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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).
Review of ‘Islamic Art and Archaeology of Palestine’ by Myriam Rosen-Ayalon
Islamic Art and Archaeology of Palestine by Myriam Rosen-Ayalon. Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, CA, 2006, 213 pp., ISBN 1-59874-064-4.
Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, Snorresgade 17-19, 2300, Copenhagen S, Denmark
Myriam Rosen-Ayalon, the Mayer professor of Islamic art and archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is a renowned scholar of Islamic material culture, and her book is surely a welcomed addition to the growing field of literature on the pre-modern Islamic centuries in Palestine. This concise volume is a distillation of many decades of dedicated and outstanding work by Rosen-Ayalon, characterised by both excavations (e.g. at Ramlah, the Islamic capital of Palestine) and architectural studies, notably her pioneering research into the monuments on the Haram al-Sharif (‘the Noble Enclosure’) in Jerusalem, the site of the Jewish temple destroyed by the Roman general (and later emperor) Titus (d. 81 CE) and revitalised by the early Muslims with the iconic Dome of the Rock and the adjacent al-Aqsa mosque. Few readers today will be unaware of the historical significance of the Haram al-Sharif, around which modern Israeli-Palestinian politics revolve (or, better perhaps, whirl), most notably with the visit in the year 2000 to the Haram by former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon and the second (‘Al-Aqsa’) Intifada that followed. An understanding of current events in Israel-Palestine can only proceed with knowledge of this long and complex history, and Rosen-Ayalon’s book offers a positive insight into the formation and development of a Muslim presence in Palestine from the time of the Islamic expansion in the early seventh century CE until the end of the Ottoman period (early twentieth century).
Following an introductory statement on Palestine and its historical place in the Middle East, the rest of the book is arranged chronologically. It begins with a brief consideration of pre-Islamic Palestine, the Arab presence before Islam, and the subsequent expansion of Islam into the region (Chapter 1). Chapter 2 details a period of high activity under the first Islamic dynasty, the Umayyads (661-750 CE), who were based in Damascus and took great interest in Jerusalem. It was one of their number, Abd al-Malik (ruled 685-705 CE), who was responsible for building the exquisite Dome of the Rock and his son, al-Walid (ruled 705-715 CE), who completed the adjacent al-Aqsa Mosque. These and accompanying monuments are considered in sufficient detail by Rosen-Ayalon (pp.29-43). It is gratifying to see that she also pays full attention to the historical periods that followed (Chapter 3), until the arrival in 1099 of the Crusaders (a period not dealt with in this book), as these are often seen as ‘insignificant’ and thus frequently ignored in scholarship. To Rosen-Ayalon, however, the Abbasid, Tulunid and Fatimid periods are, correctly, of ‘utmost importance’ (p.68) in the history of Palestine. The Mediterranean coastal sites of Caesarea, Ascalon and Acre figure prominently in her account, as does the major town of Tiberias located inland on the Sea of Galilee. At all of these places, recent archaeological discoveries have demonstrated that a high level of cultural and economic activity was typical in the main towns of Palestine between 750 and 1100 CE, which was matched by agricultural advances in the countryside such as with sugar cane cultivation and processing. In Chapter 4, Rosen-Ayalon deals with the post-Crusader period, characterised by a rebuilding of a Muslim-Sunni identity after the rule in Palestine of the Shi’ite Fatimids of Egypt (after 969 CE) and the Crusader period (1099-1291 CE). Jerusalem was a major beneficiary of this activity, and many of the major monuments of that town are described in the book (although not always clearly), as is the magnificent, but ruined, White Mosque at Ramlah. The last two chapters deal with the Ottoman period (Chapter 5) and the Armenian potters of Jerusalem (Chapter 6), including the still extant walls of Jerusalem’s Old City and major Ottoman-period developments at the strategic port of Acre. The book ends with references, a glossary and index.
Rosen-Ayalon’s book is packed with much first-hand information and a very useful bibliography, but the book is not without some shortcomings. Any concise account that attempts to deal with an extended historical period, one notable for profound social change, and a reasonably broad geographical area faces problems of material selection and what themes are to be developed. Specifically, ‘Islamic Art and Architecture’ is somewhat disappointing in that it lacks any overall thematic thread and often seems to be just reporting material, as valuable as that may be. There are only occasional attempts to offer any fuller analysis and understanding of the range of material considered. In some instances major issues are raised just to be left hanging, for instance with the fascinating stucco-plaster imagery excavated from the ruins of the enigmatic castle known as ‘Hisham’s Palace’ (Khirbat al-Mafjar) near Jericho (p.50). Rosen-Ayalon has already demonstrated her sophisticated treatment of such issues in early Islam, and to not fully address them in this book sadly ignores the dynamic vitality that characterises contemporary studies in Islamic archaeology and art. In addition, the book often reads somewhat oddly, probably a result of its translation from an original in French. The attention of an English copyreader would have improved the standard of the text considerably. Otherwise, occasional errors have crept into the book, but whether from the original text or owing to translation is not clear. For example, ‘Byzantine conquest’ is stated instead of ‘Islamic conquest’ (p.58), Pella is not on the coastline of the Dead Sea (p.65) but much further north up the Jordan Valley, while the divan (council hall) and baths at Khirbat Mafjar are confusingly mixed in their descriptions (p.48). Inexplicable is the misleading inclusion of the Salah al-Din’s (Saladin, d. 1193) wooden minbar (pulpit) from the Aqsa mosque in the chapter on the Fatimid period (pp.86-87). This minbar was, sadly, destroyed in a fire lit by an Australian in 1969 and not replaced with an identical copy until the beginning of this year (The Australian, 3 February 2007).
Also difficult to understand is Rosen-Ayalon’s inclusion of her treatment of so-called ‘Mafjar Ware’ – a thin cream ceramic decorated with incisions, stamps and by moulds – in the Umayyad chapter (pp.54-56). Not so new studies have compellingly placed Mafjar ware in the subsequent Abbasid period (750-969 CE), for instance a paper by Donald Whitcomb (1988), to which she refers, as well as articles by Jodi Magness (1997) and this writer (Walmsley 2001). By referring to the material as ‘eighth century’, Rosen-Ayalon obfuscates an issue that is so important in correctly identifying settlement profiles in Islamic Palestine, as other Israeli scholars now acknowledge. As Ramlah is considered again in the following chapter (Chapter 3), there was a perfect opportunity to deal with the material there within a more appropriate chronological context.
Regrettably, the book falls somewhat short of modern printing standards, especially given the price. The paperback binding is not strong, and by the time I had finished reading the book the last few pages of my copy had fallen out. In addition, the black and white plate images have reproduced poorly and are sometimes on the small size.
For the reader, then, this book can serve as a useful source of much interesting, yet little-known material on Islamic Palestine, but the information is presented through a number of independent descriptions of sites and periods, not as part of a wider-ranging coherent study. This is something of a shame, but perhaps partly owing to length constraints and translation difficulties. With this book, Rosen-Ayalon set herself a formidable task that is not fully accomplished. However, its shortcoming are perhaps unfairly highlighted owing to rapid improvements in contemporary Islamic archaeology and art, advances that leave us all scrambling to keep up.
Magness, J. 1997 The chronology of Capernaum in the early Islamic period. Journal of the American Oriental Society 117:481–486.
Walmsley, A. 2001 Turning east: The appearance of Islamic cream wares in Jordan – the end of antiquity? In E. Villeneuve and P.M. Watson (eds), La Céramique Byzantine et Proto-Islamique en Syrie-Jordanie (IVe-VIIIe siècles), pp.305–313. Beyrouth: Institut Français d’Archéologie du Proche-Orient.
Whitcomb, D. 1988 Khirbat al-Mafjar reconsidered: The ceramic evidence. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 271:51–67.
Identification and Dental Cementum Analysis of Macropodoidea and Potoroidae Teeth from the ‘Silver Dollar’ Archaeological Site, Shark Bay, Western Australia
BSc(Hons), School of Social and Cultural Studies, The University of Western Australia, November 2006
Macropod teeth from the Silver Dollar Aboriginal site were used to determine environmental and subsistence changes between the Pleistocene and mid-Holocene in Shark Bay, Western Australia. Silver Dollar is situated on the west coast of the PeronPeninsula in the traditional lands of the Mulgana local group. This study consisted of two parts: identification of faunal remains from Silver Dollar and investigating the usefulness of dental cementum analysis as a way to determine seasonal hunting patterns.
The changing frequencies of the species at Silver Dollar demonstrate a change in environmental conditions. The faunal remains identified in the Pleistocene layers of the site are dominated by arid adapted species, particularly Lagorchestes hirsutus which is now found primarily in the Tanami desert (Northern Territory). Additionally, species commonly associated with less arid conditions, such as Macropus fuliginosus and Macropus robustus are either absent or negligible in the Pleistocene levels. The appearance of M. fuliginosus, which usually requires a mean annual rainfall exceeding 250mm, in the Holocene levels of the site indicates a shift from an arid Pleistocene environment to a semi-arid environment. This indicates higher levels of rainfall in the early Holocene. Subsistence changes related to the rising sea-levels at the end of the LGM are also evident at the site, with the incorporation of relatively more marine than terrestrial food sources as the site became coastal.
The dental cementum analysis technique was investigated to determine its usefulness for identifying season of capture of fauna represented in Australian archaeological sites. The banding of dental cementum has often been suggested to result from the different occlusal forces caused by food types. This study compared cementum banding of 30 macropod individuals collected from both arid and temperate environments. There is a large amount of variation in the pattern and thickness of bands in the samples from both environments. This suggests that there are other factors apart from food type that influence dental cementum banding in macropod teeth. One possibility is that small variations in climate, such as short-term droughts, may prevent bands from forming. A study of animals collected over years with known environmental data is required to test this hypothesis.
Painting Contact: Characterising the Paints of the South Woronora Plateau Rock Art Assemblage, Wollongong, New South Wales
BA(Hons), School of Archaeology and Anthropology, The Australian National University, October 2006
This thesis documents the micro-morphological, geochemical and mineralogical characterisation of selected paint samples from stencil and pictographic motifs at the south Woronora Plateau rock art assemblage. Extra-local paint samples were also analysed from a rockshelter on the nearby Mittagong Tablelands. The social context of the production of rock paintings, stencils and amorphous pigment applications is examined through the use of x-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy (including energy dispersive x-ray analysis), and proton-induced x-ray and proton-induced gamma-ray emission analyses.
It is argued that the majority of the paints characterised are derived from the third and final phase of the south Woronora Plateau rock art sequence and date to the period of contact between the producers of rock art and Europeans. Comparison with paints from the second phase of the Woronora and SydneyBasin rock art sequences show that there is no change in pigment types or paint recipes through time. Comparisons between the paints derived from the Woronora and the extra-local samples show that the same types of pigment were being exploited both on the Plateau and the adjacent Tablelands.
The paints analysed are clay-based pigments, most likely sourced locally from the clays and micas of the Illawarra coal measures which would be expected to display a large range of within-source variability. Statistical analysis of the trace element chemistry showed some grouping of samples, indicating that discrete source locales may be geochemically visible. Drawing on historical data generated from the commercial exploitation of clay resources in the Illawarra region potential pigment source locales are identified.
This thesis clearly reinforces the value of characterisation investigations as a complement to regional archaeological studies. The research provides an exciting indication of the potential for pigment sourcing studies in the Illawarra and broader Sydney Basin. Further pigment sourcing research in the region may yield information regarding whether access to pigment sources was restricted as a result of European settlement. Changes in pigment source locales through time may further an understanding of the prehistoric socialisation of landscape. Pigment sourcing studies may provide insights into regional and inter-regional trade and exchange in the Illawarra and the Sydney Basin.
Specimens and Stone Tools: Aboriginalism and Depictions of Indigenous Australians in Archaeological Textbooks
BArch(Hons), Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, April 2005
This thesis explores the ways in which academic archaeological research has contributed to knowledge about past Aboriginal lifeways. In particular, it examines the specific construction of Indigenous Australian history in three archaeological volumes written by one of Australia’s most well known ‘prehistorians’, John Mulvaney. These three texts are Mulvaney’s Prehistory of Australia published in 1969, 1975 and 1999, the last co-authored with Johan Kamminga.
The study is an attempt to consider specific ways in which an acknowledged academic archaeologist has taken an active and dynamic role in shaping Australian perceptions, politics, legislation and social opinions about Indigenous Australians’ past, through the production of knowledge. It uses key concepts of knowledge/power formulated by Michel Foucault, and Edward Said’s notion of Orientalism, to extract and analyse meaningful information from the text and the images.
The study maintains that mainstream contemporary ‘prehistoric’ archaeology has largely remained unchallenged as a colonial Aboriginalist discourse on the Indigenous Australian past. Postprocessual and postcolonial archaeological practices have become extremely popular in Australian archaeology, but have done little to dislodge the conventional notions of Aboriginality as expressed in textual discourse. This thesis explores the particular ways in which textual discourse continues to perpetuate colonial attitudes and depictions within our archaeological discipline.
The Lapstone Creek Rockshelter: The story continued
Raymond C. Nelson
This paper revisits the archaeology undertaken at the Lapstone Creek Rockshelter in 1935–1936 which was to become a landmark for Aboriginal Australian archaeology. In so doing it highlights and seeks to clarify errors and anomalies disseminated in the published literature relating to this shelter’s excavation. It brings to light previously unknown material in the form of artefacts, field notes and documented photographs obtained during the excavation of the shelter, including archaeological evidence of shelter use after European settlement. The paper provides evidence of the keen interest in Aboriginal art, culture and artefacts pursued by some professional and non-professional archaeologists in the Sydney region in the 1920s and 1930s, revealing the networks connecting them and describing their involvement in the rockshelter’s two excavation endeavours. Those involved were Bernard Hornshaw, George Bunyan, Clifton Towle, L.H. Preston and Frederick McCarthy.
All in Good Time: Exploring Change in Neanderthal Behavioural Complexity
Michelle C. Langley
BA(Hons), School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, October 2006
Since their discovery 150 years ago, Neanderthals have been considered incapable of behavioural change and innovation. Traditional synchronic approaches to the study of Neanderthal behaviour have perpetuated this view and shaped our understanding of their lifeways and eventual extinction. In this thesis I implement an innovative diachronic approach to the analysis of Neanderthal faunal extraction, technology and symbolic behaviour as contained in the archaeological record of the critical period between 80,000 and 30,000 BP. The thesis demonstrates patterns of change in Neanderthal behaviour which are at odds with traditional perspectives and which are consistent with an interpretation of increasing behavioural complexity over time, an idea that has been suggested but never thoroughly explored in Neanderthal archaeology.
Demonstrating an increase in behavioural complexity in Neanderthals provides much needed new data with which to fuel the debate over the behavioural capacities of Neanderthals and the first appearance of Modern Human Behaviour in Europe. It supports the notion that Neanderthal populations were active agents of behavioural innovation prior to the arrival of Anatomically Modern Humans in Europe and, ultimately, that they produced an early Upper Palaeolithic cultural assemblage (the Châtelperronian) independent of modern humans. Overall, this thesis provides an initial step towards the development of a quantitative approach to measuring behavioural complexity which provides fresh insights into the cognitive and behavioural capabilities of Neanderthals.
Geophysical surveys at the West End Cemetery, Townsville, Queensland
Ross Stanger and David Roe
Geophysical surveys were undertaken at Townsville’s West EndCemetery to examine the cultural and/or ethnic association of graves and to test the potential use of different forms of geophysical prospection on archaeological sites in the north Queensland environment. Surveys focused on an area of the cemetery known as ‘E Block’, which contained little physical or historical evidence for burials but was believed to have been used for the interment of ‘non-Christian’ individuals. While results from the resistivity and ground penetrating radar surveys were inconclusive and difficult to interpret, the magnetometry surveys located the graves of 65 individuals. Details on each individual’s cultural attributes derived from the cemetery’s burial register indicated that they were from a diverse range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, many of which were previously unrepresented amongst extant grave markers. The survey results provided information that could not be gained from any other source, and enabled the critical examination of aspects of the cemetery including the past management regime, the spatial patterning of graves and whether or not an individual’s ethnic, social or economic characteristics contributed to their spatial placement.
Review of ‘Uses of Heritage’ by Laurajane Smith
Uses of Heritage by Laurajane Smith. Routledge, Oxford, 2006, xiv+351 pp., ISBN 978-0-0415-31831-0.
Cultural Heritage Centre for Asia and the Pacific, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood Vic. 3125, Australia
At a time in Australia when heritage seems to have disappeared from the national agenda and climate, water and environmental repair dominate, a book whose first chapter opens with the statement that ‘There is, really, no such thing as heritage’ seems appropriate. However, this book goes on to illustrate that heritage means many things to many people; it is about heritage as a process that constructs cultural values and meanings.
The author contends that ‘heritage is a multilayered performance … that embodies acts of remembrance and commemoration while … constructing a sense of place, belonging and understanding in the present’ (p.3). She believes that this performance is not something in which professionals and experts would cooperate actively with ease.
Smith challenges the traditional Western idea of heritage as material fabric with cultural values given to age, monumentality and aesthetics and the dominant or ‘authorized heritage discourse’ which ‘is reliant on the power/knowledge claims of technical and aesthetic experts, and institutionalized in the state cultural agencies and amenity societies’ (p.11). She offers the alternative of heritage as a cultural practice involved in the construction and regulation of a range of values and understandings, whose authenticity lies in the meanings people construct for it in their daily lives.
The book is in three parts and is based on the author’s work as an academic and as an archaeologist in Australia and the United Kingdom. Part I outlines the theoretical basis. Chapter 1 offers a review of critical discourse analysis and describes the development of heritage – it maps ‘out the discursive field of heritage … identified the authorized discourse against which a range of dissenting or subaltern discourses interact’ (p.42). Chapter 2 examines heritage as a cultural process – experience, identity, intangibility, memory and remembering, performance, place and dissonance. These ideas are explored throughout the rest of the book.
Part II examines the consequences of ‘authorised’ heritage. Chapter 3 critically examines the discourses of ICOMOS and UNESCO, which is of great interest to Australian practitioners. Chapter 4 is based on interviews with visitors to ‘the manored past’ of English country houses, while Chapter 5 is based on interviews with stakeholders in the management and use of Australia’s Riversleigh World Heritage palaeontological site. These chapters illustrate how the defining performances of heritage conservation – interpretation, excavation etc, may be used to regulate and justify maintenance of national narratives and social hierarchies.
Part III examines ‘subaltern’ (of inferior status) uses of heritage and consequent contested values. Chapter 6 is based on interviews with visitors to English industrial museums (Beamish, NationalCoalMiningMuseum at Caphouse Colliery and TolpuddleMartyrsMuseum) and shows the role of remembering and commemoration in constructing social and family identities. Chapter 7 is based on ethnographic and interview work at Castleford, West Yorkshire. Formerly a coal mining area, but a Roman garrison 1500 years earlier, now a shopping and residential area, heritage is shown as a process of community engagement used to facilitate social and cultural change. Chapter 8 demonstrates how Indigenous people in Australia and the United States use heritage as a cultural resource in which the issue is control of present cultural identity and meanings and not just as part of prehistory. All three chapters illustrate how heritage is used by people to negotiate identity and value and to redefine their place in society.
The discussion on the development of the discourse of heritage from the nineteenth century is very competent, but the Australian section suffers from a lack of examples from states other than New South Wales. For example, Victoria was the first state to legislate for protection of historic buildings and archaeological relics, both in 1974. Rather than the ‘monumentality of buildings’ being saved in the Brookes Crescent, North Fitzroy, campaign against Housing Commission urban renewal, there was the saving of a working class community as well as its houses. Research using some of the older material produced by historians, for example the 1991 Heritage Handbook edited by Graeme Davison and Chris McConville, would have given the author wider insights. With regard to tourism impacts, Australia ICOMOS published an issue of its journal Historic Environment in 1990 highlighting problems and possibilities for tourism as a promoter of heritage. The same journal also published articles covering various aspects of heritage as a cultural process used by communities and in particular, the 1997 issue on cultural landscapes
In criticising charters as ‘authorizing institutions of heritage’, Smith asserts that the Burra Charter downplays community participation and values as it is framed in an authorised heritage discourse which ‘was never really identified, examined or challenged in the 1999 rewriting’ (p.106), and ‘appeals to authority … mean that values and meanings situated outside the dominant discourse are sidelined’ (p.106). While acknowledging that the Burra Charter is ‘attempting to deal with community issues’, she believes that it ‘explicitly ignores the dissonant nature of heritage’ (p.106), the contested values of different groups.
