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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).


Pointless spinifex? An investigation of Indigenous use of spinifex throughout Australia


Heidi Pitman TA AA&3

Contemporary basket made using spinifex stolons with ochre lining and spinifex resin beadwork with Erythrina vespertilio Benth seeds, crafted by Shirley McNamara in northwest Queensland (photograph courtesy of Lynley Wallis].

Heidi Pitman

B. Archaeology (Hons), Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, October 2010

European settlement had substantive impacts on much of Indigenous Australia, resulting in the loss of knowledge about certain technologies and practices: this is especially true in relation to the use of plants. Despite its distribution across more than one-quarter of the Australian continent and its widespread use by Indigenous peoples, relatively little research has been undertaken on spinifex grasses and their associated technologies. While aware of the inherent limitations of ethnographic literature and museum-based collections, this thesis investigates Indigenous uses of spinifex, reaffirming some existing knowledge and bringing to light new information. Particular emphasis is given to lesser known uses of spinifex, focusing on building narratives based on ethnographic records including photographs and objects in the South Australian Museum and Melbourne Museum collections.

Traditionally the two dominant and most widely-known uses of spinifex were the production of resin, which was employed for hafting and repairing, and as cladding in shelter construction. This research reveals that spinifex resin was also used for ornament manufacture, ceremonial and sorcery objects, healing and possibly even in rock art production. Other uses of spinifex included fishing and trapping, fibre-work, medicinal purposes, as a food source, in games, fuel for fire and subsequently for hunting, light, heat and communication, minimising water loss in water carriers, wrapping objects and shoring wells. Prior to this research, these uses had received little, if any, attention in the published literature. Specifically, our understanding of material culture objects such as spinifex nets and resin figurines have greatly benefited from the study of these objects within museum collections. In conjunction, museum information has been improved by being added to and/or corrected by findings through this study.

Although time-consuming to collect and process, spinifex resin was widely used probably owing to its highly desirable properties. A number of common processing techniques were employed throughout Australia and, contrary to the majority of recorded accounts, several factors suggest that women played an important role in these processes. Resin obtained from ant nests rather than threshing the plants themselves does not appear to have been commonly used and is likely to be a method which developed after European settlement. The analysis of adhesive specimens held in museums has provided a framework for the visual non-invasive identification of spinifex resin.

This research has revealed substantive new information regarding Indigenous use of spinifex. Spinifex grasses were highly valued in Indigenous societies and as traditional Indigenous knowledge coupled with Western science of the broader Australian Research Council Spinifex Project demonstrates, spinifex has many potential applications worthy of future investigation.

From prophet to profit: An investigation into the adaptive reuse of religious buildings in Adelaide, South Australia

Louise Holt

M. Cultural Heritage Management, Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, December 2010

Churches, with their architectural form, spires, towers, location and size, have long been a dominant force in the Australian landscape. This is particularly true of Adelaide, a place that, since the late nineteenth century, has been described as the ‘City of Churches’. Churches contribute to creating local identity and are often integral to the distinctive atmosphere of a place. These significant buildings represent not only particular aspects of religious heritage, but also wider constructions of social value.

But what becomes of a church when it is no longer used as a church? What happens to the landscape around it; the building’s relationship to the landscape; and to the construction of a community’s cultural heritage? How does the value of the building change with a change in use? Do we (or should we) care more about Christian church conversions than other iconic buildings with social value, such as pubs, stately homes and industrial sites?

This thesis explores the relationship between place and space with reference to the adaptive reuse of churches in Adelaide, South Australia. It examines how the significance of a building and its landmark status changes when its use shifts from a sacred to a secular place. As such, this research develops a nuanced understanding of the use and reuse of Catholic and non-Conformist religious structures in Adelaide, including North Adelaide, and the southwestern suburbs of Adelaide. The research comprises questionnaire surveys (n=160), in-depth interviews (n=7) and exterior and interior architectural descriptions (n=5). These investigations address the connections between church structures and social values and, in particular, churches that have been commercially adapted from buildings that welcome the community and provide service without return, to ones that become consumption-driven and profit-motivated.

The archaeology of community emergence and development on Mabuyug in the western Torres Strait

Duncan Wright

PhD, Centre for Australian Indigenous Studies, Monash University, December 2009

This thesis examines the archaeology of one Torres Strait Islander community, the Goemulgal of Mabuyag in central western Torres Strait. It provides the first detailed archaeological study into the emergence and development of historically and ethnographically-known villages in the Torres Strait. It offers a detailed chronology for settlement shifts during the past 1000 years across a residential island. The close examination of settlement and subsistence histories on Mabuyag furnishes chronological insights into the changing role of villages for a single island community. By examining chronologies previously established by archaeological researchers working in Torres Strait, this thesis adds to emerging broad chronological patterns across the region.

Torres Strait lies at a crucial point both geographically and conceptually between Australia and the Pacific. This thesis examines methodologies used in both regions for examining bounded archaeological communities. It then applies a model of social archaeology and regionalisation to identify the settlement history of Mabuyag. By investigating sites of importance to the community this thesis provides an archaeology that is alive and important to the Goemulgaw people today.

Indigenous Peoples and the Collaborative Stewardship of Nature: Knowledge Binds and Institutional Conflicts by Anne Ross, Kathleen Pickering Sherman, Jeffrey G. Snodgrass, Henry D. Delcore & Richard Sherman

WatkinsBR_CoverIndigenous Peoples and the Collaborative Stewardship of Nature: Knowledge Binds and Institutional Conflicts by Anne Ross, Kathleen Pickering Sherman, Jeffrey G. Snodgrass, Henry D. Delcore and Richard Sherman. Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, CA, 2011, 320pp, ISBN 978-1-59874-578-8.

Reviewed by Joe Watkins

Native American Studies Program, University of Oklahoma, 633 Elm Avenue, Norman, OK, 73019-3119, USA

This volume, as the authors note, is an outline for ‘an innovative, alternative example of co-management’ as a way of increasing ‘equal partnerships in natural resource management’ (p.4). The case studies the authors present span the globe – North America, Australia, India and Thailand – and represent different Indigenous groups’ approaches to stewardship of the natural areas within which they live and coexist.

Structurally, the authors approach the volume somewhat differently than most: the case studies are not presented one after the other and then discussed, analysed and parsed in a ‘summary’ chapter that forces the reader to flip back and forth between areas of interest and the author’s comment. Rather the authors attempt to interweave presentations and analyses across the four examples.

The areas used as examples in the volume and the methodologies the authors use vary. The North American example derives from qualitative and quantitative studies conducted on Pine Ridge Reservation; the Australian example was based on interviews conducted with knowledgeable elders of the Dandrubin Gorenpul Aboriginal people of Moreton Bay; the research in India undertaken with the ‘Adivasis’ (first inhabitants) of the Phulwari ki Nal Wildlife Sanctuary of Rajasthan, India, utilised unstructured and semi-structured interviews of ‘matched’ groups; the fourth area involved study of the Thai-Lue and Lue communities of the Pua District of Nan Province.

The reader should not think that the studies of these four communities were undertaken as a globally diverse project; the authors were participants in an American Anthropological Association meeting in November 2003 in Chicago, Illinois. The volume, however, reads at times as if the authors have worked together from the onset to merge their particular talents and analyses.

The subtitle signals the perspectives these authors bring to the issue as they indicate the conflicts between both knowledge systems (epistemology) and the ways that the Indigenous and governmental institutions interact with the contested areas within which they operate. And the areas under discussion are indeed contested. The epistemological issues are often subtle in their impact, while the institutional issues are often bureaucratically charged by national governments unaware of local issues or concerns.

Proceeding from the argument that the differences between Indigenous knowledge and Western knowledge ‘lie primarily on the level of cultural ideals and methodological prescriptions’ (p.33) – and Table 1.1 (pp.52-53) provides a shorthand comparison of these two broad ‘knowledge bases’ – the authors assert that it is important to realise that Indigenous knowledge is not necessarily ‘better’ than Western concepts of understanding. They also point out that collaboration does not operate within an idealised world apart from politics, economics and history.

Chapter 2 is an approach to untangling the historical origins of the epistemological conflict between Indigenous and scientific knowledge. With chapter subheadings such as ‘Before Science’, ‘The Origins of Modern Science’ and ‘Indigenous Resilience, Self-Determination and the Western Double Bind’, this chapter offers a well-thought through discussion of the historic roots in the development of the scientific basis within which most governments operate. It also draws attention to the contemporary manifestations of colonialism and state formation that continue to impact Indigenous involvement in resources that were once open to their use, resources which now are partially or bureaucratically denied them.

In Chapter 3 the authors begin identifying some of the structural and conceptual obstacles that create barriers to true collaborative stewardship over natural resources. They identify 15 barriers to Indigenous participation in natural resource management – 8 epistemological and 7 systemic or institutional – that they summarise in Table 3.1 (pp.96-97) and then discuss in more detail in the remaining portions of the chapter. These foundational obstacles serve as important talking points for the case studies presented in Chapter 4.

Chapter 4 is not the meat of the volume, but it provides the materials for the final course. It is within this chapter that the individual areas of research are integrated into exemplification of the issues that the four separate Indigenous groups face within their regions as they try to stay involved in their home environments and regional resources. These case studies are arranged to discuss each of the 15 barriers identified in the previous chapter. While it is not essential that each case study address all of them, it is important for the reader to recognise how many of them are faced by the Indigenous groups studied. It is not the intent of this review to discuss each of the case studies, but the reader should be able to recognise that the generalities of the global approaches to natural resource management has limitations in relation to the local approaches of Indigenous management of natural resources. Table 4.1 (pp.185-188) effectively presents a cross-tabular summary of the barriers identified and described by the four groups in the case studies.

In spite of the number of barriers to true collaborative management of natural resources encountered by these four Indigenous groups, the authors present some examples of ways that others have been able to enter into what might be perceived as workable ‘joint stewardship’ ventures, primarily in ‘protected areas management’. Recognising that ‘Australia has been at the forefront of international developments in the area of joint management and co-management between modern states and Indigenous peoples’ (p.193), the authors begin with Australian examples, and then move on to examples from India and Thailand). They present the ‘Lakota Indigenous Stewardship Model’ in the following chapter (Chapter 6), as an answer to some of the problems raised in Chapter 5.

The Lakota Indigenous Stewardship Model is summarised in Table 6.1 (p.244) and is ‘a guideline for a process rather than a dictated linear set of provisions to be universally adopted’ (p.237). In this way, it has stronger possibilities of local application rather than a global policy to be initiated regardless of local differences. It ‘integrates culturally appropriate solutions to issues of management and conflict resolution’ (p.237) and constructs a ‘common language that respects both Indigenous and scientific perspectives rather than allowing one to dominate over the other’ (p.238). The model has many tenets: the epistemological connection between natural resource use and conservation; advancement of efforts to revive and implement ecological values and practices of Indigenous knowledge systems; alleviation of some of the disputes that have long characterised tribal/governmental relations; support of tribal sovereignty; and a solid educational effort, among other aspects. With 11 elements presented in four categories, the model provides a complex but straight-forward means of integrating ecological, social, political, and educational aspects of the natural resource management puzzle into a holistic, locally embedded, and culturally significant program of natural resource management.

The findings of the authors’ research and case study analyses are presented in the concluding chapter in Table 7.1 (pp.264-266) and elaborated upon in the following pages. Perhaps more importantly, however, is the recognition that the global influences from outside funding agencies and sources have strong influence on local management of natural resources; with the move toward the proposed Indigenous Stewardship Model, however, the decreased need for outside funding alleviates some of the impact of the economic and political forces outside of the local region.

This volume is important because it provides alternative ways of looking at the conflict between local groups and their governments as well as the problems of applying global policies at the local level. While the authors recognise that the myth of the ‘Ecologically Noble Savage’ is indeed a myth, they also recognise that there are aspects of local ecologies that are better known and appreciated by local inhabitants. The volume provides examples and analyses that will help others develop more localised approaches to local problems; as more and more of these local programmes are identified and detailed, it may be possible to better establish a ‘Global Indigenous School of Thought’ that can be used to supplement and complement the global scientific school of thought that pervades natural resource management. This impetus itself is a very positive contribution to the continuing study of Indigenous people in this constantly evolving global culture.

The archaeology of community on Mabuyag (Mabuiag) in the western Torres Strait, northeastern Australia

WrightAR_TA73 Figure5

Beeboy Whap clearing stones away from a crocodile stone arrangement at Dabangai (published in Australian Archaeology 73:54).

Duncan Wright

This paper provides new insights into the late Holocene history of Mabuyag in western Torres Strait. It addresses a question posed by McNiven et al. (2006:75): ‘at what point [did] Mabuyag became [sic] a residential island and a separate people (i.e. the Goemulgal) with their own identity’? Using a social model of regionalisation, ‘community’ is approached using the archaeology and ethnography of four recently excavated traditional villages and one ceremonial meeting place (kod). Community emergence and development is traced over the past 1000 years through multiple fissioning events and the development of unique (often monumental) sites. Archaeology and oral histories provide insight into community restrictions, but also the formalised removal of these in particular places or circumstances.

Nawarla Gabarnmang, a 45,180±910 cal BP site in Jawoyn Country, southwest Arnhem Land Plateau

David_etalSR_AA73 Figure1Bruno David, Jean-Michel Geneste, Ray L. Whear, Jean-Jacques Delannoy, Margaret Katherine, R.G. Gunn, Christopher Clarkson, Hugues Plisson, Preston Lee, Fiona Petchey, Cassandra Rowe, Bryce Barker, Lara Lamb, Wes Miller, Stéphane Hoerlé, Daniel James, Élisa Boche, Ken Aplin, Ian J. McNiven, Thomas Richards, Andrew Fairbairn and Jacqueline Matthews

Recent excavations at Nawarla Gabarnmang in Jawoyn Country, southwest Arnhem Land have produced a long sequence of AMS radiocarbon determinations on individual pieces of charcoal reliably associated with stone artefacts dating back to 45,180±910 cal BP. It represents one of the earliest radiocarbon-dated archaeological sites in Australia. Here we report on initial results.

The Archaeology of Market Capitalism: A Western Australian Perspective by Gaye Nayton

978-1-4419-8317-6_Cover_PrintPdf.inddThe Archaeology of Market Capitalism: A Western Australian Perspective by Gaye Nayton. Springer, New York, 2011, xii+280pp, ISBN 978-1-4419-8317-6.

Reviewed by William B. Lees

Florida Public Archaeology Network, University of West Florida, 207 East Main Street, Pensacola, FL 32502, USA

Western Australia has never been accused of being a hotbed for historical archaeology research and theory building. In The Archaeology of Market Capitalism, Gaye Nayton establishes the rationale for why this should change.

Western Australia is a story that should be reminiscent to historical archaeologists who work in other parts of the world. A majority of research is conducted through cultural resource management projects. These studies are not been guided or informed by a coherent research agenda capable of improving our understanding of the historic past beyond what can otherwise be accomplished by studying memory and documents alone. Without purpose, results of archaeological research about the historic period appear trivial, unimportant, and uninteresting. Nayton has invested a considerable effort in her book expressly to begin to replace this pattern with one that is inherently research-driven.

Nayton’s book is at one level focused on analysis of excavation data from a single site in the town of Cossack – the Knight and Shenton Store – occupied between 1870 and 1941. Considerable time is spent, however, in examining the development of market capitalism in Western Australia in order to define research questions that can be addressed at this site. Nayton attempts to answer these questions in the final chapters of the book using data from the store, which is one of the only collections from Western Australia that has benefitted from large-scale scientific excavation.

The introduction to this book establishes Western Australia as potent comparative laboratory for the study of the emergence of market capitalism in the Swan River Colony of the Southwest and in the North District in northwestern Australia. Market capitalism arrives in the west of Australia as the first Western economic system. The ensuing pattern of land-use and settlement is established on a complex and challenging landscape. Equally important in defining this cultural laboratory is the related yet significantly differential settlement histories of Southwest and Northwest Australia. The Southwest is settled in the 1820s, and the Northwest some 30 years later, at a different point in the evolution of the market economy in Western Australia.

Chapters 2 and 3 introduce the patterns of settlement of the Southwest’s Swan River Colony which date from the 1820s. The rest of the book focuses on the Northwest Region, first settled in the 1860s, beginning with background in Chapters 4 and 5. Throughout these first chapters research questions which can best be addressed using historical archaeological research are defined and refined.

These research questions help to focus the remainder of the book, which starts with a review of town site-level archaeological surveys of Cossack, Broome and Old Onslow in Chapter 6, and which is followed by the first of several chapters focused on the Knight and Shenton Store in the community of Cossack. Chapter 7 provides detail on the excavation of this site. In this chapter Nayton develops a method for the segregation of tightly-dated subassemblages within the site which is able to correlate with documented changes in function, ethnic occupation and status. Chapter 8 focuses on site layout and building design, and Chapter 9 on assemblage analysis. In this final chapter Nayton considers a series of broad questions about the settlement of Western Australia using the Knight and Shenton data and comparative data from elsewhere in the world (due to the lack of comparable data from Western Australia).

A good portion of this book is spent in reviewing a very interesting set of geographical and historical data, including early accounts, census data, maps, and photographs, in order to establish the social history of first the Swan River Colony of Southwest Australia and then the Northwest. Nayton sets out to examine the development of market capitalism at the landscape or regional level, the town level, and the site level. Her analysis is detailed, and is focused on extracting from historical documents information on the physicality of settlement in these two regions. Wherever available, she adds archaeological information, which provides detail not found elsewhere. She uses this insight to evaluate the fit between what she is seeing in these regions and expectations that she has derived from a variety of archaeological theories of ‘frontier’ settlement and growth that have been developed over the past four decades by a variety of scholars.

Throughout this well-researched book, Nayton identifies the shortcomings and general absence of existing archaeological information that make comparative research difficult (at best). She identifies questions that can only be addressed through more detailed, systematic, and sophisticated archaeological research. In the process, Nayton outlines a series of regionally significant theoretically grounded research questions that can immediately be used to focus future archaeological research on questions that count. This alone is a significant contribution.

At the outset of this book, Nayton identifies another important issue that faces Western Australia. The ‘frontier’ period in which she is interested was brief, lasting only 30 years in the Southwest and 50 in the Northwest. This presents a methodological challenge for the archaeologist seeking to examine change through time in the archaeological record. One approach to this problem would be to identify short-term use sites from different periods and with different functional and cultural attribution and that collectively can address change through time and space through a comparative approach. Nayton seeks to address this challenge, however, by dissecting the assemblage from a single site with a long and complex occupation history.

