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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).


Obituary: John Russell Prescott (1924-2011)


Emeritus Professor John Prescott passed away in September 2011 at the age of 87 following a short illness. He is survived by his wife of 70 years, Jo, and children, James, Ann and Kate.

John’s birth in Egypt in 1924 near the pyramids of Giza provided an appropriate beginning to a life that would make important contributions to the development and promotion of archaeological science. In the first year of his life, John and his family moved to Adelaide, where his father became the first Professor of Agricultural Chemistry at the Waite Agricultural Research Institute and later the Director of the Institute in 1938. John attended Scotch College and then studied physics at the University of Adelaide, receiving the degree of BSc(Hons) in 1945. He then moved to the University of Melbourne to pursue a PhD addressing cosmic ray showers and bursts, being awarded one of the first PhD degrees in Physics from that institution in 1949. Following completion of his PhD, John accepted a scholarship from Christchurch College, Oxford University, to pursue a DPhil degree, which he was awarded in 1953 for his thesis addressing the nuclear structures of heavy elements.

In 1953 John and his family returned to Melbourne, where he worked with the Australian Atomic Energy Commission at the University of Melbourne. In 1956 he moved the family to Canada to accept a lectureship in physics at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. John was awarded an Associate Professor position at the University of Calgary in Alberta in 1960 and was promoted to Professor of Physics at Calgary in 1968. In 1971 the family returned to Adelaide, where John was first awarded the position of Professor of Physics at the University of Adelaide, and then appointed as the Elder Professor of Physics in 1982, a position first held by Nobel prize-winning Sir William Bragg in 1886. Following 20 years of service at the University, John retired in 1990. Throughout his 20 year career at the University of Adelaide, John made significant contributions to Australian archaeometry, especially in the area of luminescence dating. John’s volunteer field experience with Graeme L. Pretty at the Roonka archaeological site on the lower Murray River near Blanchetown, South Australia (SA), in the mid-1970s stimulated his interests in the improvement of chronometric dating techniques. He realised the potential contribution of the relatively new thermoluminescence dating method to Australian archaeology and established a laboratory to pursue this research area. In addition to Roonka, John conducted fieldwork at the important sites of Lake Mungo and Puritjarra. Other fieldwork locations included sites throughout Australia (especially SA) and the Pacific, as well as in China and Thailand. In order to contribute to ongoing debates concerning the development of scientific archaeology in Australia, John coordinated and hosted the Third Australian Archaeometry Conference at the University of Adelaide in 1988, as well as being a regular contributor at other Australian archaeometry conferences. Following his official retirement in 1990, John remained active and continued to involve colleagues and students in field and laboratory research.

I first met John Prescott in 1983 when I arrived at the South Australian Museum (SAM) to pursue research for my MA thesis on the Roonka site. John was dedicated to the ongoing research programme at Roonka and provided invaluable assistance to me in relation to the completion of my project. John and Graeme introduced me to a number of colleagues who were influential in the development of archaeological science in SA. These included John Hutton (CSIRO Soils), Ken Brown (Forensic Odontology, University of Adelaide), Rod Wells (Biological Sciences, Flinders University) and Herb Veeh (Earth Sciences, Flinders University). All were involved in the interdisciplinary research at Roonka. The 1980s were a dynamic period in relation to archaeological research at the SAM. The extensive research group, including a number of international colleagues, provided a stimulating and challenging environment.

John continued to be an influential advocate of archaeological science in Australia and a keen supporter of research at Roonka until the time of his death. John’s dedication and enthusiasm for interdisciplinary research and scholarship will live on in the numerous colleagues and students who were influenced by his contributions. 

Selected Publications of John Prescott related to Australian Archaeology

Bowler, J.M., H. Johnston, J.M. Olley, J.R. Prescott, R.G. Roberts, W. Shawcross and N.A. Spooner 2003 New ages for human occupation and climatic change at Lake Mungo, Australia. Nature 421:837–840. Chen, X.Y., J.R. Prescott and J.T. Hutton 1990 Thermoluminescence dating on gypseous dunes of Lake Amadeus, Central Australia. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences 37:93–101. 

Huntley, D.J., D.I. Godfrey-Smith, M.L.W. Thewalt, J.R. Prescott and J.T. Hutton 1988 Some quartz thermoluminescence spectra relevant to thermoluminescence dating. Nuclear Tracks and Radiation Measurements 14: 27–33.

Huntley, D.J., J.T. Hutton and J.R. Prescott 1993 The stranded beach dune sequence of south-east South Australia: A test of thermoluminescence dating, 0–800 ka. Quaternary Science Reviews 12:1–20.

Huntley, D.J., J.T. Hutton and J.R. Prescott 1993 Optical dating using inclusions within quartz grains. Geology 21:1087-1090.

Huntley, D.J., J.T. Hutton and J.R. Prescott 1994 Further thermoluminescence dates from the dune sequence in the southeast of South Australia. Quaternary Science Reviews 13:201–207.

Hutton, J.T. and J.R. Prescott 1992 Field and laboratory measurements of low-level thorium, uranium and potassium. Nuclear Tracks and Radiation Measurements 20:367–370.

Hutton, J.T., J.R. Prescott, J.R Bowman, M.N.E. Dunham, A.J. Crone, M.N. Machette and C.R. Twidale 1994 Thermoluminescence dating of Australian palaeo-earthquakes. Quaternary Science Reviews 13:143–148.

Prescott, J. R. 1982 Thermoluminescence dating in the South-West Pacific region. Journal of the Council of Europe PACT 7:67– 73.

 Prescott, J.R. 1983 TL dating of sands at Roonka, South Australia. Journal of the Council of Europe PACT 9:505–512.

Prescott, J.R. (ed.) 1988 Archaeometry: Australasian Studies 1988. Adelaide: Department of Physics and Mathematical Physics, University of Adelaide.

Prescott, J.R. (ed.) 1988 Early Man in the Southern Hemisphere. Supplement to Archaeometry: Australasian Studies 1988. Adelaide: Department of Physics and Mathematical Physics, University of Adelaide.

Prescott, J.R. and P.J. Fox 1990 Dating quartz sediments using the 325 C TL peak:New spectral data. Ancient TL 8:32–34.

Prescott, J.R. and J.T. Hutton 1988 Cosmic ray and gamma ray dosimetry for TL and ESR. Nuclear Tracks and Radiation Measurements 14:223–227.

Prescott, J.R. and J.T. Hutton 1994 Cosmic ray contributions to dose rates for luminescence and ESR dating: Large depths and long-term time variations. Radiation Measurements 23:497–500.

Prescott, J.R. and J.T. Hutton 1995 Environmental dose rates and radioactive disequilibrium from some Australian luminescence dating sites. Quaternary Science Reviews 14:439–448.

Prescott, J.R. and B. Mojarrabi 1993 Selective bleach: An improved partial bleach technique for finding equivalent doses for TL dating of quartz sediments. Ancient TL 11:27–30.

Prescott, J.R. and R.A. Purvinskis 1991 Zero thermoluminescence for zero age. Ancient TL 9:19–20.

Prescott, J.R. and R.A. Purvinskis 1993 A problem in the thermoluminescence dating of recent sediments. In B.L. Fankhauser and J.R. Bird (eds), Archaeometry: Current Australasian Research, pp.110–113. Occasional Papers in Prehistory 22. Canberra: Department of Prehistory, Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian National University.

Prescott, J.R. and G.B. Robertson 1997 Sediment dating by luminescence: A review. Radiation Measurements 27:893–922.

Prescott, J.R. and J.E. Sherwood 1988 Thermoluminescence ages for an unusual shell deposit at Point Ritchie, Warrnambool, Australia. In J.R. Prescott (ed.), Archaeometry: Australasian Studies 1988, pp.61–69. Adelaide: Department of  Physics and Mathematical Physics, University of Adelaide.

Prescott, J.R., P.J. Fox, G.B. Robertson and J.T. Hutton 1994 Three-dimensional spectral studies of the bleaching of the thermoluminescence of feldspars. Radiation Measurements 23:367–375.

Prescott, J.R., D.J. Huntley and J.T. Hutton 1993 Estimation of equivalent dose in thermoluminescence dating—the Australian slide method. Ancient TL 11:1–5.

Prescott, J.R., G.B. Robertson and R.C. Green 1982 Thermoluminescence dating of Pacific Island pottery: Successes and failures. Archaeology in Oceania 17:142–147.

Prescott, J.R., H. A. Polach, G.L. Pretty and B.W. Smith 1983 Comparison of 14C and thermoluminescent dates from Roonka, South Australia. Journal of the Council of Europe PACT 8:205–211.

