the final verdict is for a more complex approach to archaeological narratives and while he suggests that a linear framework has merit, it should also be open to the possibility of temporal disruptions and dislocations.

Chapter 3 investigates how societies in the past perceived time. Lucas argues that one way of getting at this through archaeology is to look at how past societies engaged with remains from earlier periods. Here he is specifically talking about artefacts or objects, and the ways these were reused and reinterpreted. This discussion would have benefited by including consideration of how material remains other than tools or implements influenced the activities of people in the past. For example, in a hunter-gatherer context how did evidence of previous use of areas (such as shell middens, rock art motifs, or artefact scatters) play out in the way people interacted with these places?

The fourth chapter entitled ‘The Life and Times of a Roman Jar’ is a case study incorporating many of the arguments proposed in earlier chapters. The choice of a fairly nondescript artefact such as this is an interesting one because it reinforces his claims for the importance of critical engagement with the notion of time at all levels of archaeological interpretation. He argues that the jar is representative of two different sorts of temporalities. Firstly, it represents a chasm between ourselves and the past which is breached by chronology, in a sense by placing the item into our linear conception of time. This, he suggests is how we connect with the past. Secondly, he considers what he terms the jar’s ‘age profile’; that is, its temporality as perceived by the people who made and used it. Consideration of this question helps us to almost engage with the artefact as if we were engaging in a dialogue with an informant. For Lucas, there is no need to reconcile these two approaches for he argues it is in our interest to draw upon both temporalities.

The concluding chapter makes the point that archaeologists need to reconsider the problem of time in archaeology through a rethinking of the nature of the discipline itself. To this end, Lucas presents a fascinating argument for the uniqueness of archaeology as a discipline (compared with history or anthropology) which while oriented around material culture and temporality, is not necessarily strictly chronological in nature. It is instead a mode of temporalisation, whereby we do not ‘excavate time’ but instead we create it by firstly alienating ourselves from the past only to then restore this disjunction through archaeological narratives. The discipline is about ‘stitching up’ tears in our temporal continuity between the past and the present and in this sense archaeology is a tool in maintaining our own identities. From this he raises some significant questions about the role of archaeology as a Western hegemonic discourse and asks whether this is in fact what defines the discipline.

For an audience of researchers focused on Australian archaeological problems the book will be lacking in several areas. Most glaring is that it does not deal with the specific challenges of hunter-gatherer archaeology, instead preferring to draw on European post-Neolithic examples. Another limitation is that it only sporadically considers the problems of using ethnography in archaeology, or how his arguments are implicated in contexts where rich documentary sources are available. However, the most significant limitation of the book for this reviewer is that it has not dealt in any substantive way with the methodological and theoretical contributions of the Annalistes to the problems of time in historical explanation, and whose work clearly has significant implications for archaeology (e.g. Bailey 1981; Burke 1990; Hodder 1997; Knapp 1992).

These issues aside, all-in-all Lucas presents a clear, well-written and logically structured book which is intended to be read from start to end rather than as individual chapters. It is clearly aimed at advanced undergraduates, postgraduates and practicing professionals rather than people who are new to archaeology or archaeological theory. Sadly, Lucas’ book will probably not cause much of a ripple on the Australian pond where theory and method are not nearly as close allies as they are in the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, it does raise some important issues for consideration by those who are concerned about the political and philosophical motives of the discipline, and the practical problems of ‘doing archaeology’ in Australia.


Bailey, G.N. 1981 Concepts, time scales and explanations in economic prehistory. In A. Sheridan and G.N. Bailey (eds), Economic Archaeology: Towards an Integration of Ecological and Social Approaches, pp.97–118. BAR International Series 96. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports.

Bailey, G.N. 1983 Concepts of time in Quaternary prehistory. Annual Review of Anthropology 12:165–192.

Burke, P. 1990 The French Historical Revolution: The Annales School, 1929-89. California: Stanford University Press.

Fletcher, R. 1992 Time perspectivism,Annales, and the potential of archaeology. In B. Knapp (ed.), Archaeology, Annales and Ethnohistory, pp.35–49. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gosden, C. 1994 Social Being and Time. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Hodder, I. 1997 Interpreting Archaeology: Finding Meaning in the Past. London: Routledge.

Knapp, B. (ed.) 1992 Archaeology Annales and Ethnohistory. Sydney: Cambridge University Press.

Murray, T. (ed.) 1999 Time and Archaeology. London: Routledge.

Shanks, M. and C.Y. Tilley 1987 Re-Constructing Archaeology: Theory and Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Review of ‘The Archaeologist’s Field Handbook’ by Heather Burke and Claire Smith

Ormsby BR coverThe Archaeologist’s Field Handbook by Heather Burke and Claire Smith. Allen and Unwin, Crows Nest, 2004, xxii+406 pp., ISBN 1 86508 862 5 (pbk).

Tim Ormsby

Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide SA 5001, Australia

Fieldwork is an essential part of the archaeological research process. It is through fieldwork that archaeologists gather evidence to test their theories and research questions. This leads to the discourse, discussion and debate that we call archaeology. However, if you are new to the discipline or have never conducted field research before, fieldwork can appear to be a very daunting undertaking. What are the aims of the fieldwork? What equipment will you need? Where should you excavate? How do you actually excavate and how do you properly record what you find? These and many other questions all need to be answered before the researcher can even think about putting trowel to soil. The Archaeologist’s Field Handbook aims to answer all such questions. The authors have sought to provide a ‘hands-on field manual which provides a step-by-step guide to undertaking and successfully completing a wide variety of archaeological fieldwork projects’ (p.xvii).

The book is divided into 10 chapters, each dealing with a different aspect of the archaeological research process. At the beginning of each chapter is a short bullet point list of what the reader will learn in that chapter, making it easy to find what you are looking for. The book is set out in a largely logical order, starting with how to prepare for fieldwork, including designing research questions, how to obtain funding and deciding on what equipment to take and ending with how to write final reports and getting results published. The remaining eight chapters discuss map reading and navigation methods (Chapter 2), finding and recording site details (Chapter 3), site surveying techniques (Chapter 4), excavation techniques (Chapter 5), techniques for recording historical and maritime sites (Chapter 6), Indigenous sites (Chapter 7), the basics of cultural heritage management (Chapter 8) and finally how to properly take photographs and illustrate artefacts (Chapter 9). The appendices contain a vast array of useful information, from sample recording forms, to a ceramic rim diameter chart as well as checklists for writing reports, tables and figures.

Also covered are factors that, while not always associated with archaeological fieldwork, are very important considerations while out in the field. These include bush survival techniques, tips on getting along with fellow fieldworkers and campfire cooking. Several recipes for field cooking are also included.

No two field projects are the same and as such, every archaeologist has developed different ways of doing things. To this end, the authors have also drawn upon the field experiences of many archaeologists, including helpful hints and tips on many different aspects of fieldwork.

An important aspect of fieldwork that the authors put emphasis on is the legal and ethical obligations of archaeologists. Special emphasis is put on the ethical responsibilities of archaeologists working with Indigenous people. Anyone wanting to conduct research with Indigenous communities should, at the very least, read this section to be aware of how to properly conduct such research. Included in the online appendix on the publisher’s website are the codes of ethics of the professional archaeological associations.

The word comprehensive is an understatement when describing The Archaeologist’s Field Handbook. It covers almost every imaginable aspect of fieldwork in an easy to understand and well-structured manner. This book will be invaluable for those just starting their archaeological career as well as seasoned field veterans. I highly recommend having this volume on one’s bookshelf, or better yet, in one’s backpack out in the field. As the old saying goes, forewarned is forearmed. This book definitely forearms archaeologists against the rigours and potential headaches of fieldwork.

The Ethics of Ownership: Indigenous Cultural Property Rights and the Practice of Archaeology

Nathan Woolford

BA(Hons), School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, June 2003

Archaeologists have taken a prominent role in the debate over Indigenous cultural property rights. While Indigenous people have asserted their right to control their cultural heritage, some archaeologists have opposed it. World heritage, national heritage, science and antiquity have all been called upon by some archaeologists to support their stance against Indigenous cultural property rights. I explore the historical and theoretical contexts of this debate and draw on two case studies to highlight the issues and explore the arguments involved. The literature surrounding the return of the Kow Swamp remains and a large collection of archival material concerning the Burnett River Engravings form the focus of this thesis. I conclude that there are no grounds on which to oppose the complete and legal recognition of Indigenous cultural property rights.

Review of ‘Palaeonenvironmental Change and the Persistence of Human Occupation in Southwestern Australian Forests’ by Joe Dortch

Hallam Dortch BR coverPalaeonenvironmental Change and the Persistence of Human Occupation in Southwestern Australian Forests by Joe Dortch. BAR International Series 1288, Archaeopress, Oxford, 2004, xi+226 pp., ISBN 1 84171 638 3 (pbk).

Sylvia Hallam

School of Earth and Geographical Sciences, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley WA 6009, Australia

My first comments address the publisher’s role, rather than the author’s. BAR monographs fulfil a very useful function; many have become archaeological classics. But my copy of this book started falling to pieces before I had finished reading it, which hardly encourages readers to regard these studies as of durable worth. As well as more robust construction, tighter editing would have been helpful. Just as one example of unfortunately common minor inconsistencies, did Dortch measure artefacts ‘to the nearest 0.01 mm’ or ‘to the nearest tenth of a millimetre’ (both on p.89)?

The title of the monograph is distinctly misleading. ‘South-Western Australian Forests’ (Figure 2.1) extend north beyond the latitude of Perth, but this study examines in detail only their extreme southwest corner. Dortch does not always make it clear when he is talking about the southwest in the general sense of the Perth/Leeuwin/Albany triangle; when his remarks refer to the whole southern portion of this triangle (or the wider karri region within it); and when they are limited to his ‘study area’, ‘the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Region, extreme south-western Australia’, the limits of which remain undefined. Statements about the availability of certain plant and animal resources in the southwest do not necessarily apply to every region within it; for instance Dioscorea hastifolia does not occur south of the Murray.

The author could have benefited also from an editorial reminder that mathematical arguments need to be expressed with extreme clarity, particularly when addressed to a readership which, even if adequately numerate, does not put mathematical manoeuvres at the centre of its interests. I found it strange that the main text should retain lengthy and recondite mathematical arguments, whilst straightforward artefact descriptions and drawings were consigned to an appendix. Nor does elaborate statistical treatment necessarily resolve difficult issues. For instance, Dortch puts a great deal of time and effort into tests on changes in flake shape over time, only to deduce ‘more frequent’ visitation of Devil’s Lair at the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) when there is lack of intensive reduction of chert artefacts (Dortch had previously proposed intensive retouch as the criterion of increased site usage). He then reverts to basing his deduction on the ‘large numbers’ of chert artefacts per unit time and volume, Bill Ferguson’s much simpler criteria, which Dortch had previously rejected.

Dortch does not give sufficient credit to the pioneering work of Ferguson (1985), both in field methodology and in interpretation. Ferguson’s wide and systematic application of road surveys, test-pits and large area excavations in southern forested regions set a new benchmark in field methods (the excavated sediments in Ferguson’s sites were neither ‘poorly stratified’ nor ‘unconsolidated’, as can be seen from the trench depths and sharp outlines in his published photographs).

On the interpretation of the fluctuations in artefact numbers at these sites, both Ferguson and his critics can be faulted. Ferguson’s critics have argued that artefact numbers cannot provide a proxy for demographic trends. The post-4000 increase might be partly explained by changing technology, but this does nothing to account for the earlier decrease in rate of artefact deposition. On the other hand, if Ferguson’s histograms are put side by side, the low points do not coincide between sites, as his ‘depopulation’ interpretation requires. A more economical explanation would be shifts in relative usage, increasing inland in moister, seaward in drier, phases.

I find the data Dortch presents (e.g. Figure 4.1) entirely consonant with continuing overall population growth in the southwest as a whole. His graph shows growth in site numbers to be approximately exponential, which is exactly the mathematical expectation if total site numbers at any one time provide an approximate index of usage and thus of population. Dortch thus provides the best evidence against his own doubts about the validity of using site and artefact numbers as indices of population! Natural demographic increase is an entirely sufficient explanation, without the need to postulate improved technology or efficiency.