Australian practitioners would see that the Burra Charter processes give them a framework in which to identify and assess all values and work out policies for conserving both tangible and non-tangible aspects of those places of significance. Whose values dominate is a matter sieved by applying thresholds for national, state or local level values. Communities will still continue to protect their heritage values. Smith, however, without clearly stating what she wants, continues to attack the authorised heritage discourse as hindering ‘the progress of change to heritage practice’ (p.114).
Her next two chapters, on the English country house and on Riversleigh World Heritage Site, aim to illustrate places that portray the dominant national heritage whose meanings about the past are reinforced, or alternatively marginalised. However, the excellent analysis of Riversleigh site management shows how national park management of World Heritage palaeontological values has excluded both Indigenous and pastoral histories, their values and connections to the place. But Smith’s surveys showed that most visitors to Riversleigh are unaware of its international status as they want to experience the ‘real Australia’ that is an ancient outback landscape.
The new national heritage system established by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 2003 has national heritage management principles (regulation 10.01E) which state that ‘management of National Heritage places should respect all heritage values of the place’ and seek to integrate any other government responsibilities for those places (Schedule 5B, 3). It is clear that a new practice in management is required which will address the layered and sometimes contested values inherent in the Riversleigh landscape and the consequences for ‘subaltern groups’ as the new national heritage regime embraces protection of the range of cultural values in a place.
The chapters on labour history and the transformation of an industrial town show the power of heritage practice in assisting processes of social and physical change following the closure of coal mining and personal identity with place and its meanings for everyday life. The physical fabric might have changed, but cultural practices remain through festivals, visiting museums, plays and music and invoke memories of belonging to these localities and their traditions.
The book is very well researched and it is refreshing to read chapters based on survey results rather than opinion. However, even to a postdoctoral reviewer with over 30 years work in the heritage business, the dense multiple-meanings of academic language annoy and obscure clear thinking. One of the criticisms of heritage is that it uses an arcane jargon of its own for professionals and experts which excludes everyone else. This book certainly does this. As it deals with the ‘authorized heritage discourse’ reduced to ‘AHD’ throughout, the effect was that AHD was a disease. It was certainly an irritant but maybe that was the intention of the author to attract attention. Getting the message across in plain English is a key requirement if we want a wide constituency supporting heritage conservation.
In her conclusion, Smith states that the authorised heritage discourse ‘is a process of mediating cultural change and of asserting, negotiating and affirming particular identities and values’ (p.300). This is certainly the case for the new national heritage regime which aims to give Australians a list of natural, Indigenous and historic places with ‘outstanding heritage value to the nation.’ However, Australians need to know a lot more facts about their past and historical impacts on our society before there is widespread support for new approaches to heritage conservation. As most heritage practitioners know, heritage is a social and political process, at times uncomfortable, but the results create a cultural legacy in which we all share.
This book offers lots of ideas about the nature of heritage, has good case studies and an academic approach to the issues based on many years experience. It does not offer any case studies based on the archaeological analysis familiar to readers of Australian Archaeology. The author is critical of the current structures of heritage assessment and management but does not clearly spell out new directions which she considers heritage should take to resolve the criticisms.
Review of ‘The Original Australians: Story of the Aboriginal People’ by Josephine Flood
J. Peter White
The Original Australians: Story of the Aboriginal People by Josephine Flood. Allen and Unwin, Crows Nest, 2006, xiv+306 pp., ISBN 1 74114 872 3.
School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, Building A14, University of Sydney NSW 2006, Australia
‘My mission is to present an accurate, objective, informative account of this continent’s first inhabitants’ (p.x). Jo Flood asked family and friends for lists of questions that first-time visitors to Australia would want to ask, winnowed here to 21. They range from ‘Where did Aboriginal people come from?’ to ‘What do they want [now]?’. So this book is an attempt at an overview for the general public.
The structure is interesting. ‘Aboriginal society is revealed … as it was gradually discovered by the outside world’ (p.xi). So the first four chapters outline the history from early seventeenth century to early twentieth century, then backwards from first contact to 50,000 BP, returning for the final two chapters to the history of the last century. The juncture between the last two sections is abrupt. Each chapter has a couple of boxes on particular topics (e.g. ‘a lack of coconut trees’, fire-making, grave-robbing), there are excellent colour illustrations and useful and comprehensive endnotes.
The first chapter on ‘Exploration: European Discovery of Australia’ establishes several of the approaches and attitudes which the book maintains throughout. One is that Aboriginal society was profoundly and proudly ‘one of the most conservative on earth’ (p.8). Whether talking about agriculture, law or art, this theme is regularly reiterated (e.g. pp.24, 133, 264). Second is a good-hearted attempt to see both sides of any situation. So in relation to European occupation, and in contrast to any Aboriginal viewpoint, Flood says that Cook’s claim to 3.8 million km2 was not illegal in terms of international law as then understood and, further, that there could be no treaties because of the localised and consensual nature of Aboriginal societies. The third aspect of Flood’s approach is to pile on details beyond what seems to be necessary. Thus, in relation to ‘cultivation’ (agriculture, husbandry) the flat statement that there was ‘no sign’ (p.20) of it is followed by a wide-ranging account of practices which others have interpreted very differently.
The next three chapters take the story through many conflicts to c.1920. Generally the overview is thorough, but there are areas of surprise and occasional disquiet. Chapter 2, for instance, continues to claim that Tasmanians had ‘the basic Aboriginal toolkit, the irreducible minimum’ (p.63), while G.A. Robinson invented most of the accounts of Aboriginal women being brutally treated by sealers in order to maintain his position and authority over the Aboriginal population. One constant theme is that diseases were a far greater cause of destruction than massacres, a view which is almost certainly correct. In addition, several well-known massacres are firmly dismissed as inventions, a view which will not endear her to the Aboriginal communities who believe in them. Australian Museum anthropologists may be surprised to know that their ‘avowed policy’ is to give primacy to Aboriginal voices even when their stories are ‘factually incorrect’ (p.114). The source of this statement is an article in Quadrant.
The two pre-European chapters cover much of the same material as Flood’s (2004) Archaeology of the Dreamtime, with some up-to-date touches such as H. floresiensis, though she is suspicious of their association with stone tools. A close reading of Chapter 6 left me confused. On p.174 Aboriginal Y-chromosome lineage is ‘the oldest lineage outside Africa’ whereas there is ‘high diversity’ (p.179) in Aboriginal womens’ mtDNA, a scenario which suggests a very unusual migration pattern. In relation to megafaunal extinctions, hunting and burning are the total story, with ‘a widespread extinction event about 46 kya’ (p.189); the much later site of Cuddie Springs is dubious for several reasons, although ‘it is possible that some megafauna lasted longer’ (p.190). Field and Wroe’s extensive discussions of the problem are not mentioned. In the Holocene a very small founding group of dingoes (a single female on a log?) were introduced. They ‘closely resemble the Asian pariah dogs’ (p.196), although dingoes are also ‘much closer to wolves than dogs’ (Plate 22, caption). In sum, these chapters give an impression of the prehistory, but have not been well thought through.
The last two chapters, ‘Assimilation’ and ‘Resilience’, are a wide-ranging, episodic, chronologically-based history, largely of governmental policy and practice in relation to Aborigines. They are interesting and provocative and seem a useful short account: I am less competent to judge their accuracy.
- The introduction of equal wages to the pastoral industry was a disaster, since it moved many communities in the north from work to welfare.
- Open access to alcohol was also a disaster.
- The Stolen Generation report (Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission 1997) is completely one-sided and biased (p.229), having taken almost no evidence from the policy’s administrators.
- Most ‘urban and regional’ Aborigines are not much interested in land rights.
- ‘Australia has strong legal protection for Aboriginal sites, human remains, artefacts, designs and works of art’ (p.244).
Flood has not been attending recent AAA annual general meetings.
Finally, to return to its aim, I would recommend this book to first-time visitors. More will be interested in the European, especially the recent, period, and Flood is clearer and more understandable about this than about the archaeology. It’s not an easy read, but serious-minded visitors won’t be put off. Besides, as Flood says, there isn’t much else.
Flood, J. 2004 Archaeology of the Dreamtime: The Story of Prehistoric Australia and its People. Rev. ed. Marleston: J.B. Publishing.
Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission 1997 Bringing them Home: Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families. Sydney: Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission.
Review of ‘Historical Archaeology’ edited by Martin Hall and Stephen W. Sillman
School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, St Lucia Qld 4072, Australia
There are two common criticisms of historical archaeology from practitioners of other forms of archaeology, namely that it is not all that necessary as there are documentary records for the time periods studied and that there is a general lack of theory within the subdiscipline. Well, Hall and Silliman put the lie to both these assertions. Within their volume there is presented a range of theoretical perspectives and thematic issues tackled by the practitioners of various post-modern historical archaeologies, and the concentration in the case studies (in Part 3) on the interpretation of material culture demonstrates in case after case the diversity of the new interpretations and reinterpretations that are possible once the written texts are not awarded evidential primacy.
The scope of the book is impressive. It deals with a global historical archaeology examining the impacts of the movement of Europeans into the rest of the world from the fifteenth century onwards. It goes from specifically dealing with a single artefact to the dislocation of entire peoples. Historical Archaeology contains 16 chapters divided into an introduction and three parts. Part 1 deals with doing historical archaeology in the real world and the relationships between different disciplines and the political positions of historical archaeologists. Part 2 examines a number of themes that are important areas of study in historical archaeology such as engendering (Voss), ideology (Burke) and institutions (De Cunzo). The one deficiency in the book is the lack of a chapter committed to agency. Although in the introduction the editors claim that most papers deal with the concept of agency, it would have been helpful to have a paper dedicated to considering agency in much the same way that they deal with class, gender and the other major themes of historical archaeology. Part 3 contains six case studies demonstrating the relationship between local sites and globalisation of the modern world.
There are some standout papers in this book and one of the best is Heather Burke’s chapter on ideology. In a mere 14 pages she is able to present in a clear, coherent and easily readable form the complexities related to the multiple ways of defining the term ‘ideology’ and the history of historical archaeological approaches to studying the concept by drawing on classical examples. Burke’s chapter is an exemplar for the entire book. It makes complex ideas easy to understand.
The editors do not take as their starting point a single definition of historical archaeology but rather realise that historical archaeology has numerous cultural manifestations the world over and therefore they draw their contributors from the US, Australia, England, South Africa and Brazil. This gives the book an international appeal and this is particularly so in Part 3 where four of the six case studies related to non-North American places. Interestingly, though, all four chapters in Part 1 relate to the dimensions of historical archaeological practice are all penned by North Americans – some diversity here would not have gone amiss.
Remember how you felt back in 1999 when you first read Matthew Johnson’s Archaeological Theory (Blackwell)? You will get the same sensation of ‘so that’s what it’s all about!’ from Historical Archaeology. And fittingly, therefore, it is Johnson who has the last word in this recent book, when he brings the historical archaeological models developed for the interpretation of the societies of the New World back home to Europe.
This book should be essential reading (and reference) for any student of historical archaeology but even more than that it should be essential reading all non-historical archaeology archaeologists so that they can understand what it is that we actually do!
Public benefits of archaeology in Australia: Results from a pilot study
A questionnaire survey asked students enrolled in second year archaeology subjects at the University of Sydney for their opinions about the wider public benefits of archaeology. Most answers emphasised benefits arising from archaeological knowledge rather than those associated with experiences of archaeology. Possible reasons for this trend and some wider implications are discussed.
Emu Tracks 2, Kangaroo and Echidna, and Two Moths: Further radiocarbon ages for Aboriginal sites in the Upper Mangrove Creek Catchment, New South Wales
Between 1979 and 1987 a number of Aboriginal sites were excavated in the Upper Mangrove Creek catchment on the New South Wales central coast as part the Mangrove Creek Dam Salvage Project (Attenbrow 1981, 1982a; Vinnicombe 1984), and PhD research (Attenbrow 1982b, 2004).
For the research project, 20 radiocarbon ages were obtained for 15 of the 28 excavated sites (Attenbrow 2004:Table 6.1). As radiocarbon ages could not be obtained for all sites, the ages of initial habitation and of selected levels in some sites were estimated on the basis of diagnostic criteria: presence/absence/abundance of bondi points; varying abundance of bipolar artefacts; varying abundance of quartz and unidentified fine grained siliceous (FGS) materials (excluding silcrete and tuff); and in some cases the depth of deposit (Attenbrow 1981, 2004:75, Table 6.2). The timing of changes in the diagnostic criteria were based on excavated sites in the New South Wales central and south coasts, in addition to those excavated during the Mangrove Creek Dam Salvage Project, particularly Loggers, Mussel and Deep Creek (Attenbrow 1981, 1982a, 1982b; Hiscock and Attenbrow 1998, 2005:72–76).
Radiocarbon ages have been obtained to confirm the original age estimates for two previously undated sites: Emu Tracks 2 and Two Moths (Table 1). Further dates were obtained also for Kangaroo and Echidna where there was uncertainty about the age of initial habitation. The radiocarbon ages obtained are discussed before reviewing the effects of including these results and of using calibrated radiocarbon ages instead of the previously used conventional ages in the indices used to produce a model of habitation, subsistence and land use for the catchment (Attenbrow 2004:Table 10.4).
Review of ‘High Lean Country: Land, People and Memory in New England’ edited by Alan Atkinson, J.S. Ryan, Iain Davidson and Andrew Piper
High Lean Country: Land, People and Memory in New England edited by Alan Atkinson, J.S. Ryan, Iain Davidson and Andrew Piper. Allen and Unwin, Crows Nest, 2006, xv+416 pp., ISBN 1-74175-086-5.
Sullivan Blazejowski and Associates, 580 Boundary Creek Road, Nymboida NSW 2460, Australia
High Lean Country is a publication project of the Heritage Futures Research Centre of the University of New England. The illustrated volume offers a series of perceptions by scientists, social scientists and humanities scholars about New England heritage, and its great strength is that the combination of the results of these varied disciplines gives us an unusually wide-ranging picture of New England from many points. The Heritage Futures Research Centre is an interschool and interfaculty group of scholars committed to exploring all the elements of New England’s heritage in its broadest sense, and this innovative publication pulls together the relevant research which has been generated by the Centre. In it the distinct heritage of New England, New South Wales, is described, discussed and analysed. The book falls roughly into three sections: physical environment, peopling and people and cultural expression. The range of writers and topics is wide and varied and the book is rather more a series of essays on New England heritage themes, than a chronologically-driven local or regional history, though the key events and moments of history are covered and analysed from many perspectives. The result is a stimulating and scholarly volume, which expresses the idea of heritage in its fullest sense.
An example of the wide-ranging perspectives covered in High Lean Country and of particular interest to archaeologists are the sections on archaeological heritage in New England. June Ross’ paper ‘Seeing red: Musings on rock art’, gives us a vivid picture of how one might see a particular New England rock art site in its setting and what one might deduce from it. Wendy Beck, discussing ceremonies, cold climate adaptation and group movement, builds a picture of the archaeologist’s evolving construction of the New England Aboriginal cultural landscape and in doing so pays homage to the heritage of archaeology in New England as pioneered by Isabel McBryde and then Luke Godwin. Rodney Harrison describes the ephemeral, subtle but still very distinctive evidence of the role of Aboriginal people in pastoral New England, the effect of this life on its Aboriginal participants and the shared sense of collective social identity they derive from it. Pamela Watson deals effectively with the contribution of historical archaeology to the region’s self-perception, and demonstrates how the comparatively extensive historical archaeological investigations in New England have provided new information, and changed the perceptions people have of their past as settlers.
The inclusion of archaeology and a wide-range of other disciplines, all focused on different aspects of the heritage of New England, gives us a much more in-depth picture of the region’s heritage than we often get in regional history written from one perspective. It is a stimulating and surprising journey, with many reverberations and connections made by this interplay.
One of the themes that runs through the volume is the singularity of New England as ‘high lean country’, most of it higher than anywhere in England and the distinctive culture which this created for both Aboriginal people and settler New Englanders. The foundation of the University of New England, through the philanthropy of founding settlers and the highland romanticism and strength of the New State Movement (a strong memory of my childhood), culminating in a failed referendum aptly illustrate this theme.
The volume has many riches notably the range of regional poetry (including the writings of Judith Wright and Les Murray) used as a running theme throughout. Of course as a New Englander, born, bred and educated in this cold and some might say provincial environment, I could be expected to be less than objective on the subject of this book. However, I think this work provides an excellent model for a regional heritage volume, which goes beyond one-dimensional history, and gives us a very full picture of past and present New England.
The Potential Contribution of Archaeology to Australian Frontier Conflict Studies
BArch(Hons), Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, June 2006
This thesis examines the potential contribution of archaeology to studies of Australian frontier conflict, with a specific emphasis on massacre sites. The information required to address this was gathered from documentary sources and interviews conducted with professional archaeologists. In addition, comparisons were drawn with the North American precedent.
The successful archaeological investigations of the Battle of the Little Bighorn site during the 1980s established an archaeological approach for investigations of Indigenous-settler conflict sites in North America. Such archaeological research operates within a multidisciplinary framework, incorporating approaches such as historical and oral history analyses, remote sensing, geophysical survey, soil sediment testing and osteological analyses. This type of archaeology, although not methodologically unique, has since come to be termed ‘battlefield archaeology’ and, even though it was initially established as being useful on sites of ‘formal warfare’, it has proved to be successful on North American frontier massacre sites. Battlefield archaeology has been utilised to locate sites of physical conflict and also determine the specific nature of the events that transpired at those locations. This is achieved through the detailed examination of the material culture and its patterning within the archaeological record.
Since Stanner broke the ‘great Australian silence’ in 1968, redressing the lack of acknowledgement of Indigenous-settler violence on the Australian frontier, a wave of literature has emerged. The methods which scaffolded this literature were heavily criticised in the late 1990s. This academic conflagration, known as the ‘History Wars’, became the subject of a symposium conducted at the National Museum of Australia in 2001. One of the outcomes of the conference was a recommendation that archaeology could become a future avenue of research contributing to the history of Australian Indigenous-settler relations. However, despite this recommendation, archaeology in Australia has not yet been utilised to the extent of that in North America.
The potential for archaeology to contribute to studies of Australian frontier conflict is examined by discussing the possible archaeological signatures of massacre events, the techniques that could be utilised on massacre sites and potential ethical and legislative issues. The conclusion emphasises that in Australia, given the many constraints of the archaeological record, associated techniques, ethics and legislation it is extraordinarily difficult to locate specific physical sites associated with alleged massacres. However, if definitive evidence corroborates historical or oral accounts of the events, through archaeological investigation, there is a potential capacity to establish locations as sites of massacre.
Function and Identity in the Archaeological Record: A Functional Analysis of Cossack Fringe Sites
BSc(Hons), School of Social and Cultural Studies, The University of Western Australia, October 2006
The port town of Cossack is located 1480km north of Perth. Established in 1863, Cossack played a vital role in the early development of the pearling and pastoral industries of the northwest. These industries resulted in a wide-range of people living and working in the town. This research investigated four sites on the fringe of the town, to discern the archaeological history, in terms of function and identity.
There is little historical information directly related to these sites and thus an archaeological investigation of the material remains from the fringe camps was necessary. The material from the sites was sorted into 10 categories in an attempt to identify any functional patterns and identity markers in the archaeological material. The absence of any direct cultural markers for Asian habitation makes it unlikely that the camps were made by Asian workers from Cossack, who were predominantly employed as pearlers. The predominance of shellfish remains combined with the presence of flaked stone and glass at all sites suggested that they functioned as Aboriginal camps.
This research represents one of the few archaeological investigations into these sites fringing Cossack. Not only has it shed light on the types of people that inhabited these sites and hence further information about the town itself and the people involved in the various industries associated with Cossack, but it has also given information about how the people inhabiting these sites lived.
Lithic Economies and Self-Sufficiency: Stone Tool Production and Consumption in a Late Prehistoric Community of Moloka’i, Hawaii
BA(Hons), School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, October 2006
This study examines the inter- and intra-site assemblage variability of lithics excavated from six late prehistoric sites in leeward West Moloka’i, Hawaii. Both religious and domestic sites are represented including fishing shrines (ko’a) and a high-status house site. A comprehensive technological approach was employed integrating use-wear, typology and individual flake attribute analysis to identify production and consumption behaviours. Expedient tool manufacture and use was identified at most sites including the use of amorphous cores for flake tool production.