Robertson, G.B. and J.R. Prescott 2006 Luminescence dating at the archaeological and human burial site at Roonka, South Australia. Quaternary Science Reviews 25:2586–2593.

Smith, M.A., J.R. Prescott and M.J. Head 1997 Comparison of 14C and thermoluminescence chronologies at Puritjarra Rock Shelter, Central Australia. Quaternary Science Reviews 16:299–320.

Tejan-Kella, M.S., D.J. Chittleborough, R.W. Fitzpatrick, C.H. Thompson, J.R. Prescott and J.T. Hutton 1990 Thermoluminescence dating of coastal sand dunes at Cooloola and North Stradbroke Island, Australia. Australian Journal of Soil Research 28:465-481.

Tolcher, H., J. Prescott and J. Mulvaney 2002 Obituary. Graeme Lloyd Pretty 1940– 2000. Records of the South Australian Museum 35:97–103.

Twidale, C.R., J.R. Prescott, J.A. Bourne and F.M. Williams 2001 Age of desert dunes near Birdsville, southwest Queensland. Quaternary Science Reviews 20:1355–1364.

Walshe, K., J. Prescott, F. Williams and M. Williams 2001 Preliminary investigation of Indigenous campsites in late Quaternary dunes, Port Augusta, South Australia. Australian Archaeology 52:5–8. 

Obituary: Rosalind Langford (1946-2012)

It is with great sadness that we report the untimely death of Rosalind Langford, whose intervention in Australian archaeology at a conference in Hobart in 1982, on behalf of the Tasmanian Aboriginal community, was instrumental in transforming our Australian practice into a more ethical and sensitive discipline.

Rosalind (or Ros) Langford was born Rosalind Atkinson on 18 September, 1946 in Leeton, a Riverina town in New South Wales (NSW), spending her early years on the Flats in Mooroopna, Victoria. Her mother was a Yorta Yorta woman, born on Cummeragunja mission. Rosalind moved to Tasmania when she married in the early 1970s and has raised four children in the Tasmanian Aboriginal community. She died suddenly of a heart attack on 8 August 2012.

Rosalind was instrumental in starting the Aboriginal Information Service (AIS), the first Aboriginal organisation in Tasmania, and was elected as its first State Secretary from 1972 till 1975. This was at a time when the state of Tasmania accepted Commonwealth money for Aborigines but denied their existence. From that base Ros worked to raise the profile of Aborigines in Tasmania. One of her earliest initiatives was to attend the first Aboriginal Legal Services conference in Canberra in 1973 and successfully put the case for a grant to operate a proper Aboriginal Legal Service in Tasmania. In 1977 the AIS became the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre. Rosalind was elected its State Secretary several times over the next 20 years, most memorably in 1982—the year of the Franklin River Campaign, during which simmering tensions between Aborigines and archaeologists over the control of Aboriginal heritage came to a head.

With respect to the Australian archaeological community, Rosalind’s major impact was an intervention contained in an address to the Australian Archaeological Association’s 1982 Hobart Conference with the seminal work, ‘Our Heritage – Your Playground’ (published in Australian Archaeology in 1983). This presentation, delivered on behalf of the Tasmanian Aboriginal community, confronted archaeologists, who relied on an unquestioning acceptance of their scientific prerogative to freely dig up, remove and pronounce on Aboriginal heritage, with the fact that this was the culture and heritage of a living people. The presentation strongly asserted that scientific professions were underpinned by the cultural values of white supremacist imperialism and maintained by the self-serving denial of the rights over heritage, and even the continuing existence, of Indigenous people. Aborigines required archaeologists to take practical steps to acknowledge Aboriginal ownership and control of their past as a pre- condition for any future working relationship. In response, the AAA voted at its Annual General Meeting following the conference to acknowledge Aboriginal ownership of their heritage and to build consultation with Aborigines into all research funding projects.

Perhaps the most widely quoted passage is this:

From our point of view, we say – you have come as invaders, you have tried to destroy our culture, you have built your fortunes upon the lands and bodies of our people, and now … want a share in picking out the bones of what you regard as a dead past. We say it is our past, our culture and heritage and forms part of our present life. As such it is ours to share on our terms.

This paper of 1983 has been, and continues to be, widely cited by archaeologists and scholars in other areas, such as general heritage studies, Indigenous heritage studies and law. It has not only influenced archaeologists and other white researchers, but also Aboriginal people, and not just in Tasmania, and has been referred to as an important milestone in Australian Aboriginal Studies.

Rosalind is survived by her children, Daniel, Ruth, Tasman and Joshua, and many grandchildren. 

Obituary: Alan Thorne: Scientist, communicator, ‘bridge-builder’ and mentor (1939-2012)

The death of Alan Gordon Thorne on 21 May 2012 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease marks the end of an era for Australian palaeoanthropology and archaeology. Alan’s ideas have been at the core of international debate about the origins of modern humans, and especially Indigenous Australians, for more than 40 years. More than any of his predecessors, he provided palaeoanthropology with a solid empirical foundation in the form of Pleistocene and Holocene human remains from the Australian continent and testable models for the origins of Indigenous Australians. Alan was also an internationally regarded science communicator and populariser of palaeoanthropology, archaeology and history. He was a builder of bridges between people of different cultures, including Indigenous and non- Indigenous Australians, and gained great respect among community leaders, especially in the Willandra Lakes area, for his efforts. Alan was a mentor to two generations of Australian anthropologists and archaeologists whom he supervised or influenced with his gift for communication and great generosity and encouragement.

Alan grew up on the north shore of Sydney where he developed his passion for nature, especially his love of reptiles, a fascination he maintained for most of his life. During the first five years of our friendship the granny flat at the back of his house in the Canberra suburb of Ainslie was filled with pythons from Australia, Indonesia and South America. They were housed alongside his remarkably comprehensive hominin cast collection and provided a fascinating, colourful and welcome distraction from the comparatively dull world of fossil bones. When asked during an interview by Robyn Williams, broadcast on the ABC’s Science Show in 2000, why he was breeding snakes, he replied: “Well I can’t get a license to breed humans, and I wouldn’t want one anyway because it would take me 18 or 20 years before I could do the next generation, and in the meantime it’d be very expensive and the adolescents would be playing rock music all the time.” Alan always saw the lighter side of his work and of life.

He began his career as a reporter, subeditor and feature writer for the Sydney Morning Herald and Financial Review. His passion for writing and science communication and active engagement with the media were enduring themes in his career. This was one of his greatest gifts to me as a supervisor and later as a collaborator and mentor: imparting a passion for writing and understanding the importance of science communication and public engagement. 

With Bob Raymond he wrote and made the award winning 11-part television series Man on the Rim, first broadcast in 1988, and in doing so inspired a new generation of palaeoanthropologists and archaeologists, including me, and brought our collective passion for the past to the broadest possible audience. The series was filmed in Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, China, Japan, Siberia, Canada, USA, Mexico, Chile, Peru and island nations across the Pacific Ocean, and included bamboo raft experiments to simulate oceanic migrations. His flair for film was also seen in his highly successful 1982 presentation of Film Australia’s The Entombed Warriors, about the terracotta horses and soldiers buried with China’s first emperor, and his 1983 presentation and narration of Out of Time, Out of Place, a film about human evolution research in Australia, Indonesia and China.

After completing a BA, he went on to undertake an MA with Honours and a PhD at the University of Sydney. While studying, he worked as a tutor in zoology and human anatomy. He studied for his PhD under Neil Macintosh, whose work was a strong influence on Alan, especially his ideas about the Pleistocene origins of Indigenous Australians. A key part of Alan’s work was extending Macintosh’s, and also Joe Birdsell’s, views that Australia had been settled in multiple waves during the Pleistocene. During his doctoral research at Kow Swamp in Victoria he led a team that excavated a large sample of human skeletal remains, some dating from the Pleistocene. In doing so, he was the first researcher to provide palaeoanthropology with a sample of human remains from well understood contexts, in terms of provenance and dating. This marked a major shift in scientific debate about the origins of Indigenous Australians, for the first time incorporating reliable fossil human data and dates.

Following the discovery of human remains at Lake Mungo in the late 1960s by Jim Bowler, Alan began a long association with the Willandra Lakes region and its traditional owners and their ancestors, such as the ‘Mungo Lady’ and ‘Mungo Man’. The latter relationship resulted in important shifts in the way palaeoanthropologists worked within Indigenous communities, aided greatly by the return of the ‘Mungo Lady’ in 1991 to the community for safekeeping.