The core of Dortch’s book, however, lies not in his interpretations of his own work and of the work of others, but in his description of his own field survey and excavations, and analyses of biotic and lithic remains. Dortch’s lithic analyses (as distinct from their interpretation) set a new benchmark for the meticulous treatment of appallingly difficult stone assemblages. From Tunnel Cave, for instance, the fossiliferous chert ‘tool’ assemblage comprises ‘all utilised pieces … only one has retouch’ (p.100). The quartz is worse. ‘I have examined’, Dortch tells us, ‘every stone artefact from Tunnel Cave and Devil’s Lair under a binocular microscope at magnifications from x6 to x40’. Material, artefact type, dimensions, weight, platform, dorsal scars, ventral scars, use scars, cortex, pot-lids, heat-crazing, all were recorded. This represents a truly massive and admirable labour.

The results are also impressive. This is intractable material. Much of it is quartz, notoriously difficult to analyse. Even among artefacts made from chert, superior in its flaking properties to quartz, a mere handful can be slotted into ‘formal tool types’, mainly pieces that might have been bagged simply as ‘amorphous scraper’, or ‘utilised flake’. Dortch, however, barely concerns himself with formal typology, but concentrates rather on size and ‘intensity of usage’.

In Devil’s Lair (p.97), at the LGM, as chert became more easily accessible from sources now offshore, so people used it more lavishly, making larger tools, and not bothering to squeeze every last drop of use out of any one blank. Later, as sea-levels rose, access to chert sources became limited once more, and people used their products more carefully. Patterns of usage of the more evenly available quartz remained unchanged, Dortch actually concedes (p.97) that human visits to Devil’s Lair may have been ‘more frequent’ at the very time that ‘chert artefacts are not greatly reduced (flaked intensively)’ (my emphasis). This is the opposite of the contemporary situation in Tunnel Cave (p.105), where ‘the high ratio of tools to debitage, and used artefacts to unused artefacts’ leads him to deduce more ‘intensive’ occupation around the LGM. Dortch thus effectively scuttles his own argument that intensity of usage of artefacts measures demographic trends over the whole region. He continues to maintain, however (p.109), that ‘Tunnel Cave provides little evidence that occupation intensity declined in response to major vegetation changes … from 12,000 to 8,000 BP … except that there are few artefacts dated to this period’ (my emphasis). Quantities of bone agree with quantities of artefacts (p.129). Why not concede that this ‘decline in artefact numbers’ is sufficient and acceptable evidence, showing itself more valid than devious and dubious measures of ‘intensity’ of artefact usage?

The data Dortch amasses may not always be able to answer the questions he asks. Bones and charcoal in living deposits were not necessarily garnered right outside the front door. Perhaps when a habitat did change, people just went further to get the same resources, rather than ceasing to visit a really cosy pied a terre. Contrary to Dortch’s statement (p.18) there is no guarantee at all that ‘in such a fine mosaic … it is the immediate surroundings of a site that may be most important for hunter- gatherers’ (my emphasis).

Like other mammals, humans require much more than one sort of vegetation, for access, shelter, foraging and social, mating and ritual activities. A habitat may be intensively used, but have no camp-spot actually within it (e.g. alluvial yam-diggings), or be a good place for a camp, but draw its resources from the surroundings (e.g. many sandblows). The movements of an Aboriginal group over days, weeks, months, years and decades could take them repeatedly through the meagre karri of the Margaret River limestone ridge, and around and beyond it, taking in terrain and resources kilometres and tens of kilometres away. The real questions are about relative usage, of fairly wide ecological zones, which can be answered (if at all) only by wide and intensive survey and excavation.

I found the discussion of burnt bone in hearths fascinating but flawed. Dortch (p.132) equates ‘the proportion of each species burnt specimens in all species burnt specimens’ with ‘the proportions of species present before the hearth was built’. However, the sample from which the first proportion was derived included not only the bones below the hearth, but additionally bones from the hearth, some of which will have been put in later; the equation is therefore untrue. It would be more useful to compare expected numbers of one species burnt with actually occurring numbers, then calculate the difference due to addition bone humanly deposited in the fire.

I am particularly interested in Dortch’s discussion of the role of Aboriginal firing regimes in vegetation change, in partial avoidance of such change and in the (unintended) acceleration of change. I would agree with his deduction that ‘hunter-gatherers need not abandon regions characterised by mosaic vegetation’.

Dortch conveniently sets up an ‘Aunt Sally’ to knock down, in the form of a supposed prior assumption that the southwest karri forests ‘severely limit or even exclude human occupation’. This is a useful expository device, but the Hallam (1975) pages cited do not say this. Hallam nowhere states nor implies that Aborigines avoided all karri forest; nor (despite Dortch p.41) that karri has few foods, necessarily a dense understorey, and is too wet to burn. It remains probable that karri forests in general were ‘burnt only patchily, for example on their western margin’ (Hallam 1975:27). The west is the area of Dortch’s study, a much thinner and more penetrable belt of karri than the extensive block inland from the south coast, from Pemberton across to Walpole. This main block may well have been frequented and burnt more ‘rarely’ (p.27), and be ‘less exposed and liable to fire, though not unaffected on its coastal margin’ (Hallam 1975:55). Hallam (1975:75, 103) points out the diversity within forests; and cites historical and bore data which suggest Aborigines were burning, even if patchily, in the deep south near Broke Inlet and William Bay (if fire return periods of ‘less than a few years’ produced sedgelands in Tasmania, do the sedgelands of the south coast of Western Australia imply anything about Aboriginal burning?).

The work of Pearce (1982) and of Bonner (Anderson 1984) confirmed that the forested triangle of the southwest and the karri areas of the far south, never supported really intensive human activity and population like that on the west coastal plain. Pearce’s forest sites were not ‘somewhat smaller’ than coastal plain sites, but about a tenth of the size, with around a tenth of the artefact density. The density of all sites, at more than 6/km² on the coastal plain, contrasts with around 1/km² in forest; while for major sites, with thousands of artefacts, the figures are 1/km² on coastal plain against between 0 and 0.06/km² in different parts of the forest (Anderson 1984:20-21). Overall decadal usage per unit area on the coastal plain was thus probably several degrees of magnitude greater than in the northern jarrah forest. Dortch gives no comparable site density, size, or artefact density figures for any part of the far southwest.

Dortch provides a very useful summary of ecological work on the varied vegetation and fauna of the southern southwest. He could profitably have discussed how far Aboriginal occupancies related to and depended on the important and widely available resources of non-forested patches of heath, scrub, granite outcrop and their surrounds, swamps, estuaries, and sedgelands, widely scattered (see map p.19) within the generally forested districts (Christensen 1992), rather than to forest pure and simple. Aboriginal occupancies of forests only, or of any one vegetational formation, is not a meaningful concept. Aboriginal groups used the total resources of an entire area, forest and non-forest. Non-forest resources within forested contexts may well have been overall more important for subsistence than the surrounding forest.

Dortch’s hard-won evidence does not enable him to come to incontrovertible conclusions. But to have sharpened the questions posed is a considerable achievement, and should lead to more, and more cooperative, work in a field of multidisciplinary and public significance.


Anderson, J. 1984 Between Plateau and Plain: Flexible Responses to Varied Environments in Southwestern Australia. Occasional Papers in Prehistory 4. Canberra: Department of Prehistory, Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian National University.

Christensen, P. 1992 The Karri Forest. Como: Department of Conservation and Land Management.

Ferguson, W.C. 1985 A Mid-Holocene Depopulation of the Australian Southwest. Unpublished PhD thesis, Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, The Australian National University, Canberra.

Hallam, S.J. 1975 Fire and Hearth: A Study of Aboriginal Usage and European Usurpation in South-Western Australia. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.

Pearce, R.H. 1982 Archaeological sites in the jarrah forest, southwest Australia. Australian Archaeology 14:18–24.

An ambitious German in early twentieth century Tasmania: The collections made by Fritz Noetling

Struwe Figure 1 AA62Ruth Stuwe

At the turn of the twentieth century, after the success of Darwin’s theory of evolution, important work in several disciplines was done on hominisation and prehistory. Fritz Noetling lived in Tasmania from 1906 to 1919 and collected a considerable number of Aboriginal stone artefacts. He intended to make them available for European researchers. He compared them with an early stage in prehistory, the ‘Eolithic’ or ‘Archaeolithic’ stage. This article shows that during Noetling’s time this method of research ultimately served racist concepts. The stone artefact collections in German museums, however, can contribute to modern archaeological research.

Image caption: Hofrat Dr Friedrick (Fritz) Wilhelm Noetling (published in Australian Archaeology 62:31 with permission from the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery).

Phyoliths, Late Quaternary Environments and Archaeology in Tropical Semi-Arid Northwest Australia

Lynley A. Wallis

PhD, The Australian National University, August 2000

As a consequence of poor preservation and a lack of depositional sites, palaeoecological records are almost entirely non-existent for the tropical semi-arid region of northwest Australia. Subsequently, our knowledge relating to late Quaternary environments and the interrelationship between people and the northwest landscape is impoverished. This thesis presents the results of investigations of phytoliths in archaeological and other late Quaternary sediments in the Kimberley region as a means of partially rectifying this problem. Three specific research goals were addressed. Firstly, to examine the nature of phytolith production in extant Kimberley flora. Secondly, to examine the nature of phytolith assemblages preserved in non-archaeological sediments. Finally, to apply the derived knowledge to the study of prehistoric plant exploitation and palaeoenvironment at an archaeological site.

In order to examine aspects of variability in phytolith production by modern plants, a comparative reference collection of 338 specimens (representing 54 families) was constructed. This revealed a range of patterns, from a total absence of phytoliths through to the production of massive quantities, across both monocotyledonous and dicotyledonous plants. At the family level these results are largely in line with those from similar studies conducted elsewhere. Sufficient morphological variation has been demonstrated to exist to enable the use of phytoliths as a microfossil system for broad-level vegetation reconstruction in the savannah regions of northern Australia. Whether phytoliths provide a sufficient level of detail to address specific archaeological research questions is an issue that requires further investigation. A number of important economic plants in the Kimberley have been shown to produce distinctive phytoliths. However, in many more phytoliths are absent, or only redundant types are produced.

Following the baseline floristic study, the focus of the research then shifted to the analysis of phytoliths recovered from modern sediments associated with a range of different ecological and vegetational settings. The results indicate there is a degree of homogeneity between samples, reflecting the dominance of grasses in most vegetation communities of the Kimberley. However, a more positive outcome is that it is possible to identify a number of distinct vegetation communities and environments on the basis of their associated sedimentary microfossil assemblages. Additionally, the examination of phytoliths from a small number of mud nests and tufa formations demonstrates the potential of such novel sediment sources to serve as chronological and environmental data traps in this region.

The application of phytolith analysis to an archaeological site completed the study. Carpenter’s Gap 1 is a rockshelter located along the Napier Range in the inland southwest Kimberley, with an occupation sequence spanning c.43,000 years. A detailed assessment of the formation processes at the site suggests the phytolith assemblage contained therein comprises primarily of two components, a largely naturally derived grass element and a predominantly culturally derived non-grass element. The phytolith record is interpreted as indicating that significant changes have occurred in both the local vegetation, and people’s behaviours, throughout the period of occupation of the site. The presence of certain grass and palm phytoliths at the base of the site suggests there had been a greater availability of water in the landscape c.43,000 BP. By 34,000 BP the local grassland vegetation had apparently shifted to a spinifex-dominated community, probably as a result of increasing aridity. Additionally, by the onset of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) palms had disappeared from the sequence, providing further evidence of decreased precipitation in the site vicinity. However, despite the wider climatic and vegetation shifts, the presence of vine thicket type phytoliths throughout the sequence indicates the maintenance of such communities along the range at all times until at least 17,000 BP, although the extent of these patches cannot be gauged. These vine thicket patches would have provided a valuable focus for Aboriginal plant exploitation activities, as would have (semi-) permanent water sources represented by Cyperaceae type phytoliths. The occurrence of substantial quantities of sponge spicules and diatoms in the LGM levels of the site are interpreted as representing a need of people to transport water to the site in response to environmental stress associated with increased glacial aridity. The evidence from the archaeological phytolith analysis was examined within the wider regional context and found to fit reasonably well with the other evidence for vegetational and climatic change in the area.