Of particular significance was the identification of late stage, small-scale adze manufacture within an attached shrine enclosure of a high status house site. The proximity of the debitage to the religious feature is evidence of ritual production. Small-scale adze production in such settings may have enabled individuals and/or households to gain status and wealth through ritual performance and the production of prestige goods. This has implications for the study of the organisation of adze production and craft specialisation and suggests that ritual production is not necessarily an indicator of chiefly control.
Review of ‘A Companion to Archaeology’ edited by John Bintliff
A Companion to Archaeology edited by John Bintliff. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford, 2004, xxiv+544 pp., ISBN 978-0-631-21302-4.
Programme for Australian Indigenous Archaeology, School of Geography and Environmental Science, Monash University, Clayton Vic. 3800, Australia
Numerous books on archaeological theory and practice have appeared over the last few years, many at the forefront of current archaeological thought. In A Companion to Archaeology, the editor John Bintliff set about to compile a different kind of archaeology book on this general topic, one that aimed to showcase the broad scope of archaeology in 27 chapters, each and together allowing the reader to ‘touch the pulse of archaeological approaches to the past’ (p.xviii). What sets this book apart from other books of similar scope, we are told, is the explicit directive to each author to ‘talk about their field with enthusiasm and personal commitment’ (p.xvii). This was to be a set of personal perspectives on recent and promising approaches to the past – the ideas and practices that today give archaeology its cutting edge.
This is a large book, and as promised in the introduction it delivers in a sophisticated way emerging insights on a broad range of key archaeological themes. The book is divided into four parts. Part 1, Thinking about Archaeology contains two chapters, ‘Analytical Archaeology’ by Stephen Shennan and ‘The Great Dark Book: Archaeology, Experience, and Interpretation’ by Julian Thomas. Part 2 Current Themes and Novel Departures contains eight chapters: ‘Archaeology and the Genetic Revolution’ by Martin Jones, ‘Archaeology and Language: Methods and Issues’ by Roger Blench, ‘The Archaeology of Gender’ by Marie Louise Sørensen, ‘Archaeology and Social Theory’ by Matthew Johnson, ‘Materiality, Space, Time, and Outcome’ by Roland Fletcher, ‘Archaeological Perspectives on Local Communities’ by Fokke Gerritsen, ‘Archaeology and Technology’ by Kevin Greene, and ‘Time, Structure, and Agency: The Annales, Emergent Complexity, and Archaeology’ by John Bintliff. Part 3 Major Traditions in Archaeology in Contemporary Perspective then contains 11 chapters: ‘Archaeological Dating’ and ‘Chronology and the Human Narrative’ by John Gowlett, ‘Archaeology and Indigenous Peoples: Attitudes Towards Power in Ancient Oaxaca’ by Maarten Jansen, ‘Classical Archaeology’ by Ian Morris, ‘The Archaeologies of Recent History: Historical, Post-Medieval, and Modern-World’ by Charles Orser Jr, ‘Animal Bones and Plant Remains’ by Peter Rowley-Conwy, ‘Ecology in Archaeology: From Cognition to Action’ by Fekri Hassan, ‘The Archaeology of Landscape’ by Tony Wilkinson, ‘Archaeology and Art’ by Raymond Corbey, Robert Layton and Jeremy Tanner, ‘Putting Infinity Up On Trial: A Consideration of the Role of Scientific Thinking in Future Archaeologies’ by Mark Pollard, and ‘Experiencing Archaeological Fieldwork’ by John Bintliff. Part 4 Archaeology and the Public concludes the book with six chapters: ‘Public Archaeology: A European Perspective’ by Timothy Darvill, ‘Persistent Dilemmas in American Cultural Resource Management’ by Joseph Tainter, ‘Museum Studies’ by Linda Ellis, ‘Relating Anthropology and Archaeology’ by Michael Rowlands, ‘Archaeology and Politics’ by Michael Shanks, and ‘Archaeology and Green Issues’ by Martin Bell.
Many edited books of this kind contain one or two great and inspirational chapters, a few that don’t quite fit the bill and many acceptable, but not particularly memorable ones. This book is notable for the high quality of the majority of its chapters and indeed none are ‘bad’ – which does not, of course, mean that we have to agree with the position or conclusions reached by each or any author.
To its credit, this book contains very many statements that are cause for major debate with respect to archaeological practice. For instance, much world archaeology has long revolved around the identification of archaeological ‘cultures’ which form the intellectual and unitary foundation for the exploration of regional histories. Culture history approaches in archaeology have been the subject of much debate over the last 30 to 40 years, but remain an intellectual straightjacket in many (most) parts of the world. To its advantage, Australian archaeology, perhaps because of its relative youth, managed to knock such approaches on the head at a very early stage (thanks largely to Mulvaney), and modern, professional archaeology in this country has largely eschewed the concept, but it remains prevalent in much archaeology elsewhere. Here Shennan (p.6) thus begins with an archaeological definition of ‘culture’, followed by its contrast with ‘culture’ as anthropologically understood and the realisation that the twain should not meet. Why not do away entirely with notions of ‘archaeological cultures’ (by this I do not mean the culture of archaeological practice), and stick with social anthropological notions of the term that can then more fruitfully be applied to archaeological interpretation?
Many other important issues are raised by other authors in this volume: Fletcher points out that not all knowledge is held by oral traditions, nor are we reflexively aware of all the things that happen to us; some kinds of historical knowledge need to be discovered through various forms of scientific research. We must thus not only ask how individuals and groups intentionally direct personal and social behaviour, but also how the world around us affects behaviour subliminally; such subliminal forces silently expose the inadequacies of agency-thinking. Hence Bintliff (p.174) questions whether it is appropriate ‘to envisage the forms of society as the ‘accomplished outcome’ and ‘skilled performance’ of human agency?’ If ‘agency’ concerns the power to act through decisions made consciously and self-reflectively (i.e. if it concerns the self-reflective reasons for our actions prior to their event), then it does not sufficiently take account of the cultural pre-positionings of human life, of the power of being socially and culturally-positioned (but see Hassan p.323). In this sense Fletcher’s (p.115) assertion that ‘[p]eople create their social lives out of actions and verbal declarations’ may be partly true (see also Bintliff p.182), but in itself this does not sufficiently address the fact that people are also born into an already-meaningful world. History imposes precedents and frameworks (which can be, and are, continuously transcended, but such movement is always historically situated; cf. the ‘law of negation of negation’, which implies that understanding something always needs to be located in its historical emergence in sets of (dialectical) relations between interconnected things). In this sense a number of chapters in this book would have benefited from discussion of habitus and other sociological, anthropological and philosophical concepts (e.g. Fletcher’s chapter could have benefited from a Derridean discussion of meaning, language and material culture). On a different point of omission, it is curious that there is no mention of OSL dating in the chapter on ‘Archaeological dating’.
Gowlett (p.199) discusses the notion of ‘needless precision’ in archaeological practice (especially as it relates to dating). However, counter to his view on this subject, there is a danger of not going beyond ‘needed precision’: we need ‘needless precision’ so that we position ourselves to ascertain and access maximal archaeological precision (let us not forget that we usually only know what degree of precision we really need after analysis has been undertaken). For example, it may turn out that sediment mixing within a site does not allow us to interpret individual thin excavation units in any meaningful way. However, it is only by excavating a site in a way that is finer-grained than interpretation warrants that we will be able to investigate degrees of integrity, and that will enable us to take maximum advantage of a site’s interpretative potential. Furthermore, obtaining ‘needless precision’ will ensure that we don’t compound imprecision during analysis.
The above are only some of the many points worthy of debate broached by this book. In this sense it presents a most useful and at times inspirational text to the student and practitioner alike. However, one wonders why there are only two women among the 27 authors (one of which covers the chapter on ‘gender’) for such an important and broad-scoped book – certainly this is not due to a lack of potential candidates. Similarly, although there is a useful chapter on ‘archaeology and Indigenous peoples’, Indigenous perspectives on many issues that concern the archaeology of their pasts often fail to be discussed in the relevant sections (e.g. on p.444 why is there no mention of Indigenous concerns of who owns the past?). Nevertheless, in this context and contrary to common discussion in archaeology, Hassan (p.317) usefully reminds us that ‘landscape’ art is not just ‘Western’, nor does it simply date to the period after the 1500s.
Here we see again that ‘the Other’ emerges at the edges of (non-)representation (see also Bell, p.523). This problem of representation is further highlighted by a preoccupation with grand narratives and ‘global histories’ across much of this
book (e.g. see the chapter ‘Chronology and the human narrative’, amongst others). The significance of local history is not adequately addressed anywhere in this book: there appears to be a fairly general presumption here that grand narratives and understanding broad trends are more important than specific or local knowledge (see also p.393). Such approaches to history bring with them a tension: on the one hand, historical research is undertaken in specific places whose meaningfulness touches most immediately and significantly local communities, while on the other hand professional researchers typically work in those same places to generate more general statements or theories about geographically broader historical trends or processes. Such latter frameworks of research may not necessarily be and often are not of great interest to local communities. Rather, of greater concern or curiosity are usually issues to do with one’s own community history. The popular saying ‘think globally, act locally’ is in this context left wanting: here ‘global history’ does not simply take priority, for local histories, for their own sake, are often what is most meaningful for people trying to trace their own pasts. In this book, however, there is much preoccupation with broader-scaled narratives, and such scalar issues are nowhere addressed with these concerns in mind.
In the introductory chapter, the editor from the onset identifies the book’s editorial philosophy that all archaeological approaches are not equal, but that diversity is welcomed, different methodologies being ‘complementary rather than oppositional’ (although it is not evident that all authors or chapters agree with this stance). ‘Not only do we need such varied approaches to understand a multifaceted world’, but it is also the view of the editor (and therefore, paradoxically, a theme that guides the book as a unified whole) that different approaches ‘are not commensurable: a useful contribution in one methodology is best evaluated in terms of that method, not by the standards and doctrines of another’ (Bintliff, p.xviii). While this book cannot possibly address all approaches or all methodologies for investigating human history, selection has unavoidably taken place, as is the role of an editor and it remains true to this philosophy. Thus, in the face of recent criticisms that the discipline has in recent years lost its direction, this book offers a an alternative viewpoint: a recognition that the discipline is more exciting now than it has ever been, precisely because of this diversification of approaches, a willingness towards multivocality that opens up archaeology to the multifacetted dimensions of being, of the human past and its relevance to the present. Archaeology has lost its original innocence, but in its place comes new innocences that await exploration and experience and this book nicely positions us for these opportunities ahead. I can strongly recommend this volume to the professional and student alike, all for the better with the promise of raising much learned debate.
Uncovering Mill Point: Understanding Concepts of Space at Australian Historic Sawmills
Emma M. Rae
BA(Hons), School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, November 2005
In this thesis I use a predictive modeling framework to explore the use of space at nineteenth and early twentieth century Australian sawmills. Sawmills were a key component of early European settlement in heavily forested areas and are often associated with the development of significant infrastructure, such as roads and rail and sea transport networks. Despite their importance and potential for enhancing our understanding of early European communities, few studies have been undertaken on historical sawmills in Australia, particularly in relation to spatial organisation on a comparative level. A dataset of 20 nineteenth and early twentieth century sawmills was analysed and sawmills were found to fall into one of four main types ranging from small-scale temporary establishments (Type A) to large, permanent sawmills with multifaceted settlements and permanent infrastructure and support services (Type D). Analysis also revealed that sawmill features were spatially organised into industrial, intermediate and domestic zones. The model is applied to a case study, the Mill Point sawmill in southeast Queensland and results suggest a general validity of the predictive model and point to directions for further refinement and development. The study has implications for future studies of early industrial enterprises in Australia.
A Problem of Settlement: Cultural Landscape Change on the Willunga Plains, South Australia, from 1840
BArch(Hons), Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, November 2005
While the concept of cultural landscapes has been around since the nineteenth century, the phrase itself was only coined in the twentieth century. Within archaeology, cultural landscape approaches have only recently been adopted and in the Australian context, such studies are poorly represented in the literature. Typically, most historical archaeologists tend to consider structures and forms within the landscape as opportunities for excavation, measurement and the collection of artefacts, with an emphasis on description and typology. It is only through a consideration of the landscape in its entirety that these features permit interpretation of human behaviour and values within a region. Researching a changing cultural landscape over time permits the interaction between settlers and the land to be better described and understood.
This thesis examines the changing vegetation patterns on the Willunga Plains, South Australia, since European colonisation in 1840 as settlers attempted to create a familiar environment. Taking the viewpoint that vegetation patterns are products of human activities, the relationship between this altered landscape and the economic development of the region is argued to be mutually dependent. The problems settlers experienced in establishing a sustainable livelihood are examined by the application of cultural landscape theory to interpret human behaviour through transposition of culture, use of prior farming knowledge and landscape learning. By researching historical, palaeoenvironmental and contemporary evidence of the Willunga Plains the continuing evolution of the cultural landscape of the region is realised.
Review of ‘The Meaning of Water’ by Veronica Strang
Australian Centre for Indigenous History, Research School of Social Sciences, The Australian National University, Canberra ACT 0200, Australia
If ever a book was of the current zeitgeist, it is this one. Veronica Strang opens The Meaning of Water with an 1846 epigram from Benjamin Franklin: ‘When the well is dry we know the worth of water’ (p.1), which neatly identifies the accelerating global shift from water as a taken-for-granted resource, to water as a focus of concern and conflict. The title and goals of the book, however, take us even further through water as a practical necessity and a universal resource, into attention to people’s relationships to water as meaningful and mediated through learnt cultural experience. The study shows that the particularities of these meanings alter the way people relate to their waters.
Strang’s book aims to provide a ‘detailed picture of water use and management in the UK’ (p.vii) based on independent ethnographic research in the StourValley in southern England. As she says, ‘in this relatively calm and ordinary place, all of the undercurrents which add pressure to much more intense conflicts about water are present and can be explored’ (p.3). For an Antipodean reader, the book thus provides a corrective to any assumption of Australian exceptionalism in our relations to water use and supply: what might seem to be a relatively soggy part of the UK also suffers from problems with water. Strang makes the important point that the universal indispensability of water makes it appropriate to cross-cultural comparisons and to consideration of the status of such universals (p.5).
Sponsored in part by nine UK water boards, the research has an overt orientation towards practical policy applications. Strang has consulted widely with local and national bodies, governmental, recreational, business and conservation interests, as well as individuals, using questionnaires, interviews, conversations and participatory observation of StourValley people’s relations with water facilities and water places. A salutary aspect of Strang’s research is that it intersects social science perspectives on management and contemporary politics of water with an anthropologically-informed study of individual experiences and embodied practices in relation to water. These perspectives are then within a long-term historical and archaeological context.
The people of Dorset themselves are puzzled by the trends they are experiencing towards reduced water quality and quantity and are concerned by its ecological and cost impacts. Government policies and educational programmes emphasise the need to reduce usage, yet more and more water is consumed. It is the cultural and historical context for this apparent contradiction that the book seeks to explore.
As in her previous PhD research in northern Australia, published as Uncommon Ground: Cultural Landscapes and Environmental Values in 1997 (Berg), anthropologist Veronica Strang is attuned to the material and spatial aspects of the world as they both reflect and structure cultural meanings. Archaeologists will appreciate her approach when she writes: ‘Much can be gleaned about how people think and feel about water by considering the artefacts and technology through which it is contained, controlled, moved around, treated, made decorative or made sacred … water itself becomes an artefact’ (p.6).
Strang provides an engaging picture of the changing cultural landscape of the Dorset area and patterns of water use and management that have shifted steadily away from collective control to privatisation (Part 1). She then looks at forms of water and examines the dimensions of people’s sensory experience of water in terms of both its direct and its metaphoric and mythical qualities. She draws a telling conclusion:
Cast as the “source of life” and as a metaphor for “life time”, water imagery is used in thinking about cycles of life and death, and microcosmic and macrocosmic circulation of various kinds … It provides a way of conceptualising the “substance” of the self, emotional states of being, and social relationships. All … contain a systematic order that can potentially be “disordered”. Thus it is unsurprising that water issues such as droughts, floods and pollution create enormous anxiety: resonating with all of these linked associations, these are literally and meaningfully “life threatening” (p.79).
Much has been made of the inappropriateness of colonial, non-Indigenous attitudes to the Australian environment, with expectations learnt in places such as Dorset, where there is plentiful, predictable, surface water. Australian Indigenous peoples’ attention to the particularities of histories and stories of water places which recognise the distinct qualities of each, can be contrasted to generalising, ‘de-materialising’ and ‘de-socialising’ (p.246) often exploitative water policies. But Western European traditions in relation to water are left out of this binary construct. Strang provides a welcome reminder of ‘holy water’ (Chapter 5) and the cosmological order informed by the ‘spacio-temporal model of change, transformation and regeneration’ of the hydrological cycle (p.119), of healing and purification. We may have become disconnected from these deep Western European histories of ‘hydrolatry’ or water-based reverent practices, but they continue to influence Western European affective, moral or spiritual engagements with water’s aesthetics and sacred qualities, even in secular times.
Strang makes a valid argument from the ethnographic data she has accumulated that these cultural meanings have been ‘highly consistent over time’ and are ‘difficult to alter’. They ‘exert a powerful influence over every decision involved in water use’ and they form ‘a deep rationale for increasing levels of usage’ (p.3). This is richly demonstrated in the remaining three parts of the book. These provide a detailed, at times vivid, exploration of the diversity of contemporary interests as they are enacted in the supply and consumption of water in the StourValley. The economic and political workings of private water companies, the assumption or rejection of various forms of ‘ownership’ of water, and the actions of competing conservation and development interests, are all enlivened by quotes from the individual voices involved.
The chapter on ‘watering the house and garden’ considers water in the domestic sphere. The existence of powerful associations between unlimited access to water and ‘symbolic and practical affluence’ (p.198) are set out: ‘limitations on water carry unavoidable connotations of poverty and deprivation’ (p.199), although unlimited access is recent – in 1951, 41% of Dorset houses had no built-in bathing facilities and 22% no piped water. Interviews show that those who remember hauling water by bucket from a well are those most inclined to limit their water use now. The assumption that water supply cannot be acceptably limited goes beyond sanitary considerations into the realms of social order. The perceived risk of smells, fluids, dirt of others in recycling and greywater are fuelled by social anxieties: consider the niceties of whether or not to flush (p.204). Gardens, as the public expression of a household’s creativity, nurturance and a ‘natural’ fertility further this tension between the wider social, environmental and economic realities and the drives to increase domestic water consumption (pp.205-208).
Education programmes have successfully developed levels of awareness of the need for reduction of water pollution and usage, but ‘the only problem was that this made little or no difference to the way in which they used water’ (p.240). Having read this study, we can see why, as appeals to rational arguments will not touch the sources of people’s expectations and attachment to particular relations to water.
Policy-makers receive no dot-point solutions here for how to change current practices of both water suppliers and users. But they and everyone who has pondered the links between the many dimensions of human relations with water – physical, ecological, psychological, theological, historical, practical and economic – will gain the insights they need to understand why this is so difficult.
The book as a whole skilfully tacks between the local and its relevance to general principles. It presents an important comparative study for anyone setting out to understand community and individual relations to water. At some points the digest of large amounts of material can read more as a list than a synthesis, but it is always a coherent and valuable guide to the diverse materials drawn upon. The Meaning of Water shares some of the important qualities of water itself: it is refreshing, reflective, an indispensable source.
Colonial Experiences of Death and Burial: The Landscape Archaeology of West Terrace Cemetery, Adelaide
BArch(Hons), Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, October 2006
This thesis considers how nineteenth century attitudes to death and burial were articulated and experienced through the cultural landscape of the colonial sections (1837 to 1900) of South Australia’s first cemetery situated on West Terrace in Adelaide. To achieve this goal the phenomenological perspective used in postprocessual landscape archaeology has been employed. This involves a holistic approach to site analysis, with an emphasis on understanding how all elements of the cemetery landscape were constructed over time and how these choices were intended to communicate social attitudes and their underlying ideologies at both a private and public level. Through the process of visitation, of being in the landscape, the visitor is engaged in a reflexive perception of these attitudes, as communicated through the medium of material culture, in a dialogue intended to perpetuate social and religious belief and to reaffirm class-based worldviews.