In her analysis of the Knight and Shenton Store Site in the town of Cossack, Nayton uses detailed material cultural analysis to define chronological subassemblages within the site. She successfully correlates these with historically defined periods that are only a few years in duration. These periods define changes in the use of the site, as well as changes in the ethnicity and status of the site occupants. Her analysis not only allows an evaluation of differences between these periods, but also reveals changes in the use of different parts of the site through time.

Nayton’s analysis of the Knight and Shenton Store is admirably done and she attempts to use the resulting data to address a number of significant questions concerning the development of market capitalism in Western Australia. She is constantly confronted by the lack of comparative data which throughout this book she has shown simply do not exist. She reaches out to North America and eastern Australia for comparison, but still lacking is any ability to validate the patterns from the Knight and Shelton Store as representative of the region. This is both a shortcoming and strength of this book. It is a shortcoming because without the comparative data from Western Australia the conclusions are open to question. It is a strength in that it establishes the basis for comparison as additional data becomes available, and because is screams for the need and ultimate value of additional excavation level data and research.

Nayton’s book is at time a bit tedious, but it is a thoroughly researched and documented study. It is important in that it presents a coherent theoretical approach to the use of archaeology to study the development of market capitalism in Western Australia. Scattered throughout this book are numerous cases of disappointment turned into opportunity; where she laments that the answer to a question can only be addressed by archaeology not yet conducted. The opportunity, of course, comes from the fact that these questions have been expressly identified. They are now readily available to help guide future research regardless of scope.


I am impressed with the detailed attention given to the Knight and Shenton Store given its severe looting in the past. Many historical sites, especially in urban settings, are similarly damaged through looting or development. Showing that sites such as this can still reveal significant information is critical in order to counter those who would say they no longer have integrity and value and need not be preserved or investigated.


In closing, I would like to return to a statement that Nayton makes in her introduction: ‘Australian archaeologists have not yet proved to the wider audience the importance of Australian historical archaeological sites to understanding Australia: how it developed, why it developed and how people were shaped’ (p.x). In this book, Nayton is making the case to her archaeological colleagues for the importance of historical archaeological sites in Western Australia. She has done this well, and has also shown the great need for additional research. This is a critical first step. Additional research is without question an important second step, but what also needs to follow – and I know that Gaye Nayton agrees – is to take this story to our colleagues in related disciplines, and then to the general public.


Buried on foreign shores: Isotope analysis of the origin of human remains recovered from a Macassan site in Arnhem Land

Theden-Ringl_etalAR_ AA73Fenja Theden-Ringl, Jack N. Fenner, Daryl Wesley and Ronald Lamilami

This study uses strontium (87Sr/86Sr), oxygen (δ18O) and carbon (δ13C) isotope analysis of archaeological tooth enamel samples to investigate the origins of human remains from two sites in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory: a coastal Macassan site and an Indigenous rockshelter complex. The study aims to resolve whether two individuals from the Macassan site originate from outside Arnhem Land and, if so, whether their place of origin can be determined. Strontium results confirm the Macassan and Indigenous samples represent two distinct populations. The Indigenous values match the local Arnhem Land geologic strontium signatures, while the Macassan values are outside the local range and more likely to match Indonesian geological signatures. Carbon isotope results are more equivocal, but tend to support the presence of two populations by revealing slightly different dietary backgrounds for each group. Oxygen isotope data introduce more complexity; their geographic signal may be confounded by cultural behaviour. Radiocarbon dating suggests the Macassan Anuru Bay A site is a relatively early contact site. This study shows that even with a small sample set there is potential to discern past human mobility and origin using stable isotope analysis.

Aboriginal epistemologies and interpretations of art and place on the Blue Tier, northeast Tasmania

Microsoft Word - Piotrowski&RossAR_2011026.doc

the ‘dugong’ rock at Blue Tier, Tasmania (Australian Archaeology 73:34).

Silas Piotrowski and Anne Ross

Recent disputes between archaeologists and land managers over the authenticity and heritage value of ‘petroglyphs’ on the Blue Tier in northeast Tasmania have focused on the ‘authorship’ of the rock markings. For Aboriginal traditional owners of the Tier the authorship of the marks is indisputable –  they were made by ancestral beings and are therefore neither anthropogenic nor natural. However, accepting such explanations confronts the management context for the rock markings and may even challenge the very Aboriginality of the people claiming a connection to these ‘relics’. In this paper we demonstrate that meanings in place are important signifiers of cultural significance, but legislation rarely recognises such assertions of connection. In Tasmania the consequences of this gap between legislative protection and Aboriginal connection are profound, and challenge people’s very identity as Aboriginal.

A preliminary report on archaeological investigations at wwo Western Australian regional convict depots

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Location of sites at teh York Convict Depot, Western Australia (published in Australian Archaeology 73:65).

Sean Winter

Convict depots inhabited between 1850 and 1875 were excavated in the Western Australian regional towns of York and Toodyay. The project examines the regional characteristics of the convict system through the evidence of lifeways of the depots’ inhabitants. Excavations at York recorded four depot structures: the commissariat, stables, a previously unknown privy, and the extant Superintendent’s building. Excavations at Toodyay recorded seven depot structures: the convict barracks, hospital, kitchen, Warder’s quarters, privy, Superintendent’s quarters and commissariat. A range of structural styles and techniques were recorded, the result of limited supervision of a constantly changing convict workforce with variable skill levels. At both sites less than 30% of the total contexts and approximately 10% of the deposits could be confidently attributed to the convict-era.

Touching magic: Deliberately concealed objects in old Australian houses and buildings

Ian Evans

PhD, School of Humanities and Social Science, University of Newcastle, October 2010

The objective of the research that resulted in this thesis was to establish whether the practice of concealing objects in sealed voids in old houses and other buildings, widely known in the United Kingdom for many centuries, also occurred in Australia. The supplementary tasks were to establish how widespread it was, the period in which it occurred, and whether the practice displayed the same characteristics as in the UK. These objectives necessitated the discovery, photography and recording of as many concealed objects as could be located. Distinguishing qualifying objects from random losses or strays was based upon personal experience in the field together with information derived from research in the UK and discussions with colleagues in this area of research in that country. Following on from that, my intention was to place this custom within the framework of folk magic rituals carried out in England until the early-mid-twentieth century. By confirming that folk magic was intricately woven into the lives of the English people a high probability that such practices were brought to Australia by convicts and settlers became evident. This research required an unusual methodology in that the virtually complete absence of any contemporary documentation, an absence of record that is recognised by UK researchers, suggested that a similar void might exist in Australian archives and libraries. My own prior extensive research into Australian domestic architecture had already failed to identify any references to such practices in this country in the literature relating to architecture, social history or the building trades in both Australia and England.

The focus of the research project therefore was to find as many concealed objects in Australian structures as possible and to examine and record these finds in an effort to understand the practice from a scrutiny of the objects and the place and manner of their concealment. The discovery phase was implemented by means of media releases, radio and television interviews, published articles in mainstream and heritage media and by lectures to specialist groups, particularly archaeologists. The result of this work, extending over a period of more than six years and which included travel to Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and within New South Wales, resulted in the accumulation of a significant number of finds of deliberately concealed objects. These have been recorded in a National Catalogue of Finds on which this thesis is based.

It was confirmed that objects, which in the context of this research include boots and shoes, garments, cats and a variety of domestic artefacts and children’s toys, were concealed in Australian houses and buildings, that they were both numerous and extremely widely distributed, that the types of objects and their placements were the same as those found in the UK and elsewhere and, in consequence, that a folk magic custom long-established in the UK was practiced in this country, raising the possibility of an ancient lineage for a practice that was previously unknown in Australia. Further research is recommended in an effort to extend the scope of this study. It is considered that this research will produce new insights into the lives of Australians in the period 1788–1930s.

Archaeological evidence for South Sea Islander traditional ritual practice at Wunjunga, Ayr, central Queensland coast

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Stone structure (published in Australian Archaeology 73:71).

Bryce Barker and Lara Lamb

This paper presents the results of an excavation of a stone mound at Wunjunga at the mouth of the Burdekin River near Ayr on the central Queensland coast. It is proposed that this construction conforms broadly to the South Sea Islander ritual shrines described for Solomon Islands, recorded in oral tradition as related to fishing, purification, curing and warfare. This construction provides material evidence of the continuity of traditional ritual belief by Melanesian indentured labour, as they participated in the sugar cane industry in Australia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Is there evidence for artificial cranial deformation at the Willandra Lakes?

DurbandSR_AA73 Figure2

Lateral view of cranium of WLH 67 from the Willandra Lakes in 2010 (published in Australian Archaeology 73:63).

Arthur C. Durband

Webb (1989) contends that the morphology of the WLH 67 cranium suggests that this individual had been artificially deformed. A reanalysis of this cranium shows that WLH 67 was reconstructed improperly. The unusual cranial contours of this individual result from the inaccurate reconstruction, not from any cultural practice. As this individual was the only purported example of this practice at the Willandra Lakes, there is currently no evidence to suggest that artificial deformation was practised there during the late Pleistocene or early Holocene.

Patterns of Burning over Archaeological Sites and Landscapes: Prospection and Analysis by Alistair Marshall

LoweBR_cover_imagePatterns of Burning over Archaeological Sites and Landscapes: Prospection and Analysis by Alistair Marshall. BAR British Series 531, Archaeopress, Oxford, 2011, ii+156pp, ISBN 978 1 4073 0787 9.

Reviewed by Kelsey M. Lowe

School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, The University of Queensland, St Lucia Qld 4072, Australia

This book presents a series of five papers on the use of magnetic susceptibility (MS) to investigate site function and organisation on several Iron and Roman Age archaeological sites in the United Kingdom (UK). Archaeological prospection in this region typically comprises gradiometry and resistance geophysical techniques, with little use of MS. However, because MS is a good indicator of magnetically enhanced soils (the result of burning or microbial or organic decay), it has been used to supplement other forms of geophysical data and to help determine areas of activity across sites. MS field surveys typically use the Bartington Instruments D-head, an instrument that is pressed against the ground’s surface to log MS readings. In the laboratory, the Bartington MS2B Lab sensor is generally used although this method is slower and results take longer to process. While the D-head is quick, it has been shown to provide only a fraction of the data, since uneven ground surfaces produce inconsistent readings. In order to solve this dilemma, Alistair Marshall, in collaboration with Bartington Instruments, developed a way to log MS readings more quickly and accurately using a ground-insertable probe prototype. Focusing on specific site types (i.e. Iron Age hillforts, Roman settlements) in particular environmental settings (i.e. limestone hills and escarpments), the author examines how the newly developed probe prototype can be (1) a more advantageous and efficient method for mapping MS than the Bartington D-head; (2) used more effectively to supplement previous geophysical results by defining basic patterns (zones of habitation) and functionality (e.g. burning, dumping areas, metal or iron-working); and (3) used as an independent geophysical method overall, especially for understanding site organisation, structure and landscape history.

In the opening paper, the author introduces the ground-insertable probe, a 2.2cm diameter, 31cm long device that is inserted into the ground after soil has been removed from the surface from a spike auger. The instrument then collects readings at a depth of c.30cm below surface. Traditional use of the Bartington D-head instrument proved unsatisfactory in regards to defining clear MS patterns. Using survey intervals of 5m and 2m, Marshall compares the results of both instruments at several Iron Age enclosures and demonstrates that the probe prototype was capable of mapping features that were not detected with the D-head instrument. He explains the direct contact between the prototype and subsurface materials allows patterns to be more easily defined, which in turn provide information on activity areas within each site. This paper also confirms that high-resolution MS surveys can be carried out independently or in conjunction with other geophysical methods.

The first case study in the Cotswolds focuses on using the prototype probe to detect patterns of human activity within Iron Age hillfort sites by defining zones based on magnetic enhancement (i.e. areas of high MS indicate zones of burning, dumping or metal-working; areas of low MS indicate zones of cultivation). Using six sites, four small and two larger hillforts, Marshall provides examples of how variable values (low, medium and high) of MS was used to determine areas of human activity. Since these are Iron Age sites, many contain areas where smelting and iron-working (e.g. heating) activities were undertaken, leaving traces of metal debris that can be easily detected archaeologically through MS. This paper shows how increased MS values coincide with areas used for iron- or metal-working thus providing information on site function and layout. As many of these sites are susceptible to erosion from increased ploughing, the probe has been a successful tool to aid the management and conservation of these sites by providing more details of each site’s local landscape.

In the second case study the author surveys an open Iron Age settlement and a small Roman town using the probe prototype to determine patterns of activity on larger settlements in the Cotswolds. In archaeological prospection, geophysics is typically used to provide a basic layout of a site yet does not always provide a high level of detail within sites, especially those that are large. Because MS allows the rapid collection of detailed geophysical data it was used to define spatial patterning across these large settlements and to determine if patterns were related to various site activities. Looking at the different signals of magnetic enhancement, Marshall shows that there were positive relationships between areas of increased MS and domestic occupation (e.g. refuse dumping) at both sites. Further, the boundaries of both sites were defined more clearly using MS.

In the third case study Marshall uses MS to supplement existing geophysical results in order to define patterns of human activity and site functionality at Early Bronze Age round barrows in the Cotswolds. Rather than the Iron Age or Roman settlements of the previous case studies, this study involved MS studies of spatial patterning and magnetic distributions at five Early Bronze Age round barrows – monuments susceptible to destruction from intense ploughing. Areas of high MS were associated with features such as ring-ditches, structures and quarry pits, whereas low MS values were related to features such as mounds.

The final case study adopts a slightly different approach than those which precede it. Here, the author uses MS to map a large section of land on the Cotwold region (40km2) in hopes of defining areas cleared by burning for agriculture. There have been few instances where MS has been used across such vast landscapes and Marshall aimed to demonstrate how MS could be used to understand long-term occupation in conjunction with long-term land clearing over a particular landform.

Marshall presents a convincing argument as to why this particular method should be considered as an independent tool in archaeological prospection using the new form of instrumentation (probe) and provides several examples to support it. A detailed description of each site in regard to its geographic location and environmental setting is given, as well as its archaeological history, providing the reader with ample information to understand each case study. Detailed black and white figures accompany all five papers, showing the location of each site and the MS results. One colour image occurs in the second case study and 12 in the final one. Appendices present additional information including raw data collected with the probe, size of each case study site (hectares) and site type.

There are several weak points in the book, the major one being the general format and structure. While the overall organisation of the papers was adequate, each paper could have been structured more clearly so that readers could easily follow the material. For example, all figures are listed at the end of each paper, requiring the reader to flip between pages to view the figures accompanying the text. This is especially frustrating for figures used to support the case studies. Further complicating the situation, the figure captions are listed separately and found before the section containing the figures themselves, making it even harder for the reader to stay on track. Although most figures were highly detailed with pertinent information, the level of detail caused some to be slightly confusing and difficult to interpret; fundamental figure components such as legends would have been helpful. Aside from structural issues, there were also inconsistencies in the writing style adopted in the papers themselves. The style of the first paper was quite different to others in the volume, and also happened to be the most difficult to read. The material was poorly organised (e.g. topics bounced between different subject headings), often redundant and hard to follow (e.g. lots of run-on sentences). Had it been more concise and well-organised (in line with the other papers), then perhaps readers would not feel inclined to pass up the rest of the volume.

While Marshall demonstrated that the prototype probe for MS prospection was suitable for the collection of data on Iron and Roman Age sites, readers should be aware of the limitations of this method. Not all sites contain archaeological deposits at 30cm below surface such as the ones examined in this book, and sites with more complex stratigraphy or located in different environmental settings might not be as amenable to this technique. As this technique requires ground insertion for data collection, it may not be suitable for sites of different geology or where there are restrictions on ground disturbance. Finally, not all sites will contain the levels of activity present in the case study sites. Because preservation in these sites was good, Marshall was able to easily define traces of human activity resulting from dumping of refuse, iron-working, cultivation and living areas.

Despite these limitations, Marshall does successfully demonstrate that the probe prototype is a more effective method than the Bartington D-head, that MS can be used to look at inter- and intra-site functionality and organisation, and that, accordingly, MS should be considered as an independent method in geophysics. In addition, this book demonstrated another way for readers to think more about human impacts on the landscape and how those impacts play a role in interpretation and cultural history. For these reasons, I recommend readers interested in new ways of studying and interpreting landscapes, and with a basic understanding of geophysics, persevere past the first chapter and observe how this tool can be used to assist hypotheses about human behaviour especially in regards to how humans function within each site and how they interact with their environments.

Gendered spaces, public places: An archaeological study of the Freemasons and Country Women’s Association in South Australia

Emily Bower

M. Cultural Heritage Management, Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, November 2010

Gender-exclusive organisations are ubiquitous in the Australian social landscape, coming in all forms, shapes and sizes. The potential for such organisations, however, to inform us about past gender roles and attitudes has not been addressed within the Australian context. The aim of this thesis, therefore, is to investigate what the buildings of such organisations can reveal about the roles of men and women in the past.

Buildings belonging to the Freemasons and the Country Women’s Association (CWA) in rural South Australia formed the basis for this investigation. Archaeological research was carried out to record the social, geographic, physical and functional attributes of buildings in order to identify trends occurring between and amongst buildings used exclusively by men or women. Attributes included street type, building size, visibility, decorative features, internal layout, alterations and use.

While CWA buildings remained relatively unchanged throughout the study period (1836–2010), the results for Masonic buildings showed that there were significant changes occurring, particularly regarding the use of external decorative features and the presence of amenities. Style, as a form of non-verbal communication, is used to reflect and reinforce prevailing ideology. The changing style of Masonic and CWA buildings suggest a shift in gender roles and attitudes, from the ‘traditional’ separate spheres ideology of pre-World War II, to the more ‘egalitarian’ worldview post-war. This thesis concludes that social changes occurring as a result of World War II are reflected in the design, location and construction of gender-exclusive buildings, most notably those belonging to the Freemasons.

‘Fire and Hearth’ Forty Years on: Essays in Honour of Sylvia J. Hallam edited by Caroline Bird and R. Esmée Webb

LourandosBR_cover_image‘Fire and Hearth’ Forty Years on: Essays in Honour of Sylvia J. Hallam edited by Caroline Bird & R. Esmée Webb (eds) Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 79, Western Australian Museum, Perth, 2011, vi+142pp, ISBN 978-1-920843-65-6.