Overall, the study has demonstrated the suitability of phytolith analysis to questions of palaeoenvironmental interest in the tropical semi-arid areas of northern Australia. The application of the technique to Carpenter’s Gap 1 further demonstrates the potential of the approach in the archaeological discipline, providing researchers with glimpses into aspects of human plant exploitation. However, much remains to be discovered about the usefulness of phytolith analysis for addressing specific research questions in Australian archaeology and broader issues in palaeoenvironmental studies, and this thesis serves as a basis for such future studies in the region.

Portonian Respectability: Working-Class Attitudes to Respectability in Port Adelaide through Material Culture, 1840–1900

Susan Briggs

PhD, Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, August 2005

During the nineteenth century the working class in Australia and Britain developed an ideology of respectability. At its core respectability was about dignity and the value of productive labour and as a bare minimum a man had to be able to independently support his wife and children without recourse to charity. From this basis other components could be added: temperance in the consumption of alcohol and tobacco and being able to keep a wife at home are two examples. Respectability can also be seen as the negotiation of others’ good moral opinion through one’s interpretation of the necessary displays of behaviour and material culture. In this respect the concept is not far removed from middle class gentility and indeed some of the displays were similar, the woman’s place in the home, for example. Despite these similarities historians have argued that respectability and gentility were not the same and that the former was not an emulation of the latter, a viewpoint taken by the current research. Of further consideration in the formulation of this study was the concern historians, in particular Peter Bailey (1979), have regarding the consistency with which the working class displayed respectability. Bailey believes that respectability was a ploy used by the working class to enhance their position during interclass encounters. This study was therefore interested in whether evidence for respectability could be found in the home. By examining the private domain, rather than the public, a sense of how integrated respectability was in the lives of Port Adelaide’s working class can be achieved.

As a means of determining whether or not respectability was being displayed in Port Adelaide’s homes four themes were chosen. These themes were selected as being indicative of attempts to conform to the ideology of respectability, while also having the potential to leave archaeological evidence one way or the other. The first theme selected was temperance to be viewed through the alcohol- and tobacco-related artefacts. The second theme was the role of the wife in the home, her formulation of the home environment through ornaments and whether there was evidence for her participating in paid labour within the home through sewing-related objects. The third theme was attitudes towards children, as viewed through the toys and ceramics for children. The fourth and final theme selected was attitudes towards meal times as viewed through the faunal remains, condiment bottles and ceramics. Analysis of these themes was applied to artefact assemblages retrieved from two excavations. The first investigated tenanted cottages on Quebec Street. For a comparison the second excavation focused on two cottages on Jane Street, owned and occupied by the Farrow and McKay families.

This analysis has revealed that residents from each of the three sites chose to participate in the ideology of respectability to different extents. For the residents of Quebec Street such displays had little meaning, while for the McKay and Farrow families the evidence suggests they were conforming to the ideology to a large extent. The application of the ideology, however, was not a smooth process and this thesis identifies and explores areas where the ideology of respectability came into conflict with previously held views.


Bailey, P. 1979 Will the real Bill Blanks please stand up?: Towards a role analysis of mid-Victorian working-class respectability. Journal of Social History 12(3):336-353.

The Antipodean Hog Farm: Youth Subcultures, Human Ecology and Investigations into the Lifeways of Australia’s Hippies

Kristjan W.M. Farmen

MA, Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, March 2005

The phenomenon of youth culture is a product of the post- World War II period of the last half of the twentieth century. This movement was linked to the rise of modern consumer culture after the war, the trend of both mothers and fathers working outside the home and leaving their older children to their own devices, and to those older children being stuck in a delayed maturity created by keeping them in school until their late teens. Working jobs after school gave these teenagers access to spending money, and they used the trappings of modern consumer culture to define a group of subcultures all their own. This way of life and the identification of the self with a particular subculture often continued into their early twenties.

The research presented in this thesis examines one of these subcultures, the Hippies of Australia, as a case study within the broader realm of the world of youth in the late twentieth century. The research uses the tools and techniques of the archaeologist to investigate a historical phenomenon, and is informed by a theoretical background of human ecology and behavioural ecology.

Participation in consumer culture is seen here as a strategy for humans to obtain the necessities and luxuries of life, within certain socially-defined parameters. Models are built to predict the spatial patterning of both an ideal Hippie commune, based on the literature and oral history interviews with former Hippies, and a settlement of the straight world, that which the Hippies strove to escape.

The abandoned Hippie settlement of Yacca Creeks, dating from 1978 to 1984, on Kangaroo Island, South Australia, was selected for investigation. Data gleaned from this site reveal a largely communal resource acquisition strategy centered on the community, particularly with respect to housing, but dependent on input from the straight world for food and transportation energy.

Backed Artefact Use in Eastern Australia: A Residue and Use-Wear Analysis

Gail Robertson

PhD, School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, May 2005

This thesis addresses the question of backed artefact use in the mid- Holocene through an integrated residue and use-wear analysis of artefacts from six sites in eastern Australia. The probable use of these artefacts has intrigued archaeologists for more than a century and a number of hypotheses have been proffered. Backed artefacts appeared in the archaeological record in the late Pleistocene; there was an interim period of intense production from about 4000 BP to 1500 BP; and they had seemingly disappeared from use by the time of British colonisation. Backed artefacts therefore occupy a unique position in Australian archaeology in their potential for elucidating the nature and context of change in Aboriginal societies during this period. Various models for their efflorescence in the mid-Holocene have been proposed, the most promising of which involves the concept of a triggering event such as climatic change instigating a range of risk-reduction processes, including the possibility of an increased production of a highly maintainable and transportable toolkit. Until their purpose is known, however, explanations for the appearance, adoption and eventual disappearance of backed artefacts will continue to be speculative. This study, by revealing activities for which backed artefacts were used during the period of their most intense production, permits a fuller understanding of the factors influencing human behaviour and precipitating culture change in mid-Holocene Australia.

An integrated residue and use-wear analysis of 218 backed artefacts from sites in central coastal New South Wales and the Central Highlands in western Queensland clearly reveals their association with a range of craft and subsistence activities, several of which were not predicted by previous researchers. Tasks involved animal processing such as skin-working, bone-working, butchery, hunting and feather preparation, and work with plant materials such as wood, non-woody and/or starchy plants. A ceremonial context was also inferred for several artefacts. Use as scrapers, knives, incisors, awls, drills or piercers, depending on the task and sometimes basic tool morphology, was also established. Artefacts were frequently multipurpose and/or multifunctional, and more than half exhibited evidence for hafting. Different activities were emphasised at various sites, and some tasks, such as skin-working, were performed at one site only.

The most significant discoveries are the use of backed artefacts for incising and scraping bone, including bird bone, and clear evidence for use of Bondi points as awls and knives for skin-working. The use of Bondi points and geometric microliths as hafted incisors for wood-working is another important result, as is the identification of some feathers to species level, allowing conjecture on the role of duck, other water birds, and fowl in the Aboriginal subsistence regime and ritual life in central coastal New South Wales. Despite frequent speculation in the literature, and some previous evidence for the use of backed artefacts as spear barbs, only one artefact in this sample provides evidence for such activity.

This research not only tests the current hypotheses on backed artefact use by identifying many of their task associations and functions, it also makes an important contribution to our knowledge of site activities during a period of dramatic cultural change in the mid-to-late Holocene.

Archaeology of the Russian Scare: The Port Adelaide Torpedo Station

Martin Wimmer

BArch(Hons), Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, October 2005

This thesis examines the Port Adelaide Torpedo Station, a colonial era coastal defence facility in South Australia. It seeks to understand how the material culture of the site can reflect changing attitudes to coastal defence in that state between 1877 and 1924.

The Torpedo Station bridges colonial and national defence theory and practice, having been operative in both regimes and is representative of the evanescent nature of industrial era warfare. Conceptualised at a time when theorists of coastal defence advocated investment in shore-based fortifications and regarded naval vessels as no more than seaward accessories to these static structures, the Torpedo Station was very much a product of its time. By the early twentieth century this attitude to coastal defence had changed dramatically due largely to evolving technology and Federation.

Federation brought a rationalisation of Australia’s naval assets and a unified national defence strategy. Defence theory shifted from one of isolated land-based military installations and a haphazard reliance on ships of the Royal Navy, to a national naval capability and deterrent. Investment in a naval fleet took precedence over expenditure on static land-based defences and sites such as the Port Adelaide Torpedo Station became superfluous to this new defence policy.

The archaeology of the Torpedo Station provides a greater understanding of how the military scenarios which led to its establishment were era-specific and relevant only as long as the available military hardware and related theory remained immutable. The site, never modernised during its operational life and never reused after abandonment, presents a pristine military stratigraphy. The material culture of the site represents a manifestation of particular ways of seeing the world and reflects specialised experiences of time and place.

The site is now severely degraded and unrecognisable as a former military installation. Despite this degradation, a pre- disturbance survey of the site has found the spatial integrity of the Torpedo Station to be largely intact. It contains remains relating to a discernable stage of intellectual development which are in the same arrangement now, as in a previous age. The cultural site formation processes which led to the site’s degradation are intimately tied to rapidly evolving armaments technology and shifting attitudes towards coastal defence.

The fact that so little of the fabric remains visible above ground and that the Australian Navy transferred the site to the South Australian Harbours Board in 1924 is testament to its loss of strategic importance and reflects the changing attitudes to coastal defence in South Australia and by extension Australia.

Review of ‘Inscribed Landscapes: Marking and Making Place’ edited by Bruno David and Meredith Wilson

Slack and Fullagar BR coverInscribed Landscapes: Marking and Making Place edited by Bruno David and Meredith Wilson. University of Hawai’i Press, Honolulu, 2002, viii+303 pp., ISBN 0824824725 (pbk).

Michael Slack and Richard Fullagar

Department of Archaeology, School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, Building A14, University of Sydney NSW 2006, Australia

This edited volume of papers examines the making of place through ‘physical and metaphorical marking’ (p.1), and is much more than a book about rock art. David and Wilson’s volume covers an extremely diverse subject matter, but with similar theoretical underpinnings. Inscribed Landscapes is unsurprisingly postmodern, and for those already convinced of the multiple readings of the archaeological record, an excellent read. Others may struggle to see links between archaeology, Foi poetry and Federation Square in Melbourne.

Comprised of three parts, the collection of 18 papers varies in time and space, with themes jumping from prehistoric Malta (Stoddart) to Aztec Central America (Umberger) in just a few pages. Written by a range of established authors on each particular region, papers are generally linked by the theoretical theme of approaches to landscapes through experience and the processes of inscription. These processes are seen to depend on human engagement with the landscape and how ‘landscapes are meaningfully, socially constructed places involving bodily and cognitive experience’ (p.6). In this way a seemingly disparate group of authors and themes find their common ground.

Two particular themes are proposed in the introduction of the volume: landscapes of social participation and of resistance, upon which the subsequent papers are said to relate. These concepts are useful, although archaeological manifestations may be impossible or difficult to disentangle if not practically invisible.

There are three parts to Inscribed Landscapes – art, monuments and a sectioned termed ‘beyond the mark’ (p.217). Of these, many archaeologists will find most relevance in the first section, an interesting synthesis of approaches to rock art studies and a collection of three Australian studies (McNiven and Russell, David and Wilson, Rosenfeld). The monuments section presents an interesting but very disparate group of papers, but concentrates mostly on European megaliths. The third section – the miscellaneous ‘flaked piece’ category of marking places – is the most uneven.

Part 1 of the volume consists of eight papers and centers on rock art. Ballard discusses engravings found in Papua associated with paramilitary activities near the Freeport mine site. Very much in the tradition of anthropologist Michael Tausig, Ballard sees this landscape as one of a culture of terror and notes spaces of death in terms of the topographic arrangement of inscriptions on the landscape. Three layers of violence are imposed on this landscape: destruction of the known landscape, a replacement with a ‘topography of the dead’ (pp.13–14), and visual reminders of violence. Ballard introduces the idea of resistance through a study of graffiti at the site. Although this theme implies an archaeological problem because the rock art comprises graffiti of oppressors rather than resistance (which is not expressed by marking places).