In an article written by Joseph D’Agnese and published in 2002 in Discover Magazine, Alan reflected on discussions he had with Indigenous elders at the time about whether to rebury or preserve her: “If you do away with her bones,” he told them, “I’ll always be right. You won’t be able to refute my work. Someday there will be an Aboriginal Alan Thorne, and he’ll have a different way of looking at these bones. You have to give him that chance.” He took the risk, recognising the symbolism of returning the Mungo Lady remains to the Willandra people, as well as the historical significance of her return to palaeoanthropologists and archaeologists and the broader community at a time when the nation was rethinking its history and properly recognising the place of its Indigenous peoples.

In the 1970s, Alan was a member of the first Australian scientific delegation to China. The connections and friendships he made at the time led to some of his most important scientific and public contributions. With Wu Xinzhi and Milford Wolpoff he developed and published in 1984 the multiregional model of human evolution: an hypothesis still at the centre of international debate about modern human origins. He also helped to arrange the first visit of China’s Terracotta Warriors to Australia, and the connections he made helped to bring China’s archaeology and history to a wide international audience through Man on the Rim.

Alan’s interests and reach extended to many other areas. In the field of forensics, he developed manuals for anthropologists, archaeologists and police officers to help identify human remains and, crucially, to distinguish Indigenous from non- Indigenous skeletons.

He was also a member and chairman of the Human Biology and Health Advisory Committee of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. He was a consultant to the Australian Museum for their exhibition Tracks through Time and to the American Museum of Natural History.

Alan was also an advisor to UNESCO for two World Heritage nominations: Sangiran and the Willandra Lakes. He served on numerous advisory committees and editorial boards, including from 1979 to 1982 as co-editor of Australian Archaeology. He was a member of nine learned societies, including the Australian Academy of the Humanities, to which he was elected a Fellow in 1994. That same year, he received the inaugural Riversleigh Medal for contributions to Australian palaeoanthropology.

Over four decades, Alan trained two generations and inspired many more undergraduate and postgraduate students and academics. Among the PhD students he supervised are Peter Brown, Stephen Webb, Colin Pardoe and myself, all of us leaving our own mark on Australian palaeoanthropology thanks to his training and mentoring. His commitment to robust discussion (the contesting of ideas), emphasis on Popperian hypothesis testing and constant reconsideration of biological basics—such as ‘just what is a species?’—equipped us all with the skills we needed to stand on our own two feet scientifically. In some cases, these led us to extend his work, in others, to challenge Alan’s ideas. His research, and his mentoring of us, saw Australian palaeoanthropology blossom into an internationally influential field and helped it to develop the strong reputation it enjoys today.

Alan touched the lives of literally millions of people through his scientific research, popular films and books. He counted many different people among his close friends, maintaining long friendships with Indigenous community leaders and many leading scientists, including those whose ideas were the intellectual antithesis of his own. Such was his sense of humanity and the great respect he received from his peers across the world. 

Bones of contention. Investigating human subsistence in the late-Holocene: An archaeofaunal analysis of two rockshelter assemblages from the Watsonville region, far north Queensland

Morgan K. Wilcox

This thesis presents an assessment of several lines of enquiry on the basis of an analysis of the faunal material excavated from archaeological sites Toy Creek 1 and Lion Mountain 6 in the Watsonville region, far north Queensland (Qld). Analysis focuses upon the investigation of taphonomic variables in the formation of these two assemblages, with a view to identifying and characterising human approaches to subsistence, and lastly, to discuss the implications of the data in assessing the contentious issue of ‘intensification’.

Detailed archaeofaunal analyses are primarily due to issues of preservation, an under-represented asset in the investigation of far north Qld archaeological sites. The current study is significant in, firstly, presenting the opportunity to assess how faunal evidence can contribute to the investigation of the late Holocene and, secondly, by contributing data from a region of Australia that has not previously been the subject of archaeological enquiry.

The results of the analysis demonstrate that cultural agency has contributed markedly to the accumulation of faunal remains at these two sites. Increased rates of deposition of faunal remains within the last 3000 years, as a reflection of subsistence behaviours, is considered a product of the centralisation of human activity on this point of the landscape as a result of stressed environmental conditions demonstrated by palaeoecological research. As such, the findings presented here appear commensurate with wider regional trends demonstrated archaeologically across far north Qld in favour of late Holocene intensification.

Measure by measure: The interpretation of human behaviour from the identification and metric analysis of the Hawaiian limpet (Cellana spp.) from prehistoric archaeological sites in Hawai’i

Robin Twaddle

Reliable  speciation  protocols  used  for  identifying  shellfish from  prehistoric  archaeological  sites  provide  robust  data for   interpreting   prehistoric   human   behaviour.   Because prehistoric  Hawai’ian  shell  middens  are  dominated  by  the limpet Cellana spp., these taxa have previously been utilised to document anthropogenic impacts on the marine environment and  to  reconstruct  subsistence  practices.  However,  without accurate species-level identifications of marine shellfish from archaeological sites and an understanding of the surrounding coastal  marine  environment,  it  is  difficult  to  differentiate between cultural and environmental influences on variations in shellfish size and abundance. This research presents newly designed and tested speciation methods developed specifically for whole and fragmentary archaeological limpet shell. Species- level identifications are then made using assemblages from four prehistoric archaeological sites situated along the northern coast of Moloka’i, Hawai’i. Results reveal that analysis of temporal and spatial fluctuations in the size and abundance of Cellana spp. provide detailed information regarding human subsistence behaviour. However, these  variations  alone  do  not  provide irrefutable evidence for anthropogenic impact. In order to make meaningful inferences about prehistoric subsistence practices and human impacts on marine resources, a holistic approach encompassing ecological information about marine ecosystems, ecology of targeted shellfish, and the variation of shellfish diversity and size in archaeological midden sites throughout a study area is required.

Environment, landscape and stone technology at Lake Mungo, southwest New South Wales, Australia

Jacqueline N. Tumney

This study investigates one methodology for extracting useful information about variability and change in human behaviour from low density surface archaeological remains scattered across a large, complex and eroding Pleistocene landform. Lake Mungo, part of the Willandra Lakes Region World Heritage Area in southwest New South Wales, provides the setting for this case study. Stone artefacts in eroding surface contexts form a large proportion of the Willandra Lakes archaeological record, yet have contributed little to our understanding of past behaviour in this area. This study is among the first to apply the combination of a landscape approach to  data  collection,  GIS  modelling  and  theories of technological organisation to the interpretation of this unique and important record.

Two study areas at Lake Mungo contain sediments representing a change from consistently high lakes to fluctuating and drying lakes, between approximately 25 ka and 15 ka. Detailed mapping and analysis of geomorphology and artefact distribution indicate that, although geomorphic processes have redistributed some of  the surface material, there are areas that have retained some stratigraphic integrity. This study defines three assemblages of chipped stone artefacts that can be reliably associated with particular stratigraphic layers and thus with particular environments and landscapes. These assemblages are interpreted using the framework of technological organisation. Differential use of raw materials from different sources, the intensity of stone use, and the relative frequency of particular artefact types are investigated. This enables inferences about raw material conservation, strategies of provisioning and the movement of people around the landscape. Differences between the assemblages do not correspond in a straightforward way to differences in palaeolandscape or palaeoenvironmental context, and this provides a springboard for discussions about the structure of the archaeological record and the way in which we derive information from assemblages that have accumulated over different time spans.

The ebb and flow of an empire: The Ghurid polity of central Afghanistan in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries

David Thomas TA AA75
Minaret of Jam (photograph courtesy of David Thomas, MJAP 2005).

David C. Thomas

PhD, School of Historical and European Studies, La Trobe University, August 2011

The iconic minaret of Djām stands in a remote mountain valley in central Afghanistan, the finest surviving monument of the enigmatic Ghūrid dynasty. The seasonally nomadic Ghūrids rose to prominence ca 545 / 1150–1151, when they devastated the capitals of the neighbouring Ghaznawid dynasty. Over the next 65 years the Ghūrids expanded their polity into Khurāsān and the northern Indian sub-continent, before succumbing to the Khwārazm-Shāh and then the Mongols. Their summer capital of Fīrūzkūh, which is thought to be modern Djām, was abandoned and never re-occupied.

The rediscovery of the minaret half a century ago prompted renewed interest in the Ghūrids, and this has intensified since Djām became Afghanistan’s first World Heritage site in 2002. The few studies that have been published, however, have largely been historical or architectural; relatively little archaeological data has been collected from Ghūrid sites and Djām has suffered extensive looting in recent years.