The study focuses on four targeted samples within its colonial boundaries to test this approach. The plan and layout of the colonial cemetery is also analysed followed by a consideration of how the selection, placement, accumulation and display of material culture occurred within the site over the course of the nineteenth century. The archaeology is further contextualised by considering the historical backdrop of Victorian attitudes to death and burial in Britain and how these views were transferred to and expressed in the colonial landscape. These elements are then linked to the distinct cemetery visitation patterns that developed during this period to reveal a dynamic landscape, a place of movement and experience. Historical documentation is also utilised to cross-check the archaeological results.
The study uncovers a complex series of factors at work in the selection of gravesite, monument, and inscription influenced by both private family concerns and the potential for public expression that the high public visitation patterns at the site provided during the nineteenth century. For example, anomalies in tombstone orientation, siting, plot size and monument height found in the samples suggest conscious acts by the family to construct an individualised experience of both socially-accepted ritualised remembrance, as well as a need to immortalise the class status of the deceased and to ideologically reaffirm their social worldview to the onlooker. The choice of monument shape and design also demonstrated both the social and religious conventions of the period, such as the use of particular materials and sizes for monuments, but also displayed through statistical comparison examples of individualised expression in the choices exercised upon the material culture.
This analysis concludes that a deeper understanding of the way attitudes to death and burial were embedded in the nineteenth century cultural landscape of West Terrace cemetery can be obtained through a phenomenological approach. The historical cemetery is demonstrated to be a site of ritual and ideological belief processes, whose messages and meanings are recoverable through the holistic perception of ideological landscape construction and its material culture, and by experiencing its artefacts as dynamic signifiers rather than static objects.
Review of ‘How a Continent Created a Nation’ by Libby Robin
Department of Anthropology, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland Mail Centre, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
How is a nation created? And to what extent is the construction of a distinctive national identity influenced by the material environment? In How a Continent Created a Nation Libby Robin takes up this intriguing question, building on anthropological theories concerned with understanding how ‘natural’ features of the environment exert agency in a mutually constitutive human-environmental relationship. As Robin says, ‘cultural histories of national identity seldom allow the land a role as a partner in constructing the nation, yet the partnership between cultural identity and natural possibilities must underpin the search for sustainability’(p.5). Australia provides a useful context in which to examine these issues, having an environment so far removed, both geographically and experientially, from the ‘Mother Country’ of its European settlers.
Though fundamentally historical, Robin’s text is neither linear nor chronological, ranging – at times somewhat quixotically – across a wide-range of topics and periods. The chapters are loosely organised under broad themes, but are really more of a collage. The text sets the scene by observing that, at the beginning, European settlers saw Australia as a terra nullius into which their ‘home’ economy and society was to be extended, and they surveyed and evaluated it largely in relation to more familiar landscapes. It seemed at first a rather poor relation, with its unreliable climate and water supplies and its recalcitrant soils. The peculiar fauna and flora were deemed to be far less useful than those the settlers imported, and the strangeness of the environment dominated representations of the new nation for some time. Much energy was focused on the ongoing and not always successful ‘battle’ to subdue its wild and hostile ‘nature’ and establish a European vision of productivity. As farmers coaxed and coerced the fragile soils into production, a vision of ‘growing things’ became integral to early settlement and remained central in an economy that, until relatively recently, depended on just a few primary industries. Robin describes how the idea of ‘growing’ a nation was carried through in schools, with a strong emphasis on gardening, tree planting and ‘improving’ the landscape, and how the particularity of Australia’s flora led to an enthusiastic debate about whether the wattle should be the national flower or whether other flowers, such as the waratah, should represent the nation.
Although they were seen as ‘primitive’ and ‘backward’, the very oddness of the local flora and fauna was intriguing to European scientists, posing a stimulating challenge to Linnaean categories. In the 1700s, for example, there was a lengthy ‘international conundrum’ about the platypus and its reproductive processes, then in the 1920s, much discussion about its postulated ‘sixth sense’. The work of natural historians encouraged a new respect for the uniqueness of Australia’s plants and animals, and the platypus and other ‘oddities’ appeared as ambassadors for the nation in the world’s zoos.
In the third chapter, Robin explores the history of the wool industry. This was fostered as patriotic project, building both the British and Australian economies at first, and then in a post-war era, providing relative economic independence for Australia and funding for large ‘nation-building’ infrastructure developments, such as the Snowy Mountain irrigation scheme. For some time, even when minerals provided more income, the nation was seen as being reliant on wool. In consequence, the social and environmental costs of its production were largely ignored, although from the 1930s onwards increasing measures had to be taken to ‘improve’ grasslands with introduced grasses which rapidly over-ran native species and did little to prevent land degradation.
In Chapter 4, Robin explores the notion of ‘collecting the nation’, describing the establishment of museums around the country and the debates about what a museum should be. Australia’s early museums reflected the particular interests of the philanthropists who supported this ‘practical patriotism’, and the things that fascinated the nation most: wool, minerals and strange fauna. With the view that science was of national importance, museums also housed research that might prove economically helpful. Though the focus was mainly on natural history, there was some ethnographic collection too, with leadership from early anthropologists, Norman Tindale and Alfred Radcliffe-Brown. The post-war period encouraged museums to display war relics, and the collection of cultural artefacts grew in importance during the latter part of the twentieth century. New notions of cultural heritage led to the formation of the Australian Heritage Commission, and the AustralianNationalMuseum was thus established to exhibit both natural and cultural history.
Chapter 5 wanders out of the museum and into the desert, to consider the importance of Australia’s arid areas in the national imagination. Deserts, Robin observes, stand apart as empty places where people don’t live, and in the nineteenth century they formed ‘the backdrop to heroic explorations and bitter pastoral disappointment’ (p.100), encouraging the population to cling to the coastlines and face outwards. In some areas, though, they proved essential to the nation’s wealth, and there were major expeditions in search of gold. The 1984 Horn expedition to Central Australia didn’t find any, but gathered an extraordinary collection of biological and ethnological material. As Robin notes, ‘while the state sought riches, science sought data’ (p.101), engendering a growing respect for ‘desert knowledge’. In the 1920s, the relative ease of flight opened up the great inland, and the ‘dead heart’ became a more enticing ‘red centre’. Ideas about irrigating the desert produced ambitious plans to turn the rivers inland, which are still held up by some as a desirable national vision. There was a florescence of arid zone science, much still directed at developing sheep pastures, but also reflecting the increasing ecological concerns which led to the establishment of Australia’s national parks.
Similar elements are evident in the sixth chapter’s focus on ‘the empty north’, whose ‘wild lands’ were the scene of many failed schemes in the early days of settlement. At that time, the overland telegraph provided the only north-south pathway, and farms remained dependent on cheap (and largely unacknowledged) Aboriginal labour. Even in the 1940s, Robin remarks, the tropics were seen as an unconquered ‘wilderness’ area, constituting a financial burden on the nation. Since then the northern population has expanded and new development schemes are underway, creating a ten-fold increase in water use and widespread land clearing.
An account of the north’s environmental problems leads into a chapter concerned with the broader ecological issues that Australia now faces, bringing home to its inhabitants a realisation that European forms of development and production cannot be sustained on a continent with such variability in climate and rainfall. Contemporary environmental sciences build on the earlier practical emphasis on biology and agriculture, giving a strongly ‘applied’ brief to the nation’s scientific activities. There has been a gradual acceptance of the need to include the social sciences in environmental research, and this has been further encouraged by the rise of a vocal green movement. Although ‘the environment’ remains largely separate from economic activities, both intellectually and administratively, an increasingly sophisticated vision of the nation and the continent is emerging, finding synergies between Indigenous concepts of ‘country’ that gives life, and ideas about biodiversity and cultural heritage.
In the final section Robin pulls together some of the core themes of the book: how, though various forms of engagement, Australia’s unique landscapes, flora and fauna have molded the nation. She observes that the time has come to work with, rather than against, this agency, eschewing imported ideas about ‘forcing’ productivity from fragile ecosystems, and she notes the emergence of new conservationist ‘battlers’ who challenge the scientific and economic dominance of primary production, seeking to push the nation in a more ecologically and socially sustainable direction. As she says, ‘finding ‘home’ in Australia has meant coming to terms with Australian nature with all its richness, and its limitations and exceptionalism’ (p.205).
How a Continent Created a Nation makes a good case for a more empathetic relationship between Australian society and the biological landscapes it inhabits. It is apparent that, for most of the last 200 years, ambivalence about local flora and fauna has given impetus to a damaging struggle to establish quite unsuitable non-native plants and animals in their place. There is an implicit commentary here too about attitudes to the original human inhabitants of the continent, and the parallel need for reconciliation with (and appreciation of) the cultural landscapes that European settlement has subsumed. These too have been influential, encouraging the expression of affective concerns about being ‘at home’ in the land, and working in partnership with it. The book could have made this subtle commentary more explicit, but it comes through clearly enough.
The emphasis on relations with ‘nature’ allows Robin to weave a detailed picture from a collection of apparently disparate but actually entangled strands, so that it is possible to see the relationships between war memorials and wattle flowers, unclassifiable people and animals, and fetishised anxieties about the ‘purity’ of merino wool. The style of the book is engaging, persuading the reader to be forgiving of its necessary but sometimes discombobulating chronological and topical zigzags. In the end, like a Rolf Harris painting, it reveals a whole picture that makes sense, providing some original and useful insights into the large and complex relationship between a new society and an old continent, and the way that material environments act upon nations and identities.
From Midden to Sieve: The Impact of Differential Recovery and Quantification Techniques on Interpretations of Shellfish Remains in Australian Coastal Archaeology
Robyn A. Jenkins
BA(Hons), School of Social Science, University of Queensland, November 2006
Experimental mechanical sieving methods are applied to samples of shellfish remains from three sites in southeast Queensland, Seven Mile Creek Mound, Sandstone Point and One-Tree, to test the efficacy of various recovery and quantification procedures commonly applied to shellfish assemblages in Australia. There has been considerable debate regarding the most appropriate sieve sizes and quantification methods that should be applied in the recovery of vertebrate faunal remains. Few studies, however, have addressed the impact of recovery and quantification methods on the interpretation of invertebrates, specifically shellfish remains.
In this study, five shellfish taxa representing four bivalves (Anadara trapezia, Trichomya hirsutus, Saccostrea glomerata, D. deltoides) and one gastropod (Pyrazus ebeninus) common in eastern Australian midden assemblages are sieved through 10mm, 6.3mm and 3.15mm mesh. Results are quantified using MNI, NISP and weight. Analyses indicate that different structural properties and pre- and post-depositional factors affect recovery rates. Fragile taxa (T. hirsutus) or those with foliated structure (S. glomerata) tend to be overrepresented by NISP measures in smaller sieve fractions, while more robust taxa (A. trapezia and P. ebeninus) tend to be over-represented by weight measures. Results demonstrate that for all quantification methods tested a 3mm sieve should be used on all sites to allow for regional comparability and to effectively collect all available information about the shellfish remains.
A middle ground? Recent archaeological investigations from the Kaurareg archipelago, southwestern Torres Strait, Queensland
Liam M. Brady and Kaiwalagal Aboriginal Corporation
Collaborative rock art research in the Kaurareg Archipelago, south-western Torres Strait, has systematically documented an assemblage consisting of 232 rock paintings from three islands. Using computer enhancement techniques, analysis of Kaurareg rock art has revealed a data set that incorporates artistic influences from both Cape York and other western Torres Strait islands. Initial archaeological surveys have also revealed a lack of the distinctive Torres Strait ritual sites (e.g. dugong bone mounds and bu shell arrangements) already noted from the broader region. Using this preliminary data, we evaluate Kaurareg cultural history in the context of inter-regional interaction, and recent discoveries in Torres Strait archaeology. We conclude that the Kaurareg’s geographical location—off the tip of Cape York—was the central transition zone between cultural influences from Aboriginal Australia and Island Melanesia.
Review of ‘Doing Archaeology: A Cultural Resource Management Perspective’ by Thomas F. King
Bonhomme Craib and Associates, PO Box 61, Mudgeeraba Qld 4213, Australia
Over the last decade, it seems as if lots of people are ‘doing archaeology’ and writing about it. A quick search on Amazon.com shows no fewer than five books with this phrase in the title. Historical archaeologists do it, lab people do it, people Down Under do it, and even people in the land of the Bible do it. Nevertheless, when Tom King writes about doing archaeology in the context of cultural resource management (CRM), it is worth having a read even for those of us ‘doing it’ in Australia.
King has been in the business of CRM for several decades and has had active roles as both a practitioner and administrator. This dual perspective is crucial for the purposes of his book, as many CRM people tend to see issues from only their side of the desk. King draws on his experience to provide specific examples of situations. A strength of the book is that he does not discuss CRM in the abstract, but draws on specific examples
At a minimum this book is useful for providing information about how cultural heritage management (read cultural resource management) is structured and operates in the United States and Micronesia. King was instrumental in developing the historic preservation programmes in United Nations Trust Territories (i.e. Micronesia) in the late 1970s–early 1980s.
King states up front that he is writing for a general, non-technical audience. As a result, it covers a variety of topics beginning with archaeology ‘generally’ (Chapters 1-4), and then proceeds to archaeology in the context of cultural resource management (Chapters 5-8). It is written in an easy, enjoyable style.
The first four chapters present a general background to archaeology directed at a public audience. This includes dispelling the usual myths about the discipline, such as ‘archaeology and dinosaurs’ as well as ‘treasure and tombs’. King also provides a very useful discussion under the chapter heading of ‘Why do archaeology’ (Chapter 2).
The last four chapters deal specifically with CRM issues. A common theme throughout the book is that CRM, in whatever form, is fundamentally about doing research. As King states, ‘for most archaeologists, research is the primary reason to be doing
archaeology’ (p.29). Nevertheless, King admonishes that ‘cultural resource management is not just archaeology’ (p.37) and that the multiple interests in cultural resources must be recognised and respected.
Obviously written from a US perspective, it is informative to note differences in how contract work operates in the US system and Australia. Of fundamental importance is the ownership of archaeology; cultural materials on private lands are the property of the landowner. The fundamental CRM legislation is on the US Federal level, with each state organised around a State Historic Preservation Office. There is a well-defined hierarchy of contract positions jobs and it is degree-driven. If you have only a BA, then you will remain at the lowest level no matter what your experience or ability. The pay scale is relatively low; a BA will get you a maximum of about AUD150 per day. In more practical terms, it will take about two weeks of work in the US just to cover your airfare from this side of the Pacific.
For use in the classroom, Chapter 7 (‘Key Issues on Cultural Resource Management’) is ideally suited to generate discussion. King raises 13 issues in CRM, ranging from indirect impacts to repatriation and reburial. As he states, he doesn’t try to provide answers, rather calls on readers to consider each on their own. These topics are not specific to the US but have relevance around the world. Readers will find his discussions of issues provoking.
King’s book is useful on many levels for the non-specialist as well as those out there ‘doing it’.
Review of ‘Historical Archaeology: Why the Past Matters’ by Barbara J. Little
Historical Archaeology: Why the Past Matters by Barbara J. Little. Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, CA, 2007, 207 pp., ISBN 978-1-59874-023-3.
CAM ARC, Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridgeshire CB23 8SQ, United Kingdom
Historical Archaeology is a well-written, but ultimately frustrating book that is designed as an introductory student text to historical archaeology. The book is divided into four main sections, each subdivided into specific illustrative chapters. The first, titled ‘What Are Our Ambitions’, is an introduction to the goals of the discipline. The second section, ‘What Do We Care About’ is a guide to interpretive themes and is where we first encounter in depth Little’s passionate advocacy for historical archaeology as a means to empower the historically and politically dispossessed. The third, and probably the weakest, section is a necessarily selective, and ostensibly global, ‘Windshield Survey’ of historical archaeology. The final section consists of a discussion of public archaeology and the public presentation of archaeological interpretation. Throughout the book, emphasis is placed on the use of case studies to illustrate the main points discussed in each chapter and section. This is the merest skeletal outline of the book, but Little’s consistency of theme and tone almost requires that the rest of this review consider the book as the sum of its parts rather than as individual sections.
The undoubted strength of Historical Archaeology is Little’s clear, concise, and chatty writing style, with its frequent use of the first person pronoun. Many first- and second-year undergraduates will find Little’s engaging approach infinitely preferable to the starchier style of more traditional textbooks.
More problematic, however, is Little’s narrow thematic focus on the archaeology of domination, resistance and oppression on the one hand and her American-centrism on the other. Only a broader discussion of how these two issues dominate the book can begin to reveal how the themes are somehow simultaneously a strength and a weakness.
The problem here is not necessarily with the individual themes and individual examples that Little discusses. Domination and resistance are important themes in historical archaeology – the book’s ability to give voice to ‘muted groups’ is an important part of our discipline. Using some of Little’s own examples, recasting the Jamestown story from the perspective of the Indigenous peoples who were in contact with the settlers will be a fresh and interesting perspective to many new students. The British enclosure movement did often involve the dispossession of the rural poor. Surely no-one would seriously argue that themes of oppression, domination and resistance can be avoided in the study of African American life or Australia’s convict past. Public interpretation of archaeology has a very real role to play in bringing these areas to public attention. These are all valid and important points of discussion, and Little writes with real conviction and considerable passion when exploring these themes.
The problem instead comes in Little’s implicit insistence, notwithstanding a couple of early chapter disclaimers, that these are the only themes that historical archaeology should focus on. Furthermore, only the excellent ‘Windshield Survey’ chapter on the Florida Mission of San Luis Talimali, which discusses voluntary conversion and the ‘underappreciated’ broader cultural impact of Catholic missions to Native Americans, offers any real attempt at nuance within these themes. After several chapters of this narrow focus on repression, domination and capitalism, many a reader will be left with the awkward feeling that Little believes that historical archaeology’s sole goal lies in uncovering the world of Monty Python’s constitutional peasant – ‘come see the violence inherent in the system! Help! Help! I’m being repressed!’
Little’s themes seem to give little space to an historical archaeology of the middle class or studies of social elites, except in so far as they inevitably oppress others. This is particularly unfortunate in Australia, sometimes conceptualised as the world’s first entirely bourgeois colonial nation, where the historical archaeology of the middle class is increasingly important. How this growing Australian research area would fit into Little’s emphasis on oppressed ‘muted groups’ and adding the ‘rest of us’ to stories of the past unfortunately remains unclear. Even those Australians who don’t consider the middle classes central to their research would surely hope that there is more to Australian historical archaeology than oppressed convicts.
The other area that may give many international readers of Historical Archaeology pause is Little’s clear American-centrism. As early as page 10 in the introduction, Little states that most of her examples come from the United States. This is, again, not necessarily a weakness in itself if the book is, as seems the author’s intent, primarily intended for an American audience. In submitting the volume for review in Australian Archaeology, however, the publishers clearly hope the book will find an international audience. This is more problematic.
Australia generally fares much better than Britain and Europe (continental Europe is essentially invisible), and mentions of Australia are scattered throughout the book. Yet the Australian reader may well be left wondering why Little places so much emphasis on the Irish in Australia. The chapter on Australian convicts closes with an explicit link drawn between Australian convicts and the imprisonment of the Irish. Later, the chapter on urban slums features passing mentions of Little Lonsdale and Cumberland/Gloucester, but the former apparently only so that Little can mention that Little Lonsdale Street was ‘full of Irish immigrants’ (p.123), an emphasis that will surely strike those familiar with the site as at best incomplete. In the convict chapter in particular, Little’s stress on the ‘shared heritage of British exile’ (p.106) between Australia and Ireland leaves it unclear as to whether the implication is that all imprisoned Irish were convicts, all convicts were Irish, whether an individual could only be either a convict or Irish, or indeed how being imprisoned within Ireland was comparable as an ‘exile’ to being transported to Australia. If Little is familiar with the complexities of the interaction between Irishness and convictism, which she surely must be, then she has failed to state these coherently.
Historical Archaeology’s problems with international research are perhaps best exemplified by the chapter on the ‘Enclosure of the English Countryside’. After a cursory discussion of the history of enclosure, in which no mention is made of enclosure as a British, rather than English, phenomenon (‘England’ and ‘Britain’ are frequently and incorrectly used synonymously throughout the book), the reader finds out that the archaeological case study has little to do with enclosure. Instead, all but one of the academic citations in the chapter involve an exploration of American work on the role of the common household fork in the shift from medieval to modern ideologies. The author’s intent seems to be to connect this with enclosure, and the attempt could probably be made, but it nonetheless seems unfortunate that, after some 40 years of post-medieval archaeology in the United Kingdom, the primary cited work in a chapter on English enclosure consists of tangentially-related American research.