McNiven and Russell provide a summary of the current state of Australian contact archaeology as a part of postcolonial discourse. Rock art is discussed in terms of the production of non-secular responses to the frontier dynamic, and the authors urge for research aimed at understanding the dynamics of intercultural encounters rather than the old ‘chestnuts’ of hidden or missing histories. Specific rock art examples include sorcery, and burials with increased visibility to claim territory in the contact period. McNiven and Russell draw heavily on research by Frederick (2000) who drew attention to the problematic nature of contact art when it is only defined by presence of contact motifs. References to Henry Reynold’s work feature in discussions of contact history, but authors such as McGrath, Attwood, Elder, May and Fels seem a little relegated to the background. Discussions of Kimberley point trade cite Akerman, but see also the recent work of Rodney Harrison and papers in Torrence and Clarke (2000).

David and Wilson’s own paper uses the concept of graffiti as a means by which people effectively write themselves into a landscape. They assert that graffiti offer insight into the complex relationships between inscription, inscriber, and wider societal power relations. This paper presents the concept of a landscape of resistance extremely well. The authors use the case study of Wardaman art (a focus of research for both for some time now) to illustrate territorial resistance and mobilisation of territoriality. This perspective is very interesting and along with David’s Landscapes, Rock-Art and the Dreaming (2002) provides examples of the potentially exciting directions that rock art research can take us.

Rosenfeld provides a synthesis of the rock art of Central Australia with particular emphasis given to the sites of Lilla, Puritjarra, Ewaninga and Wallace Rock Hole. She asserts the existence of regional variations, but also specific within-region variation in the western Central Ranges based on formality of motifs. It is the level of formality that Rosenfeld suggests alludes to site function, as for example those places with formally controlled designs are considered ‘mythologically powerful places’ (p. 76).

Lee is also interested in rock art, specifically engravings but with a focus on the mass of instances and beautiful designs on the main island of Hawai’i. Similar to Rosenfeld, Lee believes that variation in motif is related to site type, function and spatial structure of the socio-cultural organisation of the creators. Lee also charts the development of an increasing complexity in petrogylph designs over time, and their importance to aspects of life, such as the ‘piko’ (pp.83-84) cupules associated with marking births. Lee draws primarily on ethnography to argue that rock art expresses and perpetuates a world order.

Still with petroglyphs, Rainbird challenges the reader to an exploration of ‘sensual archaeologies’ (p.95) (think sound, smell and taste, and not sex). Taking the seemingly disparate case studies of Pohnpaid, at Pohnpei on the Caroline Islands in Micronesia, and Ilkley Moor, England, he attempts to demonstrate that there is much more to these sites than the visual. Rainbird argues that much of the social significance of such places might lie in their production and particularly through transmitted sounds. This is not as whacky as it sounds. Recent research by Steven Mithen (2005) echoes the point, and argues that such sounds and music in general have been crucial to hominid evolution.

Darnell examines inscriptions along roads adjacent to the Qena bend of the Nile in the Western desert. ‘Furrows in the earth … mark experience of space’ (p.114) and these inscriptions are said to link places along a spine of the landscape. Inscriptions along these paths were marked and assert ‘political control, social rhythms, military tactics, religious observances, and economic endeavours’ (p.114).

Part 1 of Inscribed Landscapes concludes with Taçon’s review of the relationship between rock art and landscapes. He suggests that 13 kinds of dichotomous relationships supposedly make such research more meaningful, and discusses six that have been recently applied (early vs recent, simple vs complex, figurative vs non-figurative, marking vs mapping, economic vs symbolic and secular vs sacred). However, no example or analysis based on any single dichotomy (it’s A or it’s B) really provides a satisfactory explanation of anything cultural or natural (another false dichotomy), and this paper reminds us that rock art will always be amenable to multiple readings.

Part 2 of Inscribed Landscapes consists of five papers and focuses on monuments and the landscape. The first two papers of the five are focused on the megalith landscapes of western Europe. Allen and Gardiner present a simple paper on the archaeological visibility of the spiritual landscape of the Mesolithic through happenstance findings (cut features and post holes) in association with Neolithic monumental landscapes. The important assertion of the paper is the idea that you don’t necessarily have to be a sedentary population to create such a monumental landscape, and that hunter-gatherer populations who also mark landscape, may have done so in complex ways in Britain. Allen and Gardiner suggest cultural continuity with monument construction by Mesolithic hunter-gatherers prior to Stonehenge and Neolithic settlements.

Scarre’s paper concerning the rich monumental landscape of Gree de Cojoux in Brittanny, France, attempts to make connections between the natural and monumental landscape. He creates links between local artefactual deposits and quartz quarries with the standing stones of the summit of the Gree de Cojoux. Scarre identifies three phases of construction, each marked by change with respect to funerary activities, settlement and ritual zones.

Stoddart writes of the monumental landscape of the islands of Malta, seeing it as a prehistoric landscape of inscription. Charting the changes to monumental building over time and the effects of changes to populations and interaction with external forces, he describes approaches to material display that reflect the dominant ideologies of the Maltese, through broad phases: initial more or less permanent agricultural settlement, mortuary complexes, temples, iconoclasm/abandonment/re-use, intensive agricultural/defensive and Phoenician state intervention.

In a geographic leap, the concluding two papers focus on the western hemisphere. Umberger examines the monumental landscape of Aztec Mexico, through links between rulers and gods with the natural landscape. She describes how natural features were brought into urban centers as built structures and the relocation of people to dynastic mountain sites, and inscription on the rocks surrounding them – all revealing Aztec expansion and powers of local cult sites.

Adler examines the changes to settlement and land-use patterns of the American southwest Pueblo peoples in the creation of the immense civic kiva monuments. They were used, as Adler argues, to create and reproduce social boundaries. This is somewhat of a novel approach to such sites, whereas others have argued that ceremonial kivas were used rather to bring people together in a more egalitarian way. Adler concludes that ‘community, then, is a group based risk buffering strategy that establishes and reproduces access to resources, social identities, territorial boundaries, and interdependent relationships on a local level … but social communities do not always live together as an architecturally identifiable settlement (p.203, original emphasis).

Part 3 of David and Wilson’s volume consists of five papers and is more of a consideration of alternative historical and contemporary ways in which inscription is used. Three Australian and two southeast Asian papers complete the volume. Pulvirenti examines the ways in which home ownership of Italian-born people act to ‘anchor their subjectivities’ (p.221). The act of making a home is read as making an inscription on a host landscape through the act of ‘systemazione’ (settling down). Although interesting, it is a shame that no mention is made of the actual physical aspects of this type of inscription; that is how the Italian community make their own sense of place within Australian suburbs through cultural similarities or indeed differences with Italy.

Carter presents an essay that both charts the political aspects of the construction of the Federation Square civic complex in Melbourne, whilst at the same time showing how the nature of contemporary inscriptions in very public spaces can be negotiated. This negotiation takes place by looking at various perceived pasts and the future, through the act of renegotiating political territory, particularly through the act of naming. It would have been enlightening to have more detailed reference to the actual inscriptions which feature prominently at the site, and in the accompanying figures, and Carter’s reasoning behind them.

A similar theme of tension over landscape is discussed by Yea who details how a Sarawak cultural village tourist site has been used to represent a national identity that doesn’t really exist. Whilst the Malay government effectively promote a romanticised depiction of the past they concurrently exploit the same Indigenous groups and their region for industrial development. The Iban are in reality marginalised, sitting uncomfortably between the past and present, struggling to assert their identity and land rights.

Langton’s paper on the Bama Native Title Claimants of Cape York shows how Aboriginal connections to the landscape stem from their own being and engagement with place, and through the inscription of senses, rather than through material monuments. Inscription of the landscape takes place by emplacement of power, which resides in places by virtue of the presence of ‘Old People’ (pp.266-267). She shows how central the role of elders is to this process as they mediate between the living and the dead, and that their presence emplaces the spiritual power of places. This is illustrated by Langton’s explanation of processes such as ‘singing out’ (p.262) and ‘giving smell’ by the elders.

Weiner’s paper follows themes raised by Langton, and examines inscription of the landscape through poetry, a medium that leaves no material trace. He looks at song poems about deceased men, composed by women making sago. They are then arranged and performed by men. The song poems contrast movement (life) and stillness (death) in journeys through the landscape, but are eventually forgotten, leaving no enduring physical marks. Weiner sees this process as a means by which the Foi landscape is ‘confirmed as at once known and experienced, marked not only through physical alteration, but also in memorialisation through poeticisation’ (p.282).

Inscribed Landscapes is generally a very interesting volume, with a variety of methodological and theoretical approaches all aimed at inspiring archaeological research away from the purely visual aspects of ‘inscribed landscapes’. It is well-written and illustrated. The approach to landscape is not particularlya new one, as anthropological and ethnographic themes have been incorporated into ‘archaeological’ research for some time.

Return of the Ngarrindjeri: Repatriating Old People Back to Country

Christopher Wilson

BArch(Hons), Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, October 2005

I am Ngarrindjeri. My father is Ngarrindjeri. My grandfather is Ngarrindjeri. It is through this lineage that I identify as Ngarrindjeri and have the right to speak as a Ngarrindjeri person. I have also been granted the right to speak by Ngarrindjeri elders who I have worked with on this research. From the perspective of a Ngarrindjeri archaeologist, I consider aspects of the process of repatriation of Old People from museums to Indigenous communities. A central part of my research is a case study of the return of 74 Old People from Museum Victoria to the Ngarrindjeri nation in August 2004.

This thesis contributes to contemporary debates on repatriation and reburial within the discipline of archaeology, as well as providing a valuable resource for the Ngarrindjeri community. Privileging community voice and opinion and recognising the value of Indigenous expertise and knowledge in this research has provided specific insights into the implications of repatriating Old People to Indigenous communities. I argue that the repatriation process operating in the Australian context is still in an early stage of development. It is a process that does not adequately support Indigenous communities in their efforts to ensure that their Old People are laid to rest.

An important outcome of my research has been the development of a culturally appropriate research methodology that highlights and acknowledges the importance of working in negotiation and collaboration with Ngarrindjeri elders. Traditional methods and approaches to archaeology involving Old People have been decolonised and in their place a different framework has been developed. This will assist other Indigenous archaeologists working with their own communities, as well as non-Indigenous researchers.

I found that the research process, the methodology, is at least as equally important as the research topic. I have learnt through the research process that the terms ‘negotiation’ and ‘collaboration’ move beyond the simplistic meaning of an ‘interview’ between the ‘researcher’ and the ‘researched’ to a process of kungun and yunnan between my ‘elders’ and I as the ‘young Ngarrindjeri person’. As a Ngarrindjeri archaeologist, I was not only assessed as a ‘researcher’ under the structure of the university; elders who contributed to the research also assessed me as an Indigenous researcher working with my community. Furthermore, I was also undergoing cultural training as a ‘learner’ through assessment and examination by my elders.

This in-depth and self-reflexive examination and exposure of my own identity and a critique of the archaeological training I received as an undergraduate student, has contributed to the transformation in the way I speak and write about my own people – the Ngarrindjeri. In conclusion, the research I have undertaken has been a journey that parallels the main topic of this thesis; along with the return of my Old People to Ngarrindjeri Ruwe (country) is the return of myself to my community.


Review of ‘First Farmers: The Origins of Agricultural Societies’ by Peter Bellwood.

Denham BR cover AA62First Farmers: The Origins of Agricultural Societies by Peter Bellwood. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford, 2005, xix+360 pp., ISBN 0-631-20566-7 (pbk).