Two seasons of archaeological fieldwork at Djām, the detailed analysis of satellite images and the innovative use of Google Earth as a cultural heritage management tool have resulted in  a wealth of new information about known Ghūrid sites, and the identification of hundreds of previously undocumented archaeological sites across Afghanistan. Drawing inspiration from the Annales School and Adam T. Smith’s concept of an ‘archipelagic landscape’, I have used these data to re-assess the Ghūrids and generate a more nuanced understanding of this significant medieval  polity.  In  addition  to  complementing the événements which form the focus of the urban-based historical sources, the new archaeological data have enabled  a reconsideration of the urban characteristics of the Ghūrids’ summer  capital  and  explore  the  issues  of  Ghūrid  identity, ideology and the sustainability of their polity. The use of Google Earth, in particular, represents an advance in archaeological methodology applicable to semi-arid landscapes throughout the region.

Stately homes: The mirror and metaphor of colonial South Australia

Robert M. Stone

Established by an Act of the English Parliament in 1834, South Australia (SA) was intended to be a model colony. Without convicts, it was to be populated initially by British migrants drawn from the disaffected middle classes—those who were influenced by such factors as religion, politics and self-interest— as well as sponsored emigrants (‘young marriageable persons’) of both sexes who would ease the overcrowding in England. The capital, Adelaide, was a planned city, its population selected according to Edward Gibbon Wakefield’s (1796–1862) economic, social and political theory of colonisation.

The proposed colony of SA was therefore an attractive proposition for those who professed ideas of civil liberty, social opportunity and equality for all religions. However, regardless of the opportunities for social improvement afforded to the middle classes, there was no comparative incentive for the English aristocracy and landed gentry to emigrate, which left a vacuum in the social hierarchy of the colony. This vacuum was filled by a distinct class that emerged from within the colony and who are described in this thesis as the ‘new gentry’.

The new gentry styled themselves leaders in the community, and built stately homes as a visible manifestation of their wealth and position. However, stately homes are more than just physical objects: they also contribute to a wider cultural landscape  and  the  construction  of  particular  perceptions of ‘the past’, both in terms of human behaviour and social complexity, and the origins of an area or set of ideals. Over the first 80 years of the colony,  economic accumulation, social positioning and closely negotiated social interaction resulted in the creation of a densely layered landscape—both in terms of emergence and consolidation of the notion of the ‘new gentry’, and also of the physical expression of this negotiated social class on the Adelaide landscape. Stately homes made a statement about the nature of basic social relationships, such that the architectural symbolism of wealth, taste and authority was both intentional and obvious; they also conveyed a message of exclusion based on social status and class. Between 1850–1880 the new gentry formed themselves into a tight social network and built their homes in exclusive residential enclaves with symbolic barriers which had a significant impact on the cultural landscape.

The stately homes of the new gentry were not mere copies of the homes of the English landed gentry. The new gentry aimed to create their own version of the landed gentry based on an independent image of colonial Australia, while at the same time remaining conscious of those characteristics that were essential to separate them from the rest of society. Their highly independent nature was also reflected in the architectural designs of their houses: there was no one dominant style, yet there were sets of common architectural features. There was also no single dominant internal configuration, yet a consistent pattern of specialist rooms and—through processional pathways— common social barriers, is evident.

Towards the end of the nineteenth century events took place that had a profound impact on this exclusive world and, in turn, on the role and status of stately homes. Many large pastoral leases were resumed by the government and sold for farming. Being designed to accommodate an earlier cultural and social scene, the economic base which supported these stately homes was now diminished, resulting in many becoming  redundant  and  either  demolished  or  sold  for alternative uses. Demolition of  former stately homes can result in the total or partial obliteration of tangible cultural heritage, whereas demolition of associated buildings and re- use of stately homes can significantly reduce the intangible cultural heritage that is the image of life in the nineteenth century. Over 50% of the stately homes considered in this thesis have undergone a change in use, with a consequential impact  on  the  state’s  cultural  heritage.  Preservation  of heritage is one form of cultural salvage and a world that is about to be lost is in need of preservation.

A study of palaeohealth in precontact coastal Papua New Guinea

Georgia Roberts_Stannard TA AA75

Osteomyelitic infection with multiple cloacae on the right humerus of Individual M37 from Motupore Island (image courtesy of Georgia Stannard).

Georgia Stannard

BA(Hons), Department of Archaeology and Natural History, College of Arts and Social Sciences, The Australian National University, December 2008

This thesis aimed to compare the palaeohealth status of two contemporaneous, pre-European Papua New Guinean skeletal samples from Motupore Island (n=56) and the inland site of Nebira 4 (n=39). The data for the Motupore Island sample was collected by the author, while the comparative dataset derives, for the most part, from Pietrusewsky (1976). Both datasets were used comparatively in exploring the variation in palaeohealth between the two samples.

An assessment was made concerning the degree to which a number of variables influenced the palaeohealth of the two samples, including the environmental and ecological settings of the two sites, the varying subsistence economies of the two communities, and cultural affiliations. Palaeohealth indicators addressed in this study can be broadly grouped into oral health, physiological stress and infectious disease variables.

The overall palaeohealth of the two samples varied considerably, with individuals from Motupore Island displaying both the greatest frequency and diversity of pathological lesions (39/56, 69.6%). The sample from Nebira 4 (17/39, 43.6%), while not displaying as much pathology, exhibited larger frequencies of cribra orbitalia, linear enamel hypoplasia and porotic hyperostosis. The variation in access to food, water and other resources, in addition to geographical and cultural modifiers on malarial vector influence, seem to be the primary factors responsible for the health differential between these samples.

Convenient canvasses: An archaeology of social identity and contemporary graffiti in Jawoyn Country, NT, Australia

Jordan Ralph

This collaborative project with members of three Jawoyn communities involves research into the contemporary graffiti of Barunga, Beswick and Manyallaluk in the Northern Territory (NT), Australia. The data consists of contemporary graffiti recorded at corridor and aggregation sites (roadways and meeting shelters) directly outside of the focus communities, as well as ethnographies of people living in these communities.

Contemporary graffiti was recorded on 277 government- and  community-authored  road  signs  along  the  Central Arnhem and Manyallaluk Road corridors, as well as four aggregation sites (the Barunga, Beswick, Manyallaluk and Jawoyn  meeting  shelters).  These  aggregation  sites,  and indeed some of the road signs, have a direct relationship with government policies associated with the Liquor Act 1975 and the Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act 2007. While the main purpose of the meeting shelters is to provide an area close to the communities where the consumption of liquor is legal, this is not the only activity that takes place here;  ethnographies  collected  with  community  members demonstrate that these shelters are places where people go to connect with kin and country. While these shelters are made from iron, they are reminiscent of ancient landscape-marking rockshelters  due  to  the  abundance  of  motifs  associated within them.

This study explores the roles that government policy and community  social  strategy  have  played  in  contemporary expressions  of  social  identity.  It  focuses  on  intragroup versus  intergroup  messaging  in  place-marking  and  mark- making practices. The statistical analysis of contemporary graffiti from Jawoyn Country shows that graffiti plays the intragroup purpose of communication between community members, rather than the intergroup purpose of propagating political and social commentary. The purpose of graffiti as it is practiced in Jawoyn Country is more closely aligned to an ongoing cultural tradition of ‘rock art’ production and landscape-marking than it is to the contemporary graffiti expressions often  found  in urban  settings. The results  of this study demonstrate the strength of cultural continuity in Jawoyn Country, even during a period of major government intervention.

New insights in non-destructive direct dating of human remains

Renaud Joannes-Boyau

To better understand human evolution, archaeologists require precise chronologies so as to compare and contrast fossil collections. While indirect dating of the sedimentary matrices of human occupation sites are considered somehow more precise than direct dating techniques, their accuracy is frequently poor.

Direct dating of human remains older than 40 to 50 ka is limited to U-series and electron spin resonance (ESR) techniques. To minimise the impact of direct dating on valuable and oftentimes fragile archaeological samples, new methods of non-destructive U-Th and ESR analyses were investigated, using specifically designed protocols. Both methods were seriously compromised by the fact that teeth accumulate large amounts of uranium following their deposition in sediments. In this research, we have used a laser ablation ICPMS mapping protocol to investigate the isotope distributions and elemental concentrations of uranium and thorium in fossil teeth. Enamel and dentine isotopic maps show complex patterns that imply that systematic mapping of  fragments  would  provide  accurate  insights  necessary for U-series and ESR internal dose assessments. A fossil Neanderthal tooth from Payre (France) showed negligible U-migration through the external enamel surface compared to the internal migration from the dentine, a result with substantive implications for ESR dating.