All of that said, despite the narrow focus on themes of domination, oppression, and resistance, the problematic engagement with international research, this book will still serve as an excellent introductory text for North Americans looking for a theoretically-Marxist introduction to historical archaeology. However, those of us working in the rest of the world will almost certainly prefer to look elsewhere.
Between the Rivers and the Sea: Locating the Head of the Persian Gulf in the Lower Southern Mesopotamian Alluvial Plain, c.3000-139 BCE
GDArts(Hons), Department of Archaeology, School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, University of Sydney, November 2006
The thesis examines the location of the head of the Persian Gulf in the lower southern Mesopotamian landscape c.3000 BCE to the end of the Seleucid period (139 BCE) after the worldwide Holocene rise in sea-levels. It reconstructs a series of hypothesised shorelines on a NASA Landsat 7 satellite image 2000 through integrating three data sets – geomorphological, textual and archaeological. Locating the shoreline is important as without that knowledge it is difficult to assess the environmental constraints and advantages under which early Mesopotamian civilisation developed and flourished. This is even more important in the lower southern alluvial plain as one of its enduring physical characteristics is its very low gradient. Sterile soil at the Eanna sounding at Uruk was 0.99m above mean sea-level giving the area an elevation of around 1m when it was first occupied. Given such a low-lying landscape even a small change in sea-level would have had major implications for location of the shoreline and related settlement. Current scholarship has the sea-level incursion over by the beginning of the third millennium and the thesis concentrates on the following phases of sea-level change and discusses the relative importance of the rivers and the sea in the evolution of the area as the shoreline receded and the Tigris-Euphrates prograded their delta. In particular reconstructed ‘snapshots’ of the hypothesised location of the Gulf are mapped for three periods, Ur III (2100-2000 BCE), the reign of Rim-Sin 1 in the Isin-Larsa period (1822-1763 BCE) and during Sennacherib’s sixth campaign (c.696 BCE). While it is not often possible to do more than infer the location of the shoreline, it is clear that the lower southern alluvial plain was not inundated or ‘empty space’ but a viable settled lacustrine landscape, 3000–139 BCE.
Review of ‘North American Archaeology’ edited by Timothy Pauketat and Diana Lauren
Department of Archaeology, School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, University of Sydney NSW 2006, Australia
This volume is the fifth book in Blackwell’s global archaeology series, a regional synthesis designed to cover central areas for higher-level undergraduate archaeological teaching (another is Ian Lilley’s 2006 Archaeology of Oceania: Australia and the Pacific Islands). The book brings together a range of papers from somewhat disparate regions and periods to provide an interesting, but problematic, version of American prehistory (read United States of America as the regions that are now Canada and Mexico are forgotten). The goal of Pauketat and DiPaolo, like many recent volumes, is to stress that there are multiple approaches and meanings of understanding the past and as such there are no right or wrong answers.
North American Archaeology commences with a surprisingly lengthy introduction arguing for a post-modern perspective on the past with more ‘fluid’ conceptions of culture and rejections of ‘New’ and ‘behavioural’ archaeology. Pauketat and DiPaolo launch an attack on ‘new archaeology’ labelling it the ‘new religion’ of the 1960s (p.11) and rejecting their emphasis on behaviour and later developments from the likes of Schiffer and ‘his band of … students and cronies’ (p.12). Instead of evolutionary and behavioural explanatory frameworks they offer ‘alternative histories’ and point to another ‘all-important development in North American Archaeology’ (p.12); cultural resource management and Pauketat’s own work.
Following this introduction, the structure of North American Archaeology follows a broadly chronological and narrative path of 15 papers; Chapters 2–6 concerning archaic period hunter-gatherer studies, Chapters 7–10 the much more recent last 2000 years, and the remainder of the book contact period archaeology and cultural heritage issues.
The early archaic section of the book consists of five papers, but with a bias on the final few thousand years. Adovasio and Pedler provide a background paper to colonisation, whilst the remainder provide specific regional studies; Ames the west and northwest coast (four case studies spanning 12,000 years), Sassaman looks at the southeast (10,000–3,000 BP), Dancey revisits the famous Hopewell complex in Ohio (c.200 BC–AD 400), and Chilton looks at the apparently often ignored northeast New England region during the Late Woodland Period (AD 1000–1600). Immediately apparent in this section of the book is a real lack of early work and a dearth of lithic-related research. There are but fleeting mentions of the likes of Clovis and Folsom and nothing here for a student interested in lithic analysis and Pleistocene archaeology.
Adovasio and Pedler’s paper sits alone from the others in this section, providing a detailed synthesis of the issues surrounding colonisation of North America; who, when and how from which many parallels with our own Australian arguments can be drawn. There are no great surprises to where Adovasio sits in this debate with clear support for Asian origins, a pre-Clovis date for settlement based on the Medowcroft data and an argument against any kind of blitzkrieg of megafauna (contra Martin 1967; cf Meltzer 1988). What is interesting is the discussion of mechanisms and particularly the use of boats to reach unglaciated North America which would confine the ‘whole discussion of the timing and exposure of a land bridge (into North America) as a moot point’ (p.43).
In Chapters 7–10 the large-scale sedentary societies of the central and southern regions of North America dominate. Henning (Chapter 7) provides a detailed chronological analysis of the Great PlainsVillage tradition (AD 850–1700). Pauketat (Chapter 8) provides an almost overwhelming amount of data examining differences between Mississippian polities. Hegmon (Chapter 9) looks at the reasons for the emergence of elites in the southwest (Ancestral Pueblo and Hohokam), and Lekson examines the Chaco and Paquime cultures of the southwest (Chapter 10). This section of the book sits together much better than the archaic, providing interesting and compelling background papers for the target reader, although the weight of some case studies and narrative histories is so overwhelming in places that it appears authors have condensed an entire thesis into a research paper.
The final five papers in North American Archaeology cover most of the major themes of American historical archaeology. Silliman (Chapter 11) provides an excellent review the history and themes of culture contact studies. DiPaolo (Chapter 12) examines processes of creolisation during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Singleton (Chapter 13) looks at African American identity formation on the United States east coast during the eighteenth century. Watkins (Chapter 14) lists the history of the politics of repatriation in the United States that includes a brief discussion of Kennewick Man and Saitta (Chapter 15) provides a discussion of labour and class in the early twentieth century. There is nothing new in this final part of North American Archaeology, but the articles do provide strong starting points for students of historical archaeology and are pertinent to those studying Australian history.
North American Archaeology generally achieves its aims; it is an easy read and explains many key concepts in an approachable way for upper level students. The post-modern and sometimes Marxist approach of the book is unsurprisingly better applied to the later period historical studies, whist the arguments that largely reject behavioural explanations for the earlier archaic period papers are less convincing. Two critical issues weaken the volume significantly; a disregard of areas of North America other than the USA and an absence of research from colonisation until the late archaic. Perhaps there are just not enough post-processual lithic analysts out there?
Lilley, I. (ed.) 2006 Archaeology of Oceania: Australia and the Pacific Islands. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
Martin, P.S. 1967 Pleistocene overkill. Natural History 76(10):32–38.
Meltzer, D.J. 1988 Late Pleistocene human adaptations in eastern North America. Journal of World Prehistory 2(1):1–52.
Modern human behaviour and Pleistocene Sahul in review
Natalie R. Franklin and Phillip J. Habgood
The Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition in Europe has furnished a ‘package’ of archaeologically visible innovations that are claimed to reflect modern human behaviour. McBrearty and Brooks (2000) documented the gradual assembling of the ‘package’ over a 200,000 year period in the African Middle Stone Age and proposed that it was later exported to other regions of the Old World. Mellars (2006) recently proposed that modern humans quickly spread from Africa with the ‘package of modern human behaviours’ and colonised not only Europe but also southern Asia and ultimately Australia. In this paper we examine the late Pleistocene-early Holocene archaeological record of Sahul to establish if the ‘package’ was brought here by the earliest colonising groups. We find that the ‘package’ is not evident at the earliest sites; rather its components were gradually assembled over a 30,000year period following initial occupation of the continent by anatomically and behaviourally modern humans. The review further supports the view that there is currently no ‘package of archaeologically visible traits’ that can be used to establish modern human behaviour, as the components not only appear in different continents at different times, but also at different times and locations within continents such as Australia. This review also identifies chronological and geographical patterning of the individual ‘traits’ and proposes six ‘zones of innovation’ across Sahul.
Shared Histories – Shared Landscapes: An Exploration into the Continued Manufacture and Trade of Kimberley Points at Marralam Boab
Camille L. Kirby
BSocSc (Hons), School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, November 2005
The Marralam Boab contact archaeological site, excavated by Head and Fullagar in 1997, is situated in the eastern Kimberley region of the Northern Territory, Australia. The site exhibits an increase in stone tool production during the contact era which I argue, following Head and Fullagar, is due to the continued need to manufacture goods to uphold trade and exchange networks. This hypothesis is used as a point of departure to explore reasons and explanations of continuity within the pastoral industry of the Kimberley region. I apply a shared histories approach, incorporating interdisciplinary material and focusing on aesthetics to explain the atypical increase in stone tool production at the site in the contact era.
Homo erectus in Australia?
J. Peter White
You can’t be too careful with your press releases.
In May 2007 Georgi Hudjashov and 10 colleagues reported a detailed study of mtDNA and Y chromosome analysis of Aboriginal Australians and Melanesians. Part of their abstract reads: ‘The analysis reveals no evidence for any archaic maternal or paternal lineages in Australians, despite some suggestively robust features in the Australian fossil record, thus weakening the argument for continuity with any earlier Homo erectus populations in Southeast Asia’ (Hudjashov et al. 2007:8726). This accurately places H. erectus where we know it existed, in Southeast Asia.
In the University of Cambridge press release for 7 May, however, a slightly different statement emerged. Noting that ‘one of the main reasons for doubting the ‘Out of Africa’ theory was the existence of inconsistent evidence in Australia’, it said that ‘these discrepancies exist either because the early colonists interbred with the local Homo erectus population or …’ (University of Cambridge 2007, my emphasis). This statement was replicated by the Anglia Ruskin University press release (Anglia Ruskin University 2007).
By the time it reached The Times in London there had been further morphing into ‘The scientists found no evidence of any interbreeding with Homo erectus, Australia’s original inhabitants’ (Rose 2007:32, my emphasis). New Scientist on 12 May took the mistake one step further, attributing the statement directly to Dr Peter Forster, one of the report’s authors. As Forster wrote to me (pers. comm., 16 May 2007) ‘Homo erectus in Australia – now that would be a novelty!’ Indeed.
Anglia Ruskin University 2007 DNA links Aborigines to African Walkabout. Retrieved 17 October 2007 from http://www.anglia.ac.uk/ruskin/en/home/ news/archive/dna_links.html.
Hudjashov, G., T. Kivisild, P.A. Underhill, P. Endicott, J.J. Sanchez, A.A. Lin, P. Shen, P. Oefner, C. Renfrew, R. Villems and P. Forster 2007 Revealing the prehistoric settlement of Australia by Y chromosome and mtDNA analysis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104(21):8726-8730.
Rose, D. 2007 Genetic tests on Australian fossils suggest Aborigines did migrate out of Africa. The Times 8 May 2007, p.32.
University of Cambridge 2007 DNA Links Aborigines to African Walkabout. Retrieved 17 October 2007 from http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/news/press/ dpp/2007050401.
New Scientist 2007 Aboriginals ‘out of Africa’ too…’ New Scientist 2603:5.
Peter Ucko (1938-2007)
Peter John Ucko, archaeologist: born London 27 July 1938; Lecturer in Anthropology, University College London 1962-72, Director, Institute of Archaeology and Professor of Comparative Archaeology 1996-2006 (Emeritus); Principal, Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies 1972-81; Professor of Archaeology, Southampton University 1981-96; died London 14 June 2007.
Peter Ucko was the most influential archaeologist of his time. Almost single-handed, he brought about a revolution which irrevocably changed the whole structure and outlook of international archaeology.
This upheaval began in 1986, when – in scenes of frantic drama and controversy – the profession’s international body exploded at its congress at Southampton University. Out of the smoke and debris there emerged the World Archaeological Congress, dedicated to new and radical principles which included the notion that archaeology was profoundly political and that the archaeology of indigenous peoples in post-colonial continents – societies for whom the relics of a distant past were still components of a living culture – was more significant than the academic and Eurocentric studies of ‘prehistory’.
With his tight curls and his powerful, mobile face, Peter Ucko resembled a small Roman emperor. Passionate and unpredictable in his loves and hates, he could put superhuman energy behind causes and people he believed in (he was still editing a book on Chinese archaeological training on his death-bed). His own formation was as much in anthropology as in archaeology, one of the sources of his gift for breaking through academic barriers. Anthropology also satisfied his need (as he put it) ‘to be taught by and to meet academics who had respect for the beliefs and activities … of the people of other cultures’. His antipathy to racism was always violent. As a friend wrote about him, ‘the reason Peter is such a good hater is the motivation which powers the hate – a deeply felt anger at unfairness and injustice’.
Peter John Ucko was born in 1938, the son of intellectual Jewish emigrants from Germany. From his father, a doctor, he inherited a lasting delight in music, especially opera. After the ‘progressive’ public school of Bryanston, he began an anthropology degree at University College London in 1956, but always – so he later said – hoped to get into Egyptology, a lifelong craze which began when he collected figurines off antique stalls as a boy. After a PhD on Egyptian figurines, he spent 10 more years at UCL lecturing with increasing brilliance and originality in anthropology.
In 1967 Ucko and his then partner Andrée Rosenfeld published his first book, Palaeolithic Cave Art. Shortly afterwards, they moved to Australia where in 1972 he became principal of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies. This was to be a decisive, radicalising experience. ‘I found that my Institute was a totally white institution – whites gave out money to whites, through white committees, to study the blacks … an untenable situation.’ When he left in 1980, he made sure, against angry opposition, that his successor was an Aboriginal. It was in Australia that he met the anthropologist Jane Hubert, then married to Anthony Forge (who died in 1991), who was to become Ucko’s stout-hearted partner and counsellor for the rest of his life.
Back in Britain, in 1981 he became Professor of Archaeology at Southampton University. And it was here, in the 1980s, that he encountered the crisis of his professional life. The International Union of Pre- and Protohistoric Sciences (IUPPS) proposed to hold its 11th congress at Southampton and Ucko was persuaded to organise it. At that time (it has improved since), the IUPPS had decayed into a slovenly, deeply conservative and Eurocentric clique. To its horror, Ucko insisted that he wanted the conference to be a ‘World Archaeological Congress’, attended by archaeologists from ‘the Third World’ and devoted to global themes rather than to the cosy comparison of excavations and discoveries.
After enormous exertions, he seemed to be getting his way when disaster struck. Unwisely, Ucko had pushed to the back of his mind the crisis of apartheid South Africa, and the existence of an international academic boycott. But in 1986, only months before the congress, the Southampton student union and then the municipal authorities declared that they would withdraw all facilities if South African archaeologists attended. Worse, many of the African and Asian delegates now threatened not to take part.
Well aware of the storm he would provoke, Ucko decided that the cause of a new ‘world archaeology’ must not be abandoned. He declared that the South Africans would be disinvited. It was an act of outstanding courage. Uproar followed. Ucko was accused of betraying academic freedom. Funders withdrew; many of the leading archaeologists of Europe, Britain and America resigned from the congress and denounced him – sometimes with shameful abuse which they would now prefer to forget. The IUPP condemned him and pulled out.
But Ucko, urged by Jane to stand fast whenever his resolve faltered, stuck to his guns. In the end, over a thousand enthusiastic delegates arrived and Ucko’s dream of a new global order for a humanised science of the past was triumphantly realised. The first World Archaeological Congress (WAC-1) took off, and no fewer than 22 books were published from its sessions.
The cost was heavy, not least to Ucko’s health. He had lived off his nerves for 20 years, a heavy smoker with a generous wine intake; now appeared the first signs of the diabetes which was to end his life prematurely. And the crisis did not improve his confidence in his fellow humans. Students got the benefit of his tough humour and his adventurous, eccentric imagination. But colleagues had to tread warily; you were in or out. He could be childishly sullen and suspicious one day; brilliantly welcoming and lovable the next.
In 1996, he was appointed director of the Institute of Archaeology at UCL, Britain’s leading centre of teaching and research. There were grumbles from crusty colleagues. But the maverick Ucko was now, beyond challenge, the most creative figure in British archaeology. In 1997, he launched the first courses in Public Archaeology, typically redefining it as a critical audit of the profession’s ethics in areas as diverse as the handling of the indigenous dead and archaeology in the media.
He retired in 2006. Surprisingly, Ucko refused to accept the presidency of the WAC, but his master-work lives on, its vast congresses sparkling with fresh insights and theories. The 1980s were a decade in which British innovation in archaeology (for better or worse) led the world. Margaret Thatcher ‘privatised’ the profession, while Ian Hodder, Chris Tilley and Michael Shanks invented ‘postprocessual’ theory. But Ucko’s contribution will outlast them all: an irreversible, institutionalised commitment to an archaeology which happens now rather than in the past, and is concerned with the living as much as with the dead.
Reprinted by permission from The Independent, Obituaries, 21 June 2007.
Ucko, P.J. (ed.) 1977 Form in Indigenous Art: Schematisation in the Art of Aboriginal Australia and Prehistoric Europe. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.
Ucko, P. 1983 Australian academic archaeology: Aboriginal transformation of its aims and practices. Australian Archaeology 16:11-26.
Ucko, P. 1983 The poltics of the indigenous minority. Journal of Biosocial Science Supplement 8:25-40.
Ucko, P. 1985 Australian Aborigines and academic social anthropology. In C. Schrire and R. Gordon (eds), The Future of Former Foragers: Australia and Southern Africa, pp.63-73. Cambridge, MA: Cultural Survival Inc.
Ucko, P. 1987 Academic Freedom and Apartheid: The Story of the World Archaeological Congress. London: Duckworth.
Ucko, P. 1995 Archaeological interpretation in a world context. In P.J. Ucko (ed.), Theory in Archaeology: A World Perspective, pp.1-27. London: Routledge.
Ucko, P. 2000 Enlivening a ‘dead’ past. Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites 4:67-92.
Ucko, P. 2001 ‘Heritage’ and ‘Indigenous peoples’ in the 21st century. Public Archaeology 1:227-238.
Ucko, P. and G.W. Dimbleby (eds) 1969 The Domestication and Exploitation of Plants and Animals. London: Duckworth.
Ucko, P. and A. Rosenfeld 1967 Palaeolithic Cave Art. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.
Ucko, P.J., R. Tringham and G.W. Dimbleby (eds) 1972 Man, Settlement and Urbanism. London: Duckworth.
Review of ‘Peopling the Cleland Hills’ by Mike Smith
Jo McDonald Cultural Heritage Management Pty Ltd, 6 Supply Place, Red Hill, ACT 2603, Australia and Centre for Cross Cultural Research, The Australian National University, Canberra ACT 0200, Australia
In this beautifully illustrated little book (A5 format) Mike Smith turns his attention from deep time to the historic period. He uses Puritjarra – the site where he has methodically delved into and documented the Pleistocene occupation of Australia’s arid centre – as the place from which he can view historic social exchanges and colonial interventions amongst the Kukatja peoples – several families with whom he has worked over generations. Multiple sources of documentation are astutely drawn together – interviews; journals (by explorers, prospectors, missionaries and surveyors), books, articles and unpublished sources; parliamentary papers, ration lists and prison records; genealogies compiled by T.G.H. Strehlow; and anthropological records compiled by N.B. Tindale. There are some fantastic historical photographs – again from a number of sources.
Smith states his initial intention was to document the historic and ethnographic context for the most recent phase of occupation at Puritjarra – evidenced by the modern campsites, wooden implements, caches of quandong nuts and a frieze of white ochre painting. This grew, however into ‘[a] ‘history in a locale’ rather than an ethnography or an archaeology of contact’ (p.3). Smith also speaks of his desire to ‘people’ the Cleland Hills – to naming individuals and following the history of individual families from the time of Ernest Giles’ first incursion into the area in 1872.