Tim Denham

School of Geography and Environmental Science, PO Box 11A, Monash University Vic. 3800, Australia

Over the last decade there have been several pan-regional reviews of agricultural origins, but few authors have attempted a global overview (cf. Smith 1995). In this comparative examination of the development and spread of agricultural societies in different parts of the globe, Peter Bellwood demonstrates an often encyclopaedic knowledge of his subject presented in regional and thematic reviews. He marshals archaeological, linguistic and human biological evidence in each region of the world where farming is currently thought to have originated independently. These lines of evidence are assembled to put flesh on the bones of the ‘early farming dispersal hypothesis’, essentially an updated version of the ‘farming/language dispersal hypothesis’. As succinctly stated (and discussed in Chapter 1):

The early farming dispersal hypothesis postulates that the spreads of early farming lifestyles were often correlated with prehistoric episodes of human population and language dispersal from agricultural homelands (p.2, original emphasis). From this perspective, agricultural colonists expanded through demic expansion in a ‘wave of advance’ (Ammerman and Cavalli-Sforza 1984) from an agricultural homeland. Through demographic expansion, farming populations spread outwards and, to varying degrees, their material culture, languages and genes replaced those of non-agricultural populations in newly colonised areas. These ideas came to the fore to understand distributions of Neolithic material culture, Indo-European languages and genes across Europe (Renfrew 1987), but are being increasingly applied in disparate parts of the globe, such as the spread of Austronesian language-speakers across Indo-Malaysia (e.g. Bellwood 1997:201–254). In contrast, others attribute greater historical efficacy to social interaction, admixture and transformation to understand present and past distributions of material culture, languages and genes (e.g. Richards et al. 2003; Thomas 1996).

The phylogeny (demic diffusion) versus reticulation (social interaction) dichotomy sets the conceptual framework for Bellwood’s interpretation of early agricultural development and subsequent spread in different regions of the world. The dichotomy is purposefully heuristic. Each pole is acknowledged as an extreme that is unlikely to have occurred in the past, except during the settlement of uninhabited places (p.273).

‘Operational Considerations’ (Chapter 2) include an outline of the comparative method adopted, definitions of agriculture, its significance to human history, reasons for its development and how it may have been transmitted to non-agricultural groups. Following a rather selective ethnographic review, hunter-gatherers are considered to have only rarely adopted agriculture. This conclusion provides crucial support to the early farming hypothesis because, if it holds, the diffusion of agriculture and associated material cultures in the past was largely due to demic expansion.

Successive chapters (Chapters 3–8) present regional overviews for the origin and spread of agricultural societies. Most regional overviews are comprehensive and have a reference-like quality, although in places they may be too dense for the non-specialist and assume a degree of background knowledge. More significant are biases, particularly Eurasian, in the level of discussion given to each region of independent agricultural development. The origins of agriculture in Southwest Asia (Chapter 3, 23pp.), with subsequent spread across Europe and Asia (Chapter 4, 30pp.), and origins in East Asia (Chapter 6, 17pp.), with subsequent spread across Southeast Asia and Oceania (Chapter 7, 14pp.), are given extended discussion, as are, by virtue of their diffuseness, the multiple claimed centres of independent origin in the Americas (Chapter 8, 34pp.). In contrast, Africa (Chapter 5, 14pp.) and New Guinea (Chapter 7, 4pp.) have only cursory treatments. Although I acknowledge my own New Guinean bias, greater discussion is merited because ‘New Guinea has been a powerhouse in the prehistory of the western Pacific’ (p.145). However, New Guinea’s contribution to the long-term history of the Pacific is less a direct result of demic diffusion and more a product of social interaction within Near Oceania prior to mid-Holocene migrations beyond (a point returned to below).

In the remaining chapters of the book, Bellwood’s comparative method and line of argument become more explicit. Chapter 9 provides clear and concise overviews of key linguistic concepts and lines of historical interpretation. Of most relevance are discussions on the relative roles of phylogeny and reticulation in the histories of language family development. In Chapter 10, the distribution and phylogenies of major language families are compared to the archaeological evidence for agricultural homelands and dispersals. For some language families the discussions are a bit too brief and conclusions asserted rather than demonstrated. For most major language families, Bellwood argues for cultural and linguistic correlations, although the concluding section of the chapter is surprisingly more qualified.

In Chapter 11, human biology is added as another comparative layer. Of most interest are accessible and even- handed reviews of recent debates on human genetic data from Southweast Asia and Europe (pp.256–262) and Southeast Asia and Oceania (pp.265–271). Bellwood presents a ‘middle-of-the- road’ conclusion of demic diffusion with ‘constant processes of population mixing, sex-specific differential migration, and successive bottlenecks’ (p.272).

The concluding chapter (Chapter 12) draws the disparate lines of cultural, linguistic and genetic data together. Bellwood proposes zonal (spatial) and staged (temporal) models for agricultural origin and spread. The degree of correlation among cultural, linguistic and genetic lines of evidence for any locale is a product of ‘dispersal-based pulsation at intervals, with reticulation in the periods (often extremely long periods) between’ (p.278). Unsurprisingly, given the nature of the evidence, ‘the final conclusion should be that language families and early agricultural economies spread through hunter-gatherer landscapes in prehistory essentially through population growth and dispersal, but with admixture’ (p.278). Demic diffusion is the dominant mechanism, with some allowance for reticulation during periods of standstill and ‘settling-in’.

My reservations with the book stem from a different conceptual stance and derive from my own research in the New Guinea region. Firstly, the division between farmer and hunter- gatherer is too stark, a stance made explicit when Bellwood ponders why ‘particular groups of prehistoric foragers crossed the Rubicon into systematic agriculture’ (p.25). Although a comparative ethnographic review appears to indicate that few groups occupy transitional situations (pp.25-28), the variety of traditional lifestyles in New Guinea and their classificatory ambiguity would seem to suggest otherwise (Roscoe 2002; Specht 2003; Terrell 2002). Early agricultural practices in New Guinea were probably not ‘all-or-nothing’ adoptions, but were grafted onto pre-existing practices in diverse ways in different locales (Denham 2005). Similar ambiguities certainly exist elsewhere.

Secondly, Bellwood acknowledges that the scale of comparative method adopted changes perspective (p.10), but then goes on to state that: ‘In such continental-scale situations, the irregularities of small-scale reality become “ironed-out”’ (p.10). Such a general and smoothed version of human history fails to take account of how small-scale practices relate to larger-scale interpretations. If we are unable to take account of localised variability in our continental-scale perspectives, then upon what are the latter based? For example, there are several cited archaeological, linguistic and genetic anomalies that do not accord with the ‘express train to Polynesia’ (Diamond 1988) version of Austronesian migration across Southeast Asia and Oceania. These anomalies seem to suggest extensive reticulation (over a presumably long time period) in Eastern Indonesia or Near Oceania, which yielded distinctive agricultural practices, linguistic characteristics and genetic markers in these regions, some of which were transferred to areas subsequently colonised. Although the effects of reticulation for New Guinea are alluded to, they are treated as asides and are subsumed within the larger demic expansion model. In such cases, more detail and balance are needed because it remains to be seen whether such isolates threaten the larger model (cf. Renfrew paraphrased in Schouse 2001:989).

Unlike many books, Bellwood’s represents the cogent unfolding of a complex argument that draws on disparate types of information. The regional reviews of the archaeological evidence for early agriculture and its spread are, in the main, invaluable points of reference. Similarly, Chapters 9 and 11 are excellent starting points for archaeologists seeking to gain a foothold on seemingly impenetrable debates suffused with linguistic and genetic information, respectively. It is certainly the most scholarly, single-authored review of global agricultural origins on the market.


Ammerman, A.J. and L.L. Cavalli-Sforza 1984 The Neolithic Transition and the Genetics of Populations in Europe. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Bellwood, P. 1997 Prehistory of the Indo-Malaysian Archipelago. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.

Denham, T.P. 2005 Envisaging early agriculture in the Highlands of New Guinea: Landscapes, plants and practices. World Archaeology 37(2):289–304.

Diamond, J. 1988 Express train to Polynesia. Nature 336:307–308.

Renfrew, C. 1987 Archaeology and Language: The Puzzle of Indo-European Origins. London: Jonathan Cape.

Richards, M.,V. Macaulay and H-J. Bandelt 2003 Analysing genetic data in a model- based framework: Inferences about European prehistory. In P. Bellwood and C. Renfrew (eds), Examining the Farming/Language Dispersal Hypothesis, pp.459–466. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.

Roscoe, P. 2002 The hunters and gatherers of New Guinea. Current Anthropology 43:153162.

Schouse, B. 2001 Spreading the word, scattering the seeds. Science 294:988–989.

Smith, B.D. 1995 The Emergence of Agriculture. New York: Scientific American Library.

Specht, J. 2003 On New Guinea hunters and gatherers. Current Anthropology 44:269.

Terrell, J.E. 2002 Tropical agroforestry, coastal lagoons and Holocene prehistory in Greater Near Oceania. In Y. Shuji and P.J. Matthews (eds), Proceedings of the International Area Studies Conference VII: Vegeculture in Eastern Asia and Oceania, pp.195–216. Osaka: National Museum of Ethnology.

Thomas, J. 1996 The cultural context of the first use of domesticates in continental Central and Northwest Europe. In D.R. Harris (ed.), The Origins and Spread of Agriculture and Pastoralism in Eurasia, pp.310–322.London: University College London Press.

Review of ’23°S: Archaeology and Environmental History of the Southern Deserts’ edited by Mike Smith and Paul Hesse

Thorley BR cover23°S: Archaeology and Environmental History of the Southern Deserts edited by Mike Smith and Paul Hesse. National Museum of Australia, Canberra, 2005, xii+436 pp., ISBN 1 876944 307 (pbk).

Peter Thorley

91 Irvine Street, Watson ACT 2602, Australia

This book offers a collection of papers on the archaeology and environment of the arid lands of the southern hemisphere from a conference held in January 2003. The introduction provides an overview of the deserts and the main themes, the settlement of desert regions and the interplay between culture and climate. This and the following chapters in Part 1 ‘Environmental History’ review evidence for Quaternary climate change with emphasis on the period of human occupation. Comparisons are made between regions and continents allowing us to reflect on what makes Australia unique from a global perspective.

Part 2, ‘Dynamics of Settlement’, reviews the archaeology of what are now arid parts of the African, Australian and South American continents in that order. Chapters are organised chronologically from those with the longest to those with the shortest human history. The primary orientation of this section is ecological; climatic histories are presented alongside the archaeological evidence for the timing of colonisation and the impact of aridity during the Last Glacial Maximum.

Discussion of the Pleistocene mostly excludes South America, which was occupied relatively late. Nonetheless, some valuable insights emerge from the Atacama (the driest of deserts) in terms of integration of environmental and archaeological datasets. The short-term timescale and finer-grained interpretations parallel the Holocene in Australian archaeology, which are covered here in papers by Robins (eastern Lake Eyre Basin) and Veth (Western Desert/Pilbara).

Part 3, ‘Rock Art, Land and People’, shifts the focus from the ecological emphasis of previous chapters to the social and religious orientation of desert societies. The chapters in this section provide a select overview of the rock art of the southern deserts. South Africa is the most widely covered while Australia’s dry land art is limited to a single region. All chapters highlight changes through time and focus on ritual organisation as a major influence on rock art in desert regions. Despite the similarities in approach, the three continents appear to have very little in common stylistically.

Part 4, ‘Hunters and Herders’, deals with pastoral expansion and its interaction with existing hunter-gatherers. Case studies are presented from three continents. In each case, the emergence of pastoralism is seen as much as the result of historical circumstances as prevailing environmental conditions. The dry areas of the three continents each have different experiences of contact with neighbours and colonial histories that saw pastoralism develop into the dominant form of land use that it has become today.

Part 5, ‘Historical Perspectives’, opens with two papers which examine the desert as a narrative construct. The papers in this section are more philosophical and probing, focusing on the relationship between identity and landscape. Two case studies from Australia (MacFarlane and Kimber) and one from Chile (Jimenez) deal with understandings local people have of their own landscape, which the Chilean refer to as pampa and the Pintupi as ngurra.

Encountering arid landscapes for the first time, explorers and settlers viewed them as deserts, as lifeless and empty. Local people viewed their homelands in a very different manner. As Jimenez points out, for the local Chilean population, the concept of pampa as an empty dehumanised space remained entirely foreign to them.