Non-destructive ESR analyses were carried out on enamel fragments rather than powder (the typical method) in efforts to  minimise  the  impact  of  analysis  on  samples.  Results reveal that the ESR spectra of enamel fragments have a high angular dependency, which complicates their study and the establishment  of  experimental  protocols. In  this  research, novel measuring protocols and analytical decomposition of ESR spectra have provided new insights into the composite nature of the signal. The development of a comprehensive model describing the influence of several oriented and non- oriented CO – radicals in the spectra with complex kinetics and transfer processes has shown that frequent underestimation can be expected for most fossil tooth enamel ages. The new model suggests that fossils such as the Kabwe Skull (Broken Hill,  Kabwe,  Zambia)  have  a  dose  underestimation  of approximately 30%. This study provides, for the first time, a precise, accurate and comprehensive model for virtually non- destructive direct dating of fossil remains using a combination of two key geochronological techniques, ESR and U-series.

On the astronomical knowledge and traditions of Aboriginal Australians

General image for website abstractDuane W. Hamacher

Historian of science David Pingree defines science in a broad context as the process of systematically explaining perceived or imaginary phenomena. Although Westerners tend to think of science  as  being  restricted  to Western  culture, I argue in this thesis that astronomical scientific knowledge is found in Aboriginal  traditions. Although  research  into the astronomical traditions of Aboriginal Australians stretches back for more than 150 years, it is relatively scant in the literature. We do know that the sun, moon and night sky have been an important and inseparable component of the landscape to hundreds of Australian Aboriginal groups for thousands, perhaps tens-of-thousands, of years. The literature reveals that astronomical knowledge was used for time-keeping, denoting seasonal change and the availability of food sources, navigation and tidal prediction. It was also important for rituals and ceremonies, birth totems, marriage systems, cultural mnemonics and folklore. Despite this, the field remains relatively unresearched considering the diversity of Aboriginal cultures and the length of time people have inhabited Australia (well over 40,000 years). Additionally, very little research investigating the nature and role of transient celestial phenomena has been conducted, leaving our understanding of Indigenous astronomical knowledge grossly incomplete.

This thesis is an attempt to overcome this deficiency, with a specific focus on transient celestial phenomena. My research, situated in the field of cultural astronomy, draws from the sub-disciplines of archaeoastronomy, ethnoastronomy, historical astronomy and geomythology. This approach incorporates the methodologies and theories of disciplines in the natural sciences, social sciences and  humanities. This thesis, by publication,  makes use of archaeological, ethnographic and historical records, astronomical software packages and geographic programs to better understand the ages of astronomical traditions and the role and nature of eclipses, comets, meteors, impact events and certain variable stars. I also test the hypothesis that certain types of stone arrangements have preferred orientations that probably relate to astronomical phenomena.

This research shows that Aboriginal astronomical traditions explain the motions of celestial bodies and the relationship between events in the sky and events on Earth. I explore how Aboriginal people perceived and made use of particular astronomical phenomena, such as meteors and comets, and show that Aboriginal people made careful observations of the motions of celestial bodies. I provide evidence that Aboriginal people noticed the change in brightness of particular stars, described the kinematics of eclipses, explained how lunar phases are related to ocean tides, and acknowledged the relationship between meteors, meteorites, impact events and impact craters. I then show that linear stone arrangements in New South Wales have a preferred orientation to the cardinal points and explore astronomical reasons for this. In the Appendix, I include biographical details of William Edward Stanbridge, one of the first people to write in depth about Aboriginal astronomical traditions, which were compiled from historic records.

Mammoth cave: Pitfall deposit, carnivore accumulation or cultural site?

Kieran Forde

This thesis details the faunal assemblage from Mammoth Cave, an important megafauna site in southwestern Australia, where it has been proposed that humans accumulated and modified bones. This thesis aims to discover the formation processes that led to the accumulation of the bones. This was undertaken through a taphonomic analysis of a sample of bones from the site, in order to answer the question of whether they accumulated via the activities of carnivores or people, or by pitfall, or a combination. There has been a claim for bone artefacts at the site, but analysis of the sample shows no evidence for human activity. Research into the taxonomy and taphonomy of Mammoth Cave also aided in furthering knowledge of the formation of the site, and in turn, probable climatic and environmental conditions. Taphonomy is appropriate to this study because the Mammoth Cave record cannot be deciphered without a thorough understanding of the processes controlling the entry and survival of fossil remains in these deposits. Comparison of previously identified specimens from Mammoth Cave with species abundances from the nearby sites of Devils Lair and Tight Entrance Cave confirmed that the probable accumulation scenario was via pitfall entrapment, with no human contribution. However, there does appear to be one probable bone artefact and two, possibly three, examples of human remains (unconfirmed) amongst the material. These findings, whilst interesting, do not change  the  outcome  of this research. Based on the evidence, Mammoth Cave’s faunal assemblage entered intact through the solution pipe, with bone modifications occurring within the cave environment. The possible artefact and human remains most likely entered the cave via the same means.

Drawing in the land: Rock art in the Upper Nepean, Sydney Basin, NSW

Julie Dibden

The land of the Upper Nepean, with its abundance of sandstone, provided Aboriginal people with an opportunity to formulate and enact a visual language for the objectification of their ideology and social geography. Now, as in the past, this inscribed landscape resonates with its visual marks and motifs. In previous research conducted in the Sydney Basin, pigment rock art in shelters has been considered, at least implicitly, to be functionally equivalent across both space and time. The approach in this thesis has instead been developed to explore both synchronic and diachronic variability in sheltered rock art and to give consideration to the occupational and  contextual  diversity this represents.

The aim has been to explore rock art as embodied practice. This has focused attention and consideration on notions of experience in space, the manner of producing or crafting marks, and where and how they reside in the land. These marks are extant elements of the patterns of how humans experienced and lived in the Upper Nepean and the discourse they created with the land and each other. The analysis employs both quantitative and explicitly narrative approaches to examine the spatial and temporal dimensions of occupation. The different datasets are explored dialectically and in accordance with their geographic and environmental location in order to gain an appreciation of the experience and engagement between Aboriginal people and the land in this part of the Sydney Basin.

While the research has been conducted without the support of any direct dating or archaeological context, the methodology has, nevertheless, allowed for the discrimination of temporal diversity in spatial patterns, and concomitantly, the manner in which the land has been occupied and created as landscape over time. In order to achieve this, it has been crucial to analyse the rock markings not only in respect of their behaviour correlates, but also their material locations within geographic, environmental and microtopographic space.

The diachronic sequence evident in this body of rock art has revealed a rich and complex history of a dialogue between people and the land which, brokered by inscription in rockshelters, was mutually influencing and transformative. The thesis charts the initial use of rock art as a material technology for marking ideology and meaning onto the land, its subsequent employment within a totemic geography, and more recent service within the experience of the colonial period. The results suggest that regional bodies of rock art are likely to have been produced in accordance with a diversity of motivations and functional purposes and that significant change in the impetus to mark the land, and the choice of how and where to do so, can occur over relatively short timeframes.

It is demonstrated that the practice of marking the land in the Upper Nepean was a dynamic dialectic, both constitutive and transformative, of being and place. Over time, people drew the land into an object world which became, with ever increasing inscription and embellishment, a marked and painted landscape, both productive of, and reflecting, a complex history.

Melter smelter: Exploring the implications of part-time low-intensity copper casting in the pre-smelting Chalcolithic

Katherine Deverson

Over 70 years ago, Gordon Childe investigated prehistoric metallurgy, identifying it as a full-time specialised craft that helped give rise to regional state societies and a new ‘elite’ governing class. Archaeological evidence today, however, presents a different picture of the beginnings of metal production, suggesting that the earliest metal workers may have maintained their craft with less intensity. Through an examination of available literature and controlled replicative experiments, this project explores the implications of part-time, low-intensity copper casting in the early Chalcolithic. This research highlights the validity of experimental archaeology in bridging the past and present, and its ability to address both technical and, to a certain extent, social questions.

Results demonstrate that the casting process was a relatively simple endeavour that could have been carried out successfully with few specialised items of equipment, relatively low demands on fuel, and by a few individuals without specialist skills. It was found that choices in design of materials used in copper casting had little bearing on the efficiency of the process, but that the quantity of those materials was the determining factor. Providing preliminary data, this project could be built upon with further research into a wider range of variables, and could extend into later technical advances in metal production, such as smelting. Such investigations may also be able to identify design choice motivations. This project demonstrates that part-time metal workers, or non-specialists, could have maintained the early copper casting industry, provided they were able to access resources through extra-household exchange relationships.