Many of the early insights about the Aboriginal people tell us more about the nature of the engagement between them and their recorders than the recorders might have anticipated. The frontier was a fairly brutal place for the original settlers and the images of prisoners (boys and men) in neck chains for having speared cattle – before they were marched to Port Augusta reveals how marginal existence must have been on this pastoral frontier for the pastoralists.
The book ties together diverging lines of evidence – and it is a good example of the type of documentary that the Native Title era could be producing for many parts of Australia. Engaging with the people who make the archaeology we study is a fascinating journey – one which not all archaeologists have the good fortune to experience. Mike Smith also correctly identifies how archaeology can feed back into communities – regenerating interest and knowledge about place as well as sparking management and conservation initiatives. Smith’s work at Puritjarra provides an important record of the early occupation of the arid zone – this book provides an equally important record of the people who have persisted in this environment through its more recent history.
Fortified Homesteads: The Architecture of Fear in Frontier South Australia and the Northern Territory, ca 1847–1885
Nicolas K. Grguric
PhD, Department of Archaeology, FlindersUniversity, September 2007
This thesis is an investigation into the use of defensive architectural techniques by civilian settlers in frontier South Australia and the Northern Territory between 1847 and 1885. By focusing specifically on the civilian use of defensive architecture, this study opens a new approach to the archaeological investigation and interpretation of Australian rural buildings, an approach that identifies defensive strategies as a feature of Australian frontier architecture.
Four sites are analysed – three in South Australia and one in the Northern Territory. When first built, the structures investigated were not intended, or expected, to become what they did – their construction was simply the physical expression of the fear felt by colonial settlers. Over time, however, the stories attached to these structures have come to play a significant part in Australia’s frontier mythology.
These structures represent physical manifestations of settler fear and Aboriginal resistance. Essentially fortified homesteads, they comprise a body of material evidence previously overlooked and unacknowledged in Australian archaeology, yet they are highly significant in terms of what they can tell us about frontier conflict, in relation to the mindsets and experiences of the settlers who built them. This architecture also constitutes material evidence of a vanguard of Australian invasion being carried out, not by the military or police, but by civilian settlers.
These structures play a part in the popular mythology of Australia’s colonial past. All of these structures have a myth associated with them, describing them as having been built for defence against Aboriginal attack. These myths are analysed in terms of why they came into existence, why they have survived, and what role they play in the construction of Australia’s national identity. Drawn from, and substantiated through, the material evidence of the homesteads, these myths are one component of a wider body of myths which serve the ideological needs of the settler society through justifying its presence by portraying the settlers as victims of Aboriginal aggression.
Under the Boards: The Study of Archaeological Site Formation Processes at the Commissariat Store Site, Brisbane
BA(Hons), School of Social Science, University of Queensland, October 2003
The study of archaeological site formation processes, although commonly undertaken in prehistoric sites, is only carried out in historical archaeological sites in a limited way. Understanding the processes which formed the archaeological record of a site is an important first step towards developing justifiable inferences about past behaviour and past societies regardless of the age of the site. This thesis identifies and examines the cultural and non-cultural processes that formed the archaeological record at the Commissariat Store, Brisbane, Australia.
The history of the site, from its construction in 1829 as part of the Moreton Bay penal settlement to the present, is examined and the expected impacts and processes on the archaeological record are identified. The archaeological evidence from the salvage excavation of the site undertaken in 1978–1979 is analysed to identify the cultural and non-cultural site formation processes.
This study identified the presence of the cultural formation processes of discard, loss, abandonment and reuse from an examination of the historical and archaeological evidence. Non-cultural formation processes at work in the site include faunal turbation, floral turbation, flooding and aqua turbation. This research also identified deficiencies in Schiffer’s model for identifying and categorising cultural formation processes. The activity of construction of the site’s drainage system did not clearly fit within a single type of formation process. Water as a formation agent is only discussed in the literature as a non-cultural formation process, while at this site water can be seen as a cultural formation process. This thesis demonstrates the value and importance of understanding site formation processes as a firm basis for future interpretation of the archaeology of the Commissariat Store site.
Seeds from the slums: Archaeobotanical investigations at Mountain Street, Ultimo, Sydney, New South Wales
Andrew S. Fairbairn
Analysis of seeds from cesspits and other deposits excavated at Mountain Street, Ultimo, Sydney, provided insights into the diet, ethnicity and socio-economic status of the site’s inhabitants. Sample composition was similar to seed finds from urban cesspit assemblages in both Australia and Europe, combining locally produced dietary ‘staples’ with occasional imports and even a collected wild plant. It is unlikely that the seed analysis provided a complete picture of the diet of the Mountain Street dwellers, but it suggests an Old World culinary tradition, incorporating fresh and preserved fruits. Ethnicity is often reflected in food choice, but it is difficult to know if the range of species identified at Mountain Street accurately reflects a population derived from Old World immigrants, or rather the food supply system of Sydney at the time. Difficulty in identifying some common seed types may also have distorted the picture of dietary breadth and thus ethnic identity. Imported and exotic items are not considered to show affluence, but rather the desire of the slum dwellers to eat some luxury items.
Stone constructions on Rankin Island, Kimberley, Western Australia
Sue O’Connor, Len Zell and Anthony Barham
Here we report on a variety of stone constructions that have been recently recorded and mapped on Rankin Island in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. The function of one of these features, a long stone wall, is discussed in the context of similar built stone features in other areas of northern Australia and Torres Strait. The possibility that the wall functioned as a fish trap is examined but dismissed on the basis of the survey levelling data which indicate that even with a higher relative sea stand of +1–2 m the wall would only have been breached by king tides on a few days of the year. It is probable that the wall had associative ‘ritual’ or ‘magic’ functions, although it is acknowledged that the distinction between ‘ritual’ and ‘subsistence’ is a moot one where increase ceremonies and hunting magic are regarded as essential for success in procuring resources.
Review of ‘Many Exchanges: Archaeology, History, Community and the Work of Isabel McBryde’ edited by Ingereth Macfarlane with Mary-Jane Mountain and Robert Paton
Many Exchanges: Archaeology, History, Community and the Work of Isabel McBryde edited by Ingereth Macfarlane with Mary-Jane Mountain and Robert Paton. Aboriginal History Monograph 11, Aboriginal History Inc., Canberra, 2005, xxxv+412 pp., ISBN 0958563772 (pbk).
Department of Archaeology, School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, Building A14, University of Sydne, NSW 2006, Australia
During the last few years we have seen an increasing number of festschrifts released for both the first and second generations of Australian archaeologists. More than anything else this indicates not just the rapid retirement of so many of our founding researchers, but also the start of a very different phase in how we perceive our profession. Although ‘closely knit community’ may not be the right phrase, it has certainly been the case that until recently making acquaintance with almost anyone from the first generation onwards only required turning up at the next conference and shouting a beer. At worst, critique of someone’s academic or personal foibles could be readily obtained as fairly immediate gossip. The roles of personality and personal relationships – and lets face it, so much of Australian archaeology has taken shape from these – could also be factored in without too much effort. However, with retirement, and, for many, a progressive withdrawal from active participation, the immediacy of their personalities and their intellectual contributions is fading or taking a different form. For most fourth generation Australian archaeologists (the student’s student’s students?) what they know about the foundations and trajectories of the profession is based almost solely on what they have read, rather than who they know. Australian archaeology is starting to formalise its own history, but are we doing it justice?
The festschrifts that we are now seeing span the range. Some, possibly restricted by the nature of the journal or publication, provide restrained academic acknowledgement with papers from peers, students and fellow researchers recognising the subject’s work and influences. Others relax a little and sneak in a few anecdotes or life stories which flesh out the subject’s personality, sometimes even progressing beyond their archaeological interests. Most annoying are those volumes which have papers where relevance or even reference to the person being honored is non-existent, suggesting to me a lack of effort by authors and editors and possibly an opportunity to simply dust off something lying around on the contributor’s desk.
Having made the above comments, if I ever get to the point where I am honored with a festschrift, I want it to be just like the one dedicated to Isabel McBryde. Based on the ‘Many Exchanges’ symposium held at the AustralianNationalUniversity in 2001, this volume presents a true appreciation of the breadth and durability of Professor McBryde’s long-term contributions. The papers in this collection are redolent with genuine affection and respect for both her academic achievements and personality. The backgrounds of the authors, invariably now senior in their own right, demonstrate the impact one person can have in a range of fields: archaeology, ethnohistory, material culture studies, linguistics, art and imagery, cultural heritage management, teaching and relationships with Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. Each paper also makes a clear connection to McBryde’s works and influences, thus satisfying my own desire to see the thread of relationships.
The volume opens immediately with a useful map of McBryde’s field areas and an annotated list of studies, rather than just the usual chronological listing of papers and professional positions (although a bibliography of her publications is also provided at the end of the book). Following this is a preface by editor Ingereth MacFarlane which provides a potted history of McBryde’s career, and explains the logic of the three sections of the volume. In the first, titled Exchanges of Ideas: The Development of an Approach to Archaeological Practice and its Influences and Outcome, colleagues and past students provide a history of McBryde’s career and testimonies as to her personal and academic impacts. My only real quibble with the structuring of the volume lies here, that between the history provided in the preface and the first several papers of the volume, there is a lot of repetition of basic facts about McBryde’s career which might have been reduced with a touch of editorial control as to who might focus on what elements. Other than that the overlaps can be forgiven as representing different perspectives. The contributions by Sullivan, Johnston, Byrne and others are particularly enjoyable reflections on the teacher-student relationship, giving hope to all of us that some of our own students will go on to bigger and better things (and still like us at the end). Tjikatu, Pappin and Kennedy present touching tributes to McBryde’s work with Indigenous communities across Australia.
The second section, Exchanges within Regions, between Disciplines: Integrative Approaches, traces McBryde’s interdisciplinary emphasis, especially her innovative use of ethnohistory. This is perhaps the most interesting section, with studies on trade and exchange systems, movement, ceremony and the contact period which follow her lead in drawing upon diverse bodies of archaeological, historical, linguistic and ethongraphic data. In particular, Davidson’s paper on the trade networks in northwest central Queensland and Meehan and Jones’ paper on Anbarra perceptions of the significance of stone are fascinating insights into their own long-term multifaceted research projects. Although Pearson’s paper on historic shipping networks along the Western Australian coast initially looked somewhat out of place, he cleverly parallels these systems to our understandings of Aboriginal exchange networks, while also integrates a charming narrative about McBryde’s father, who worked as a Captain on these routes in the mid-twentieth century.
Section Three, Exchanges in Stone: Lithic Approaches to Past Social Interactions includes studies of stone tool production, use and distribution. The majority of the papers (Hiscock, Mulvaney, Ulm et al.) are withinn the Australian context, with a strong emphasis on the social mechanisms underlying the various processes and their relationships to wider networks. Paton’s essay looks at the changing values of the Mt Williams quarry during the historic period, providing a valuable addition and context to McBryde’s research at the site. Specht and Torrence both take some of the conceptual structures pioneered by McBryde into their researches on Melanesian obsidian exchange networks.
One of the most attractive qualities of this volume is that on the whole the contributors are such good writers, with the majority of the papers being eloquent examples of good academic prose. This might also be seen as a testiment to the strong narrative qualities of McBryde’s own publications. Structurally it is clear that some of these papers could have been equally effective within other sections, but I think that overall the editors did a good job in making sense of the contributions.
As one of the growing number who has never had the opportunity to meet Isabel McBryde, the value of this volume is that it not only provided me with a valuable insight into the extraordinary career of one of our discipinary founders, but also demonstrated how her contibutions have resonated in both my own and so many people’s researches and careers. I suspect that this festschrift will prove to be an important contribution for future researchers trying to understand why and how Australian archaeology has come to be.
Burkes Cave and flaked stone assemblage variability in western New South Wales, Australia
In 1970, Harry Allen excavated a small section of creek terrace adjacent to Burkes Cave in the Scopes Ranges of western New South Wales, revealing a stratified deposit dated by a single radiocarbon determination to c.2000 BP. An analysis of the stone artefact assemblage was never fully published. In this paper we present a description of the technological characteristics and composition of the stone artefact assemblage from this important site and consider similarities to and differences from other western New South Wales assemblages we have studied.Image caption: Western New South Wales (published in Australian Archaeology 64:36).
Review of ‘Shamans, Sorcerers and Saints: A Prehistory of Religion’ by Brian Hayden
School of Humanities and Communications, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba Qld 4350, Australia
The idea of this book developed from a university course on the prehistory of religion run by the author over a number of years. Its main emphasis examines ‘traditional’ religions; that is, those that are transmitted orally or experientially rather than ‘book’ religions such as Christianity, Judaism or Islam. Hayden’s theoretical perspective explicitly employs cultural ecology to explain why religion developed and how it continues to evolve today. In this context, belief emerged as an evolutionary mechanism that enabled humans to cope with the stress and crises experienced by our early human ancestors. To quote the author:The general premise of this book is that basic religious behaviours of the past and present have been shaped by two factors: ecology and an innate emotional foundation in humans that distinguishes us from other animals. This emotional foundation specifically consists of the ability to enter into ecstatic states via a number of techniques and to create strong, emotionally binding relationships with other people (or institutions or ideals) associated with those states. These factors become crucial in understanding the origins of the human penchant for religious experiences (p.3).
To some extent what makes this book unique is its attempt to look at some of the fundamental underpinnings of ‘belief’ common to us all, from an archaeological perspective; indeed it is the use of the archaeological evidence for religious practice that is the strongest component of the book. This evidence is most strongly presented in Chapter 4 in a review of the evidence for Neanderthal ritual in southern France, in which a convincing case is put forward for complex ritual capacity in pre-modern human populations. Although providing strong evidence for the presence of belief systems in early prehistory, Hayden’s emphasis on the universal role of states of altered consciousness (such as shamanism) as fundamental to early belief systems is less convincingly demonstrated. Indeed, one of the problems with the book is when Hayden departs from the archaeological data/evidence into descriptions of religious practices such as shamanism based on contemporary or historical examples.
Clearly when dealing with a ‘prehistory’ of a cognitive process such as belief, the use of the ethnographic record in proper context can provide valuable insight into how people in the past may have structured their belief systems. However, there are major problems with equating contemporary Indigenous belief systems with those of the deep past. These problems are further compounded when such analogies are applied to peoples on different continents, as seems to be the case when comparing archaic human religious practices with contemporary human practices. For instance, in the ‘Primal Palaeolithic’ chapter, Hayden uses a contemporary description of Aboriginal Australian ceremony as being analogous to ‘rituals from the very dawn of humanity’ (p.88). This description is accompanied by two photographs of Arunta Aboriginal men partaking in ceremony. Hayden goes on to state that:Ethnographic observations among hunter-gatherers and other traditional groups provide archaeologists with some inkling of what ritual life may have been like in the distant past. If the ecological conditions and adaptations of the present and past groups are relatively similar, reasonably persuasive arguments can be made that the ritual life of the past may have been similar to the present (p.89).
This temporal and spatial conflation of behaviour is to some extent compatible within a cultural ecological framework because if hunters and gatherers live in a particular environment they will have similar cultural adaptations – time and place are subordinate to ecological conditions. There is little place within this framework for the idea of cultural practice as an internally driven ‘independent system of ideas’ (p.14) specific to place and time. Unfortunately the portrayal of contemporary hunter-gatherer societies in this way also evokes the image of contemporary Aboriginal people as living fossils; the living template of stone-age Europeans. Or as nineteenth century unilineal evolutionary theorists such as Lubbock state, that observations of the life of these ‘miserable savages’ (p.63) would ‘throw light on the ancient remains found in Europe, and on the condition of the early races which inhabited our continent’ (Lubbock 1865:336-337, 354, cited in McNiven and Russell 2005:63).
This book attempts a difficult task in presenting a world prehistory of religion and is unique in its approach and scope on this topic. It is beautifully published and lavishly illustrated, and in spite of some of the issues outlined above, the detailed presentation of the archaeological correlates relating to belief makes this a worthwhile purchase for anyone teaching a subject on early religion. Whether you agree with the interpretation of the evidence or the rather hardline theoretical approach adopted, is perhaps secondary to its value as a source book on this somewhat neglected area of archaeology.
McNiven, I.J. and L. Russell 2005 Appropriated Pasts: Indigenous Peoples and the Colonial Culture of Archaeology. New York: AltaMira Press.
The Social Meaning of Classical Style Public Architecture in Adelaide in the Nineteenth Century
BArch(Hons), Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, October 2004
Adelaide (South Australia’s capital city) has a vast number of classical style public buildings in the city centre. Many of these buildings were constructed throughout the nineteenth century, and are still standing today. Classical style public buildings in three locations – the northern part of King William Street, North Terrace and Victoria Square – were analysed for this study. Fieldwork recorded the physical attributes of the buildings, while historical research noted the social and functional attributes.
The main aim of this study was to discuss the social meanings of classical style public architecture in Adelaide in the nineteenth century. Other aims were to examine the types of classical styles present in Adelaide, whether these styles were prevalent on public buildings in other Australian capitals and in other British colonies, and what the influences were for the choice of architectural style.
Analysis of architectural style in Adelaide has shown that architects and other influential individuals were emulating the behaviour of British elite, and copying historical trends for classical styles. At the same time there was some resistance against the strict rules governing traditional forms of classical architecture, providing new styles and orders, which formed different social meanings.
Examining Variation between North and Northwestern Tasmanian Stone Artefact Assemblages: A Comparative Study of the Armistead Property and Rocky Cape
BArch(Hons), Archaeology Program, School of Historical and European Studies, La Trobe University, October 2005
In December 2003, La Trobe University conducted a large-scale pedestrian survey and three-dimensional mapping of Aboriginal stone artefact scatters found on the ‘Armitstead Property’, a tree plantation owned in northern Tasmania. The Armitstead study area is approximately 90 hectares and is bounded by the Dasher and Mersey Rivers. Subsequent ploughing of terraces exposed over 4300 Aboriginal artefacts including other cultural material such as ochre.
Over 36% of recorded stone artefacts are complete flakes, nearly 13% are broken flakes, over 25% are flaked pieces, with cores/core fragments comprising over 13%. Tool types include Rhys Jones’ scraper types: roundedgedscrapers (Type I), small and large steep-edged scrapers (Types 2A and 2B), flat/straight-edged scrapers (Type 3), notched scrapers (Type 4) and concave/nosed scrapers (Type 5) numbering 129 artefacts. Eighty-three complete Ballywinnes and 254 Ballywinne fragments were also recorded, a tool possibly used to grind ochre and for other ritual practices.
A primary objective of my thesis was to compare and contrast the Armitstead stone artefact assemblage to the Rocky Cape assemblage and to discuss variation between inland and coastal scrapers. The study investigates whether Jones’ Rocky Cape Holocene stone tool typology is useful as an analytical manual for the study of inland open sites. Another aim was to establish a culture-historical sequence for the Armitstead assemblage; however, this was not possible because there is little technological change through time demonstrated for the Rocky Cape assemblage. Despite this limitation, the functional significance of the site is assessed using formal tool types such as the various scrapers and the culturally and socially significant Ballywinnes. Typological/attribute analysis demonstrated variation in the size of the scrapers and their edge characteristics compared to the Rocky Cape assemblage.
Even though tillage has impacted on the ‘original’ distribution of the surface scatters, the composition of the Armitstead artefact assemblage is typical of a Tasmanian Holocene flaked stone assemblage. In addition to the Ballywinne stones, the assemblage contains the cores, flakes and broken flakes, scraper types and broken scrapers, and other flaking debris that would be expected on the basis of previous research. Added to this is the exploitation of locally abundant raw materials such as quartzite and chert-hornfels.
I conclude that Jones’ Rocky Cape tool typology is still a practical ‘manual’ for archaeological investigations in present-day analyses and interpretations of Aboriginal archaeological sites. Technological and typological/attribute analyses were useful in detecting artefact variability such as variation in scraper size and the frequency of worked edges. The cultural significance of Armitstead is underscored by the presence of Ballywinnes and its association with ochre, an artefact not recorded at Rocky Cape.