While there are similarities between the histories of Indigenous desert peoples, there are also points of departure as we might expect in a book which takes such a broad geographical and chronological sweep. There is always the danger that a book which spans the whole human history of desert areas strung out across half the globe will unravel in an incoherent jumble of chapters, but the editors show a deft hand in making it all hang together.

23°S makes an excellent companion to another recently published book dealing with the archaeology of global desert environments (Veth et al. 2005). Collectively, the comparative perspective they provide makes for instructive reading which will have a major influence on the future direction of desert archaeological research in Australia and abroad. These two important recent additions to the literature will be welcomed not only by arid zone specialists, but also those with a wider interest in the archaeology of human-environment relations.


Veth, P., M. Smith and P. Hiscock (eds) 2005 Desert Peoples: Archaeological Perspectives. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

The temporality of cultural material on a deflated dune system at Abbot Point, central Queensland coast

Barker Figure 1 AA62Bryce Barker


Abbot Point on the central Queensland coast has long been recognised as an area of cultural heritage significance (Environmental Protection Agency 1999). The area has essentially been ignored in terms of research archaeology because of the lack of integrity of the cultural material, nearly all of which sits on deflated dune surfaces. Because of the problems associated with preservation of open sites in coastal tropical environments (see Bird 1992) most archaeological reconstructions in the region have been based on rockshelter deposits. However, the sheer volume and density of archaeological material found along the coast in this region indicate that open coastal sites such as Abbot Point and Upstart Bay to the north were probably intensively used with evidence of a much greater range of generalised hunter-gatherer activity in comparison to the more specialised rockshelter sites (Barker 2004; Bird 1992; Brayshaw 1990). Thus, given the evidence of intensive use of Abbot Point and its central location within a system of other clearly linked sites within the region (see below), it was felt that an attempt should be made to include this site within the wider framework of regional site patterning and use and that in this context an attempt should be made to establish its temporality.

Image caption: Abott Point on the central Queensland coast (published in Australian Archaeology 62:44).

When east is northwest: Expanding the archaeological boundary for leilira blade production

Tibbett Figure 2 AA62Kevin Tibbett

A recent archaeological survey of the Lake Moondarra stone axe quarry near Mt Isa in northwest Queensland has identified two leilira blade quarries. These quarries extend the known archaeological boundary of large blades from eastern Arnhem Land into northwest Queensland. The absence of leilira blades from six habitation sites at Moondarra and other sites in Kalkadoon country may assist in defining clear boundaries between two blade types that were used as functional or ritual/ceremonial objects. An argument is advanced that Moondarra provides archaeological evidence to allow a distinction between these types of artefacts in northwest Queensland.

Test excavation at the Oyster Harbour Stone Fish Traps, King George Sound, Western Australia: An investigation aimed at determining the construction method and maximum age of the structures

Dortch et al Figure 2 AA62Joe Dortch, Charles Dortch and Robert Reynolds

Several stone structures on the northern foreshore of Oyster Harbour, King George Sound, Western Australia, are documented in ethnohistorical accounts and traditionally regarded as ‘fish traps’ maintained and used by resident Aboriginal groups, around the late eighteenth-early nineteenth century. Test excavation at one structure (‘Trap 7’), undertaken at the request of the local Aboriginal community, did show the structure’s mode of construction, though failed to uncover datable materials in incontestable primary position whose radiocarbon age would show when the structure was built. The age of this structure’s original construction and first use remains unknown, though it and other structures at this site presumably post-date mid-Holocene sea-level rise to present height, as is the case with other stone weir or trap complexes on the Southern Ocean coast.

Image caption: The eastern part of Trap 7, the structure that was investigated (published in Australian Archaeology 62:38).

All the Small Things: The Refinement of Foraminiferal Analysis to Determine Site Formation Processes in Archaeological Sediments

Dan Rosendahl

BSocSc(Hons), School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, November 2005

Foraminifera are single cell protozoa that are ubiquitous in marine environments. The hard casings, or tests, of foraminifera are routinely studied in the earth sciences, particularly for palaeoenvironmental information. Foraminifera have been little studied by archaeologists, however, despite their potential to contribute to understandings of coastal site formation processes and localised palaeoenvironments.

In this study techniques and methods of foraminiferal analysis are developed and applied to the problem of distinguishing between natural and cultural marine shell deposits, using the Mort Creek Site Complex, central Queensland, as a case study. Results allow unambiguous demarcation of the natural and cultural deposits studied, based on patterns of foraminiferal density. Natural deposits were found to have more than 1000 foraminifera per 100g of sediment, while cultural deposits exhibited less than 50 foraminifera per 100g of sediment. The range of taxa represented in the foraminiferal assemblage is consistent with a shallow water subtropical marine ecosystem, indicating general environmental stability throughout the period of deposit formation. Findings are applied to re-evaluate previous models of site formation at the Mort Creek Site Complex.

Paradise Lost: The Archaeological Landscape of a Late Nineteenth Century Queensland Gold Mining Community

Jo Dudley

BA(Hons), School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, October 2005

In this thesis I investigate the presence of marginalised groups (based on gender, ethnicity, class and status) within a late nineteenth century Queensland gold mining town, compare their social and spatial manifestation with prevalent social customs and mores, and evaluate the appropriate use of combining multi- evidential and landscape methodologies to find and interpret marginalised groups in the archaeological record.

The use of a multi-evidential dataset that combines historical, archival, spatial mapping and archaeological evidence enables the collation of the widest possible information on all those present at Paradise. By using a landscape approach to interpret the social and spatial manifestation of marginalised groups present at Paradise I was able to recognise the human social nature of the landscape, to interpret the landscape as a means of social expression, and to answer research questions on social boundaries, spatial patterning, gender and ethnic negotiation. Paradise is revealed as a distinct landscape of multiple and diverse identities; with residents using agency to negotiate society’s rules, to actively create and maintain spatial and social relations, and to shape the world in which they live. I argue that the results outlined in this thesis confirm that a combination of multi-evidential and landscape methodologies in historical archaeological research is appropriate for interpreting multiple identities and spatialities.

Review of ‘The Archaeologist’s Manual for Conservation: A Guide to Non-Toxic, Minimal Intervention Artifact Stabilization’ by Bradley A. Rodgers

Lockhart BR coverThe Archaeologist’s Manual for Conservation: A Guide to Non-Toxic, Minimal Intervention Artifact Stabilization by Bradley A. Rodgers. Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York, 2004, xvii+214 pp., ISBN 0306484676.

Brandy Lockhart

Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide SA 5001, Australia

This book attempts to bring conservation back into the field of archaeology by acting as a narrative or a resource book on conservation methods and theories for those who may not be familiar with them. It provides archaeologists with the necessary instructions to conserve certain types of artefacts on their own, saving them money and time and allowing the conservation labs to be freed up for larger and more complex artefacts. The intended readers are archaeologists, so this book is very clear and straightforward and makes no assumptions about the reader’s prior level of conservation knowledge. The author, Bradley A. Rodgers, is an associate professor at East Carolina University. His specialisation is in the areas of nautical archaeology and conservation, making him an appropriate author for such a text.

The book begins with a chapter entitled ‘The minimal intervention laboratory’. In this section Rodgers discusses the different types of laboratories that are available for conservation. The chapter outlines the necessities for a minimum conservation laboratory and how to go about creating one in a cost effective manner. Much of the expensive equipment can be substituted with common items at a much lower cost, and the creation of a conservation laboratory need not be as large an undertaking as the reader might initially expect.

The chapters that follow concentrate on a material type, starting with wood. The process of degradation is described in some detail for both dry and waterlogged wood, followed by descriptions of the different conservation techniques that can be used on wood at varying levels of preservation. In addition to the instructions outlining how to preserve a wooden artefact, Rodgers also describes how to remove stains and safely store the artefact.

All of the chapters have similar subheadings: a description of the material, its degradation, how and if concretions form, how to treat the artefact, how to remove stains, and how to store it properly. The materials covered include wood, iron, copper (and copper alloys), various other metals, ceramic, glass, stone, non- wood organics, and composite materials.

For convenience each chapter begins with a flowchart. Following the flowchart the reader is first told which page to turn to in order to obtain information on how to recover and store the material. The reader then follows the flowchart based on where the artefact was found, freshwater, saltwater, or on land. By following the flowchart through to the end the reader is directed to the pages with the appropriate conservation techniques without having to reread the entire chapter. Each chapter concludes with an extensive bibliography that the reader can use to obtain further information on the conservation of the material being discussed.

Within the book are several types of figures, including illustrations, photographs, flowcharts, computer drawings, graphs and tables. Fine line illustrations, as well as some of the other figures, are found in the wood chapter description of wood composition and degradation. Some of the figures are very detailed, such as the wood drawings, while others are simple and clear such as the electrolysis diagram (p.89).

As previously mentioned, flowcharts are presented for each chapter to help direct the reader to the appropriate conservation technique. There are also tables at the beginning of each chapter outlining the available treatments for the material and whether or not they are recommended by the author, or if there are any known problems with them. Other tables throughout the book are used to demonstrate the effects of treatments. Photographs of artefacts are large and clear and accompanied by scales. Other photographs include laboratory equipment.

Although this book is brief on many of the material types discussed, it is a very useful reference and can be used as an introductory text for all archaeologists, whether terrestrial or maritime. Not only does the volume provide archaeologists with the ability to conserve many artefacts themselves, it also informs them of how to safely store newly recovered materials until conservation can begin. It is thus a very valuable work to have during and after fieldwork.

The brevity of the book and some of its chapters results not from a lack of content, but rather from its concise nature. The book is a guide, not a comprehensive text book for conservation, and as such provides basic, fundamental information as well as a bibliography to direct the reader to other conservation publications. Had the book been much larger and more comprehensive it would have lost some of its clarity and practicality.

Rodgers makes it clear in the beginning of the book that conservation treatments should be non-toxic and reversible. All treatments that are recommended in this book fall under these categories. Only time-tested, proven treatments are promoted by the author although new and promising treatments are also mentioned.

This book is intended for archaeologists not conservationists and is generally successful at remaining clear and informative. However, archaeologists have varying levels of conservation training and some of the terms used in the book will be new to many. The book would thus benefit from the addition of a glossary. The index is helpful, but rather than trying to relocate where something was defined it would be much simpler to be able to look it up in a glossary.

In the introduction of The Archaeologist’s Manual for Conservation Rodgers states that:

This manual is designed to take the mysticism out of archaeological artifact conservation and act as both a reference and a guide. It is intended to be a tool to assist archaeologists in stabilizing a majority of the artifacts they excavate, or those already in storage (p.1).

The goals of the book have been achieved and it would make an excellent and useful addition to any archaeologist’s library.

Kennewick Man Meets Lady Mungo: An International Look at Repatriation

Tim Ormsby

BArch(Hons), Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, October 2004

This thesis examines what factors impact on the outcomes of cases of the repatriation of Indigenous human remains. To do so, it compares and contrasts how repatriation issues are handled in Australia and the United States, an area about which very little has previously been written.

The focus of this study is two case studies: the repatriation of Mungo Lady in Australia, and the battle over the remains of Kennewick Man in the United States. These two cases, while of a similar nature, resulted in vastly differing outcomes. The issues surrounding each case were numerous and complex in nature, as were the factors that influenced the outcome of each case. Analysis of the case studies concentrates on relevant legislation and archaeological codes of ethics as reflections of the respective political and social climates in each country.

The results of this study have shown that acceptance by archaeologists of Indigenous ownership and control of Indigenous cultural heritage is more likely to produce an outcome that both Indigenous people and archaeologists can benefit from when it comes to repatriation. While repatriation legislation does bring with it numerous benefits for both Indigenous people and archaeologists, having such legislation in place is not necessary for amicable repatriation to occur and can, in some instances, be the source of conflict itself.