Reviewed by Harry Lourandos

Department of Anthropology, Archaeology and Sociology, School of Arts and Social Sciences, James Cook University, PO Box 6811, Cairns, QLD 4870, Australia

This is a well-presented collection of essays to honour the pioneering work of Sylvia Hallam. In many ways the essays and commentary reflect the broad range of Hallam’s interests that spanned spatio-temporal archaeology, ethnography and important questions concerning fire and its impact, manipulation of plants, population and the relevance of change. Many of the issues central to key debates in Australian archaeology, such as the ‘intensification’ debate, can be found addressed in Hallam’s work. Here, Hallam and her work become much more accessible to us through use of photographs, personal reflexions and encounters and sustained reference to her in most of the papers. And the quality of presentation (including colour photographs) is best represented in papers such as those of Ken Mulvaney on the Dampier Archipelago petroglyphs and Peter Randolf on Indigenous stone arrangements in the south of Western Australia. Isabel McBryde introduces the volume with a detailed, informed overview of the papers, at all times steering close to their association with the work of Hallam herself. She points out the broad sweep of Hallam’s interests that went way past the positivist, material cultural directions that Australian archaeology embraced at the time to include the socio-cultural realm and more subtle interactions between it and the material world. Hallam was not afraid to challenge the accepted thinking of her day, including the proposed demographic modelling of Aboriginal populations through time, and also she expressed views concerning Indigenous control over the productivity of land and its resources that at the time were considered signatures of more ‘advanced’ food producing societies.

Hallam’s book Fire and Hearth published in 1975 is discussed by both John Mulvaney, in his discourse on her work, and by Caroline Bird in her Preface. It draws upon the independent observations and arguments in 1968 of Duncan Merrilees and Rhys Jones concerning the dynamic role of the Indigenous use of fire and its possible consequences regarding environmental productivity. Jones termed this practice ‘firestick farming’, thus appearing to question the age-old definition of Indigenous Australians as ‘hunter-gatherers’. Hallam’s detailed ethnographic and archaeological studies in the south of Western Australia took up these issues including the questioning of Indigenous representations by detailing ‘the South-West’s warren husbandry with its associated ‘yam fields’ and ‘villages’’ (p. vii). Her thoughtful and stimulating explorations of the consequences of these issues as regards Australian prehistory through time and geographical space form the core of her writing.

The contributions to this volume also span a broad range of issues referring to Hallam’s work, some of which are addressed here. Martin Gibbs, for example, revisits his archaeological and ethnographic study of the wooden Barragup mungah, an Aboriginal fish trap on the Swan Coastal Plain that was the economic support for an important venue ‘in a complex series of social economic and ceremonial networks’ (p.4) in the district. The annual winter meeting on the Serpentine River at Barragup, which may have run for two to three months, was one of the most important socio-economic events. He discusses the significance of this system, for the retrieval of large quantities of sea mullet and Australian salmon, in terms of the social relations of the region and more broadly as an aspect of ‘intensification’ within the wider Australian ‘intensification’ debate. Updating his example with more recent Indigenous oral history, he also makes the important point that irrespective of when fish traps were first introduced it is their operation in such socio-economically complex ways that marks their significance at this point in historical time.

Moya Smith presents a detailed and fascinating archaeological example from the Esperance region of southwest Australia. Based upon a large-scale archaeological survey of surface sites, and one stratified site Cheetup, she argues for a long-term cultural strategy of sustained mobility throughout the Holocene. This is despite ameliorating climatic changes and a broadened resource structure in the coastal zone that could have sustained a less mobile pattern. In other words, both spatially and temporally while conditions inland remained semi-arid, the richer coastal region was capable of supporting higher population densities and less mobile strategies. Ecological modelling also supported her findings. She concludes that this mobile pattern is suggestive of a particular southwest cultural pattern, one also identified by Ferguson in the King George Sound region some 400km west of Esperance. She argues, ‘(m)obility may be a well-entrenched pattern constrained by social relations that would survive whatever the environmental regime’ (p. 28). In this way we are presented with an interesting proposition of the ways social relations impact upon, and are intertwined with, ecological relations. More detailed excavation of stratified sites (where available) would help resolve some of these issues.

Neville Green’s moving account of Aboriginal sentencing in Western Australia in the late nineteenth century details the case of the Rottnest Island prison. More than 3670 Aboriginal men served sentences on the island between 1838 and 1931. He considers several of the laws concerning Aboriginal sentencing after 1870 and the method of policing and sentencing in the northern regions of the colony. He focuses particularly upon areas such as the Gascoyne, Upper Gascoyne and Upper Murchison, from which a disproportionate number of Aboriginal prisoners originated. These examples he views against the social history of the day to question the ‘criminal acts’ themselves. For instance, sentencing was often related to clashes between Aboriginal people and an expanding pastoral frontier that harshly restricted Aboriginal access to traditional lands and resources. On pastoral stations Aboriginal men, women and children were legally indentured servants, and ‘‘(a)bsconding’ from an employer was a common charge’ (p.82). Green argues that changing attitudes towards Aboriginal people, from protectionist to harsh and punitive, underlie the implementing (and sometimes formulating and passing) of the laws themselves.

In her study of Groote Eylandt, Anne Clarke uses early historical records, archives of the Church Missionary Society and anthropological sources, such as those of Tindale, McArthur and McCarthy, from 1921 to the 1970s to examine processes of cross-cultural interaction and change. She documents changing lifeways, from a time of Macassan traders and a broad spectrum mobile ‘hunter-gather’ economy, embedded in traditional systems of trade and exchange, to increasing levels of sedentism within a commodity-based system of trade and exchange. As time passed, hunting-gathering became a part-time pursuit. She also considers the effects of change on material culture, such as elaborately decorated wooden artefacts and canoes and upon diet. She concludes that rather than be viewed as ‘records of loss’ or for purposes of reconstruction, they ‘be seen as powerful narratives of how Indigenous communities negotiated the challenges presented by the incursion of western society into their daily lives’ (p.107).

Peter White revisits the question of the ‘Neolithic problem’ in Australia, a paper he first published 40 years ago, including a comparison with New Guinea. He argues that the two regions share many ethnographic and archaeological similarities that are often obscured by terminology such as ‘Neolithic’, ‘agriculture’ or ‘hunter-gatherer’. He discusses trends and examples from the ethnography and archaeology of both regions, including in Australia an emphasis on certain ‘staple’ plants and evidence for high population densities and resource/environmental management, as in the Murray River basin, southwest Victoria and southeast Queensland. He speculates ‘that agriculture may have occurred in parts of Australia’ (p.89), and that ‘(s)ome Australian data, if found in New Guinea, would label those societies as agricultural’ (p.86). He focuses particularly upon definitions of ‘agriculture’ and archaeological evidence for plant remains; advocating residue analysis and further historical enquiry as avenues of future research.

In some ways White’s paper helps to break down the traditional barriers between the two ‘research’ areas, Australia and New Guinea. Unfortunately, however, it is under-referenced. And it is disappointing also, for it largely fails to address the Australian ‘intensification’ debate and its wider world context, where many of the key issues raised by his paper have been widely discussed. In effect, the topic of his paper is largely underpinned by this debate. Others, including myself, have been championing similar ideas for many years, including the New Guinea comparison. Here, White appears to be arguing from within the preceding world ‘agricultural’ debate, not appreciating that many of its central issues and problems have been reworked or remodelled through the world ‘intensification’ debate that followed and continues to be widely influential today. Questions concerning change, ‘agricultural’ origins, historical process and context (for example, socio-cultural or environmental) were widely considered in the ‘intensification’ debate. And this was done so in the context of ‘complexity’ among ‘hunter-gatherers’ so as to overcome the problem of creating arbitrary ‘boundaries’ and terminology such as ‘Neolithic’, ‘horticulture’ or ‘agriculture’. As most of their features, including ‘staple’ plant species (‘domesticated’ or ‘wild’), can be found among ethnographic and archaeological examples of ‘hunter-gatherers’. Indeed, the development of ‘agriculture’ or ‘horticulture’ was viewed along with other processes of intensification taking place within ‘hunter-gatherer’ societies. In these ways, new images of ‘hunter-gatherers’ were shaped. In the New Guinea and Australian setting ‘horticulture’ or ‘agriculture’, irrespective of categorisation, is clearly linked to ‘hunting-gathering’. And the socio-cultural context is also an important part of the process. Context and process are as important here as the ‘staple’ plants themselves, if not more so, and are no more or less identifiable archaeologically. It is a pity, therefore, that he has missed the opportunity here to render a concise, critical review of this important topic of debate – one that goes to the heart of present-day New Guinea and Australian archaeology – in fact, to the core of current world hunter-gatherer studies themselves.

The topographic study of Caroline Bird and James Rhoads considers strategies for investigating surface archaeological evidence in relation to landscape features in the extensive semi-arid southern Wimmera region of Victoria. Using a novel strategy based upon mapped landscape attributes (for example, variations in relief and water sources) they produced consistent results linking archaeological patterning to particular water sources in line with historical evidence and some prior archaeological studies. They would have benefited also by discussing their findings more broadly. For example, in relation to sampling methodology, and to the results of other researchers in the wider, general region, such as Anne Ross’s earlier study that was directed at questions concerning population dynamics and their association with climatic changes and distribution of resources; questions central to Hallam’s research interests and also related to Moya Smith’s paper in this volume. Martin Gibbs’ paper is related also as their study area included the site of Toolondo.

In all, as a general comment I feel that many of the papers here, while interesting as they are, would have been enhanced still further by expanding their results, and the significance of these, in wider contexts and in the wider literature, more in the spirit of Sylvia Hallam’s work: that sought to open up our minds to explore new possibilities while generously acknowledging the work of others.

As for myself, in Sylvia Hallam’s work, I too found encouragement for my own research that was following similar themes to hers throughout the 1970s and 1980s. And I will always remember her enthusiastically taking me on a day-long tour of the archaeological sites she had excavated around the wider region outside Perth and her hospitable and generous personality.

A structure and process for ‘working beyond the site’ in a commercial context: A case study from Dunsborough, southwest Western Australia

Guifoyle_etalAR_AA73 Figure3

Archaeologists, traditional owners and field school students working together (published in Australian Archaeology 73:29).

David R. Guilfoyle, Wayne Webb, Toni Webb and Myles Mitchell

This paper examines the benefits of collaborative Indigenous archaeologies embedded through all phases of a commercial archaeology project. A community-based structure ensures a multifaceted level of investigation without demanding any additional resources upon the client, and a place-based approach to documenting and incorporating the range of values associated with archaeological heritage delivers multiple, positive outcomes. The paper outlines the community-based management structure and methodology within which the archaeologists operate, ultimately providing for an effective platform for research, conservation and management. At an operational level this necessarily entails a process for working beyond the site to fully integrate traditional and archaeological understandings of interconnected cultural landscapes.

The Early Prehistory of Fiji edited by Geoffrey Clark and Atholl Anderson

MarshallBR_cover_imageThe Early Prehistory of Fiji, edited by Geoffrey Clark and Atholl Anderson. Terra Australis 31, ANU E Press, Canberra, 2009, vi+437pp, ISBN 9781921666070.

Reviewed by Yvonne Marshall

Department of Archaeology, School of Humanities, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton, SO17 1BJ, United Kingdom

Fiji is pivotal. It anchors the central Pacific. It is then hardly surprising that Atholl Anderson and his colleagues working on the Indo-Pacific Colonisation Program (IPCP) found it necessary to expand the Program’s activities in Fiji beyond that initially envisaged – hence collaboration with Geoffrey Clark and The Early Prehistory of Fiji Project (EPF). Anderson and Clark recognise that bringing together a much stronger understanding of Fijian history and prehistory is essential if we are to clarify the bigger picture of Pacific colonisation. Fiji is the point of conjuncture. It is where West becomes East and where the unreality of taken for granted divisions like Melanesia and Polynesia is starkly realised.

There has been outstanding work done in Fiji – for example the pioneering work of Lawrence and Helen Birks at Sigatoka and Simon Best’s groundbreaking Lakeba project. These are solid foundation stones on which to build a more detailed overview of Fijian archaeology. But the bigger picture has been slow to emerge because doing archaeology in Fiji is not like doing the archaeology of a small isolated island. The Pacific archaeology staple procedure of establishing a coherent sequence of intermeshing landscape, faunal and artefact change, summed up in a definitive culture history volume, has been possible for islands such as Tikopia, Nuie, Niuatoputapu and even Easter Island; but not Fiji. Even if we established tidy sequences for each of Fiji’s numerous islands, and stacked them neatly one upon the other, we would still not capture the uniqueness, the complexity of Fijian prehistory. To borrow a metaphor from Ursula Le Guin (1989), Fijian archaeology is more a carrier bag of goodies than an arrow-like archaeological sequence. Its archaeologies jostle about, refusing to embrace linearity and the disciplined order of culture history sequences. Metaphors and models of Pacific colonisation with their talk of fast and slow trains, of point-and-arrow movement, have a way of unravelling when stretched across Fiji’s many, varied shores.

Clark and Anderson understand and appreciate the complexities of Fijian archaeology. There is no suggestion in this volume of their diminishing or circumventing its contradictions; but neither do they fully embrace Fijian prehistory. What they give us is closer to a stock-taking process, pulling together and synthesising disparate lines of evidence, sifting it, evaluating it, applying ‘chronometric hygiene’ protocols to the radiocarbon dates. Published data is collated and reinterpreted alongside new data from the Project’s field and analytical research. New evidence includes 68 new radiocarbon determinations from 13 sites, summaries of investigations at sites on the islands of Viti Levu, Mago and Beqa, results from analyses of faunal remains, stone artefacts, and ceramics, reconstructed vegetation histories for locations throughout Fiji, and the identification of previously unknown extinct megafauna. Some reptiles like the giant iguana, Lapitiguana impensa, which grew up to 1.5m in length and a terrestrial crocodilian. Volia athollandersoni, now sport distinctively archaeological names, an unusually frank demonstration of how the present claims, names and frames discovered pasts.

Clark and Anderson present an edited volume which is appropriately multiauthored but not fragmented or disparate. The volume consists of 16 chapters. Of these Clark and/or Anderson are authors on all but three; Anderson on 8 chapters and Clark on 11. So while this is an edited volume with 11 contributing authors, it is also very much a Clark and Anderson vehicle and vision of early Fijian prehistory. Other authors contribute specialist analyses. Clark and Anderson jointly author the Introduction and Conclusion, two chapters describing the fieldwork undertaken as part of the EPF Project, a chapter on radiocarbon dating, and they join Barry Fankhauser for the analysis of adzes. Trevor Worthy joins Anderson in two chapters on palaeofauna, and joins Clark in a chapter on bird, mammal and reptile remains. Katherine Szabo contributes a chapter on molluscan remains and joins Clark for the chapter on fish bone. There are three chapters on ceramics. Two are written by Clark and are in part drawn from his dissertation work while the third, on compositional analysis, is by Clark with Douglas Kennett. In addition there is a chapter on vegetation histories by Geoff Hope, Janelle Stevenson and Wendy Southern, and a chapter on stone artefacts by Chris Clarkson and Lyn Schmidt.

Chapters 1-7 give a series of big picture views, setting Fiji into the broader Pacific region. Here Anderson’s voice and vision are uppermost and the setting of this Fijian work within his wider Indo-Pacific Colonisation Program (IPCP) comes through strongly. Here Fiji is a piece in a bigger puzzle. Nevertheless, the internal complexity of the Fijian material is never submerged by this positioning within the broader Pacific frame. For example, in Chapter 4 Hope et al. conclude their analysis of vegetation histories by emphasising the complex, regionally-specific interweaving of climatic, landscape and human influenced processes. In bringing together their overview, Hope et al. are at pains to stress that untangling these strands enough to identify any straightforward narrative for the timing and nature of anthropogenic landscape change in Fiji remains highly problematic and it is likely to stay that way.

Chapters 8-15 focus in on detailed analyses of fauna and artefacts recovered from early Fijian sites. Here we see Clark’s voice coming forward and there are results reported from archaeological investigations conducted by Clark for his dissertation research as well as those specifically conducted within the rubric of the EPF project. In these chapters we begin to see the uniqueness of events in early Fijian prehistory and their carrier bag nature emerge. The importance of these events as a story in their own right, not just as a piece within a broader Pacific narrative of colonisation, is similarly more evident. In addition, these chapters have a more human feel; you can sense the people of Fijian prehistory not just the peopling of Fiji, especially in the chapters on ceramics and shell remains.

The concluding Chapter 16 brings us back to the big picture of Pacific colonisation. I appreciated the much-needed synthesis this chapter offers. Students and archaeologists working throughout the Pacific will be delighted to have available such a comprehensive yet succinct entry point into the Fijian evidence, especially one backed up by 15 chapters of detailed information and discussion. This excellent volume will be avidly read and often returned to.

Initially, after a first read I felt somewhat unsatisfied by this volume. The title proclaimed a volume about Fiji, yet Fiji felt oddly absent. This is due to the exclusive focus on the early period and on processes and effects of colonisation. I would personally have liked to see Clark and Anderson push a little harder into later prehistory so as to give a stronger sense of Fiji as a place with its own story to tell over and above narratives about the peopling of the Pacific. In the long run Fijian archaeology will have more to tell us if we ask less restrictive research questions. A more broadly-informed understanding of what happened here throughout the full 3000 years of human occupation, not just during Lapita colonisation, will enable us to understand the early period discussed in this volume in more human, peopled ways. However, I cannot fault Clark and Anderson for not providing a stronger view of Fiji in their volume as this was not among the objectives of either the Indo-Pacific Colonisation Program or the Early Fiji Prehistory Project. And of course, Fiji had not yet become Fiji during the period under discussion. That would come later.


Le Guin, U.K. 1989 The carrier bag theory of fiction. In U.K. Le Guin, Dancing at the Edge of the World: Thoughts on Words, Women, Places, pp.165-170. New York: Grove Press.