Sex and death: The female grave in colonial South Australia (1836-1936)

Mike Adamson

The differential social status of men and women in historic South Australia (SA) placed an indelible mark on all aspects of society, and the signature of these attitudes is perceptible in the material record of the age. Cemetery data provide an excellent record spanning the first 100 years of settlement (i.e. 1836–1936), a period also encompassing profound changes in the social status of women in SA; therefore they offer a spectrum of information in which that trajectory of social evolution may be detectable.

West Terrace Cemetery, Adelaide, and a selection of cemeteries from what were nineteenth century pastoral districts, were investigated for correlates between the recorded social status of women and aspects of funerary behaviour, such as size and elaboration of memorialisation. The choice of factors relate to the financial investment in each burial, thus an implicit statement of the worth of the deceased, both in concrete terms and in terms of the message or statement to the community each grave was intended to make. The year 1936 was selected as the upper limit of the study owing to the establishment in the late 1930s of the American ‘lawn cemetery’ concept, in which materials were standardised as to size, shape, composition etc.

Style is an attribute especially likely to be influenced by gender dimorphism, and was investigated through monument design, materials of construction and decorative motifs. The frequency of appearance of these attributes in male and female primary burials in a variety of social groupings (solitary, multiple same-sex burial, spousal burial, multiple mixed sex burial) was compared to the basic demographic distribution of those groups in each time and place, and variation revealed trends in the disposition of these attributes. Multivariate analysis was used to compare trends in the data, seeking covariance between the stature of burials and the sex of the primary deceased. Urban and rural districts were compared, seeking variation of social attitude between town and country.

Considerable evidence was found for gendered attitudes in the study period, with differences in the styles and degree of elaboration chosen for the graves of males and females. In the majority of cases males received the lion’s share, while with just two exceptions females received greater investment in their burial. These patterns form a mosaic in which the frequency of appearance of difference increases toward the end of the study period, at variance with the hypothesis that the record should reflect the narrowing of the legal and social difference between men and women. This study provides a foundation for future work in colonial gender studies via cemetery data, by illuminating trends and providing a methodological framework in which specific aspects may be investigated in more closely targeted studies.

Minimum analytical nodules and lithic activities at site W2, Hunter Valley, New South Wales

W2_FacingNorth_resizedBeth White

Individual lithic discard activities from an open site in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales, were identified by using conjoining and minimum analytical nodules (MAN). Activities identified included core flaking associated with backed artefact production, other types of core flaking, tool use and retouching of transported tools. Artefacts made or used elsewhere were also discarded on site. Core flaking associated with backed artefact production resulted in high artefact discard rates, while other kinds of activities were more common, but were associated with lower discard rates. The assemblage associated with backed artefact production had a restricted range of raw material types, was dominated by small artefacts, and had higher proportions of elongate flakes, as well as faceted and focal platforms. The assemblage created from other activities included diverse raw material types, large artefacts, few elongate flakes, and a higher proportion of cortical platforms. The results from this study have implications for how artefact discard rates and assemblage attributes may be interpreted at other sites in the Hunter Valley.

Book review. Making archaeology happen. Design versus dogma by Martin Carver

Martin Carver
Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, 2011, 184 pp, ISBN 9781611320251

Reviewed by Tim Murray
Department of Archaeology,
La Trobe University,
Bundoora VIC 3083,

This is an engaging reflection on contemporary archaeology. Carver considers the conduct of archaeology in both academic and commercial spheres, doing so by raising the shade on the long dead, but certainly not forgotten, Mortimer Wheeler. For Carver, Wheeler had figured out what archaeology needed to do to prosper: to be engaged, creative and, above all, consequential for the people who practice it, and for those who consume its products. In Carver’s view contemporary archaeology has forgotten Wheeler’s approach and suffered as a consequence. Never one to mince his words (for example, ‘unambitious’, ‘unquestioning’, ‘standardised’, ‘low quality’), Carver sets out to attack the dogmas of the present (both methodological and theoretical) and fire up a new generation of archaeologists about what Jim Deetz used to refer to as the ‘art and mystery’ of the discipline.

So this is a book about method, theory and the primary purpose of archaeology. For a book embarking on polemics and controversy Carver is pretty conventional in the development of his argument and the deployment of evidence. Spanning six chapters, Carver pursues his goal of reinstating archaeological fieldwork (or the process of archaeological investigation) at the core of the discipline. It is through fieldwork and the analysis of field findings that the true contribution of archaeology to humanity can be made to occur. Carver sees the design of field projects as being intellectually stimulating and creative—far more so than arid debates about theory that until recently were the prime focus of activity and imagination.

Field design in the collection and analysis of raw archaeological information (flexibility, responsiveness, creativity) lies at the heart of Carver’s message, and in the first chapter (‘A Visit to the Ancestors’) he contextualises this by reference to his personal history as an archaeologist. The connection with Wheeler is strengthened by Carver’s first life as a military officer—reflecting a passion for planning (design) and process—which both share with one of archaeology’s first great typologists, General Pitt-Rivers.

The focus on fieldwork, which really gets seriously underway in Chapter 2, deals with what Carver calls ‘terrain’ (sites and landscapes). This is a highly effective discussion of the evolution of what has become primary archaeological data from the mega-scale (pots and architecture) to the nano-scale (lipids and other data used in proteomics). It’s not that Carver is creating new knowledge about any of these things in particular, but it’s more the distinctively fresh way that familiar elements are discussed and lessons drawn. This approach continues for the rest of the book—a brisk and opinionated discussion of well- chosen examples drawn from a wide variety of contexts that engage potential readers from outside the UK or North America. Carver’s discussion of the contemporary relationships between archaeologists and the societies that spawn them and have to cope with their doings, is based around clear examples drawn from all over the world. Carver’s style is straightforward and focused on persuading us that the time to rescue archaeology from being just another social or human science is now. Archaeology has the capacity to be so much more.

Of course there is much to debate and potentially to disagree with in this book, and without doubt this is something Carver would heartily embrace. The message is loud and clear and it is one that all archaeologists (whatever their context of practice) should at the very least consider.

Book review. An introduction to landscape by Peter J. Howard

Peter J. Howard
Ashgate, Farnham, 2011, xii+322 pp, ISBN 9781409403852

Reviewed by Tom Kimber
Context Anthropology,
PO Box 625,
South Fremantle WA 6162,

Peter Howard’s An Introduction to Landscape offers a generalised discussion of landscape that can be broadly condensed into three main themes. Firstly, the book discusses how ‘landscape’ as a theoretical construct has been the subject of intensive debate and scrutiny across many academic disciplines. Secondly, how the general public, as ‘insiders’ largely unaware of the aforementioned debates, hold an intense, visceral and emotional connection to their landscapes, however defined. Thirdly, the book reviews how political structures charged with managing heritage and environment are faced with the task of balancing the rather wild array of approaches, agendas and definitions resulting from the previous two themes in order to manage and conserve the landscape effectively. An ambitious book, An Introduction to Landscape attempts to cover a vast interdisciplinary maze with erudition; and many readers, both students of landscape-related disciplines and the general reader who is seeking better to understand the physical world around them and how it has been represented, will find many thought-provoking and stimulating ideas here. This said, however, as a formal introductory textbook the book suffers from a somewhat unclear structure, sparse referencing and some misleading generalisations with which many disciplinary specialists will take issue. The cumulative result is that many readers will be as frustrated with the book as they are informed by the impressive breadth of content on display here.

Landscape is a concept which has been employed in a remarkably heterogeneous manner by a host of subject areas concerned with the interplay between the physical environment, nature, culture, time and cognition. For this reason, writing a generalised introduction summarising the combined approaches to landscape of all these disciplines is not a simple task. Many of the discussions arising from these subjects have revolved around the question of defining what landscape actually is and Howard, quite properly, takes this question as his point of departure. In doing so, he examines several strands of landscape characterisation. The first two chapters of the book attempt to outline the divergences between academic and popular uses of landscape. The latter gives a discussion of landscape as picture in an art-historical context, with landscape considered as an evolving aesthetic representation which mirrored intellectual movements in art, from the beautiful to the abstract. The former sees landscape as a way of seeing; a social and cultural product projected onto the land (Cosgrove 1984:1). The relationships between, and contradictions arising from, these themes are referenced repeatedly as Howard goes on to discuss other strands of landscape characterisation, for example, landscape as scale: the idea that a landscape, in order to properly be considered as such, must inherently feature an element of both distance and scale. Where a remote mountain range is landscape, the view from a suburban house is not.