Cognitive Development and Symbolism in the Pre-Upper Palaeolithic
BA(Hons), Centre for Classics and Archaeology, University of Melbourne, October 2003
This thesis investigates hominid cognitive development and the emergence of symbolism prior to the Upper Palaeolithic period. It involves a global review and examination of a wide range of Pleistocene evidence for early symbolism, language, and non-utilitarian behaviour, including that from Australia. Both palaeoanthropological evidence and material culture are discussed in relation to their significance for the evolutionary emergence of symbolic cognition. Discussion of palaeoanthropological evidence includes the relevance of cranial endocasts, encephalisation, skull morphology, and vocal tract reconstruction. Discussion concerned with material culture includes the role of palaeoart, colour symbolism, mortuary practice and stone tools. Collectively the wide range of evidence has important implications for the study of cognitive evolution. It is argued that the evidence strongly supports a model for a considerably early emergence of complex symbolic behaviour in various regions of the world well before 40,000 years ago. The thesis contends that the cognitive capacities for symbolic behaviour developed gradually and emerged considerably earlier than the Upper Palaeolithic, with the cognitive preconditions appearing c.2.5 million years ago, and fully symbolic cognition developed by as early as the Lower Palaeolithic.
Review of ‘Introduction to Rock Art Research’ by David S. Whitley
Natalie R. Franklin
Cultural Heritage Branch, Environmental Protection Agency, PO Box 15155, City East Qld 4002, Australia
This book is exactly what the title proclaims it to be – an introduction to rock art research – or ‘an introductory text, intended for college students but also useful to professional archaeologists and resource managers who … develop an interest in or need to study or protect rock art sites’ (p.xi). Arising from the need to provide a text book for a short course on rock art research taught by the author at San Carlos University in 2004, the result, this book, was also only ‘intended as a starting point for students and archaeologists interested in rock art research (and not … the final word on how this research must be conducted)’ (p.xi). As such, the book reflects the author’s own experience, research interests, and biases, as Whitley unashamedly points out (p.xi), and draws on a wealth of examples from the area where he has undertaken most of his work, North America. However, any introductory work on rock art research or archaeology in general will necessarily reflect the biases and agendas of its author, but there is still much for the student, archaeologist or cultural heritage professional to learn from this text.
The book is divided into 10 chapters, plus a useful appendix with two examples of recording forms that might be applicable in any rock art recording project, a glossary of the terms used throughout the book, and an extensive reference list providing good coverage of the field, although I would like to have seen more of the Australian literature cited.
The introductory chapter covers definitions of rock art and the techniques used to make it. It is an indication of the relative comprehensiveness of this book that Whitley includes earth figures in his definition of rock art (i.e. intaglios such as the Nazca lines of Peru and geoglyphs or stone arrangements like those found in Australia and northern Chile), although it is unfortunate that they are not considered again. Whitley stresses that rock art research is a subdiscipline of archaeology, but with its own specialised literature, addressing sometimes-different problems and requiring its own analytical techniques.
Chapter Two provides some useful information on rock art fieldwork and how to record sites, differentiating ‘narrative recording’, or written documentation of sites, from ‘graphic documentation’ by such means as photography and tracing. There is a good coverage of some of the latest recording techniques, including digital photography and 3D laser scanning of panels. Whitley stresses the destructive nature of some recording and of archaeology in general, and although he mostly provides a balanced approach, I disagree with his view that direct tracing of paintings is acceptable if they are covered by mineral skins or coatings. The effect of such tracing on these accretions and their dating potential is unknown, and the general precautionary principle followed in the field of conservation is applicable here. A minor quibble I have with Whitley’s lucid explanation of the various recording techniques is the apparent contradiction between his statement that stippling should be avoided in direct tracings of rock art panels, as the accuracy of the traced lines is unclear, and his inclusion of an illustration of a traced panel from his own recording research that features stippling in the legend. In this chapter, Whitley again emphasises that rock art is just one component of a larger archaeological phenomenon, and that the archaeological context of rock art sites should be recorded as this may shed light on the creation of the rock art itself, sentiments with which I strongly agree.
The classification of rock art and the thorny issue of the equation of similar groupings of motifs with cultural-historical styles are considered in Chapter Three. In this chapter, Whitley’s identification of rock art motifs as particular subjects appears as far too certain, such as his interpretation of engraved ‘bighorn sheep’ in the Coso Range of eastern California as dead adult males rather than the pregnant females usually cited. A large body of research has shown that the precise identification of particular rock art figures is problematic, and also that it is not even required for meaningful analysis to follow.
Chapter Four is a comprehensive coverage of dating methods for rock art and the advances that have been made in recent years to provide it with a chronological context. The chapter includes some little-known techniques, such as cosmogenic dating and lead-profile dating. However, the certainty provided by some techniques, such as cation-ration dating, has been overstated, and Whitley’s views on this method stand in stark contrast to the Australian experience, where the controversial results obtained for a rock engraving site in the Olary Province have since been withdrawn.
The next four chapters consider the interpretation of rock art and the various approaches that have been taken. Chapter Five contains ‘a quick refresher on scientific method and some related topics … because the careful use of scientific method provides our best means for studying rock art’ (p.71), and underlines the importance of systematic data collection and analysis compared to the use of anecdotal evidence.
Symbolic and ethnographic interpretation is covered in Chapter Six. A contrast is drawn between informed approaches, where ethnological or ethnographic evidence is used, and formal approaches, which feature outsiders’ interpretations of rock art using quantitative or locational data and other evidence. Although this chapter has a useful and clear explanation of ethnographic approaches to rock art interpretation, it would have benefited from a greater use of Australian examples. This is particularly apparent in the discussion of rock art manufactured to commemorate mythic beings and their actions at certain locales, where parallels with Dreamtime ancestors and the Dreaming tracks they created are all too clear.
A major emphasis of Whitley’s approach is apparent in Chapter Seven, which discusses the neuropsychological (N-P) model, and ‘shamanic’ and ‘shamanistic’ interpretations of rock art. Although numerous examples that illustrate this approach are cited by Whitley throughout the book, this chapter contains the first coherent discussion of the model, drawing the various examples together. I found this chapter quite illuminating and learnt several things that I had not been aware of before, such as the observation that altered states of consciousness involve the generation of iconic (figurative) as well as geometric images in the brain, and that these would be expected in a corpus of rock art if its origin is shamanic (made by shamans) or shamanistic (not made by shamans, but relating to shamanic beliefs and practices). The N-P model has been widely used to interpret rock art in Europe, Siberia, southern Africa and the United States, but has only rarely been applied in Australia. Although I find the model often unnecessarily complex in the interpretation of rock art, it may be fruitful to explore it further as just one explanation rather than a blanket explanation for variation in Australian rock art through time and space.
Chapter Eight lumps other formal approaches to rock art interpretation under the headings ‘Landscape and Distributional Studies’, further subdivided into ‘Archaeoastronomy and Acoustics’, ‘Rock Art as Communication’, and ‘Ethnicity and Territoriality’; ‘Quantitative and Metrical Studies’; ‘Physical Analyses’ and ‘Structuralism and Semiotics’. These subdivisions in a single chapter make the book appear unbalanced in its presentation of the various approaches that have been taken to the interpretation of rock art, especially when compared to the devotion of a whole chapter to just one model, the neuropsychological. This chapter is also dismissive in tone, as illustrated by comments such as ‘we look at formal approaches beyond neuropsychology, focusing on those that are most common, if not always successful’ (p.123). However, this observation appears to be contradicted by some of the examples cited by Whitley, particularly the studies that have addressed questions such as why rock art is placed in one location and not another (e.g. Bradley’s work on the Neolithic rock art of the Atlantic coast), ethnicity and territoriality (e.g. Wilson’s study of Pacific Islands rock art), and how the visibility of rock art panels relates to public versus private sites (e.g. Loubser’s research at Hell’s Canyon, Columbia Plateau). Again, this chapter would have benefited from the inclusion of more Australian studies, if only to refute statements such as ‘formal quantitative and statistical analyses in rock art are the exception rather than the rule’ (p.141), as there is a large body of Australian literature that indicates an increasing use of statistical and multivariate analyses.
The final two chapters (Nine and Ten) deal with management and conservation, and the relationship between archaeology, anthropology and rock art. The first of these chapters comprises a fairly standard text on management planning that might be found in any cultural resource management book, while the final chapter emphasises the need to incorporate the results of rock art research into ‘the interpretation of wider archaeological issues’ (p.163). It also highlights the reciprocal needs of dirt archaeology, rock art research, and anthropology in the form of a continuing priority for world-wide ethnographic research on rock art. These points are well made in Whitley’s final summing up of the exciting research that has been undertaken in rock art research over the last two decades.
This book is a useful, interesting and welcome addition to the library of any rock art archaeologist. Although largely drawn from the author’s experience with rock art research in the United States, it has much that is applicable to rock art research in Australia and to Australian archaeology in gene
Richard John Hunter (1946–2006)
Richard John Hunter was born on 27 May 1946 at Swan Reach Mission on the Murray River, South Australia. Richard was the first of five children of Harry Hunter and May Hunter (née Richards). He was a recognised Nganguruku, Peramangk and Ngarrindjeri elder and a custodian of the culture for this region. Indeed, he spent many decades caring for the heritage of his country to which he had a deep connection.
Richard’s formative years were spent at SwanReachAreaSchool where he was head prefect, sport’s captain, tennis captain and football captain. After leaving school he worked many and varying jobs including working on the fruit blocks, as a jackeroo, as a head ganger on the railways and as a gardener for the Mannum Council. Undoubtedly many of these years were tough, although Richard was not one to complain about such hardships. It was in his subsequent years that he was able to devote his time working to protect his culture and heritage.
To achieve his mission Richard enrolled at the University of South Australia and studied archaeology. He also involved himself in many important research projects and came to be involved in most if not all heritage issues on his country. In fact, he was Chairperson of the Mannum Aboriginal Community Association for countless years. This important work is being carried on by his children.
One of the earlier archaeological research projects in which he was heavily involved was the Swan Reach Mission Archaeology, History and Anthropology Project and subsequent publications on which he was a co-author (Anderson et al. 1999; Hemming et al. 2000). Later he was also involved in research at Fromm’s Landing (which included a reanalysis of some of the materials excavated by D.J. Mulvaney) and again was a co-author on one of the papers arising out of this research (see Roberts et al. 1999). These two examples are just a small selection of the archaeological research projects in which he was involved and actually co-authored. Indeed, as mentioned above, his involvement with heritage surveys was extensive.
It was Richard’s enthusiasm for archaeology and other related disciplines which led him to attend numerous archaeological and anthropological seminars, conferences and congresses – often as an invited speaker and/or guest. He was admired in his community for travelling overseas to attend the World Archaeological Congresses in India in 1994 and South Africa in 1999.
Richard was also passionate about preserving his beloved Ngaut Ngaut for the future generations of his people. This dream was finally realised only recently through a co-management arrangement with the Department of Environment and Heritage. Ngaut Ngaut (also known as Devon Downs) is of course famous for being the first archaeological site in Australia to be ‘scientifically’ excavated by N.B. Tindale and H. Hale in 1929 and for challenging the theories of the day which argued that Aboriginal people had not occupied Australia for any significant length of time. Richard of course had a lot to say about such theories!
Ngaut Ngaut is also the site that Richard used to educate many thousands of tourists, students, government officials, archaeologists and others about the importance of Aboriginal culture. In this regard he used the large collection of rock engravings at the site as the conduit for his goals. His involvement in cultural tourism was recognised by both his lifetime membership of Aboriginal Tourism Australia as well as his South Australian Citizen of the Year Award (2006). The important cultural tourism and education work at Ngaut Ngaut continues.
Apart from Ngaut Ngaut, Richard considered that his other major life achievement was gaining the title to the land known as Sugar Shack. In fact, it was these two events that he prized above any other awards or recognition.
In relation to archaeology and education he was also enthusiastic about improving relationships between Aboriginal people and researchers and educating us about the importance of consultation and negotiation with Aboriginal people. This facet of his interest in the discipline is evident in all research projects in which he involved himself. In particular, his views were recorded through his participation in a study which aimed to investigate such issues and the report for which he was also a co-author (see Roberts et al. 2002).
It seems most of all, however, that it is difficult to sum up such a full and remarkable life in a few short paragraphs except to say that his passing continues to be mourned by the very many people who loved him. Importantly, his devotion to protecting the heritage of his people has also left a beneficial legacy to be enjoyed by future generations.
Richard is sadly missed by his friends (many of whom work in the South Australian archaeological community) and especially by his family including his 12 children Sharon, Ivy, Geoffrey, Rynald, Rebecca, Belinda, Phillip, Isobelle, Mavis, Samantha, Shannon, Stephanie, his many many grandchildren, his dearly loved wife Cynthia and countless other family members.
Anderson, S., S. Hemming and R. Hunter 1999 Swan Reach Mission: Archaeology, History and Anthropology. Unpublished report for the National Estate Grants Program.
Hemming, S., V. Wood and R. Hunter 2000 Researching the past: Oral history and archaeology at Swan Reach. In R. Torrence and A. Clarke (eds), The Archaeology of Difference: Negotiating Cross-Cultural Engagements in Oceania, pp.331-359. London: Routledge.
Roberts, A.L., F.D. Pate and R. Hunter 1999 Late Holocene climatic changes recorded in macropod bone collagen stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes at Fromm’s Landing, South Australia. Australian Archaeology 49:48-49.
Roberts, A.L. with R. Hunter, P. Coulthard, I. Agius, E. Newchurch, J. Bramfield, M. Smith, A. Rigney, V. Copley, D. Hirschausen, V. Branson, T. Trevorrow, M. Rigney, G. Trevorrow, P. Dixon, K. Hunt and one anonymous participant 2002 Indigenous South Australian Perspectives of Archaeology Project Report. Unpublished report to the Department of Archaeology, FlindersUniversity.Image caption: Richard Hunter at Ngaut Ngaut (published in Australian Archaeology 64:63 with permission from the Hunter family).
A reinvestigation of the archaeology of Geosurveys Hill, northern Simpson Desert
In October 1962 Norman Tindale was flown to the Geosurveys Hill area, deep in the Simpson dunefield (Figure 1), to follow up reports of prehistoric occupation exposed on interdunal pans in the area (Anon. 1962). Tindale, then at the South Australian Museum, had been invited to make the trip by Reg Sprigg, managing director of Geosurveys of Australia Ltd, one of several companies prospecting the Simpson Desert for oil and gas in the 1960s (Sprigg 1993). Geosurveys staff had noticed that ‘long lines of stones on a claypan disappear under sand hills’ (Sprigg 1993). Left alone in the desert in the late afternoon, Tindale, then nearly 62, was a hardy, self-reliant field archaeologist: ‘I took stock of my camp,’ he wrote in his journal, ‘got together some firewood against the night, chose a place to sleep and then made a hasty reconnaissance of the claypan.’ Later he ‘fed on chops grilled in ashes, made tea and then with a flashlight searched for and found stone implements … on the claypan’ (Tindale 1962:7). Although he had planned for several days of fieldwork, Tindale only had a few hours of daylight in the area as the plane returned the next morning to collect him before impending rain made local pans too soft to land on.Image caption: Stone arrangements of varying age (published in Australian Archaeology 64:52).
To make a point: Ethnographic reality and the ethnographic and experimental replication of Australian macroblades known as leilira
Long macroblades, generally known in Australia as leilira blades and created by direct percussion, were used as knives and spear points in many parts of northern and Central Australia until very recently. By the 1960s, however, it is clear that there were no Indigenous knappers remaining who could produce such blades in a regular and consistent manner. There are very few ethnographic accounts of the manufacture of these blades and those that do exist generally lack technological detail that is useful to those wishing to understand the reduction processes involved in their creation. More recent studies involving Indigenous knappers have provided important insights into many concepts relating to stone as a ‘living entity’ with power, the significance of the blades, access to quarries and other social phenomena rather than successfully demonstrating the technology itself. It is apparent that, dependent on the form of the raw material, a number of different techniques were used to produce these blades. This paper seeks to examine the Australian literature relevant to the production of leilira blades and, drawing on experimental work, to consider the technological factors relevant to the knapping process.
Bundeena bling? Possible Aboriginal shell adornments from southern Sydney
In the course of recent archaeological test excavations undertaken by Mary Dallas Consulting Archaeologists (MDCA) at a midden site (AHIMS# 52-3-1224) at Bundeena in southern Sydney (MDCA 2004a, 2004b), several perforated black periwinkle (Nerita atramentosa) shells were retrieved. They resemble other worked specimens found a few hundred metres away at Bundeena Beach Shelter (AHIMS#52-3-0222) over a century earlier (Harper 1899), but not documented anywhere else in the Sydney region in the intervening period (Figure 1).
This has led to a consideration of the evidence which may support the interpretation of these recently discovered shells as culturally modified, possibly used as personal adornments. In addition to a review of the archaeological context and relevant literature, this involved examining the shells originally excavated by Harper and conducting experiments with modern black periwinkle shells.Image caption: Perforated shells (published in Australian Archaeology 64:47).
Protecting the Past for the Public Good: Archaeology and Australian Heritage Law
PhD, University of Sydney, February 2007
Archaeological remains have long been recognised as fragile evidence of the past, which require protection. Legal protection for archaeological heritage has existed in Australia for more than 30 years but there has been little analysis of the aims and effectiveness of that legislation by the archaeological profession. Much Australian heritage legislation was developed in a period where the dominant paradigm in archaeological theory and practice held that archaeology was an objective science. Australian legislative frameworks continue to strongly reflect this scientific paradigm and contemporary archaeological heritage management practice is in turn driven by these legislative requirements.
This thesis examines whether archaeological heritage legislation is fulfilling its original intent. Analysis of legislative development in this thesis reveals that legislators viewed archaeological heritage as having a wide societal value, not solely or principally for the archaeological community. Archaeological heritage protection is considered within the broader philosophy of environmental conservation. As an environmental issue, it is suggested that a ‘public good’ conservation paradigm is closer to the original intent of archaeological heritage legislation, rather than the ‘scientific’ paradigm which underlies much Australian legislation. Through investigation of the developmental history of Australian heritage legislation it is possible to observe how current practice has diverged from the original intent of the legislation, with New South Wales and Victoria serving as case studies. Further analysis is undertaken of the limited number of Australian court cases which have involved substantial archaeological issues to determine the court’s attitude to archaeological heritage protection.
Situating archaeological heritage protective legislation within the field of environmental law allows the examination of alternate modes of protecting archaeological heritage and creates opportunities for ‘public good’ conservation outcomes. This shift of focus to ‘public good’ conservation as an alternative to narrowly-conceived scientific outcomes better aligns with current public policy directions including the sustainability principles, as they have developed in Australia, as well as Indigenous rights of self-determination. The thesis suggests areas for legal reforms which direct future archaeological heritage management practice to consider the ‘public good’ values for archaeological heritage protection.
Massacre, frontier conflict and Australian archaeology
This paper examines the nature of archaeological evidence relating to frontier conflict/violence in the Australian context. Because of the unique nature of Aboriginal/European frontier encounters, it is argued that a focus on locating archaeological evidence for massacres is problematic. It is suggested that rather than focus on frontier conflict in terms of massacre sites, archaeologists employ a broader social landscape archaeological approach, thus allowing a more holistic contextualisation of Aboriginal/European frontier interactions.
Review of ‘Writing Archaeology: Telling Stories about the Past’ by Brian Fagan
School of Social Science, University of Queensland, St Lucia Qld 4072, Australia
This book is timely with the recent focus on the importance of public outreach and engaging the public’s interest in archaeology in Australia, particularly through mass media (e.g. du Cros 2002; Nichols 2006), in this case through popular publications. If one author comes to mind in thinking about writing archaeology for the public it is Brian Fagan, who has been publishing widely-used texts and general books since the 1970s. As Fagan himself articulately puts it, ‘this book is about the process of writing, the challenges, frustrations, and deep satisfactions of writing a book not for your colleagues but for a general audience’ (p.28).
Divided into nine logical chapters, it is written in an accessible, conversational style that makes you feel Fagan is in the room coaching you to write. Each chapter contains a key ‘rule’ to keep you on track throughout the writing process and provides a significant reminder to the main point Fagan is making.
Chapter 1 provides an introduction to general writing and storytelling with Rule 1 being ‘always tell a story’ (p.13). Fagan provides excellent examples of how to tell an archaeological story (and how not to tell it) when aiming at a general audience and provides advice on practicing writing and setting up a regular routine.