What bird is that? Identifying a Probable Painting of Genyornis newtoni in Western Arnhem Land

Gunn_etalAR_AA 73 Figure9

Common distrinctive traits between the painting and Genyornis (from Australian Archaeology 73:8).

ben Gunn, Ray Whear and Leigh Douglas

A large painting of an unusual emu-like bird was recorded in western Arnhem Land. The painting and its setting are described in relation to reported megafauna depictions in the region. Concordance with palaeontological evidence suggests that the painting was of Genyornis newtoni, one of the giant ‘thunder birds’ which some palaeontologists claim became extinct around 45,000 years ago. This image raises four particular questions: Is the painting 45,000+ years old? Did Genyornis survive in Western Arnhem Land until much more recently than the palaeontological record demonstrates? Did the collective memory of the painters retain the precise details of the extinct animal for many thousands of years? Or, is it an image of some imaginary bird/creation ancestor? It is concluded that the painting is most likely a representation of Genyornis newtoni but there is insufficient evidence to indicate any age for the painting.

Pleistocene rockshelters J23 and J24, Mesa J, Pilbara, Western Australia


Depth distribution of radiocarbon dates and stone artefacts in rockshelters J23 and J24, Pilbara, Western Australia (published in Australian Archaeology 73:59).

Philip Hughes, Gary Quartermaine and Jacqueline Harris

Two spatially close rockshelters at Mesa J in the Pilbara had relatively deep deposits and large numbers of stone artefacts distributed from top to bottom. The basal archaeological materials have been directly dated as (in the case of J24) or are inferred to be (in the case of J23) late Pleistocene in age. In J24 artefacts continued downwards throughout basal Spit 10, indicating that occupation of the rockshelter began before 27,657 cal BP, possibly thousands of years before. The distribution of stone artefacts and radiocarbon dates in J24 indicates that occupation of the rockshelter continued during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), providing further evidence that the Hamersley Plateau provided refuge for Aboriginal people during the cold and arid conditions of the LGM.

Amalgamation of archaeological assemblages: Experiences from the Commonwealth Block Project, Melbourne

HayesAR_ AA73Sarah Hayes

To study broader social changes such as colonisation and globalisation, a holistic approach that incorporates various data (historical documents, building remains, site formation and artefacts) and scales of analysis (household, suburb, city, national and global) is particularly important. Comparative studies between archaeological assemblages are a significant component of this endeavour. To enable such studies, consideration must first be given to the methodology required to amalgamate assemblages for analysis. A recent project designed to amalgamate the assemblages excavated from the Commonwealth Block, Melbourne, provides an opportunity to explore these processes. This paper discusses how consolidating site records, targeting significant deposits, locating artefacts, managing data and unravelling the history of an assemblage are important precursors to cataloguing and analysis when working with previously excavated assemblages.

Review of ‘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.


Garvey book review cover AA72Pleistocene Geology, Palaeontology And Archaeology Of The Soa Basin, Central Flores, Indonesia edited by F. Aziz, M.J. Morwood and G.D. van den Bergh. Special Publication 36, Pusat Survei Geologi, Badan Geologi, Departemen Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral, Bandung, 2009, iv+146pp, ISSN 0582-873X.

Reviewed by Jillian Garvey

Archaeology Program, School of Historical and European Studies, La Trobe University, Bundoora Vic. 3086, Australia

This special publication presents collaborative research between Indonesian and Australian researchers on the Soa Basin of Central Flores, Indonesia. While the co-existence of Middle Pleistocene extinct vertebrates and stone tools has already been published (i.e. Morwood et al. 1998), this edited volume includes eight succinct papers providing detailed accounts of the geology, palaeontology and archaeology of the Soa Basin. This has important implications for the history of faunal (including hominid) dispersal, evolution and replacement on Flores, and more generally in Southeast Asia.

The volume begins with a general introduction by Aziz and Morwood to the Soa Basin, including a history of research in the region, which is supplemented by photographs of Verhoeven’s original excavations at Mata Menge and Boa Lesa from the 1960s. In 1967 Verhoeven recovered extinct Stegodon remains and stone artefacts from the same horizon at Boa Lesa, concluding that early hominids and large mammals co-existed on Flores approximately 750,000 years ago. This implied that hominids were able to reach the island during the Middle Pleistocene, however, this evidence was largely ignored by the archaeological community. It was not until the early 1980s, that Fachroel Aziz and Paul Sondaar decided to re-excavate Mata Menge to investigate Verhoeven’s theory. There is now, of course, even more interest in the Middle Pleistocene localities and the arrival of the earliest hominin in the region since the discovery of the late Pleistocene hominid Homo floresiensis at Liang Bua on Flores (Morwood et al. 2004).

The second chapter by Suminto, Morwood et al. presents an overview of the general geology, depositional history, chronology and palaeoenvironmental interpretation of the Soa Basin, and its fossil localities, providing an excellent foundation for the rest of the volume. It is within the 1 million to 650,000 year old Ola Bula Formation that some 16 fossil sites (most also containing stone tools) have been recorded; four of these localities are discussed in detail in later chapters in the volume, while all 16 are briefly listed and described here. Most of the fossil sites are localised accumulations in palaeochannels deposited during times of low lake levels, but some are also associated with palaeoshorelines. The entire Soa Basin has been mapped at a scale of 1:50,000 allowing detailed interpretation of its geological history and highlighting deposits potentially suitable for radiometric dating. The chapter is supplemented by a fold-out geological map.

Chapters 3–6 describe excavations at the sites of Tangi Talo, Mata Menge, Boa Lesa and Kobatuwa, all situated in central Flores. Tangi Talo is the oldest fossil locality in the Soa Basin with a fission-track date of 900,000±70,000 BP, first reported by Morwood et al. (1998). In Chapter 3, by Aziz, van den Bergh et al. the results from the 1999 excavations are described. It is thought that the deposits accumulated shortly after a massive volcanic explosion at c.900,000 BP. So far, Tangi Talo is the only site on Flores that has yielded remains of the pygmy Stegodon sondaari and the giant tortoise Colossochelys sp. Also recorded is the Komodo dragon Varanus komodoensis which is found in other later Middle Pleistocene sites in the Soa Basin, and is still extant today on Flores and nearby islands. Taphonomic analysis and S. sondaari age mortality profiles at Tangi Talo indicate that the assemblage was the result of a catastrophic event affecting an entire population including prime-aged adults. It is at this time that there is an overall faunal shift on Flores, with the endemic S. sondaari and the giant tortoise disappearing; being replaced by the larger-bodied Stegodon florensis, Komodo dragon, crocodiles, rat and bird. However, the authors also allude to the possibility that the arrival of hominids sometime close to this event may also have been a contributing factor, although there is no evidence of hominin activity at Tangi Talo.

At Mata Menge, discussed in Chapter 4 by van den Bergh, Aziz, et al., palaeoenvironmental reconstructions are developed using sedimentological and taphonomic evidence provided by recent excavations between 2004 and 2006. Several fission-track dates indicate a minimum age for the fossils and the stratigraphically contemporaneous stone artefacts at 800,000±70,000 BP. This age also signals the first appearance of hominins on Flores, and indeed this part of Southeast Asia. It is at Mata Menge that the emergence of a new faunal suite not previously recorded on Flores occurs. It is dominated by the endemic S. florensis (a common taxon in other similar aged Middle Pleistocene sites in the Soa Basin), giant rat Hooijeromys nusatenggara, crocodile, and bird. While some 169 S. florensis bones have now been recorded from Mata Menge, representing a Minimum Number of Individuals (MNI) of 13, there is no evidence of hominin activity relating to their accumulation such as butchery or bone breakage. However, the age structure of the large mammals suggests a different scenario than that at Tangi Talo, indicating that the accumulation was not the result of a catastrophic mass death, nor was it selective mortality associated with mammalian carnivore predation. The stone tools from Tangi Talo imply that the former lakeshore was used for the production of stone artefacts by hominids; with retouch and use-wear suggesting that they were more likely to have been used in wood-working activities rather than in Stegodon butchery.

Another site originally excavated by Verhoeven in 1963, Boa Lesa, is outlined in Chapter 5 by Morwood, Aziz et al. This chapter discusses more recent excavations between 1998 and 1999. It is almost contemporaneous to the nearby site of Mata Menge given its relative altitude and stratigraphic position; this being confirmed with fission track dates of 840,000±70,000 BP. Several S. florensis bones were found in stratigraphic association with six stone artefacts in a low energy fluvial channel, at its junction with a smaller tributary. It appeared that most of the bones and artefacts had not been transported over long distances. Similar to the skeletal material from Mata Menge, the S. florensis bones at Boa Lesa did not show any evidence of hominin modification.

The last excavation discussed (Chapter 6 by Jatmiko, van den Bergh et al.) from the Middle Pleistocene in the Soa Basin describes excavations between 2005 and 2007 at Kobatuwa. As with Mata Menge and Boa Lesa, stone tools have been recovered from the same stratigraphic horizon as extinct S. florensis bones. Fission track dating revealed that the site is younger, with a date of 800,000±90,000 BP 35cm below the deposit giving a maximum age, and 700,000±70,000 BP at 2m constraining the age of the horizon and providing a minimum age. The stone tools at Kobatuwa differ from those from Mata Menge and Boa Lesa as they are larger cores and flakes (greater than 5cm). The authors suggest that these differences correlate to the varying environments; specifically the available raw material and the potential for fluvial transport.

To evaluate the technological behaviour of Middle Pleistocene hominins in Southeast Asia, the stone tool technology at the oldest site in the Soa Basin, Mata Menge, is discussed in Chapter 7 by Brumm, Moore et al. This has important implications for understanding hominid behaviour and evolution in Indonesia and across Southeast Asia, previously considered to be ‘a region of long-term cultural stagnation’ (p.119, original emphasis). Results indicate that hominins in the Soa Basin selected and transported large flake blanks of >100mm of high-grade raw materials to Mata Menge, abandoning the larger cores where they acquired the raw material. Analysis suggests focus on the production of radial cores via bifacial and centripetal reduction of stone. This technology has also been associated with late Pleistocene H. floresiensis from Liang Cave on Flores. The prevalence and longevity of the radial core technology on Flores raises questions concerning its origins in Palaeolithic Southeast Asia; did it evolve and spread out of Africa with the ancestors of H. floresiensis or was it a regional convergent development within the region? Although the authors admit that stone tool research at Mata Menge is still in its preliminary stages, understanding the development of this tool technology is fundamental in establishing the Palaeolithic behaviour in the region and the origins of H. floresiensis.

A summary chapter by Morwood and Aziz concludes the volume where the outcomes are discussed in regards to their implications for the Middle Pleistocene and possible subsequent evolution of hominids on Flores. Evidence from recent work in the Soa Basin has complemented and extended the range of archaeological, palaeontological and stratigraphic evidence for the arrival of hominins on Flores, which approaches the timing of the extinction of the pygmy S. sondaari and the giant tortoise Colossochelys sp. between 900,000 and 880,000 BP. At this time there is a faunal turnover, with the large-bodied S. florensis, Komodo dragon V. komodoensis, crocodile, rat and bird the only fauna recorded from in the Soa Basin between 880,000 and 700,000 BP. While the change in fauna is associated with a major volcanic eruption, it is followed closely by the arrival of hominids in the Soa Basin c.880,000 BP. It is the larger bodied S. florensis which is the immediate ancestor to the late Pleistocene smaller subspecies S. f. insularis found in association with H. floresiensis. Between the Middle Pleistocene species turnover, and the later appearance of H. floresiensis on Flores during the late Pleistocene (c.95,000 BP), the fauna retained stability and phylogenetic continuity suggesting no new arrivals or extinctions of animals in the region until about 17,000 BP. At this time there was another faunal turnover at Liang Bua which interestingly, also coincided with a major volcanic eruption and subsequent arrival of a new hominin species (modern humans). The volume finishes with a discussion of the implications of the Middle Pleistocene research in the Soa Basin for understanding faunal (including hominin) dispersal, evolution and extinction on other islands in Southeast Asia.

Overall, this volume makes an important contribution to our understanding of Middle Pleistocene archaeology, palaeontology and geology of the Soa Basin and Southeast Asia through its excellent combination of papers. While some of the dates and other information had been previously published elsewhere, it is great to see the detailed excavation notes from four of the major sites, detailed geology including the supplementary fold-out map, important artefact analysis from Mata Menge, as well as the informative background and historical information combined in such a volume. It will be a valuable resource for those interested in the palaeoecology and palaeoenvironment of the Soa Basin during the Middle Pleistocene as well the migration, evolution and extinction of fauna, including hominids, on the islands of Southeast Asia.


Morwood, M.J., P.B. O’Sullivan, F. Aziz and A. Raza 1998 Fission-track ages of stone tools and fossils on the east Indonesian island of Flores. Nature 392:173–176.

Morwood, M.J., R.P. Soejono, R.G. Roberts, T. Sutikna, C.S.M. Turney, K.E. Westaway, W.J. Rink, J-x. Zhao, G.D. van den Bergh, Rokus Awe Due, D.R. Hobbs, M.W. Moore, M.I. Bird and L.K. Fifield 2004 Archaeology and age of new hominin from Flores in eastern Indonesia. Nature 431:1087–1091.

Review of ‘An Archaeology of Australia since 1788’ by Susan Lawrence and Peter Davies

Stuart book review cover AA72An Archaeology Of Australia Since 1788 by Susan Lawrence and Peter Davies. Springer, New York, 2010, xix+421pp, ISBN 9781441974846 (hbk).

Reviewed by Iain Stuart

JCIS Consultants, PO Box 2397, Burwood North NSW 2137, Australia

Australian historical archaeology may be deficient in a number of areas, but it has never been short of reviews and overviews. An Archaeology of Australia since 1788 by Lawrence and Davies is significant for a number of reasons. It is an attempt to summarise the achievements of historical archaeology in Australia; namely what historical archaeology has added to the corpus of Australian history. The book can be seen as a response to Egloff’s well-documented concern that Australian historical archaeology may become irrelevant if it did not engage with relevant issues in Australian history (AA39:1-9). An Archaeology of Australia since 1788 – although not an explicit reply to Egloff – does demonstrate important contributions made by various historical archaeological projects to the understanding of Australia’s history.

The authors are of the third generation of historical archaeologists in Australia. Moreover, the authors were not educated and based in Sydney. Indeed, their professional education in historical archaeology occurred as the hegemony of the subject by the University of Sydney was being replaced by teaching centres such as those at La Trobe University and Flinders University. Thus, this view of historical archaeology in Australia is one from a different place and different generation to the norm. This is a welcome change in viewpoint.

Lawrence and Davies are not young punks intent on critical destruction of the edifice of historical archaeology in Australia. Rather, they are concerned in reporting what has been learned over 30 or 40 years of work. Accordingly, this is a work that ranges widely across the whole breadth of issues in Australian history. The authors admit that some material has been left out simply due to space and they also regret the omission of some New Zealand work of relevance to Australia.

The bringing together of diverse material from across Australia is a tremendous achievement and the authors are to be congratulated for doing this successfully. However, their achievement is more than simply bringing information together; they have provided a synthesis of material that is very useful for those working in the field and for students learning about historical archaeology. This is an important benchmarking of historical archaeology in Australia.

The authors have divided the work into specific topics that reflect prominent issues in Australian history and attempt a broad-ranging discussion covering a wide geographic area and differences of approach. They also choose to emphasise social themes such as gender, status, ethnicity and identity, reflecting the authors’ roots in post-processual archaeology. The principle topics which form individual chapters in the book include: Convict Origins; Aboriginal Dispossession and Survival; Shipwrecks and Maritime Trade; Sealing, Whaling and Maritime Industries; Pastoralism and Agriculture; Gold Rushes and Precious Metals; Manufacturing and Processing; Migration and Ethnicity; An Urbanised Nation; Australians at Home; Death; and the Twentieth Century and Beyond.

Although each chapter is an entity in itself, the chapters are organised so that each generally leads to the next topic. For this review, rather than attempt a blow-by-blow analysis of each chapter, two chapters were selected by random for more detailed discussion in order to convey a sense of how the authors approach each topic.

The chapter on ‘Manufacturing and Processing’ begins with a brief overview of the topic noting it is part of the field of ‘industrial archaeology’ and mentioning Casella’s recent overview of the topic as well as brief mention of various studies. From this overview Lawrence and Davies identify the themes of continuity and change, technological transfer, landscape and social context as being an important framework for understanding the archaeology of manufacturing and processing in Australia. It is unclear to the reviewer why other themes – such as the nature of capital formation or transport (which have been discussed by economic historians) – are not also of relevance to the archaeologist studying this broad topic?

The chapter continues to discuss some of the archaeological research that illustrates the approaches that Lawrence and Davies highlight as being important. Studies of water mills, for example, discuss the themes of continuity and change, technological transfer and landscape. Similarly, the review of archaeological research on timber mills reflects studies on tramways and on mill sites such as Henry’s No 1 Mill (the subject of Davies’ doctoral work). Other archaeological work on brickworks, potteries and lime-making is also discussed.

The discussion on ‘Coal, Iron and Steel’ could have been omitted. The coal studies discussed are concerned with marginal aspects of the industry and not the major coal producing areas or periods. For ‘Iron Production’ only Cremin and Jack’s excellent work is discussed, but the large-scale excavation of the iron works at Mittagong in 2005 has been overlooked. Similarly, the industrial archaeology of steel is discussed only in the context of Sandford’s works at Lithgow (again Cremin and Jack) as this is the only archaeological study of an Australian steel works despite the total demolition of the Newcastle works in recent years

There is also a notable omission from this chapter in the form of extensive research by vocational archaeologists associated with the Light Railways Research Association in the areas of timber milling and its technology, as well as coal mining and iron and steel works. All this work is accessible as the researchers have an enviable record of publication. It is unclear why such a body of research is not discussed.

The second chapter to be looked at is that covering archaeological research on urban Australia. Again, the chapter opens with a general overview of the field noting the major discussions on the topic. The chapter moves to a discussion of archaeological deposits and formation processes, and then looks at broader analysis of neighbourhoods and cities. The section on site formation processes and their influence on the archaeological evidence in urban environments is a good summary of the archaeological research and would form a useful reading in itself for students learning about formation processes and stratigraphy.

The bigger picture is one of neighbourhoods, slums and class and is mostly based on the two projects ‘Little Lon’ and Cumberland/Gloucester Street and the work of well-known researchers Murray, Mayne and Karskens. The fruitful dialogue between historians and archaeologists is notable in the area of urban archaeology, despite the disdainful rejection of the idea by Melbourne’s elite historians (on film), when it was first proposed. From slums the discussion moves towards notions of class and of gentility and respectability developed by Linda Young and explored in archaeological work in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide.