Glass ceilings, glass parasols and Australian academic archaeology

Smith and Burke Figure 12 AA62Claire Smith and Heather Burke

The ‘glass ceiling’ was a term coined to depict the invisible yet impenetrable barriers met by women seeking to advance to the uppermost levels of the corporate ladder. It is not simply a barrier encountered by an individual, but rather applies to particular groups of people who are kept from advancing as a result of attitudinal and organisational biases and internal systems that operate to the career disadvantage of women and minorities. Within the discipline of archaeology an interest in the status of women in the workplace was a core facet of an emergent archaeology of gender. Much has been accomplished since then, and in the early twenty-first century women are a fundamental part of the archaeological social landscape. But, despite this, have women really achieved equity in the workplace? Or is equity something that still needs to be pursued actively? How do women’s careers shape up when compared to those of men? Does the metaphorical glass ceiling exist in archaeology? Or is it simply a glass parasol that women hold up for themselves? How far have women come since the feminist push of the early 1990s?

Image caption: Glass parasols? (published in Australian Archaeology 62:21).

Review of ‘The Origins of War: Violence in Prehistory’ by Jean Guilaine and Jean Zammit

Knuckey BR coverThe Origins of War: Violence in Prehistory by Jean Guilaine and Jean Zammit. Blackwell Publishing, Malden, 2005, xi+282 pp., ISBN 1 4051 1260 3.

Graham Knuckey

ARCHAEO Cultural Heritage Services Pty Ltd, PO Box 333, The Gap Qld 4061, Australia

Violence and aggression have always been part of the ‘human condition’. Raymond Dart and others after him argued it has been an essential component of our pre-human, hominid ancestry (Dart 1953; Lorenz 1966), until Dart’s ideas, in particular, lost favour as the result of advances in taphonomic analysis (e.g. Brain 1981). Nonetheless, violence and aggression have long been shown as behaviours common to intergroup human relationships, manifested at the most basic level as a mechanism of defence – the protection of self, family and tribe (Morris 1969). As a consequence, any discussion of the origins of warfare, that is, ‘organized, purposeful group action, directed against another group … involving the actual or potential application of lethal force’ (Ferguson 1990:26), is of great interest to the professional anthropologist/archaeologist and the non-professional alike.

Jean Guilaine and Jean Zammit’s book, The Origins of War: Violence in Prehistory provides an insight into evidence they have studied over many years (artefacts, artistic depictions and actual skeletal trauma) that has been interpreted as manifestations of violent and aggressive behaviour from the past. The book begins with an introduction, moves through five chapters that follow a chronological order from hunter-gatherers in the Upper Pleistocene (Chapter 1), to violence perpetrated against individuals during the Iron Age (Chapter 5), and is summarised in a brief conclusion.

The introduction sets out general terms and concepts essential to the development of the argument being presented. The authors deal briefly with topics such as the ‘nature-nurture’ debate (Lorenz 1966; Wilson 1975); that is, whether or not warfare can be explained as instinct (nature) or as learned behaviour (cultural). However, their descriptions of terms such as ‘war’, ‘aggression’ and ‘violence’ are too simplistic. War is too complex an issue to be skimmed over in the way the following definition suggests:

The word “war” should be understood in its most general sense here – the sense is not one of armed conflict but rather bloody clashes between small groups, raids carried out on neighbouring parties, ambush attacks, and even individual murders (p.24).

Is this an adequate explanation of the term? The definition from Ferguson (1990) used earlier suggests not and this disparity is not adequately addressed at any stage throughout the rest of the book. For example, themes explored include cannibalism, torture and human sacrifice, topics that do not seem to relate directly to war (or its origins) by any other definition, yet come neatly within the rubric of the definition offered in the introduction.

Throughout the book subjective language tends to dilute the potency of the discussion and statements such as ‘Humans lived according to the natural resources at their disposal and were unable to progress beyond this state’ (p.82) and ‘gruesome rituals’ (p.95), suggest a lack of scientific rigour has been applied to the archaeological evidence analysed. This lack of rigour results mainly from a paucity of physical evidence available for study, and the authors do not shy away from acknowledging this fact.

For example, in Chapter 3 (2000-6000 BC) ‘The Difficulties of Making an Assessment’ (p.133) discusses problems associated with interpreting evidence as manifestations of premeditated violence (let alone warfare). As the quoted example from this subsection suggests, there are occasions where it seems the interpretations given are founded upon a very slight database:

A survey of 48 sites concluded that roughly 75 bodies, out of the approximately 2000 to 3000 bodies buried in the tombs, were injured … Thus, it is possible that less than 4 percent of the estimated total were injured (p.133).

In Chapter 5 (from approximately 4000 BC) the main theme of the book begins to emerge. By this time in antiquity, city-states began to appear, developing from the fortified towns known to have existed during the fourth millennium BC. It is during this period that certifiable evidence of war (by any definition) appears and in this chapter the authors discuss, based upon more robust material evidence, the existence of professional soldiers, armies and warrior heroes.

Despite the insights contained within The Origins of War, I read it with a growing sense of disappointment. Firstly, the broad and simplified definitions make the study indecisive toward its initial aim, the origins of war. Secondly, because the book is restricted to a discussion of evidence found in southern Europe (specifically France and Spain) it highlighted my own limitations.

Concerning the former, is the title accurate? This book is much more a discussion of the prehistoric manifestations of violent and aggressive behaviour, and this behaviour commonly existed outside the context of war, however broadly the term is defined. Is there a simple solution? Remove the first half of the title; Violence in Prehistory would seem more apt, given the material evidence and the interpretations presented.

As for the latter, this book has been translated from the original French text and as such the majority of the reference material it is based upon comes from French sources. With no knowledge of the language (and therefore no way of gauging the effect of translation on original intent), and no way to access most of the reference material, there is a real concern this review may be selling The Origins of War: Violence in Prehistory a little short of its true worth.


Brain, C.K. 1981 The Hunters or the Hunted?: An Introduction to African Cave Taphanomy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Dart, R. 1953 The predatory transition from ape to man. International Anthropological and Linguistic Review 1:201–218.

Ferguson, R.B. 1990 Explaining war. In J. Haas (ed.), The Anthropology of War, pp.26–55. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lorenz, K. 1966 On Aggression. London: Methuen and Company.

Morris, D. 1969 The Human Zoo. London: Jonathon Cape.

Wilson, E.O. 1975 Sociobiology: The New Sythesis. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard Unity Press.

Dauan 4 and the emergence of ethnographically-known social arrangement across Torres Strait during the last 600–800 years

McNiven Figure 4 AA62Ian J. McNiven

Excavations at Dauan 4 on the island of Dauan in the top western islands of Torres Strait revealed a 700 year sequence created by marine specialists who ate turtle, dugong, fish and shellfish and employed mostly a flaked quartz technology. The presence of bipolar micro-cores less than 10 mm in length reveals extreme reduction of quartz, possibly for manufacture of small skin cutting tools. While recent research indicates an antiquity of at least 4000 years for marine specialists in Torres Strait, Dauan 4 follows a suite of sites across the Strait demonstrating major cultural changes taking place within the last 600–800 years. These changes herald the emergence of ethnographically-known social arrangements marked by a rapid phase of site establishment and intensified site use consistent with population increase. Paralleling these changes was the appearance of new ritual sites linked spiritually to seascapes such as dugong bone arrangements, stone arrangements and shell arrangements. Such changes may have represented in part socially-mediated responses to a local expression of the Little Ice Age global climatic phenomenon.

Image caption: Excavation in progress at Duaun 4, looking southeast (published in Australian Archaeology 62:3).

Analysis of Lithic Artefact Microdebitage for Chronological Determination of Archaeological Sites

George J. Susino

PhD, GeoQuEST Research Centre, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, November 2004

This study explores the use of several different techniques to isolate and determine the age of lithic microdebitage in relation to archaeological deposits and associated sediments. Quartz microdebitage was identified on the basis of surface features and roundness index by applying scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and optical stereomicroscopy to archaeological sediments. Characteristics of the quartz microdebitage were compared with quartz grains from the same sedimentary layer. The observation of diagnostic features on quartz grains made it possible to discriminate between microdebitage and sedimentary background.

This investigation has established that microdebitage particles under 500µm diameter are not easily resolved under optical stereomicroscopy, requiring the aid of SEM to discern between microdebitage and sedimentary quartz. It was also ascertained that no adverse effects on the optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) signal are measurable after exposure to SEM, provided that the electron beam is kept at, or under, 10keV.

Sedimentary material previously excavated from the Jinmium rockshelter (Northern Territory) and Mushroom Rock West (Queensland) was used to determine the age of quartz microdebitage from the archaeological layers by applying the OSL dating technique. The microdebitage OSL signal behaves similarly to that of sedimentary quartz grains, and is subject to the same problems. The OSL single-aliquot regenerative-dose protocol (SAR) was successfully applied to the age determination of microdebitage. The modifications used for the dose rate (due to particle size and shape) and for the calibration of the beta source (due to particle size) did not produce any inconsistencies or anomalous results.

In the investigation of two archaeologically relevant sediment layers from the Jinmium rockshelter deposit, the minimum OSL age at 68cm for the microdebitage was estimated as 4100±900 years (12,600±4000 years using the central age model estimate, with 73% over-dispersion on the palaeodose), and, for the sedimentary material, a central age model of 5300±800 years (with a minimum age model estimate of 1900±400 years, and 78% over-dispersion). At 115cm in the deposit, the OSL central age model estimate for the microdebitage is 10,200±1100 years, with a minimum age model of 4500±600 years (and an over-dispersion of 56%).

In the case study of Mushroom Rock West rockshelter, the OSL central age model estimate for microdebitage at 268cm is 21,200±3100 years (with a minimum age model estimate of 10,500±5200 years, and 60% over-dispersion), compared to a central age model estimate for the sedimentary quartz grains of 31,500±3100 years (with a minimum age model estimate of 11,100±1500 years, and 67% over-dispersion). At 441cm, the microdebitage yielded an OSL age of 27,400±2200 years. This sample of microdebitage produced the lowest over-dispersion (0.1%) on the palaeodose of any of the samples analysed, lending confidence to the accuracy of the palaeodose determination. The sedimentary quartz from the same sample produced an OSL minimum age model estimate of 33,500±5600 years (and a central age model estimate of 46,900±3400 years). Relationships between microdebitage and sediment OSL ages are discussed.

Direct OSL dating of the unheated quartz derived from the manufacture of lithic tools now provides an alternative to the reliance on sedimentary quartz as the primary source information regarding the age of archaeological deposits. This knowledge may be applied also to archaeological sediments previously excavated, for identifying episodes of lithic manufacture in temporal relation to other evidence of cultural activity. The ages of the two archaeological sites analysed differ widely, and this difference was also represented in the ages obtained from the microdebitage. None of the OSL age determinations of microdebitage was found to be unrealistically outside the boundaries of pre-existing age control. This is one indication of the validity of the novel experimental approach applied.


Review of ‘Desert Peoples: Archaeological Perspectives’ edited by Peter Veth, Mike Smith and Peter Hiscock

Basgall book review cover AA62Desert Peoples: Archaeological Perspectives edited by Peter Veth, Mike Smith and Peter Hiscock. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford, 2005, x+308 pp., ISBN 1-4051-0091-5 (pbk).

Mark Basgall

Archaeological Research Center, California State University, Sacramento CA 95819-6106, USA

Desert Peoples assembles a diverse set of papers intended to provide a global, comparative perspective on problems in the archaeology of deserts. Although the focus of most contributions is archaeological, ethnographic and historical elements can’t help but play a central role in many of the important debates examined in the volume. Likewise, despite the best efforts of the editors, some parts of the world are clearly better represented than others; the arid lands of central Asia and the Near East are not covered at all and there is only a single paper on North America. Serving in some sense as an informal mate to the more uneven (and considerably more costly) book, The Archaeology of Drylands, which dealt with agricultural societies, this volume is concerned mainly with the forager peoples that have occupied arid environments around the world.

The volume opens with a wide-ranging essay by Smith, Veth, Hiscock and Wallis that outlines the intent and structure of the collection. Deserts are recognised as unpredictable ecological systems with a complex mode and tempo that imposed all manner of economic and social constraints on human populations. Differing widely in respect to relative aridity, and in the temporal and spatial distribution of plant, animal and material resources, the nuances of particular arid environments shaped the subsistence practices, settlement patterns, technologies and social relationships of both resident and transient occupants. Long-term climatic changes also have fundamental implications, having altered the marginality quotient of specific areas at crucial times in the past; on-the-ground conditions have clear consequences for efforts to model colonisation events or shifts in the stability and intensity of land-use patterns. The fundamental message of the introductory essay is that our preconceptions of what deserts are and how people would have coped with such environments have too often been normative and monolithic.