The second chapter provides a way to start off small and local by focusing on writing articles and columns for local newspapers and magazines. In this way, the writer serves an apprenticeship and learns how to write before moving onto bigger projects. Fagan provides a practical outline of how to submit material to major magazines and how the process works, with an introduction to the tougher world of publishing with Rule 2: ‘Deadlines are sacred. Meet them’ (p.29).
The next six chapters detail the process of writing and publishing a trade book for general audiences. Chapter 3 addresses the generation of ideas for the ‘proven niche’ (p.51) of archaeology trade books and introduces the reader to the trade market and how it works. Rule 3: ‘write only about topics that passionately interest you’ (p.47) reflects Fagan’s recommendation to firstly write a ‘passionate narrative’ (p.59) that is the story of your book which gathers and develops the main themes into ‘a seamless tale’ (p.59).
Chapter 4 takes the passionate narrative to the next stage – writing the formal proposal for your book and Rule 4: ‘treat the proposal as seriously as the book because you’re selling yourself and your idea’ (p.63). Fagan details what the proposal should and shouldn’t be, describes how editors make their decisions, and outlines the required elements of the proposal and the book outline.
The next stage, writing specimen chapters, is covered in Chapter 5, which also discusses the fundamental importance of editors, what different types of editors do and most importantly (Rule 5), how to ‘develop a good relationship with your editor’ (p.79). The chapter provides more detail on how the publishing industry works including the use of literary agents, and the world of contracts and advances.
Chapter 6 moves onto the next important stage – writing the first draft. Fagan concurs with every book about writing with his Rule 6: ‘make writing a daily habit’ (p.91). The chapter provides a wide range of detailed hints and suggestions about getting into the habit of writing, setting up a workspace, and how to get started. He also provides his proven strategies to get over procrastination and writer’s block that will be of great benefit to all archaeologists and students who are trying to write. Fagan also discusses doing the research for your book, and various techniques for building up the narrative.
Rule 7 – ‘Revision is the essence of good writing. Listen to criticism and leave your ego at home’ (p.109) – introduces Chapter 7, with Fagan again providing a wide range of useful advice on getting that first draft to the final manuscript stage. He covers his own ‘writing mantras’ (p.111) and provides a suggested (but not the only) revision strategy that works for him. He provides advice for tackling the various rounds of revision, getting others to read the manuscript, and submitting the final version.
Chapter 8 follows the book into the production process and beyond with Rule 8 being ‘don’t walk away from your book when you finish writing it’ (p.127). Fagan covers the nitty-gritty of the process from production through copyediting, illustrations, the cover design, the proofs and index to the actual publication, and then on to the final stage of marketing and promotion.
The final chapter discusses the writing and publishing of another genre of book altogether – the textbook. The chapter runs through the publication process identifying the key differences between texts and trade books. Fagan’s Rule 9 for textbooks: ‘never write a textbook unless you have the time to revise it’ (p.143). Fagan rounds the book off with a concise conclusion and a range of key resources for writers to further investigate the topic, including resources on general, academic and textbook writing, (the very few) on writing about archaeology, archaeological illustration, writing magazines and web resources.
The book provides a practical approach to writing about archaeology for general audiences and enlightens those of us who have never had any experience with the trade publishing world. Focused on the North American publishing scene, the book will be a valuable resource for the increasing number of Australian archaeologists seeking to publish their work in the US market. The structure of the chapters provides an easily accessible format that enables individual chapters to be consulted while actually working through the various stages of the process. Not only does Fagan provide practical advice on the process, he provides inspiration to get out there and start writing. Although aimed directly at those archaeologists wanting to write for a general audience, the advice Fagan provides about writing will be of great value to all professionals and students in the field of archaeology. If, as Nichols (2004:44) indicates, ‘that the future of the discipline … will be dependent on the profession’s ability to reach a wider popular audience’, Fagan’s book is certainly a step in the right direction. To give Fagan the last word: ‘We archaeologists have lost sight of distant horizons, of the great issues of our discipline. We need to write for humanity, for civilisation, not just for our friends – and our enemies’ (p.163).
du Cros, H. 2002 Much More than Stones and Bones: Australian Archaeology in the Late Twentieth Century. Melbourne: MelbourneUniversity Press.
Nichols, S. 2006 Out of the box: Popular notions of archaeology in documentary programmes on Australian television. Australian Archaeology 63:35-46.
Nichols, S.J. 2004 Out of the Box: Popular Notions of Archaeology in Documentary Programs on Australian Television. Unpublished BA (Hons) thesis, School of Social Science, University of Queensland, Brisbane.
Review of ‘The Goddess and the Bull: Catalhoyuk: An Archaeological Journey to the Dawn of Civilisation’ by Michael Balter
School of Social Science, University of Queensland St Lucia Qld 4072, Australia
Çatalhöyük is a near legendary Neolithic site in central Turkey under renewed archaeological investigation since 1993 when Ian Hodder made it the focus of his practical application of ‘reflexive archaeology’. In the revised paperback edition of The Goddess and the Bull, Science correspondent Michael Balter takes the reader on an entertaining journey through the complex and at times unbelievable archaeology of the site in its regional context. As alluded to in its introduction, the book takes the form of an ambitious biography, weaving together an historical narrative with the personal histories of many famous, infamous and not-so-famous characters that have contributed to Çatalhöyük’s unlikely status in the popular and professional psyche. At this point I have to declare an interest – I am one of those not-so-famous characters and while interviewed for the book I was, thankfully, avoided in Balter’s biographical sections. Jaded by three years of employment on Hodder’s project, including the 1999 ‘long season’, and with both positive and negative memories of that time, it took considerable effort to turn the book’s opening page. I am glad to have done so and now offer this review with a modicum of ‘insider-knowledge’ and an active research interest in the Turkish Neolithic.
After starting with an account of his own peculiar and almost accidental incorporation into the project, Balter’s narrative kicks off with the story of James Mellaart’s initial work at the site in the 1960s and ends with a party on the dig-house roof in 2001. To summarise as briefly as possible, Mellaart discovers and then excavates a huge Neolithic mound in then archaeologically-unfashionable central Turkey. He discovers a well-preserved site of unexpected complexity, replete with beautiful and unique artwork, figurines and numerous human burials beneath the floors of its densely-packed houses. Fame is assured as he reveals his stunning finds and claims the site as the earliest known city, turning accepted knowledge on its head. He is then ejected from Turkey after the theft and sale of artefacts by some workmen and his involvement in the Dorak Affair – involving, and I assure you this is not made up, a mysterious woman on a train and equally mysterious treasure. Even in mothballs, Çatalhöyük becomes ever more well-known as a result of Mellaart’s voracious appetite for publicity, including publication of controversial ‘kilim’ wall paintings, the site’s appropriation by Gimbutas-inspired Mother Goddess worshippers and, not to be forgotten, the archaeological importance of the finds. Though further archaeological research eventually shows Çatalhöyük to be but one element of a regional Neolithic sequence with local antecedants, the concentration of artwork in its middle levels remains unparalleled. Cut to 28 years later, Ian Hodder unexpectedly becomes the person to reopen the site and starts a 25-year project that rapidly becomes one of the most high profile and largest research excavations on earth with a cast of thousands. Hodder aims to test Mellaart’s conclusions and go beyond the crude empiricism of the ‘New Archaeology’ (i.e. science-based archaeology emerging in the 1960s and 1970s) to develop his own brand of contextual archaeology. The project also allows Hodder to investigate further the Neolithic phenomenon, this time in the excavation trench rather than the armchair, and address one of the key questions of human existence, as phrased in a Science piece by Balter (1998): ‘Why settle down? The mystery of communities’.
Balter’s chronological narrative is peppered with biographies of key characters in the Çatalhöyük story, including many of the archaeologists who have contributed their labour to its investigation. There is a natural focus on researchers with a long presence at the site and those, such as Greek charcoal analyst Eleni Asouti, whose presence transcends geopolitical expectations. The most enjoyable and relevant accounts are of Mellaart and Hodder; I have to admit that I tired of some others towards the end of the book and wondered whether some of the personal details were necessary. Mostly, the biographies were an effective means of illuminating parts of the story, the detail of archaeological techniques, the excitement and plain hard work involved in discovery and the personal drive behind many of the characters leading to their appearance at Çatalhöyük. Having experienced Mellaart’s final years as a lecturer, including those slides of the Dorak treasure and ‘new’ wall paintings, I could understand Hodder’s fascination with both the man and the site. The biographical approach also allowed a textured understanding of life at the excavation itself; its highs and lows and many tensions. Craig Cessford’s thoughts on the arrival of the main dig team midway through the 1999 long season (p.269) mirrored my own exactly. Many specialist techniques are also effortlessly explained via personal experience and occasional wry comment, giving a rich representation of the frantic and methodologically deep investigation of the site.
To add further meat to a fairly rich stew, the author somehow manages to insert a condensed Neolithic into the narrative, including many of its key theories, sites, debates, researchers and recent discoveries. In addition there is a well-written and highly condensed history of archaeological theory thrown in for good measure. The treatment is necessarily brief and focuses mainly on Hodder’s views and the archaeology of Neolithic Turkey, but provides both an indispensable backdrop to the site biography and a useful entry point for the uninitiated. The author mostly provides succinct and accurate précis of the issues, though in one or two places I sensed a loss of focus and a density in writing that may have baffled the newcomer. This type of writing is not easy, yet it is all too easy for archaeological professionals to scoff at such syntheses and to pick holes endlessly in the generalisations and simplifications that are necessarily part of a broadly accessible work. Indeed I have heard many such gripes about this book. While I do not agree with some of Balter’s observations (published data at Aşıklı Höyük show it to not be a gatherer site), I admire his ability to provide a coherent, comprehensible and well-founded argument, especially in a subject carrying so many strong, varied and conflicting opinions. Some sections were particularly well-written and provide excellently worked examples illustrating how we can and should, to paraphrase Wheeler’s wise words that grace the Chapter 1 heading, dig up people not things. My favourite concerns the identity of mudbrick makes (p.144) which draws on analyses of mudbrick composition and skeletal analysis. In other places, I did feel that accounts were over-dramatised to either segue between chapters or arouse the reader’s interest. At few times I also winced at what I considered unnecessary exaggeration, for example in describing the result of Mellaart’s expulsion from Turkey as depriving ‘humankind of a cornerstone of its heritage’ (p.54).
Difficult and highly controversial issues are not avoided, but treated with caution and skill. And there is plenty of controversy in the story without journalistic sensationalism, including the baffling ‘Dorak Affair’, Mellaart’s expulsion from Turkey and his credibility, especially regarding claims of kilim wall-paintings, Hodder’s acceptance and demands of corporate sponsorship, the missing bead that almost closed the dig in 1996, tensions with the Mother Goddess community and the minefield of Turkish political and cultural sensitivities. These issues are reported factually and the lack of sensationalism not only strengthens the account but adds weight to their impact on the story. Of course there are the visible and rather predictable personal gripes and divisions in the dig team, especially the rift between the excavators, self-styled as honest put-upon labourers, and so-called specialists, styled by everyone as a bunch of demanding, prima-donnas. From my experience, Balter’s treatment of this issue is pretty good and he illustrates nicely why some of the tensions between teams occurred and that the two warring factions contained a rather wider range of personalities than the preceding sentence may suggest. You can read the diary entries yourself to see how vicious the war of words got and then marvel at how Shahina Farid managed to call a truce and make the dig work, which it certainly did by the time I arrived there.
The author also provides enough information for those who are interested in evaluating how well the project has fulfilled its aims to develop a reflexive method, as set out by Hodder in a 1997 Antiquity article, which also managed to annoy every field archaeologist who read it. In short I don’t believe it has and suspect Hodder grossly misunderstood the extent to which archaeologists debate and query their own work in the field, especially the definition, description and interpretation of archaeological contexts. I thought the comments of Shahina Faird, Hodder’s field director, about ‘interpretation at the trowel’s edge’ (p.145) were rather apposite in this regard. I also suspect he underestimated the extent to which specialist fields are integrated into many excavations in southwest Asia and the strong record of specialist residence on excavations.
A final theme that deserves mention is the complex place that Çatalhöyük has in the broader world: Turkish national icon, religious site, inspiration to artists and fashion designers, vehicle for economic growth, cultural heritage problem and advertising tool. Again, the author manages to tread carefully through this tangled web of relationships and explains why many came about. The preface shows that the real world has bitten back at Michael Balter, with the Mother Goddess worshiping community especially aggrieved by his coverage. More locally, an Australian review of The Goddess and the Bull led to one article stating that both the book and the Çatalhöyük project itself showed archaeology to be a waste of time, based on unproveable conjecture (Campbell 2006). Ignoring the inherent lack of intellectual rigour in the argument (post-modern theory used to support a positivist statement!) and clear misreading of the text, the example shows just how far Çatalhöyük’s influence extends into the world beyond the academy.
On a technical note, the book is an attractive production, with a quirky cover design, comfortable font and pleasing illustrations at each chapter heading by John Swogger, Hodder’s illustrator. A section of black-and-white plates provides, with a solitary map at the start of the book, illustrative material for the text. For those not familiar with the region, a map referring to some of the Levantine sites mentioned in the text and perhaps a chronological table to help understand the temporal relationships of sites mentioned in the text would have been useful. I noticed only a couple of typos, a minor miracle in modern academic publishing, and this edition has a useful preface and epilogue, the latter bringing the reader up-to-date with findings immediately prior to publication. Extensive footnotes and bibliography, with a good index and attractive price tag, complete an impressive package and the volume demonstrates once again that Left Coast Press has well and truly arrived as an ambitious, high-quality archaeological publisher.
Beyond its relevance to those of us obsessed by the Turkish Neolithic, The Goddess and the Bull is a highly worthwhile read for anyone interested in the complexity of archaeology, how it relates to the outside world and the dynamics of its theory and practice. The book presents a very different form of archaeology to that familiar to many AA readers and gives a good insight to the stifling conditions of large-scale Old World excavation. If you ever wondered what life was like on one of those ‘cast of thousands’ newsreel excavations from the Middle East, then you may get a good idea by reading this book. For budding directors, you could also do worse than reflect on the trials of Ian Hodder as he raises funds and gained permission to open the site anew. I felt a great deal of admiration for his persistence and ultimate success, let alone the project he has stitched together. This is not the definitive work on the archaeology of Çatalhöyük that some may hope for, and indeed it does not set out to be so, even though some reviews have I think unfairly judged it in these terms. It does, however, fulfill its aims extremely well and gets as close as anyone has to distilling the archaeological process and the essence of what makes Çatalhöyük such a focus of national, personal and professional obsession. In writing this review I am again stunned at just how much the story contains. If you want the detailed archaeological data produced by Hodder’s team, read the McDonald Institute volumes that have recently been produced and/or visit the project’s sleek and comprehensive website (www.catalhoyuk.com). For a personal, and it has to be said rather partial, synthesis of this material seek out Hodder’s The Leopard’s Tale (2006), which fleshes out his theory of ‘material entanglement’ described briefly in Balter’s tome.
To conclude, The Goddess and the Bull provides a good read about one of the few prehistoric sites that attract a global interest by both public and professional alike. The popular style will not be to everyone’s taste, but I certainly enjoyed the book and admire Michael Balter’s ability to sensitively weave together so many strands of information, opinion, and biographical information. In doing so, he has produced an entertaining and high-quality popular archaeological text based on good scholarship and exhaustive journalism. The Goddess and the Bull provides the general public with an excellently-written and comprehensible entry point to our subject, students with a great insight into the complexity and reality of working in our field, the teacher a wonderful text to prompt critical and wide-ranging discussion about archaeology, and the established professional plenty of food for thought. And its last sentence is one with whose sentiment I am sure we all agree. I am pleased to have finally read it.
Balter, M. 1998 Why settle down? The mystery of communities. Science 282:1442-1445.
Campbell, F. 2006 Molesting the past. Weekend Australian (Review Section) 25 February:14.
Hodder, I. 1997 ‘Always momentary, fluid and flexible’: Towards a reflexive excavation methodology. Antiquity 71:691-700.
Hodder, I. 2006 The Leopard’s Tale: Revealing the Mysteries of Çatalhöyük. London: Thames and Hudson.
Review of ‘Australian Apocalypse: The Story of Australia’s Greatest Cultural Monument’ by Robert G. Bednarik
Australian Apocalypse: The Story of Australia’s Greatest Cultural Monument by Robert G. Bednarik. Occasional AURA Publication 14, Australian Rock Art Research Association Inc., Melbourne, 2006, 64pp, ISBN 0-9586802-2-1.
Paul S.C. Taçon
School of Arts, GriffithUniversity, Gold Coast campus, PMB 50, Gold Coast Mail Centre Qld 9726, Australia
Robert Bednarik’s Australian Apocalypse: The Story of Australia’s Greatest Cultural Monument is not an academic book in the sense of having references, new method or theory. Rather, it is a fascinating but tragic story of culture contact, conquest and concern. It is both an historical overview and a personal story of the author himself. Conspiracy theory advocates will find it has great appeal. Aboriginal people will find it a sad metaphor for what happened and continues to happen across Australia and in many other parts of the world. Those interested in Bednarik himself will find it gives us great insight into what drives this well-known rock art researcher. And all readers will learn, in shocking and vivid detail, how we have stood by idly while the cultural heritage of an important part of Western Australia has been systematically vandalised.
Australian Apocalypse focuses on the post-contact history of Murujuga/Puratha rock art of what Europeans refer to as the Dampier Archipelago and/or the BurrupPeninsula. The book begins with a quick overview of the colonisation of Australia 40,000–60,000 years ago, with much discussion of early rafting and ensuing developments within the Dampier Archipelago, from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives. The devastating effects of Aboriginal first contact with Europeans is then detailed, followed by further changes brought about by European and European-Australian occupation, including massacres of local Aboriginal populations. Bednarik then moves on to the rediscovery of Murujuga/Puratha rock art and his own involvement in this process in the late 1960s. All of this is summarised in 32 pages, accounting for half the book.
The second half of the book focuses on Dampier since 1970, with a chapter on the period of 1970–2000 and another on what has happened since. Industrial development, supposed corrupt governments and perceived irresponsible archaeologists are given serves. A short epilogue rounds out the book. It is here that Bednarik’s passion becomes especially apparent with pleas to the thinking people of Western Australia to rid themselves of their government and to stop the destruction of the region’s cultural heritage. The book concludes in an idiosyncratic way: a box with a speculative page on what could happen to Dampier industry should the archipelago be hit by a tsunami.
This book is a compelling read. It is part history story, part adventure, part personal tale. It is particularly pertinent given that during the Christmas period of 2006 permission was granted by the Australian Federal Government for over a hundred boulders containing rock art to be relocated or destroyed. Australian Apocalypse will undoubtedly receive mixed reactions. Readers will either love or hate it and some might question whether Bednarik has crossed the line in his portrayal of some politicians and archaeologists. Although it is a beautifully illustrated book, the text would have benefited from being less aggressive and less personal. As well, Bednarik’s own role is overstated in many areas, with little or no attention given to Alan Thorne’s work on early rafting, Bruce Wright’s pioneering rock art research and the late Pat Vinnicombe’s own valiant efforts to help save this amazing body of rock art.
Although I agree that the rock engravings of the Dampier Archipelago are outstanding and of world heritage value, I take issue with Bednarik and others referring to the extensive complex as Australia’s ‘greatest cultural monument’ (p.1) or ‘largest engraving site’. The area consists of many sites, some widely separated, some close to each other. Some are small; some are large. They vary in quality and some have rock art while others do not. And in all of the recent Burrup debate not enough attention has been given to the non-rock art sites: the standing stones (although Bednarik mentions some, including recent vandalism), stone artefact scatters and so forth. Furthermore, I disagree with the very notion of a ‘greatest cultural monument’ or that Dampier rock art is Australia’s greatest. This is because it equally could be argued that the rock art of Kakadu, the Kimberley, Cape York or some other area is the greatest. Even some individual engraving sites or site complexes of the greater Sydney region could be argued to be as significant. In the end it’s like comparing apples to oranges to bananas to mangoes. Each Australian rock art complex is important and significant in its own way. Each complex reflects local Indigenous concerns and history, has artistic merit and national/international historic and contemporary importance for many different groups of people.
Finally, it is disappointing Bednarik and all of the archaeologists working in the Dampier area during the past 40 years did not develop detailed survey, recording, conservation and management plans long ago. There is still much to do and certainly Robert Bednarik is to be congratulated for raising the world’s awareness of what continues to plague the cultural heritage of northwest Australia.