This chapter is marked by a more coherent subject matter than the broad brush of industrial archaeology, and it is more successful in summarising the arguments and explaining the archaeological research than the chapter on manufacturing and processing in the previous example. It seems that in reporting on the historical archaeological work, Lawrence and Davies have been at the mercy of their subject matter. A neat coherent topic like urban archaeology is much easier to report on than the sprawling research on industrial archaeology which is not so easily synthesised and the chapters reflect this problem. There is, of course, the perennial problem of the ‘gray literature’ not being accessible, although projects in Victoria and in New South Wales are making the material more widely available so that authors following in the footsteps of Lawrence and Davies should have even more material to consider.

Lawrence and Davies seem unwilling to comment on areas that might be fruitfully explored or developed in the future. There is also a lack of reflective comment on the overall topics and studies. While it can be understood why this is so, the aim of the book was not to set agendas but report on work undertaken; there seems something missing by not making such comments.

Overall An Archaeology of Australia since 1788 succeeds in presenting the broad-range of Australian historical archaeology and its contribution to understanding Australia’s past. The authors are to be congratulated in undertaking such a task and setting the scene for the next decade of growth in the field. This is a work that all serious historical archaeologists need, especially those formulating research designs for projects whether they be salvage archaeology or research archaeology.

At the conclusion of this review a comment needs to be made about the price of this work. An online search reveals that the price in Australia ranges from $172 to $337, the highest price being that of Angus and Robertson, which is almost double the lowest price at Abbeys or the Co-Op Bookstore (if you are a member). Overseas the best price is ₤81.00 plus postage. For a book that deserves to be read by a lot of people, and presumably a book that the publishers feel should be bought by a lot of people, this price point surely is madness.

The rock art scenes at Injalak Hill: Alternative visual records of Indigenous social organisation and cultural practices

Domingo Sanz AA72 Figure 2

Injalak Hill (published in Australian Archaeology 72:15).

Inés Domingo Sanz

This paper explores the potential of Indigenous rock art scenes from western Arnhem Land (Australia) as visual media in archaeological and ethnoarchaeological research into Indigenous social organisation and practices. Traditionally, the main visual media used to analyse Indigenous cultures have been ethnographic or ethnohistoric reports and photographs. Through three case studies from Injalak Hill this paper illustrates how rock art scenes may elicit complementary and alternative types of information and provide a different means of understanding Indigenous social behaviour and practices. Rock art scenes, as visual records of Indigenous social organisation, should be considered a key complement to photographs, since they provide crucial information that is quite different from, or not necessarily recorded in, photographs.

New radiocarbon dates for Kulpi Mara Rockshelter, Central Australia

Peter Thorley, Patrick Faulkner and Mike Smith

Kulpi Mara is one of three known late Pleistocene sites in Central Australia. Four recent radiocarbon determinations combined with 11 earlier results clarify the sedimentation history and occupation phases at the rockshelter. The sequence shows a number of pulses of occupation, the earliest dating between c.34,178–29,102 cal BP, with little use of the shelter during intermediate periods. This contrasts with the more or less continuous sequence reported for Puritjarra rockshelter 165km to the west. These differences suggest that we can expect intraregional variability in both the geomorphic setting and occupational histories of Pleistocene and Holocene sites in Central Australia and the Western Desert.

Investigations in invasion innovation: The archaeological and historical study of a WWII landing vehicle tracked in Saipan

W. Shawn Arnold

M. Maritime Archaeology, Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, November 2010

The advent of amphibious watercraft such as the amphibious tractor for use during World War II (WWII) is directly responsible for saving numerous lives. The ability to drive invasion forces through the water and over shallow reefs to deliver them on shore prevented considerable causalities as it prevented the invasion force from having to wade hundreds and sometimes thousands of meters across lagoons under heavy enemy fire. Unfortunately, these machines have been nearly forgotten through time and have taken a back seat to technology such as the planes and tanks of the era.

The amphibious tractor, also known as the Amtrac or Landing Vehicle Tracked (LVT), was the workhorse of WWII in the Pacific Theatre. Their unique ability of being capable of travelling both in and out of the water provided them an advantage over other vehicles. Amtracs were called upon to perform a wide array of tasks, including delivering assault troops to the beach, evacuating wounded, delivering supplies, and acting as mobile command posts and mobile weapons platforms.

The aim of this study is to further our understanding of the significance of amphibious vehicles used during WWII, particularly in relation to the Battle of Saipan. This thesis explores the necessity of amphibious craft due to the physical and environmental demands of the battlefield. Drawing on both archaeological and historical data, the thesis investigates the ways in which crews made changes to the vehicles during the war in order to protect and prolong the life of not only the vehicle but also the crews themselves. This thesis also looks at how these modifications directly influenced later Amtrac production designs. Using process analysis, the remains of an Amtrac located in Tanapag Lagoon, Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, are examined in order to determine the extent of battle modifications and possible explanations for the site’s present location.

Review of ‘Conversations with Landscape’ edited by Karl Benediktsson and Katrín Anna Lund

Benediktsson ñ Conversations With Landscape:Clark ñ Diderot's PartConversations with Landscape edited by Karl Benediktsson and Katrín Anna Lund. Ashgate Publishing, Farnham, Surrey, 2010, xi+262 pp., ISBN 9781409401865.

Reviewed by Harry Lourandos

81 Outlook Crescent, Bardon Qld 4065, Australia

Edited by a geographer and an anthropologist, this book is part of an interdisciplinary series, Anthropological Studies of Creativity and Perception, edited by Tim Ingold that aims to open up lines of enquiry between anthropology and other disciplines. Here, the contributors to some 16 chapters are drawn from a wide range of backgrounds: anthropology, geography, environmental studies, philosophy, archaeology, literary studies and visual arts. Using the metaphor of a ‘conversation’ with landscape, much as we commonly refer to ‘communing with nature’, they seek to open up perspectives and strategies on human-landscape interactions, to search for alternative understandings; and in this case specifically those of Iceland, where the editors and many of the other contributors study, work and were raised. Via these approaches, which include and focus upon the phenomenological, the reader, having read from cover to cover, is left with powerful and complex impressions of the Icelandic world and landscape. So, how has this been achieved and how can we best understand it? To begin by using an analogy, unlike the rich and sometimes overwhelming experience of fieldwork for the archaeologist or anthropologist which becomes reduced, hidden or submerged and at times completely lost in the translation to text and final publication; in contrast here people’s experiences of Iceland are vividly communicated to us, opening up our own expectations. Rather than being objective and detached, here relational experiences are created between observers and their surroundings. Rather than merely defining the experience, we too are taken on the journey.

In investigating whether ‘conversations’ occur between people and landscape and what form they might take, the editors draw on phenomenological approaches and theory that discount dualism such as subject/object or mind/body and focus instead on the relations between the two, itself a kind of ‘conversation’. Rather than taking an objective stance towards the surrounding world or landscape, these embodied philosophical approaches view experience through the relationship that the body has, with all its senses, to its surroundings. Rather than definable and therefore ‘bound’, the landscape itself is perceived as in a state of becoming, imminent, ‘constantly unfolding … in a never-ending journey’ (p.6).

The chapters explore these issues with a wide variety of Icelandic examples, some of which are discussed below. In environmental debates about land-use, for instance, ‘aesthetic’ experiences and concerns have been little valued, being regarded as too subjective, not scientific. In these ways this echoes the traditional dualism of subjective/objective, while failing to appreciate that subjectivity resides in both; all observations are to some extent influenced by one’s perspective (pp.110, 114). In contrast to these more negative stances, philosopher Sigridur Thorgeirsdottir (Chapter 2) sees these ‘conversations’ with pristine natural environments and wild landscapes as profound ‘metaphysical experiences’. Throwing oneself into the icy sea and being carried or swept away by the force of its currents; wandering across a vast, inhospitable glacier that is forever moving and filled with huge cracks and holes: such experiences of awe, wonder, danger and of our fragile mortality, entwine us with the natural world. These ‘conversations’ with landscape she sees as reflexive conversations with ourselves, and with our embodied, transcendent experiences. Such experiences, she argues, lead to more reflexive and ethical attitudes, with contingent obligations, towards a natural world of which we are so much a part. On a more cautious note, environmental philosopher Gabriel Malenfant (Chapter 3), pointing to the limitations of such ‘conversations’, argues that while they are not true dialogues and that ethics require discourse, they allow for a moral repositioning of ourselves, in a less anthropocentric way, towards the natural world.

Arguing against the dualistic approach in environmental decision-making, philosopher Gudbjorg R. Johannesdottir (Chapter 8) opts for transcending the subject/object divide by suggesting that ‘the meaning and value of landscape is determined by the relationship or conversation that takes place between landscape and the people who dwell in it’ (p.110).That is, that the division between nature and culture is untenable, that ‘landscape’ is the interaction between the two, between the body and its surrounds; the intertwining of subject and object. This ongoing interchange forms a type of conversation that she explores as a kind of atmosphere, following phenomenologist Merleau-Ponty; much as we commonly talk of ‘a tense atmosphere in the meeting room’. Landscapes eliciting feelings of awe, wonder, fear and safety, for example, she sees as more than social constructions or objective phenomena.

Among the latter we can also add grief. By intertwining disparate strands of evidence and approach – structural/anthropological and historical along with the phenomenological – social anthropologist Arnar Arnason (Chapter 6) shows how grief, associated with deaths on the road and road safety, creates complex ‘conversations’ out of which landscape emerges. Here myth, supernatural experiences, memorial crosses and cairns, deforestation and the spread and growth of roads together with changing attitudes to road safety, are all woven together with Iceland’s historical identity. Feelings of loss, he argues, underlie the historical narrative, from colony to industrialised nation of today. Thus, complex landscapes emerge through time, through narratives, fusing the personal and the political. In these ways, ‘identities, individual and national, are constructed’ (p.84).

In historical fashion also, geographer Edda R.H. Waage (Chapter 4) argues that the traditional Icelandic concept of landscape or landslag can be traced back to the Icelandic historical sagas of pre-modern times and is distinct from the more recent English concept of landscape. Landslag (or landsleg), she continues, refers to the total appearance of an area ‘associated with an aesthetic expression or experience’ (p.51), and bearing a strong human-nature relation. Here there is no human/nature division. This contrasts with the more recent English concept of landscape that creates a culture/nature split as we have seen. Waage attributes the differences between the two concepts to their separate historical and socio-cultural origins: to early Icelandic subsistence farmers and seafarers who formed a close association with nature, as opposed to members of the European elite of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries demonstrating their control over nature.

The case for a relational approach in archaeology is put forward by archaeologist Oscar Aldred (Chapter 5) who sees landscape as a convergence of multiple temporalities; and that the past is mediated through the present. A ‘boundary’, for example, cannot be seen as an ‘enclosure’ until the relations between it and its surrounds are understood. The relationship, therefore, is part of a process, a continuum of happenings; thus landscapes are a continuous, ever-becoming record. His archaeological case study, in a place of valleys, fjords and uplands, presents relationships between people and landscapes as entangled, ‘from the reflexivity during field work to the fluidity on the page’ (pp.75-76).

The complex interplay of the politics of ‘conversation’ is discussed by anthropologist Anne Brydon (Chapter 13) in a detailed examination of whaling and hydroelectric development in Iceland. She traces changing attitudes to non-human sentience, to whales and to highland environments, rivers and moors, from the 1980s to the present day. Popular Icelandic sentiment in the 1980s and early 1990s characterised international protests against Icelandic whale-hunting as irrational and romantic over-sentimentalising of wild sea-animals and their supposed intelligence. More recently, however, the rise in international tourism and interest in whale-watching, has led to a revision (although not a replacement) in attitudes towards non-human sentience. Later on in the 1990s, hydroelectricity schemes and heavy industry development, financed by foreign capital and backed by government, met the resistance of a newly-growing environmental movement winning increasing public support. In this changed climate, highland moorlands, rivers and their wildlife, once considered ‘barren waste’ and now threatened with development, were represented as active agents and at times as sentient. Brydon discusses the role of artists and performance as providing a voice to these concerns.

Interspecies conversations, namely of sheep and humans, are discussed by geographer Karl Benediktsson (Chapter 12). The landscape of the non-human is rarely considered and if attempted more often is seen through anthropocentric eyes. In Iceland the sheep was once the economic cornerstone to a country dependent upon meat, milk and wool, and is closely tied through time to processes of deforestation, high taxes and unmarketable meat. Here Benediktsson restores the sheep’s world to us via examples of subtle interactions between sheep, landscape and people. These include the behaviour of sheep during the shepherd’s long, hard mountain trek, the sheep’s preference for eroded habitats, and also for the wide, grassy verges of modern roads and the road surfaces themselves covered in salt, a sheep’s delight and problem for the motorist. These behavioural signs and patterns, linking sheep to environment, form the conversation.

Further chapters cover the following themes. Anthropocentricism and the objectification of wildlife, seals and seal killing are confronted and addressed via artistic performance, displays and film (Chapter 14). The aurora borealis is represented as a touristic and phenomenological experience of a wild landscape, more than a cultural construction (Chapter 15). (Bush) walking is seen as a narrative act itself, weaving together narratives, as a lived conversation of being and becoming (Chapter 7). Negative forms of aesthetic response, fear, dread, ‘ugliness’, evoke a different relationship to nature and lead to caring for what is otherwise passed over (Chapter 9). The modern, urban transformation of Iceland is reflected through narrative and in traditional paintings of landscape scenery prominently displayed in middle class town houses, transporting the land to the town (Chapter 10). The conversation of people and land through time is reflected in poetry (Chapter 11). Finally, included is an epilogue by Tim Ingold (Chapter 16).

The success of this volume lies in its drawing upon a wide, interdisciplinary set of ideas and approaches; of tying together, clearly and vividly, theory, case studies and examples. By introducing different approaches, such as the phenomenological, the reader’s worldview is destabilised sufficiently to give a fresh perspective. For the anthropologist and archaeologist, this volume points to ways of collaboratively joining and working creatively alongside those from other fields and schools of thought. And even more importantly, it allows them to import and integrate similar approaches and methods into their own research projects. Iceland too, at first glance an unlikely comparison, shares many themes and issues with Australia (and for an Australian audience), from the management of ‘wild’ landscapes to environmental politics. And its position at the edge of the world, like that of Australia, allows for an extra sharp clarity in experiencing and observing colonisation, land impact and ‘development’, among others.

With regard to archaeology, most of the case studies here have a connection and entanglement with the material world. This is the link to archaeology and out of which archaeological information and enterprise come into being. For as discussed in Chapter 5, archaeological material is part of an ongoing, seemingly endless process, entangled with the socio-cultural, phenomenological and wider environment, out of which landscape emerges. Examining the relations between these and the material world will throw light on the very processes archaeologists search for: how landscapes are formed and how ‘conversations’ between elements are sustained. As has been argued here and further in the volume itself, archaeology is more than the remains of the past; it fuses time, past, present and future. In viewing and experiencing relations and ‘conversations’ with landscape as shown here, we can hope to understand how these processes are enacted.

New direction in human colonisation of the Pacific: Lapita settlement of south coast New Guinea

McNiven et al AA72 Figure 7

Pre-Lapita burial dating to between 2900 adn 4200 cal. BP, Bogi 1, Caution Bay(Australian Archaeology 72:5).

Ian J. McNiven, Bruno David, Thomas Richards, Ken Aplin, Brit Asmussen, Jerome Mialanes, Matthew Leavesley, Patrick Faulkner and Sean Ulm

Expansion of Austronesian-speaking peoples from the Bismarck Archipelago out into the Pacific commencing c.3300 cal BP represents the last great chapter of human global colonisation. The earliest migrants were bearers of finely-made dentate-stamped Lapita pottery, hitherto found only across Island Melanesia and western Polynesia. We document the first known occurrence of Lapita peoples on the New Guinea mainland. The new Lapita sites date from 2900 to 2500 cal BP and represent a newly-discovered migratory arm of Lapita expansions that moved westwards along the southern New Guinea coast towards Australia. These marine specialists ate shellfish, fish and marine turtles along the Papua New Guinea mainland coast, reflecting subsistence continuities with local pre-Lapita peoples dating back to 4200 cal BP. Lapita artefacts include characteristic ceramics, shell armbands, stone adzes and obsidian tools. Our Lapita discoveries support hypotheses for the migration of pottery-bearing Melanesian marine specialists into Torres Strait of northeast Australia c.2500 cal BP.

Review of ‘Fantastic Dreaming: The Archaeology of an Aboriginal Mission’ by Jane Lydon

Pocock book review cover AA72Fantastic Dreaming: The Archaeology Of An Aboriginal Mission by Jane Lydon. AltaMira Press, Lanham, MD, 2009, xvii+319pp, ISBN 9780759111042 (pbk).

Celmara Pocock

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit, The University of Queensland, St Lucia Qld 4072, Australia

Jane Lydon may have liked to write a postscript to her recent publication, Fantastic Dreaming: The Archaeology of an Aboriginal Dreaming following recent events at Lake Tyers in East Gippsland. In March 2011 the Aboriginal residents staged a blockade at the entrance of the Lake Tyers settlement in an effort to regain self-governance (ABC News 2011; Foenander 2011; Jackson 2011). This appears to be a case of history repeating itself in an endless cycle. The protest against the government-appointed administrator came to a head over a lack of consultation and decisions that directly curtailed Aboriginal cultural practices and values. Among the highlighted complaints is the administrator’s decision to impose bans on building shacks in nearby bush, and on relatives camping in the settlement. As Fantastic Dreaming eloquently shows, these apparently simple administrative or building decisions deny and curtail Aboriginal cultural practices. The failure of administrations to recognise and accommodate the social and cultural significance of Aboriginal extended families, sharing practices and mobility, and the location and fabric of housing appear as prevalent now as they were in the past. Lydon’s book is centred on an archaeological study of the Ebenezer Mission in Victoria, but its broader theoretical position is to understand the surveillance of housing and domestic spaces as a central element in the governance and control of Aboriginal lives. It simultaneously illustrates the importance of these spaces for independence, resistance and resilience for many Aboriginal people. Equally important, the book shows how these practices continue to shape Aboriginal relations with the broader Australian community.

Lydon’s work is highly commendable at many levels but this synergy between current events and the interpretive core of the book show her particular ability and commitment to identify and engage with history and archaeology as they manifest in the present. She has worked closely with Aboriginal individuals and communities to make the work relevant and to tell a human story. This is a space that has been particularly well-served by ‘contact archaeology’ in Australia in recent years, when many other branches of the discipline appear to have forgotten that they are telling stories about people and that those people can contribute to how we understand the past and the present.