Subsequent papers are organised into three groups. Part I ‘Frameworks’ asks just how variable human strategies were for dealing with arid environments. Widlok looks at how changing perceptions of hunter-gatherer societies, and their place in history, have influenced the development of anthropological theory. Providing a useful analysis of the so-called ‘Kalahari debate’ and its deeper implications, he then examines the value of reflexive and inflective approaches in understanding the nature of forager societies. Archaeologists, especially, will continue to rely at some level on ethnographic analogues, but we need to understand all that brings with it. The next two papers take a macro-level comparative perspective, using culture-historical data from different parts of the world to look for common processes. Hiscock and Wallis examine the environmentalcontext of desert colonisation in Australia and Africa, working the notion that the initial penetration of such environments occurred during periods of more favorable conditions; corollary to this is the idea that many archetypal features of desert adaptations reflect adjustments to increasing aridity rather than pre-existing strategies. Data from Africa are certainly less resolved than those for interior Australia, but there do appear to be parallels in the two records. Hiscock and O’Connor are in search of explanations for pulses in backed artefact use in the same two areas, critiquing current models that attribute the proliferation of such artefacts to emergent cognitive abilities or stylistic expressions that accompanied periods of enhanced social interaction. They clearly prefer an economic argument of the sort Hiscock has championed in Australia, relating the peak in backed artefact production to demands of tool stone conservation related to provisioning costs and risk minimisation. While I surely favour the last model, as an American monitoring the vast increase in citizens who adhere to biblical views of creation, I’m not altogether convinced that human populations never show cyclical changes in evident cognitive capacity.

The four papers in Part II ‘Dynamics’ are concerned with long-term, diachronic patterns among desert societies and how these relate to changes in environmental and social conditions. Bird and Bliege Bird examine data from Australia and the Great Basin of North America in terms of variability in sex- based foraging strategies. Largely a primer on several optimal foraging models, this reviewer is not entirely convinced that the theoretical perspective offered in the paper really sheds that much light on the issue at hand. Is demonstrating that some body of ethnographic/archaeological data looks consistent with one or another evolutionary construct really a true ‘test’ of the hypothesis if alternative economic and social explanations are not explicitly examined? There are surely commonalities in the organisation of subsistence activities among a range of desert peoples, but the same labour allocations and foraging choices are duplicated among most simple societies. Veth next explores the relationship between periods of aridity, levels of mobility, and patterns of risk minimisation among late Pleistocene foragers in the Western Desert. He proposes an index of subsistence stress based on the relative extent of animal bone processing that, while simple, seems effective and correlates well with environmental conditions. Still more compelling is his effort to measure levels of residential mobility using a range of archaeological signatures (e.g. intensity of stone reduction, proportions of local and exotic tool stone etc). One might certainly quibble with just how diagnostic any one of these measures is on its own, but that’s not the point; taken together, as convergent evidence, the larger body of data makes a strong case that mobility was high during these initial periods of desert colonisation.

McDonald’s paper is among the more innovative and intriguing contributions to the volume, looking at variation in arid zone rock art and how spatio-temporal distributions of stylistic elements can be used to augment and enhance our understanding of prehistoric occupation patterns. We know that aspects of social interaction/integration waxed and waned over time within particular areas, but these relationships are difficult to measure from the vantage of basic settlement geography and standard utilitarian assemblages. Borrero contributes one of two papers dealing with foragers in the South American deserts. Focusing on Patagonia, he summarises data that suggest drier environments were colonised after more mesic habitats west of the Andes, arid regions evidently offering reduced foraging potential, greater water constraints, and requiring populations to surmount the high mountains. The occupation lag was, however, comparatively short, in the order of two or three millennia.

Part III of the volume, ‘Interactions’, provides a more varied set of papers that aim to examine factors beyond the environment that shaped desert societies, with an emphasis on the effects of social configurations and group interactions. Thackary summarises information on the Late Stone Age (LSA) archaeology of southern Africa, providing a systematic review of the environment and culture history of this interval. Perceived disjunctions in the timing of major technological and environmental shifts prompt her to look toward social and historical factors. Przywolnik contributes one of the more effective regional treatments in the book, examining long- term changes in the occupation history of coastal northwest Australia in the context of foraging patterns and patterns of social interaction. Again, employing rock art as an important adjunct, she argues that more extended, intensive occupations during the early Holocene were followed by a hiatus in regular coastal use as mangrove habitats disappeared in the mid-Holocene, to be eventually replaced by a pattern of more short-term, specialised coastal use in the late Holocene era. Reflecting a dynamic response to social and environmental factors, this reconstruction provides a significant contrast to models that promulgate a directional trend toward sedentism, social elaboration, and increased cultural complexity in later Australian prehistory.

In another paper that takes on cultural developments in the Kalahari, Sadr reviews important data bearing on the interaction of foraging and non-foraging populations in the recent archaeological record. Inter-group interactions were clearly complex, in some cases showing relatively rapid assimilation of hunter-gatherer groups when Early Iron Age farmers arrived in the area, with more indirect and less dramatic effects in out of the way places. It seems clear that at least some LSA foragers were practicing a mixed herding/gardening economy in the Kalahari even before alternative economic systems seriously penetrated the region. M. Smith’s effort to integrate linguistic and archaeological information bearing on the spread of Western Desert languages is among the most ambitious and stimulating in the volume. Attempts to articulate these two disciplines to resolve common culture-historical concerns have proven difficult in virtually all areas it has been attempted and arid Australia is no exception, where it is hard to derive a common frame of reference, chronological milestones, and a set of signatures against which both dimensions might be calibrated. Recognising the danger in simply juxtaposing archaeological and linguistic sequences, Smith recommends a search for more inclusive semantic and lexical changes rather than terms for specific artefact types. One might also suggest the need to proffer some substantive advantage that language spreads might accrue, whether these are due to diffusion or active migration and population replacement.

The final three papers are the most idiosyncratic. The contribution by Santoro, Arriaza, Standen and Marquet on the coastal Atacama Desert suggests there was a lag in the occupation of this area relative to the more productive Andean uplands. An extremely impoverished area biotically, resources were confined to the immediate littoral zone and a relatively few, scattered oases associated with coastal drainages. Populations in the region show increasing sophistication in the use of maritime resources, with a regional mortuary tradition in place by c.8000–7000 BP. A. Smith explores the spread of pastoral societies in arid North Africa, where there appear to be continuities with predecessor foraging peoples. Technological parallels and common settlement geography suggest that herders likely emerged from earlier sheep hunters. Finally, Paterson explores the ways in which Aboriginal groups in Australia interacted with arid land pastoralists during the early historic period. Once the domain of written sources and oral accounts, recent attention to the archaeological record portrays a more varied and dynamic set of relationships and interdependencies.

This is an important volume. By bringing together archaeological studies from around the world, and from a host of time periods, it provides an easily accessible set of materials that demonstrate just how variable arid regions are/ were and how forager populations in these areas confronted similar yet different environmental/social constraints. The range of the collection is perhaps best exemplified in the comparative reach and theoretical breadth of the studies. By my way of thinking, too many recent treatments of hunter-gatherer societies adhere to narrow evolutionary perspectives that work best when applied to relatively mundane aspects of resource provisioning, patch choice, and the like. This draws attention away from some of the broader patterns and processes of prehistory – elements that may in the end have roots in fitness and reproductive success, but which haven’t yet been effectively reducible to such measures.

One thing that emerges from the volume is marked differences in the intellectual traditions and quality of data available for disparate parts of the world. As a group, the Australian papers are probably the most successful, due in part to the amount of recent work on this subject there but also to the focused and theoretically informed nature of the research. Many of the more compelling studies in the volume take a grand comparative perspective, whether at the regional, inter-regional, or cross-continental level, and this still seems an incredibly useful way to uncover broader adaptive processes. Basic pattern recognition remains a crucial first-order step in archaeological inquiry. To be sure, specialists from one area may have less familiarity with the details of others. This comes through in some papers in Desert Peoples, where cited literature is out of date, but it hardly negates the broader contrasts being attempted. It can be hoped that researchers from one part of the world will be prodded by some of the approaches advocated in another region to examine their own records from a similar vantage. In this era of regional and topical specialisation, which often leads to parochialism, the editors of this book can take great satisfaction in having provided a venue for looking at the big picture.

Review of ‘Hominid Adaptations and Extinctions’ by David W. Cameron

Hallam Hominid BR coverHominid Adaptations and Extinctions by David W. Cameron. University of New South Wales Press, Sydney, 2004, xii+260 pp., ISBN 0 86840 716 X.

Sylvia Hallam

School of Earth and Geographical Sciences, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley WA 6009, Australia

As archaeologists we tend to concentrate on human cultures in the foreground, leaving the biological context dim and blurred in the background. We need to shift our focus if we are ever to hope to understand the biological evolution of the physiological, morphological and behavioural capacities which make those learned traditional and innovative patterns of behaviour we call cultures possible; and begin to apprehend the mix of biological and cultural in the further development of those capacities through manifold hominin genera and species. The cultural past of the species Homo sapiens is based on the biological capacities of its hominin forebears. We need to appreciate our heritage as terrestrial vertebrates, with external sense organs monitoring our surroundings, and a central nervous system sunk within the protection of an internal structural and locomotor framework; as mammals with highly efficient physiological mechanisms maintaining a steady chemical environment and temperature for the functioning of muscles and nervous systems, placental gestation, and young suckled by the mother, young who do not arrive with their behaviour completely genetically programmed, but a need succour as they learn; and as primates whose arboreal background involves emphasis on visual rather than olfactory senses, and learned coordination of vision and movement.

As members of the hominoid super-family, the hominid family, and the hominin tribe we belong to taxa which have bushed out into a prolific diversity of genera, and species, and spread into a great variety of environments, moving between Africa and Eurasia, over the relatively short (20Ma) span of the Neogene. Although our hominid forebears showed relatively little specialisation (mainly of teeth, jaws and jaw musculature) to tie each taxon to one environment only, that seems to have been sufficient to lead to extinctions as the Himalayan-Tibetan massif rose and environments changed. Very few taxa survived the massive fluctuations of the Pleistocene, and those which not only survived but proliferated were those which showed least specialisation and retained most primitive generality, adding a multipurpose capacity to handle and adapt objects, artefacts, concepts and society.

Cameron’s solid little book is a very condensed summary of the specialised field of primate systematics, but it provides for the non-specialist a very effective account of how the data are marshalled and handled to elucidate hominoid taxonomy, and throw light on the relationship of structure and function to environments and distributions.

If one compares the position in the twenty-first century with that half a century ago, when LeGros Clark wrote on the fossil background to human evolution, the available fossil data is immensely richer. That does not make the task easier, but harder. We must surely be approaching the point of maximum complexity, after which situations will begin to clarify. I hope so. But I found it wholly admirable that Cameron does not try to solve the insoluble, but is willing to admit that quite often we do not yet have certitude. There are some taxonomic decisions he explicitly leaves in a suspense account. We don’t know yet. Archaeologists also should learn that sometimes it is allowable to conclude that several possibilities remain open – that we don’t know!

There are some annoying minor errors, omissions and commissions which closer editorial scrutiny should have removed. The phrase ‘as such’ is constantly misused. ‘Above-branch’ and ‘below-branch’ locomotion appear to be reversed on p.151 (compare with p.149 and p.133). Items stray into the wrong columns in several of the tables showing tentative classifications – the Homininae have shifted out of the ‘sub-family’ column in Table 1.1. The second half of Table 7.6 has columns for sub-family, tribe, genus, and species; but the first half of the table, on the previous page, has lost the ‘tribes’ column, and the tribes Kenyapithecini, Sivapithecini and Pongini are distributed between the columns for sub-family and genus. Several technical terms explained in boxes appear also, helpfully, in the glossary, but not all.

Archaeologists could learn a great deal from this modest but authoritative volume, not only from its very considerable substantive content, but also from its methodological rigor, and refusal to affirm a conclusion as incontrovertible prematurely.