Of these themes, the ‘landscape as culture’ principle is likely to be most familiar to archaeologists. Here Howard outlines the associated development of ideas of landscape from within cultural geography and landscape history and discusses how these ideas were subsequently appropriated into the archaeological discourse. Howard’s discussion of the development of landscape archaeology appears largely situated within the empiricist English landscape history tradition pioneered in the UK by Hoskins (1955) and carried forward by Aston (1985), Muir (2000) and others. Of course, with an overview textbook of such a wide nature, the discussion is necessarily brief, but the study of cultural landscapes in an archaeological context has developed a complexity that I feel does not receive sufficient justice here. For example, where Howard sees a shift in chronological focus, when archaeology became ‘less fixated on the prehistoric past and turned its attention to the medieval and much more modern periods’, in actuality this is more reflective of a duality of approaches within landscape archaeology that have separated the largely atheoretical positions of the English landscape history tradition of Hoskins and Aston from the intensively theoretical landscape-based concepts of Ashmore and Knapp (1999), Ingold (1993) or Cosgrove and Daniels (2007). The emergence of landscape archaeology, at least in the UK, was characterised not by a shift away from prehistory but instead by a branching into two separate intellectual traditions (Johnson 2007:2). Certainly if one is looking exclusively for an introduction to the development of landscape in an archaeological context, this book compares poorly to existing literature (see Johnson 2007; David and Thomas 2010).

Howard appears to share the inherent scepticism of the English landscape history tradition for quantitative methodologies. One result of this scepticism is that, in many ways, the text is highly personal, emotional and liberally annotated with anecdotes from the author’s own experiences interacting with the landscape.

Howard states at the outset that he ‘cannot possibly hope to tell us about the landscape, but can only tell us about his landscape and leave us to deal with our own’ (p. 9). One might, then, have reasonably expected a discussion somewhere in the book about how emotive and experience-derived practices have been formalised as approaches in the archaeological literature, for example, but any phenomenological discussion is curiously absent. The reader is, however, encouraged to engage in the experiential process through a diverse series of practical exercises proposed at the end of each chapter, with the aim of reconciling the theoretical discussions outlined in the text with the local and personal context of the reader’s own landscapes. These exercises range from writing essays about designed landscapes in the reader’s local area, through to encouraging the reader to disengage with the visual by walking through the landscape blindfolded—experiencing the landscape through touch, smell and hearing alone.

In order to allow for discussion of themes arising from, but not fitting into, the main body of the book, Howard employs a series of ‘capsules’—essentially short essays or extracts from other works intended either to illuminate certain types of physical landscape, such as mountains, moorlands, rivers and coasts, elaborate on investigative methodologies, such as the critiquing of pictures or suggestions on how properly to interrogate a map for interpretative detail, or discuss international contexts not addressed in the text. These capsules, though a potentially innovative feature, seem to offer only limited value to the book. For example, despite the introduction declaring that the text is decidedly Anglo-centric, the book is in actuality pleasantly interspersed with contextual examples from both continental Europe and the wider world. Many of the conceptual definitions of landscape offered in the earlier part of the book rely heavily on an inherent Western, Cartesian divide between nature and culture that simply would not make sense when looking, for example, at anthropological questions of the connection between Indigenous peoples worldwide and their landscapes. The capsule entitled ‘abroad is different’, where these conceptual issues could have been formally introduced to the student, instead offers a rather brief and uninformative discussion on the changing tastes of British tourists. Similarly, despite the back cover of the book promising the reader a ‘capsuled’ insight into ‘mapping and GIS’, the corresponding section offers nothing of the sort, with no mention of either cartography or GIS-based approaches to landscape offered anywhere in the book.

One final point of dissatisfaction lies with the quality of pictorial reproduction. For a work whose subject matter is primarily visual, particularly in relation to the connections between landscape, aesthetics and art, the monochrome pictures at best significantly limit their impact, and at worst, make discerning any detail on some pictures rather difficult, to say the least. Such careless mistakes are a shame, as there is much here of value. The book benefits hugely from the author’s clear breadth of knowledge and experience, particularly in relation to the art-historical landscape perspective and the informative discussion of landscape governance and management in both European and global contexts. In summation then, for the aspiring landscape archaeologist, An Introduction to Landscape will likely not claim a place on any essential reading list, but it does offer an admirable attempt at integrating an incredibly disparate concept into a single volume.


Ashmore, W. and B. Knapp (eds) 1999 Archaeologies of Landscape: Contemporary Perspectives. Oxford: Blackwell.

Aston, M. 1985 Interpreting the Landscape: Landscape Archaeology in Local Studies. London: Batsford.

Cosgrove, D. and S. Daniels (eds) 1988 The Iconography of Landscape. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cosgrove, D. 1984 Social Formation and Symbolic Landscape. London: Croom Helm. David, B. and J. Thomas (eds) 2010 Handbook of Landscape Archaeology. Oxford:

Hoskins, W.G. 1955 The Making of the English Landscape. London: Hodder and

Ingold, T. 2000 The Perception of the Environment: Essays on Livelihood Dwelling

and Skill. London: Routledge.
Johnson, M. 2007 Ideas of Landscape. Oxford: Blackwell.
Muir, R. 2000 The New Reading the Landscape: Fieldwork in Landscape History.

Exeter: University of Exeter Press.

Book review. Recent studies in Australian palaeoecology and zooarchaeology: A volume in honour of the late Su Solomon edited by Jillian Garvey and Judith Field

Edited by Jillian Garvey and Judith Field, Maney Publishing, Leeds, 2011, Environmental Archaeology Special Issue Volume 16 Number 2, ISSN 14614103; 17496314

Reviewed by Joe Dortch
Eureka Archaeological Research and Consulting Centre,
The University of Western Australia,
Crawley WA 6009, Australia

The papers in this volume, influenced to varying degrees by the work of the late Su Solomon, an innovative taphonomic thinker in Australian archaeology, reflect increasing diversity in the broad field of environmental archaeology. Papers range widely, across eastern and northern Australia and across the Pacific to Mexico. The common thread is palaeoecological or zooarchaeological research by Australian-based researchers.

Following the editors’ introduction to Solomon’s work and her most significant contributions to the discipline, the paper by Lopez et al. neatly combines archaeological, palaeopathological and isotope studies of Mayan human remains to show that Mayan social class in the Chiapas region correlated with better dental health and the proportion of protein in the diet. This is confirmation of a regional trend. However, differences between the study site, a small city with better access to protein from wild resources, and the larger centres like Copan, suggest a kind of edge effect, as in larger cities even more powerful elites actually may have had less access to protein.

No zooarchaeology volume would be complete without experiments. Zooarchaeology is a field where researchers have excellent opportunities to explore relationships between contemporary people, animals and ecosystems in order to better understand past interactions. The first paper presenting experimental zooarchaeology is by the editors and Aboriginal collaborators Cochrane and Boney, working near the well- known Cuddie Springs archaeological site in the north of semi- arid central New South Wales (NSW). Here, emus (Dromaius novaehollandiae) are a regular feature of the landscape and prized for their meat. It is clear that the particular cultural value of emu meat means that there is a wealth of Aboriginal knowledge and terminology concerning butchery, processing and use. The lack of cutting or breakage of the bones of even a prized animal is an important reminder that we should not expect such evidence in archaeological contexts; moreover, the presence of dangerous spicules in emu femora means consuming marrow from these large bones is not an option, and helps answer Solomon’s question about why so few cracked emu long bones occur in archaeological sites.

The next paper by Fillios continues zooarchaeological experimentation with a comparison between scavenger behaviour in the same Cuddie Springs region and in temperate NSW on a similar latitude. This indicates that differences between the two are not as great as might have been thought, and that the accumulating agents are probably more important. Although the present sample is too small to be conclusive, this study is part of a continuing continent-wide comparison which will be valuable because there are so few taphonomic studies of Australian conditions.

In the third set of experiments presented, Westaway’s offerings of dead pigs to captive crocodiles provide data on the types of punctured and scored bones that may be recognised archaeologically, and so help distinguish human and crocodile contributions in bone accumulations in tropical and sub- tropical regions. These data have wide potential use throughout the regions of Sunda and Sahul that were first traversed by early and late humans. Again, this paper is part of continuing research that will broaden, in this case, to include feeding experiments by a variety of crocodilians to assess the impacts of different feeding behaviour.

Faulkner’s paper, featuring archaeological rather than experimental data, notes that in northern Australia throughout the late Holocene, regional and local environmental changes are broadly reflected in the chronological sequences of shell middens. The shellfish that Aboriginal people gathered were generally dominated by a single species according to what was locally available, suggesting shellfish procurement was a highly flexible practice.