In aiming to tell a story about Aboriginal people that is not confined to a static past, Fantastic Dreaming addresses Denis Byrne’s (2003) call for archaeologists to recognise Aboriginal history in cultural heritage assessments or risk becoming complicit in the erasure of Aboriginal people from the landscape. It seems that this remains a challenge for Australian archaeology, not only in the arbitrary split between ‘Aboriginal’ and ‘historic’ heritage that characterises legislative frameworks and administrative functions, but also in the interpretation of material culture. More specifically, the challenge is to read cultural materials from Australia’s historic period not simply as products of particular cultural (colonial) manufacture, but of cultural (Aboriginal) use and patterning. Fantastic Dreaming recognises this need and explicitly aims to interpret archaeological findings in this way. Lydon is particularly wary of essentialist characterisation of archaeological assemblages and stresses that the adoption and use of ‘European’ artefacts does not represent abandonment of Aboriginal culture and identity.

The book’s focus on housing and domestic spaces is an insightful one not only for recognising the significance of the domestic sphere in regimes of surveillance and control, but because of their potential to be read archaeologically as spatial and material expressions. Archaeological material and its interpretation, however, are a comparatively modest part of the book. Historical archaeology has always had to justify its contribution as an adjunct to and independent source from historical research. The surveillance and administration of Aboriginal people under assimilationist and segregationist regimes generated an enormous amount of documentary evidence, and Lydon has made extensive and articulated use of these sources to provide the context for the archaeological project and its final interpretation in the closing chapter. It is perhaps because these textual sources are so prevalent, and largely underutilised, that Lydon has necessarily given them primacy. However, the subtitle of the book might build expectations of a richer or more exclusive presentation of archaeological evidence, and there are instances where further discussion of archaeological findings and interpretation might be warranted. Correspondingly, the title might draw a broader readership if it reflected the significant history that this book constructs through its elegant engagement with documentary, oral, photographic and archaeological sources, and the way in which it brings it into the present through its thoughtful analysis of heritage decision making.

Jane Lydon’s Fantastic Dreaming is a scholarly work that bears the hallmarks of this researcher as someone engaged with theory, and skilled in the interpretation of multiple sources. It is a book that furthers the important contributions being made by historical archaeology to questions of cultural exchange and continuity; and to understanding current issues in Aboriginal society. And not least of all it provides a detailed insight into the history of Victorian missions, the often conflicted emotions associated with these histories and the enduring significance of Ebenezer in the lives of Wergaia people.


ABC News 2011 Lake Tyers protesters plan march for autonomy. Retrieved 21 March 2011 from

Byrne, D. 2003 The ethos of return: Erasure and reinstatment of Aboriginal visibility in the Australian historical landscape. Historical Archaeology 37(1):73-86.

Foenander, C. 2011 Minister stands firm on Lake Tyers protest. ABC News Gippsland. Retrieved 29 March 2011 from

Jackson, A. 2011 Police bring officials through protest lines at Lake Tyers. The Age. Retrieved 23 March 2011 from

Are tulas and ENSO linked in Australia?

Peter Veth, Peter Hiscock and Alan Williams

The distinctive tool called ‘tula’ is an endemic adaptation, which was adopted by Aboriginal people across central and western Australia, encompassing some two-thirds of the continent. The tula is a hafted tool used for working hardwoods as well as other tasks including butchery and plant-processing. The geographic spread of tulas appears to have been rapid and no antecedent form has been identified. The sudden appearance of tulas was coincident with the onset of El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions. While we do not yet have the data to establish an unequivocal causal link, in this paper we hypothesise that the appearance of this new and specialised tool at c.3700 BP was very likely a human response to the intensification of ENSO. This intensification resulted in increased aridity and climatic variability lasting almost 2000 years. We posit that this technological adaptation, an element of a risk minimisation toolkit, was part of a wider economic and social strategy adopted by Aboriginal people to cope with increasing climatic uncertainty. This possibility has implications for the diversity of innovation processes operating in Australia during the Holocene, which is further explored in this paper with concluding suggestions for future research. We offer this discussion as a platform for these future, and what we believe, are very necessary critical studies.

Style, space and social interaction: An archaeological investigation of rock art in inland north Queensland, Australia

Wade et al AA72 Figure 4

‘Crooked finger’ stencils at MP108A rockshelter, Middle Park Station (published in Australian Archaeology 72:26).

Victoria Wade, Lynley A. Wallis and Woolgar Valley Aboriginal Corporation

The rock art of the North Queensland Highlands has previously been argued to be the northern limit of the Central Queensland Province, based on a similarity of techniques and motifs. In this paper we test this hypothesis through an archaeological study of the rock art of Middle Park Station in the Gregory Range. Motifs from 88 rock art sites were analysed, revealing a predominance of stencilling of a limited range of motifs, with rare paintings of mostly geometric motifs and similarly rare occurrences of geometric motifs executed in a variety of engraving techniques. We argue these results, coupled with other considerations of distance and biogeography, suggest the North Queensland Highlands should be regarded as a distinct rock art province, separate from the Central Queensland Province. Evidence is also presented to suggest that open social networks with limited territoriality were operating in the study area through at least the late Holocene.

Review of ‘Bridging The Divide: Indigenous Communities and Archaeology into the 21st Century’ edited by Caroline Phillips and Harry Allen

Wilson book review cover AA72Bridging The Divide: Indigenous Communities And Archaeology Into The 21st Century edited by Caroline Phillips and Harry Allen. Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, CA, 2010, 290pp, ISBN 9781598743920.

Reviewed by Christopher Wilson

Yunggorendi First Nations Centre for Higher Education and Research, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide SA 5001, Australia

The relationship between archaeologists and Indigenous communities has consisted of much conflict and debate since early investigations into the antiquity of Indigenous peoples’ past. It is widely accepted that this ‘division’ has been created as a result of antiquarian practices such as the removal of Indigenous human remains from their burials and subsequent analysis, non-Indigenous driven research projects that exclude Indigenous involvement, and interpretations of the past that erase Indigenous people from the contemporary landscape. Some of these issues have been addressed in previous books that focus on the emergence of Indigenous archaeology (or archaeologies) and ongoing challenges for Indigenous archaeologists (see Nicholas 2010; Nicholas and Andrews 1997; Smith and Wobst 2005; Swidler 1997; Watkins 2000), however Bridging the Divide begins to advance the dialogue further to examine the contemporary nature of archaeology and cultural heritage management (CHM) and its relevance to the past for Indigenous communities. In particular, this book highlights the social, cultural and political concerns of Indigenous communities both locally and internationally and how archaeological practice is continuously being reshaped and redefined as a result of changes to institutional and legislative frameworks (i.e. heritage policies, mining exploration and urban development, Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act).

There are 12 chapters in this edited volume and although the focus is on Aotearoa/New Zealand and Australia, there are contributors from other colonised nations who share similar experiences. The introductory chapter by Harry Allen and Caroline Phillips ‘Maintaining the Dialogue’ provides an overview of the development of Indigenous archaeology, following the Indigenous rights movement and emergence of CHM. In addition they emphasise the importance of the World Archaeological Congress (WAC) in creating the space to begin the dialogue and Indigenous critique that paved the way for several guidelines to be drafted and adopted globally (i.e. Vermillion Accord on Human Remains). What Phillips and Allen argue in the forefront of this book is that a critical aspect to strengthening the relationship and therefore ‘bridging the divide’ between archaeologists and Indigenous communities is the involvement of Indigenous archaeologists who are able to ‘engage in the dialogue from both sides’ (p.18). Despite the contemporary view by Phillips and Allen (p.26-27) that Indigenous Australians and Maori have more control over their heritage than Native Americans, I argue that this struggle is more difficult to overcome in southern parts of Australia where colonialism has had major impacts on Indigenous communities. Although it is standard practice, and in many cases required by legislation, to involve Indigenous people in cultural heritage assessments and archaeological research, it is usually the case that Indigenous people are still not in complete control of their cultural heritage – this issue could have been acknowledged and further elaborated in some respects (although in Chapter 6, Anne Ross points this issue out in relation to Aboriginal Australian heritage legislation).

All subsequent chapters focus on issues relevant to particular community contexts in Australia, New Zealand, North and South America as well as the Pacific. Chapter 2, written by Choctaw archaeologist Joe Watkins, sets the scene for the volume by making one of the most explicit statements: ‘Wake Up! Repatriation Is Not the Only Indigenous Issue in Archaeology’. Watkins argues that repatriation is not the only grounds for advocating the protection and ongoing management of Indigenous cultural heritage and Native Americans should ‘move beyond’ this issue and the critique of archaeology. An even more significant view expressed, is that the criticisms of archaeological practice by Indigenous peoples have often failed to actively change it themselves – a topic not often exposed between Indigenous peoples themselves which warrants further discussion and debate as we move beyond repatriation and the first decade of the twenty-first century.

Chapters 3–5 begin to examine deep philosophical issues in archaeological practice. Bridget Mosley (Chapter 3) examines an important issue of metaphysical understandings of material culture in archaeological research during her doctoral research with the Mutawiatji community in New South Wales and is challenged by Indigenous beliefs of the ‘power’ and ‘dangers’ embodied in material objects as well as ‘avoidance’ of particular places that have spiritual meaning. Alejandro Haber, Wilhelm Londono, Ernestina Mamani and Laura Roda (Chapter 4) discuss the contrast between archaeological and local versions of the past in their paper on archaeology and ‘locality’ which collates conversations, memories and ideas of local history between archaeologists and people in Antofalla and Antofagasta de la Sierra. Both papers begin to expand on the complexities of interpreting the ‘non-material’ aspects of the past when working with Indigenous communities and thus highlight examples of the intersections of Western and Indigenous epistemologies that are useful for all archaeologists. In Chapter 5, Gabriel De La Luz-Rodriguez examines the historical context of Central America, the term ‘Taino’ and its use in the representation of the Indigenous Puerto Rican community. This chapter raised significant issues about identity politics, the construction and mis-representation of identity and the ‘power’ of the colonial project.

Chapters 6–8 identify several issues in the process, practice, implementation and management of cultural heritage in Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand. Chapter 6 by Anne Ross demonstrates the problems associated with the implementation of heritage management practice (as determined between archaeologists and Indigenous community members ‘on the ground’) in comparison to the legislative and bureaucratic processes associated with it. What is identified by Ross is that the ‘resurrection’ of cultural knowledge by the Gummingurru Aboriginal Community (GAC) is a primary management concern for the site. In Chapter 7, Caroline Phillips is optimistic of a ‘decolonised’ form of archaeological practice and demonstrates how heritage legislation and practice has improved over 15 years of pressure from Maori as well as through the development of a holistic and interdisciplinary approach to archaeology. The crisis surrounding statutory protection in New Zealand (similar to that of Australia) is exposed by Harry Allen in Chapter 8, who presents a comprehensive strategy to address some of the issues.

The following three chapters are case studies of Indigenous peoples/archaeologists views on archaeology and CHM. Lawrence A. Foana’ota (Chapter 9) provides a positive overview of the progress of archaeology in the Solomon Islands which locates the Indigenous community at the centre of the agenda. Further, Margaret Rika-Heke (Chapter 10) asks a critical question that relates to the issue of Indigenous ‘participation’ in archaeology: ‘Why Do Maori Not Engage with Archaeology?’ What Rika-Heke has observed is that although archaeological research and CHM projects continue to grow, the numbers of Maori peoples ‘engaging’ in the discipline with formal academic qualifications has not significantly changed. Maui Solomon and Susan Forbes (Chapter 11) present a Moriori Project which documents material evidence with cultural knowledge of place and associated values in a ‘cultural database’. This landscape approach is driven by Indigenous values and beliefs and thus privileges Indigenous ways of interpreting cultural heritage.

In the concluding chapter, George Nicholas contextualises the emergence of ‘Indigenous archaeologies’ and the ‘dangers’ involved in a ‘separate’ and ‘distinct’ form of the discipline that could become ‘marginalised’ and positioned on the ‘periphery’ of mainstream archaeology (p.223). What Nicholas strongly argues is that Indigenous approaches should also be integrated within mainstream practices so that the places archaeologists and Indigenous peoples aim to protect and manage become part of the new phase of intellectual growth in the discipline. This chapter eloquently compliments the papers in this volume and will undoubtedly project a new dialogue about Indigenous archaeologies and the challenges that lie ahead.

The effects of colonialism and previous ‘research’-driven agendas by academics are becoming increasingly acknowledged by archaeologists and cultural heritage practitioners which, in itself, has shifted the practice of archaeology in Indigenous communities. What is evident throughout this book, regardless of legislative frameworks and bureaucracy, is how archaeologists and Indigenous communities are working together to forge new and/or expand upon long-term relationships that will benefit Indigenous peoples. Perhaps the most exciting component of this volume collectively, is how Indigenous archaeologists (some experienced and others recent graduates) are working together with their own (and other) communities with the support and advice from non-Indigenous colleagues in transforming the practice of Indigenous archaeologies and CHM at yet another level. This is a highly significant methodological and ideological shift in the approach that some archaeologists and cultural heritage practitioners in this book are increasingly adopting and is an outstanding contribution to the discipline that I am excited about being a part of over the next decade!


Nicholas, G. 2010 Being and becoming Indigenous Archaeologists. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

Nicholas, G. and T. Andrews (eds) 1997 At a Crossroads: Archaeology and First Peoples in Canada. Burnaby: Archaeology Press.

Smith, C. and M. Wobst (eds) 2005 Indigenous Archaeologies: Decolonizing Theory and Practice. London: Routledge.

Swidler, N. 1997 Native Americans and Archaeologists: Stepping Stones to Common Ground. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.

Watkins, J. 2000 Indigenous Archaeology: American Indian Values and Scientific Practise. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.

The rock art of the Chillagoe-Mungana district, north Queensland: Sacred spaces, shared boundaries and trade

Winn TA AA72Nicola B. Winn

BA(Hons), Department of Anthropology, Archaeology and Sociology, James Cook University, November 2009

The study of rock art in Australia has evolved over the past century, growing from initial attempts to place rock art motifs into pan-Australian chronologies based on style, to a diversified field of research that draws on a wide range of sources. Rock art motifs encode messages about many different aspects of the people that produced the symbols. Not only are the motifs a glimpse into the landscape of past human thought, they also serve as markers of past socio-cultural landscapes, as well as often serving as demarcations of the actual physical territories of the groups that produced them. The rock art symbols encode information about past group dynamics as well as prior economic, social, spiritual and territorial contexts.

This thesis concentrates on the rock art of the Chillagoe-Mungana area in north Queensland, a rock art zone that encompasses over 41 individual sites and 800 motifs. It examines the Chillagoe assemblage using three current approaches to rock art research in Australia. First, by investigating the relationship between rock art production and ritual activities, this thesis suggests that the motifs of the Chillagoe district may have been produced in association with formalised, ceremonial activities, rather than in more general habitation contexts. Second, the information exchange model is applied to the rock art motifs across the entire district, and this thesis asserts that the Chillagoe-Mungana limestone belt may have been a shared boundary for the four local Indigenous groups of the area in the mid-to-late Holocene. The Chillagoe-Mungana limestone belt may have served as an area that promoted group cohesion, cooperation and bonding, as is evidenced by the rock art motifs. Finally, this thesis explores a more regional perspective, focusing on issues of trade and exchange. The Chillagoe-Mungana district appears to be part of a wider semi-arid social network that stretches through the interior of Queensland, with the rock art motifs of Chillagoe exhibiting close cultural ties with areas of western Queensland, such as Mt Isa and Lawn Hill. Trade and exchange were an important aspect of this broader regional network. This thesis suggests that the presence of seven baler shell stencils in Spatial Cavern B of the Walkunders complex in Chillagoe may serve as an indication of the movement of baler shells, a common trade good of Aboriginal people, through the Chillagoe district, a trade route that is currently unknown by any other ethnographic, historical or archaeological source. The occurrence of baler shell stencils in the Chillagoe area suggests that the current models of the passage of trade goods through Queensland may need to be extended further inland than previously thought.

This thesis also strives to be a summary of many of the diverse projects that have been undertaken in the Chillagoe-Mungana area, as well as to suggest some possible directions for future research.

Image caption: Rock art on the ceiling of the Castle Rock Site, Chillagoe, Queensland (image courtesy of Nicola Winn).

Review of ‘Pictures Of Time Beneath: Science, Heritage And The Uses Of The Deep Past’ by Kirsty Douglas

Flood book review cover AA72Pictures Of Time Beneath: Science, Heritage And The Uses Of The Deep Past by Kirsty Douglas. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood Vic. 2010, viii+215 pp., ISBN 9780643097049 (pbk).

Reviewed by Josephine M. Flood

19 Chauvel Crescent, Tuross Head NSW 2537, Australia

In spite of a 19-page introduction, it is only on the last page of the book that Kirsty Douglas gives a clear idea of what its aim is:

My aim has been to explore ideas about age in the landscape since the earliest public European acknowledgement of deep time in Australia, with the announcement of the Wellington Caves fossil discoveries in 1830. My major focus has been on the stories of discovery, interpretation, mobilisation and celebration of that deep past by geologists, palaeontologists, archaeologists, museum workers and their publics in the 170 years since then. This is an account of the development of the significance of the deep past in Australia through the emergence of particular deep-time places into the realm of heritage, and thereby into regional, national and international frameworks of heritage recognition … Schama’s claim … that the overwhelming rhetorical appeal of national identity is located in the ‘mystique of a particular landscape tradition’ is given weight by the attachment of Australians and popular media to deep-time objects and landscapes which become repositories for regional and national stories. Earth scientists and the popularisation of geology play an integral role in the creation and nurturing of Australian national or regional identities, through the use of the material remains of former worlds to transform country into a four-dimensional, timetravelling entity with a deep future as well as a deep past (p.171).

This quotation also gives an example of Douglas’s style of writing. The book is the published version of her PhD thesis, completed in the History Department of the Australian National University in 2004. Whilst publication of PhD theses is a useful service, CSIRO Publishing should remember that such theses are addressed to academe rather than the general public and need thorough editing and updating to make them accessible and valuable to general readers or even to undergraduates.

The title of Douglas’s PhD thesis differs slightly but significantly from the book title, ‘Science, Landscape, Heritage and the uses of the Deep Past in Australia, 1830–2003’. The addition of the dates makes it clear that this is a study of the history of ideas over a fixed period and the addition of landscape shows that her field of study is even broader than the book title suggests.

Pictures of Time Beneath examines three celebrated heritage landscapes – Hallett Cove south of Adelaide, Lake Callabonna in the far north of South Australia and the World Heritage-listed Willandra Lakes region in western New South Wales. These are very different places – Hallett Cove is a geological site, Lake Callabonna palaeontological and the Willandra has both cultural and natural significance.

I found Part 1 dealing with Hallett Cove the least satisfactory part of the book. It describes the story of the site’s discovery, geological significance and the fight for its conservation but, oddly, the story stops in the 1970s. There is nothing about modern heritage management or the modern interpretation of the site in spite of the claim on the book’s back cover that ‘it offers philosophical insights into significant issues of heritage management’.

Douglas has a background in geology and provides useful information about the site’s geological history but not on how adequately it is interpreted to the public nowadays (it is unclear how her ‘panels’ relate to modern interpretation of the site). More seriously, she seems unaware of its archaeological importance. Although she refers to Norman Tindale several times, there is no mention that much of Tindale’s interest in preserving the site sprang from the Aboriginal campsite overlooking the beach where 400 large Kartan stone tools were found by Cooper and Tindale from the 1930s onwards. These are now housed (and I hope displayed) in the South Australian Museum and are thought to be amongst the oldest tools in Australia.

Part 2 describes the discovery of Diprotodon and other fossil fauna at Lake Callabonna south of Lake Eyre. Again the focus is on the story of the discoverers and scientists involved and not on the significance of the site itself for palaeoclimatologists and for archaeologists debating the causes of megafaunal extinction. One of the most important finds at Lake Callabonna was what Diprotodon was eating 70,000 years ago (saltbush was the main ingredient of stomach contents) but again this is not mentioned. Nor is it clear where further information on the site is available or what interpretation, if any, is on site. It is easy to say that it is all on the web but Googling produced a most peculiar entry in German on Wikpedia and otherwise little more than the holdings of Diprotodon skeletons and casts in museums. In the past I found the Australian Museum one of the better sources of information, but may I plead with the South Australian Museum and South Australian heritage authorities to put a decent entry into Wikpedia covering the site’s significance, accessibility and interpretation.

The third part of the book is devoted to ‘Lake Mungo, human antiquity and the watered inland: Reading the scripture of the landscape’. This is more satisfactory because Douglas acknowledges that it was Jim Bowler ‘who set me on this course’ (p.vii), and she also had contact with several of the archaeologists who established the site’s World Heritage significance. She describes the story of Mungo from 1969 to 2003 and briefly rehearses some of the debates around the human remains and topics such as reburial and repatriation. However, those who wish to learn about Mungo may do better to read Mungo over Millennia: The Willandra Landscape and its People, (edited by Helen Lawrence, Maygog Publishing , Hobart 2006, reviewed in AA68:65-66 in 2009) because it is more up-to-date and gives a voice to local Traditional Owners.

Pictures of Time Beneath is in essence a history of scientific ideas and may provide a useful introduction to historians, geologists and other academics, especially those from overseas, wanting to familiarise themselves with ‘the way landscapes and landforms are interpreted to realise certain visions of the land, the nation and the past in the context of contemporary notions of geological heritage, cultural property, cultural identity and antiquity’ (back cover). However, its steep price will put it out of the reach of most students and, as a little-edited PhD thesis, it is unlikely to appeal to many of the general public but hopefully it will be available in libraries.

Finally, I must take issue with the publishers (CSIRO Publishing) for the very poor quality of the illustrations. There are no colour plates but only monochromes. This would not be a problem except that high quality original black and white photographs seem to have been simply scanned on a photocopier. This poor reproduction is particularly unfortunate in a book dealing with heritage landscapes. Surely in this technological age CSIRO can do better than this?

Identifying Camp 46r, the Burke and Wills ‘Plant Camp’

Nick Hadnutt

BA(Hons), School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, October 2010

Archaeological investigations of colonial period exploration sites are poorly represented within archaeological literature, despite their significance as places where colonial powers sought to define and control new territories. My thesis contributes to this research field by presenting a comprehensive analysis of a camp site claimed to be Camp 46R of the Burke and Wills expedition of 1860–1861. The thesis primarily seeks to answer the question of whether this site is Burke and Wills Camp 46R. The research incorporates a detailed analysis of five separate collections of artefacts recovered from the site, an inventory of the expedition equipment compiled from primary and secondary sources and a site formation analysis.

The thesis matches information contained within the primary sources to specific artefacts and features identified within the site. A clear temporal occupation range for the site is developed that is compatible with the dates of the expedition. Evidence associated with both cultural and non-cultural site formation processes is identified, allowing a clear interpretation of the formation of the site and subsequent distribution of the artefacts. This research clearly identifies the site as an important Burke and Wills campsite.

Review of ‘The Shore Whalers of Western Australia: Historical Archaeology of a Maritime Frontier’ by Martin Gibbs

Smith book review cover AA72The Shore Whalers Of Western Australia: Historical Archaeology Of A Maritime Frontier by Martin Gibbs. Studies in Australasian Historical Archaeology 2, University of Sydney Press, Sydney, 2010, vi+165 pp., ISBN 9781920899622.

Reviewed by Ian Smith

Department of Anthropology, Gender and Sociology, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand

Like its predecessor in the SAHA series, this volume presents a study that first appeared as a PhD thesis. In this case, the gap between thesis and book is nowhere near the almost four decades that elapsed before the appearance of Allen’s (2008) monograph, but it has still been sufficient to allow the reflection and reconsideration that made the first volume in this series such an important contribution to the discipline. Martin Gibbs has revised and rewritten his original manuscript, reducing its length and removing most of the awkwardness of thesis construction to produce a highly readable book. While retaining the detail and depth of analysis that would be expected of doctoral research, the monograph broadens and updates its theoretical setting, providing an evidentially secure and contextually satisfying analysis of cultural transformations during the nineteenth century European settlement of Western Australia.

In his introduction, Gibbs outlines the concept of a maritime industrial frontier as both a locus for short-lived exploitation of marine resources by non-indigenous visitors and a process through which such visitors learn about and adapt to their new environment. Frontier and adaptation models are not new in Australian historical archaeology, but their use here is well informed by more recent writing on colonisation in the disciplines of anthropology, archaeology, geography and history. Shore whaling is an obvious candidate for treatment within this theoretical context, and the history of the industry and its operation in Western Australia are set out in Chapters 2 and 3. Archaeological treatment of the subject is introduced in Chapter 4, with an archaeological survey of shore whaling sites in Western Australian, and analysis of these in terms of site location, internal layout, and indications of change in these over time.

At the heart of this study are a description of excavations at the Cheyne Beach whaling station (Chapter 5) and analysis of the artefact and faunal assemblages recovered there (Chapter 6). With limited historical description available of life on any of the Western Australian whaling stations, it is the archaeological data that provides most of what can be gleaned about the lives of communities on the maritime industrial frontier. Although the analytical approaches that underlie these data are those current two decades ago, sometimes inhibiting comparisons with more recent work, they nonetheless provide a remarkably broad picture of domestic life at the station. In particular they demonstrate that family life formed part of the community pattern, that there was little evidence for adaptation to the local environment through incorporation of native fauna into the diet, and that interactions with Indigenous populations were near invisible.

The two concluding chapters provide broader interpretations of life at Cheyne Beach (Chapter 7) and life on the maritime industrial frontier (Chapter 8) that draw together the archaeological and historical components of the study, and assess their contribution to the theoretical argument. Gibbs notes that the archaeological record from Cheyne Beach, strongly dominated by debris from the station manager’s family home, probably has little to say about the living and working conditions of most participants in the whaling community, but it nonetheless demonstrates that despite their isolation, these people were closely connected to the wider European world. At a broader level, the study shows that although adaptation within the shore whaling industry was insufficient to ensure its own survival, it nonetheless played an important role in facilitating the success of European colonisation of Western Australia.

This book adds both a significant case study and a well-argued test of a theoretical model to the growing body of book-length treatments of colonisation and culture contact in eighteenth-nineteenth century Australia. It should be essential reading for Australian historical archaeologists. Because many of the themes that it deals with are global in scope, it will also find a much wider readership.


Allen, J. 2008 Port Essington: The Historical Archaeology of a North Australian Nineteenth-Century Military Outpost. Studies in Australasian Historical Archaeology 1. Sydney: University of Sydney Press.

‘Betwixt the male and female quarters’: Engendering the historical archaeology of the Peel Island lazaret

April Youngberry

BA(Hons), School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, December 2010

Gender is a key category for the organisation of social activity and for ascribing symbolic meanings, and is thus integral to descriptions of life in past societies. A more complex historical archaeology of the Peel Island Lazaret, a twentieth century total institution, is produced through the interpretive strategy of engendering. Engendering is a theoretical approach which grew out of feminist archaeologies, and focuses on the everyday dynamics enacted between people. Because gender plays a role in the structure of societies, it can provide understandings of human social agency which are lacking from analyses that regard gender as an essential characteristic. Nelson’s methodological model for approaching gender in the archaeological record is modified for use in historical archaeology, and the social theories of institutions advanced by Goffman and Foucault contribute to an understanding of responses to disciplinary power. Individuals’ experiences are highlighted to facilitate the location of personal and group actions. The social structures of the Peel Island Lazaret disproportionately disadvantaged female patients, but were also the locus of resistance actions. The diversity of individual and interactive responses demonstrated through the historical archaeological record reveals how the conditions of incarceration interplay with male and female social identities.

The Bradshaw Debate: Lessons Learned from Critiquing Colonialist Interpretations of Gwion Gwion Rock Paintings of the Kimberley, Western Australia

The history of archaeology includes its colonialist roots and the development of conceptual frameworks (tropes) disassociating Indigenous peoples from their land and heritage. While these tropes were products of nineteenth century scholarship, in settler colonial contexts such as Australia these tropes continue to have currency and will be resurrected in the media during periods of political conservatism. During conservative government in Australia in the 1990s and 2000s, high profile media attention was given to amateur research on Gwion Gwion (Bradshaw) paintings of the Kimberley region and notions of non-Aboriginal authorship. The disassociation of Aboriginal people from the paintings played into the hands of conservatives wishing to undermine Aboriginal land claims. Hamstrung by limited empirical research, reactive criticisms by professional archaeologists to the colonialist underpinnings of these views had little traction in the media and were dismissed as political correctness. The ‘Bradshaw debate’ teaches us that strategies to successfully counter publically-contested colonialist archaeologies are underdeveloped. Minimally it requires the combined efforts of archaeologists (professional and amateur) and Indigenous peoples focusing more on empirical facts, and less on theoretical concepts, in proactive mass media engagements.

Just Passing Through: The Archaeology of Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century Settlements between Mundaring and Kalgoorlie, Western Australia

Samantha Bolton

PhD, Archaeology, The University of Western Australia, September 2009

In 1892 gold was discovered near what became Coolgardie, Western Australia. The subsequent gold rush brought people from all over Australia and the world to the newly established towns of Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie. It is a semi-arid region and daily life was dictated by a constant search for both water and gold. To service the increasing population of the Eastern Goldfields, a telegraph line, railway line and water pipeline, known as the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme, were built. The Goldfields Water Supply Scheme, designed by C.Y. O’Connor, is a pipeline that pumps water from Mundaring, east of Perth, to Kalgoorlie, 560km to the east, and was one of the major engineering feats of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

As a result of people travelling to the Goldfields and the infrastructure built, small settlements were established along the migration and settlement corridor between Perth and Kalgoorlie. Some were occupied for a short period while others are still occupied today. The population at these sites was mostly transient. The types of settlements included railway stations, pump stations, water condenser sites and workers’ camps, and provided stopping points along the route to the Goldfields supplying food, and more importantly, water.

In the late nineteenth century the Eastern Goldfields were a frontier and were settled in a period of British colonialism and colonisation. These factors, along with the transient nature of the sites and the people that lived there, affected the types of settlements that developed and the material culture used. As well as the range of uses, the nine settlement sites studied in detail were occupied for varying periods, and yet the archaeological pattern was very similar.

There has been a great deal of work on mining sites in Australia and the United States, looking at both technology and, more recently, social aspects. However there has not been as much work done on other types of sites on the frontier, such as workers’ camps and stopping points. The settlements on the way to the Eastern Goldfields were established in an important period of Western Australia’s history. They provide an insight into what life was like in this harsh environment and how people adapted to living in the region.

The sites were compared with similar sites in Australia and the United States, such as those occupied during the same time period; were isolated; had specific functions such as mining and workers’ camps; or were in a similar environment. As a result of the pattern observed in the Mundaring-Kalgoorlie migration and settlement corridor, and the comparison with other sites, a model for identifying short-term workers’ camps in the archaeological record was developed. Temporary sites are characterised by few formal structures, very little building material, a high number of cans, a low number of ceramics and a low number of non-essential or ‘luxury’ items. One of the most important aspects of this model is that it is not defined by the presence or absence and relative amount of a single artefact type, rather it is the combination of all of these factors that defines a temporary site.

Additionally, it is hypothesised that the characteristics are not solely due to the temporary nature of the sites, but once a settlement starts to become permanent, the population changes, bringing more women and children. It is a result of this change that the settlement becomes more formalised, a greater range of amenities is provided and the material culture changes, resulting in an appearance of permanence.

Daily life at the settlements in the Mundaring-Kalgoorlie migration and settlement corridor was characterised by the transient lives of the people that lived there. The period of British colonisation, colonialism and expansion of the frontier influenced the settlements that formed, and choice of material culture was limited due to supply. Although it was known from historical records that different groups lived in the region, they could not be seen in the archaeological record, and the factors of colonialism, colonisation, the frontier and transience resulted in a homogenous archaeological record.

Review of Understanding Sea-Level Rise And Variability edited by John A. Church, Philip L. Woodworth, Thorkild Aarup and W. Stanley Wilson

Rowland book review cover AA72Understanding Sea-Level Rise And Variability edited by John A. Church, Philip L. Woodworth, Thorkild Aarup and W. Stanley Wilson. Wiley-Blackwell, Hoboken, NJ, 2010, xxii+428 pp., ISBN 978-1-4443-3452-4.

Reviewed by Michael J. Rowland

Department of Environment and Resource Management, GPO Box 2454, Brisbane Qld 4001, Australia

Archaeologists are always on the lookout for new and useful texts on sea-level change and variability and the title of this book sounded promising, but is a touch misleading. It relates only (with the exception of Chapter 4) to sea-level change and variability in the last few decades and relies substantially on high level technical measurements (e.g. satellite altimetry).

The book is the outcome of a workshop held in Paris in June 2006 attended by 163 scientists from 29 countries. Reference to papers published in 2010 in all chapters indicates they have all been updated. This book is big in a number of ways. It has 13 chapters all multiauthored (Chapter 12 has 24). Overall there are 98 expert authors; eight Australian-based. Many coastal archaeologists will recognise some of the prominent names in the field. There are over 100 figures (most in colour) and numerous tables and each chapter is comprehensively referenced. There is a list of abbreviations and acronyms (pp.xxii-xxvi) and an index (pp.421-428). All chapters have a comprehensive summary of directions for future research.

The book has not been written for the general reader; this is a detailed theoretical and technical summary of sea-level change and variability with reference to the last few decades. The book is beautifully presented by Wiley-Blackwell with no more than a handful of typos.

There is little of the rhetoric that besets the current global warming debate. Having said that, I thought I was off to a bad start when the first sentence of the book states: ‘Sea-level variability and change are manifestations of climate variability and change’ (p.xvi). There are indeed many other things apart from climate that cause sea-level change and Chapter 10 on solid earth geophysics provides a good example of these, which range from the relatively straightforward to the conceptually complex and from seismic deformation to changes in the earth’s rotation.

Given the technical nature of the content of this book it would be wrong (and impossible) for an archaeologist to critique it in any detail. Hence I will simply make what I think are some useful observations.

Chapter 1 (Introduction), for example, among other things, provides a useful coverage of uncertainty: ‘estimates of the timescales, magnitudes, and rates of future sea-level rise vary considerably’ (p.1); ‘estimates of the sea-level change as a consequence of direct human intervention contain many uncertainties’ (p.10); ‘this book is primarily concerned with the uncertainties in determining how global sea-level has changed in the past and will change in the future.’ (p.13). This chapter also makes it very clear how recent are the use of sophisticated measuring techniques and the development of co-ordinated programs. Many of these have yet to bear fruit.

Chapter 2 on impacts and responses to sea-level rise again focuses on uncertainty and while the authors accept that global sea-level rise is a pervasive process, they suggest it is difficult to unambiguously link it to impacts, since most coastal change in the twentieth century was a response to multiple drivers of change (p.28). Through pages 37-41 they outline the critical debate between adaptation and mitigation. This is a difficult debate to resolve owing to the costs involved and the intrusion of alarmist/non-alarmist views. Chapter 3 is a very brief chapter outlining sea-level impacts on offshore structures and coastal refineries.

Chapter 4 includes the Australian-based authors Kurt Lambeck and Colin Woodroffe as contributors and the long span of sea-level is discussed and an archaeological contribution is recognised. Archaeologists will recognise the importance of the view that sea-level change, today and in the future, will continue to respond to past events. Also: ‘This occurs for several reasons, including crustal response to past glacial retreats and re-advances, coastal subsidence from past sediment deposition, from present tectonic upheavals … and from delays in the adjustment of the oceans to changing thermal or salinity regimes’ (pp.61-62). In this chapter the authors take the view that there have been only minor changes in the Holocene sea-level record but an alternative view is only briefly mentioned (pp.72-73). There is also a very brief section on archaeological sea-level indicators (pp.81-84). Archaeological readers would have to follow these debates through the references to get a greater appreciation of the issues. The authors note ‘Although a few of the longer tide-gauge records suggest a mid-nineteenth century acceleration in sea-level rise, ‘most are of too short a duration to be adequately compared with paleoecological proxies of sea-level change. Generally the accuracy of the latter proxies is such that signals characteristic of the past century would barely rise out of the noise levels of the data for the earlier period’ (p.100).

Chapter 5 discusses modern sea-level estimates which largely rely on tide gauges and satellite altimetry. Without meaning to be negative, I found the most interesting points of this chapter were the poor coverage of tide-gauges (p.124); that satellite altimetry only began in 1992 (p.133) and has many technical problems. It appears that sea-level change started about 1900 or even earlier (pp.125-126) raising the issue of how this fits with global warming caused by humans (assuming a delayed reaction time).

Chapter 6 deals with ocean temperature and salinity contributions to sea-level change; Chapter 7 with cryospheric (frozen water) contributions (the number of measured glaciers is tiny – 300 of 160,000, p.199); Chapter 8 with terrestrial water storage contributions; Chapter 9 with geodetic contributions (geometry, earth orientation and gravity and the geoid) and Chapter 10 with surface mass loading. All demonstrate complex measurements and high level technical issues again relating to recent decades.

Chapter 11 discusses past and future changes in extreme sea-levels and waves and concludes that there is little evidence for extreme sea-levels changing over an extended period by amounts significantly different to mean sea-level (p.330). It is also noted that the common assumption that global warming will lead to increased storminess is somewhat contradictory (p.341).

Chapter 12, with 24 authors, outlines the observing systems that are needed to address sea-level rise and variability. So many sophisticated systems (which are costly) are proposed that it struck this reader that it might confuse rather than clarify. And the authors seem to come to a similar conclusion when they note that ‘based on what we have learned from more than 10 years of aircraft laser surveys over Greenland, seasonal and interannual elevation variability is so large that identification of longer-term trends will require decades of measurements’ (p.385). Chapter 13 is a brief but useful synthesis and outlook.

I cannot recommend that archaeological colleagues purchase this book (though make sure your library has one) as it relates so much to modern sea-level change and is highly technical. Chapter 4 is useful, but the archaeological sections are brief and readers would need to follow the references to get a broader perspective. However, for the sea-level specialist it is a comprehensive and beautifully presented book.

Beyond the orthodox view: A body of evidence for food getting, plant domestication and farming by the “hunter-gatherers” of pre-colonial Australia

William J. Ellwood

BA(Hons), Department of Anthropology, Archaeology and Sociology, James Cook University, December 2009

Like the concept of terra nullius, the idea that pre-colonial Australia was a continent of hunter-gatherers can be overturned. Ethnohistoric records indicate that Aboriginal resource exploitation cannot be adequately described as a generalised hunter-gatherer economy. This thesis maintains that the majority of pre-colonial Australian economies show evidence of food procurement activities comparable to practices that are attributed to the complex hunter-gatherer and agricultural economies of other parts of the world. Moreover, these practices occur not only in the so-called rich environments of the coastal fringe and rivers, but also in the semi-arid interior of Australia. Therefore the characterisation of the Aboriginal Australians as generalised hunter-gatherers in supposedly impoverished environments misrepresents both the Australian environments and human exploitation of those environments. This thesis explores the need to reopen a discussion addressing the use and understanding of the hunter-gatherer and agriculturalist models of subsistence. I argue for a revision of the various models in use not only in Australia, but also worldwide. Finally, this thesis brings an Aboriginal perspective to the study and understanding of subsistence strategies and practices.

Review of ‘Material Culture of the North Wellesley Islands’ by Paul Memmott

Material Culture of the North Wellesley Islands by Paul Memmott. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, 2010, vi+136 pp., ISBN 9781864999624 (pbk).

Reviewed by Åsa Ferrier

Archaeology Program, School of Historical and European Studies, La Trobe University, Bundoora Vic. 3086, Australia

In this monograph, Paul Memmott presents his extensive research on the material culture of the Lardil people, the Aboriginal people of the North Wellesley Islands. The islands are located in the southern Gulf of Carpentaria with Mornington Island the largest in the group. The monograph begins with a description of the North Wellesley Islands environments and its climate. A well-illustrated map (p.4) demonstrates the socio-geographic organisation of the islands, and is very useful to refer back to all the way through the monograph. This is followed with a discussion on the ethnographic data sources consulted in the material culture analyses in addition to research material collected by the author over some 30 years. The first known European visitor was Walter E. Roth who in his role as Northern Protector of Aborigines visited the islands on a number of occasions around the turn of the twentieth century. Roth’s visits took place some 13 years before the first missionary arrived in the area in 1914, hence his published documents depict aspects of pre- European Aboriginal culture and society on the islands. During research on the relatively unknown Mjöberg collection, I found documents that relate to the establishment of the Mornington Island Mission. Analysis of Eric Mjöberg’s 1913 diary from north Queensland shows that he consulted Roth’s work during a visit to Yarrabah Mission near Cairns. Mjöberg’s diary reveals that he felt a strong aversion to the missionaries and their work at Yarrabah Mission (1913:Diary 2). Through Roth’s work he became aware of the Mornington Island Aboriginal people and their culture and wrote to the Royal Society of Sciences in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, appealing to them to lobby the Queensland Government to suspend setting up a mission station on the island. Mjöberg wished to protect the Aboriginal people living on Mornington Island from the missionaries whom he despised. On the other hand, he also thought it an excellent opportunity for scientific research to be carried out on the material culture and society of ‘Australia’s last stone age people’ (Mjöberg 1918:370). The result was a heated debate in the Australian and Swedish press, mostly against Mjöberg; a short time later the first Presbyterian missionary was sent to Mornington Island.

The main part of the book presents the material culture analysis. Material culture items are grouped into categories that are organised on a human activity basis, including: subsistence activities; settlement and shelter; manufacture and use of fire; food preparation; travel, transport and communication; fighting and duelling; public dancing; ritual; clothing, ornamentation and body decoration; toys, games and training; and, manufacturing tools and material products. In presenting the material culture analyses, Memmott weaves together stories and information from Lardil people throughout the text. To the reader, this presents a textured account of the material culture as we gain insights into the ways artefacts were used by the people who made them. Furthermore, Memmott draws on the writings by early island missionaries to illustrate the manufacturing and use of material culture items. Some early illustrations by Roth are reproduced to show the use of traditional artefacts, which works well for this purpose. Such first-hand observations are invaluable to our understanding of traditional material culture and to enable comparisons between pre- and post-contact material culture. Later collections include photographs and material culture items collected by various people beginning in the 1930s, through to the 1970s and 1980s by the author. These collections are equally as significant as the early ones, as they depict stylistic and functional changes taking place in post-contact material culture. The material culture items discussed in each of the categories in the text are presented in well-organised appendices. These are numbered from 1 to 11; however, these numbers are not used in the main text, which sometimes makes it a little difficult to find the right location for a specific category. Thus, numbering the different sections discussed in the text would have been useful. However, the table of contents and list of figures can be used to locate the different categories. The appendices also document scientific data on plants and animals discussed in the text, as well as the common and Lardil names for them. This is a significant component of the book, as it documents information that will be useful to future North Wellesley Island people as well as to the research community.

The material culture analysis is followed by an interesting discussion on trade with other groups, including mainland groups, in the nineteenth century. In this context, Memmott discusses the early occurrence of bottle glass and metal items documented by Roth on the North Wellesley Islands and their impact on the traditional material culture. The process of cultural change reflected in material culture demonstrates that a high degree of interaction probably existed between the Aboriginal groups of the southern Gulf area.

The process of material culture change during the mission years, 1914–1978, is discussed next. During these years, Memmott’s analysis demonstrates that new European items continued to be introduced and various behavioural rules were imposed on Lardil people, which included the exchange of European items for labour. Later, traditional artefacts were manufactured and sold as art objects. However, Memmott clearly demonstrates that despite the many changes that have taken place in traditional Lardil material culture and society since European arrival, a lot of knowledge resides with the Lardil Elders which is incorporated into the island’s school curricula today.

Summing up, Memmott brings together a number of sources and presents a coherent account of the material culture of the North Wellesley Islands. The result from combining diverse data sources such as oral history; museum collections; material culture items specially made and used by the informants as well as photographic archives, is an integrated account that provides a rich and detailed understanding of pre- and post-contact material culture of the North Wellesley Islands. An Indigenous cultural landscape of the islands is also interwoven into the analyses of the material culture, bringing a deeper context to the material culture items themselves. Researchers interested in ethnographic research and Aboriginal material culture studies will find this monograph of great value. It fills another gap in the literature on Aboriginal material culture and continues to demonstrate the vast amount of variability that existed and continues to exist in Aboriginal material culture across Australia.


Mjöberg, E. 1913 Diary 2 – The Far North Queensland Expedition, English translation by Å. Ferrier, California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco.

Mjöberg, E. 1918 Bland Stenåldersmänniskor i Queenslands Vildmarker [Amongst Stone Age People in the Queensland Wildnerness]. Stockholm: Albert Bonniers Förlag.

Toolkits and utility in Australian lithics: A comparison of a comprehensive woodworking kit and discard assemblages


BArchaeology(Hons), Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, October 2010

The concept of a ‘toolkit’ has been used to describe functional aspects of lithic assemblages since the 1960s, but has proved difficult to define. The history of the concept, which emerged from the analysis of European Mousterian assemblages by Binford and Bordes, is traced from its roots to the present-day. In Australia it has become a generalised term which has been used to explain the complete range of technologies available to a culture, as well as defining strategies for risk management and mobility. This research investigates the concept and its applicability to Australian lithic assemblages.

In 1970 a cache of 105 stone artefacts was discovered at the top of a sand dune in the arid landscape around Lake Hanson on South Australia’s Arcoona Plateau. Its finder interpreted the cache as ‘a comprehensive woodworking kit’. This ‘tool-kit’ is compared with assemblages from four sites collected from nearby Mungappie Creek by the same person. The analysis compared the number of artefact types, their sizes and the materials used at each of the Mungappie sites, including the Lake Hanson cache. Using the notion that a functional toolkit would need to have more potential utility than a discarded one, an assessment of the potential use life of an artefact in the form of ‘utility units’ was employed to indicate the possible presence of toolkits at each of the Mungappie sites. Results indicated that the toolkit cache was a unique collection of artefact and material types that were rare in any of the four Mungappie assemblages. There are profound differences between discard assemblages and discrete entities such as caches and toolkits, suggesting the need for a revision of the ‘toolkit’ concept from a generalised to a specific terminology.

Image caption: Artefacts from Mungappie Creek (photograph courtesy of John Hayward).

Terminological Debate in the Upper Hunter Valley: Indurated Mudstone versus Tuff

Philip Hughes, Peter Hiscock and Alan Watchman

Archaeologists have variously used the terms ‘indurated mudstone’ and ‘tuff’ as a description for the fine-textured, very hard, yellowish, orange, reddish-brown or grey rocks from the upper Hunter Valley from which many of the stone artefacts there were made. The desire of archaeologists working in the region to offer a precise and accurate geological description of this material has fuelled debate about whether ‘tuff’ or ‘mudstone’ is the most appropriate label. Some of the samples of these problematic rocks that we have examined petrograhically are definitely not tuff. Until much more is known about the range of lithologies represented in this group of rocks, and ways are developed to distinguish between them, the term ‘IMT’ (‘indurated mudstone/tuff’) is an acceptable alternative to the term ‘mudstone’ as a description for these fine-grained rocks.

Beyond the Cootharaba Mill: An archaeology of social interaction, practices and community in colonial Australia

Karen Murphy

PhD, School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, October 2010

This thesis explores a new approach for understanding communities in the historical past. It examines community as a fluid entity, constructed through the social interactions and practices of its members. This approach is used to investigate the community associated with the operation of the Cootharaba sawmill, in late nineteenth century southeast Queensland.

Previous archaeological approaches to understanding community have been founded on the paradigm of a ‘natural’ community; a naturally-occurring, spatially-bounded, static entity. Recent approaches have viewed the community as ‘imagined’; a unit with ties to external entities and comprising active internal agents. My research adopts the latter approach using concepts of agency and practice to model the community as both a physical and a mental phenomenon. This practice-oriented approach recognises that the community is a social institution that structures and is structured by internal agents and external forces.

As Canuto (2002) proposes, a community can be seen as comprising four elements – locale, habitus, agency and pacing – which enables spatial, ideational, interactive and temporal interpretations to be made about a community. A study of a community must consider the multiple scales of interaction and the broader external contexts in which the community operates. My research provides a methodological contribution to studying historical period communities by providing a framework of indicators to address the physical nature of the archaeological remains of a community’s actions and practices in order to examine the mental and social aspects of the community.

Archaeological data for this study were generated from extensive survey and excavation of the residential area of the Cootharaba sawmill settlement. Historical research included the investigation of a range of primary documents and secondary sources concerning the lives and characters of the Cootharaba story. The archaeological and documentary evidence enabled each of the indicators to be examined in order to identify the actions and practices of the community at the domestic, local and regional scales.

The social group of the community of Cootharaba was a complex, interacting social institution that operated in different ways at different scales. The company operating the sawmill, McGhie, Luya and Co., was the key to the establishment and ongoing existence of this community and as such the company and the organisation of its operations was the overarching structuring factor of the community. Examining the community solely through this lens, however, provides a biased view and marginalises the majority of the population – the women and the children. Using three scales of practice to examine the interaction and social constitution of the community of Cootharaba provides for the elucidation of the complexities and variances both between and within groups in the community.

This research demonstrates that communities are not simply equable to a spatially bounded location; the relationship between community and locality is not necessarily a one-to-one relationship. For the Cootharaba community there were relationships between people in different localities but who still belonged to the same community group. The linkages and inter-relationships between the people of the Cootharaba community, the localities where they lived and interacted and the material culture they created and used all occurred within a broader social and historical context. This research examines the relationship between the people, localities, and material culture of the Cootharaba community within its context of nineteenth century Queensland. The community development, maintenance and dissolution were reliant on natural resources and their extraction and were tied to the economic highs and lows of the Queensland colony. The actions and practices of the community members were also tied into the social expectations and requirements of the society of nineteenth century Queensland and their mainly British and Irish cultural backgrounds.

The study of the Cootharaba community demonstrates the importance of social interaction and individual practices in the formation of social groups, and in the maintenance of community at different scales and across different localities. The community was not just made up of the group of people living at the physical settlement at Cootharaba. The Cootharaba community was an active, interacting social institution that was structuring and being structured by the internal actions and practices of its members at the domestic, local and regional scales, as well as by external forces well beyond the mill.

Review of ‘Handbook of Landscape Archaeology’ edited by Bruno David and Julian Thomas

Whitley book review cover AA72Handbook Of Landscape Archaeology edited by Bruno David and Julian Thomas. World Archaeological Congress Research Handbooks in Archaeology Series, Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, CA, 2008, 719pp, ISBN 978-1-59874-294-7.

Reviewed by David S. Whitley

ASM Affiliates Inc., 24160 Woodbine Ct., Tehachapi, CA 93561, USA

Regional approaches have a long and important place in archaeological research. Interest in trade and diffusion were early if not traditional disciplinary concerns, with settlement pattern studies (distributions of sites across the terrain) gaining prominence in the mid-twentieth century. By the late 1960s the emphasis had shifted to settlement systems (the geographical organisation of societies, including their relationship to the natural environment) and, shortly thereafter, to spatial archaeology. Following in the footprints of urban geographers, this involved the use of increasingly sophisticated statistical techniques to analyse distributions of sites, artefacts and traits. Despite its early promise, archaeologists soon discovered that inferring social processes from geographical patterns alone is very difficult, if not impossible: to cite one significant example, migration and diffusion appear the same from the perspective of the geographical and temporal distributional patterns they create.

Yet regional analytical research did not abate, with landscape archaeology emerging as the catch-phrase in the 1980s, and it has gained increasing traction since that time. The concept of ‘landscape’ again derives from geography, in particular the earlier work of Carl Sauer and his students on cultural landscapes. This was not terrain, geomorphology, geology, or even the distribution of human behaviour and social processes across these phenomena, so much as the way that the natural world was humanly modified and conceptualised.

What is an archaeologist to make of landscape archaeology in light of our longstanding disciplinary interests in a regional perspective, matched against the shifting empirical, theoretical and analytical approaches that have been taken to satisfy this concern? Bruno David and Julian Thomas provide a useful guide to this problem in an excellent volume that covers the range of approaches that are or have been deployed to study the archaeological record at a geographical scale. Although they are explicitly aware of the definitional issues that ‘landscape archaeology’ might imply (historical, analytical and otherwise), they wisely opted to be inclusive and holistic in their assembly of themes, topics and authors. The result is 65 chapters, conceptualised in terms of three broad categories: how humans engage the landscape, the environmental context of human behaviour, and how landscapes are represented. As they succinctly state, ‘the binding glue of contemporary landscape studies [is] a concern for the where of all human practice, in any or all its dimensions’ (p.39; added emphasis).

Individual chapters are then diverse in their scales of interest, analytical and theoretical approaches, and questions asked of the archaeological record. Starting with the intellectual and philosophical history of landscape archaeology, as David and Thomas have defined it, the volume moves through the evolutionary implications of the engagement with place, to the differing conceptualisations of landscape, various phenomenological reactions to it, and how archaeologists accommodate archaeological data at a geographical scale. The volume ends with discussions of the contemporary implications of landscape in terms of heritage management, indigenous concerns, ideologies and structures of domination.

There is, in other words, something for every archaeologist in this volume, and this fact has an important (even if perhaps unintended) consequence: any reading of this handbook cannot help but promote the cross-fertilisation of theories, approaches and ideas. In an era of increasingly specialised (and often too narrowly focused) research, this can only be seen as an advantage.

The Handbook of Landscape Archaeology is the first volume in the World Archaeological Congress Research Handbooks in Archaeology series, and it is an especially appropriate and strong start for a series directed at a global perspective on our discipline. Although it is a well-worn cliché to conclude that a particular book should be on every archaeologist’s library shelf, in this case this claim is entirely true. Although the volume will be particularly useful for students, it is also likely to serve as a valuable tool even to old and grizzled professionals. It is highly recommended.

Grave doubts: Testing the accuracy of late 19th century cemetery data

India Green

BA(Hons), School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, October 2010

Cemeteries contain a wealth of knowledge about past and present attitudes towards the deceased and can provide a comprehensive dataset for analysis. Historical cemeteries, in particular, provide an opportunity to examine the prevailing ideologies of the time through comparison and integration with documentary records. Little work has been undertaken on cemetery analysis in Queensland, despite the existence of fairly complete burial records and mortality data for most of the State’s major cemeteries. Previous research in the field has frequently assumed that cemetery and census data are interchangeable and are a representative sample of the entire population. This research tests the validity of cemetery data by comparing it against the available census records. Historical analyses of the Mackay Cemetery and Toowong Cemetery is compared against Queensland census data for the period 1876 to 1901. Statistical analyses were performed using Chi-Square tests to determine the similarity or difference between the two data sources. These analyses confirm that there are no statistically significant differences between the cemetery and the census data. This research demonstrates that researchers can be confident in their use of cemetery data to reconstruct historical populations.