The paper by Robins and Robins presents an innovative study of ants as agents of bioturbation, inspired by discovery of intrusive materials in a well-stratified and not obviously disturbed deposit in southeastern Queensland. Their observations of a sand-filled ant farm conducted over 26 months showed considerable vertical and horizontal movement of experimental modern artefacts. This work highlights the benefits of interdisciplinary collaboration and well-designed experimentation. Archaeologists need to be aware of issues of scale: some of these disturbance effects may not matter for traditional studies of large, less mobile objects such as macrofossils and the larger flaked stone artefacts, but more technical analyses based on sand grains, microdebitage, microfauna, molecular remains, etc, will need to allow for such impacts.

Martin’s paper on Aboriginal earth mounds on the Murray Riverine Plain completes the volume. These mounds provide evidence of plant processing and consumption (through macrofossils and impressions in clay), of hearth firing and re-firing, and faunal remains and macroscopic charcoal. The excellent preservation of all these materials in these deposits, comparable to rockshelter and midden deposits, allows Martin to examine Aboriginal exploitation and management of wetland areas, and points to a highly rewarding study region, since there are all too few site types that offer both good preservation and wide regional distribution.

These eight papers are too few in number to adequately represent the current range and diversity in Australian zooarchaeology and palaeoecology, but they do showcase some of the exciting new research in this field, and provide a useful guide to the wider literature. Besides several new approaches to the traditional areas of diet and economy, this volume also shows that zooarchaeology and palaeoecology have great potential to contribute answers to major research questions for the region, from the first human occupation of the continent, to the nature of the deposits we study and the human influence on the Australian landscape.

Book review.The dark abyss of time: Archaeology and memory by Laurent Olivier, translated by Arthur Greenspan

Laurent Olivier. Translated by Arthur Greenspan. Altamira Press, Walnut Creek, 2011, xviii+211pp, ISBN 9780759120457

Reviewed by Steve Brown
Office of Environment and Heritage (NSW),
PO Box 1967,
Hurstville BC NSW 1481,

For those like moi, not so skilled or privileged to have read the 2008 French original (Le Sombre Abîme du Temps: Mémoire and Archéologie, 2008) so admired by the likes of Shanks (2012:19, 40) and Ruibal (2009), it was with great excitement that I approached this book. Yet, as a yoga practitioner, I was mindful of the need to live in the moment, in the case of this book to savour the pleasure of text, and to play down expectation. As it turned out there was no need for the ‘Nine of Swords’ (a tarot card symbolising worry). The book is an excellent read; the text is beautifully crafted and acknowledgement for this must go in part to Arthur Greenspan for the translation of the ‘elegantly written’ French original.

Before starting the book, I was intrigued by the reversal of the words in the subtitle; the French original privileged ‘Mémoire’, while the English translation gives primacy to ‘Archaeology’. Perhaps this is trivial at one level, but I suspect there is something in the different emphases that speaks to cultural perspectives—Olivier’s French theory style places emphasis on big ideas (time, memory, heritage and archaeology), interdisciplinary transcendence and, perhaps, the need of English knowledge systems (or book publishers?) to prefer to peg theory onto a discipline (archaeology) rather than intangible concept (memory).

The Introduction to The Dark Abyss of Time begins with Olivier recounting a dream, a device used to convey the way he experiences the practice of archaeology. Like the dream, ‘All that can be had from exhuming some memory of the past is a glimpse of it that is impossible to hold onto, and that dissipates irretrievably’ (p.xiv). Olivier then outlines the questions that he seeks to explore:

The subject of archaeology is nothing other than the imprint of the past inscribed in matter. Fundamentally, it is an investigation into archives of memory, which is what [material] remains are. But, what do they point back to? What are the original contexts in which they accumulated over time? These are the principal questions that I have attempted to answer here (p.xv).

It is somewhat of a mantra in archaeology today to state that the discipline investigates, or works with, the material remains of the past in the present in order to gain knowledge of societies similar and different to our own (e.g. Shanks 2012: 17–18). To assert that archaeology reconstructs the history of past societies through their material productions is thus ill-conceived, perhaps even passé.

There is no such thing as reading the past’ Olivier declares (or is that d’éclair?) (p.47). So what might be the implications of the idea that all archaeology is the study of the present (or even that the past lies ahead of us), especially given the title of the book?

Olivier pursues his quest of dealing with objects in the present over eight chapters, episodes that he modestly describes as ‘necessarily disconnected and disparate’(p.xv), though each presents different trajectories on the idea and theoretical construction of ‘material memory’. The content of the chapters is well summarised in the Introduction (pp.xv–xvii). Chapter titles give a flavour of the literary and philosophical style of the book: (1) In the Beginning; (2) When Once There Was a Once Upon a Time (my favourite chapter title) (3)Pages Written in Earth; (4)An Archaeology of the Present; (5) A Field of Ruins; (6) Ragmen of the Past; (7) Palimpsests and Memory Objects; and (8) A Biology of Forms.

Olivier takes us on a journey into an archaeology that ‘exhumes fragments of the past deposited in the present’ (p.12) in search of a theoretical basis for dealing with ‘memory recorded in artefacts’ (p.28). His quest brings into play the work of many great thinkers and writers: Charles Lyell’s concept of deep geological time; Charles Darwin and evolution; Sigmund Freud and the excavation of the unconscious (including the influence of Heinrich Schliemann’s exertions at Troy, especially stratification, on psychoanalysis); Marcel Proust and the connection between sensory perception and memories (and of course those yummy, aroma-inviting madeleines); German art historian Aby Warburg’s derangement, or altered perception of reality; German Philosopher Walter Benjamin’s radical critique of the conventional approach to history; and André Leroi- Gourhan and the destructive nature of the dig.

We read of work by a number of prominent archaeologists, including David Clarke, Ian Hodder and Michael Schiffer (yes, gender diversity is missing), as well as digging into the history of archaeology and archaeological thought. In addition, and not surprisingly, there is extensive use made of, and reference to, untranslated (as far as I am aware) French academic material, which is a really useful aspect of the book for the linguistically depauperate like myself. I found the descriptions of French sites and heritage management of these places engaging; for example, the recovery of a British WWII bomber in Fléville used to illustrate the power of archaeology to resurrect the past rather than interpret it (pp.58–59); and the impossibility of preserving the village of Oradour-sur-Glane, and within it the emblematic Dr Desourteaux’s car, as homage to a WWII massacre (p.57).

Such examples caused me to reflect on my own family history and in particular my father’s participation in World War II. He fought in Egypt and Italy with the South African volunteer forces and was badly wounded in central Italy. No amount of recounting of this experience, nor viewing of things originating from this time (like the scar across his shoulder), could possibly capture what my father lived through. In Olivier’s words, ‘The experience of industrialised warfare could not be told’ (p.77). The way the past actually was, even when presented through a living material witness such as my Dad, is all but vanished to the archaeological and historical gaze.

Because Olivier is concerned with memory, heritage and archaeology, time necessarily emerges as the core theme of the book. Olivier considers that archaeology has been ‘thoroughly dominated’ (p.xv) by history and thus the concepts of sequential, or linear, time and origins. Linear time, he argues, establishes a flattened narrative and this storyline is, at worst, able to be harnessed for enslavement and annihilation—most clearly illustrated in the ideas of racial superiority, co-opted to justify death camps by the Third Reich (p.21). Thus, historicist constructions of time and the past in archaeology have been complicit in modern warfare, as well as colonialism; a linear concept of culture-history time is neither innocent nor apolitical. This is the ‘dark abyss of time’ into which we risk being sucked (pp.xvii–xviii). Olivier argues against the use of the faulty temporalities of traditional historiography and for the idea that archaeological time, as in memory, must be pluritemporal and involve several overlapping time frames. He also argues for a concept of ‘nowness’ (drawing on work by Walter Benjamin). An implication of ‘nowness’ is that the meanings archaeologists attribute to artefacts are shaped by relationships in the present:

… archaeology deals with the material memory of the past and [thus] it is the work of the archaeologist to study the way in which memory is constituted over time, in which case the present, understood as ‘nowness’, would become the locus for interpreting the past (p.99).

Thus, in Olivier’s view, archaeology is not a form of history but a form of memory. While the psychoanalyst excavates through layers of repressed memories of an individual, the archaeologist is concerned with the ‘repressed layers’ of material memory. Olivier summarises his concepts in a ‘cycle of material memory’ diagram (p.191), a cycle ‘over the course of which artifacts are altered, destroyed, buried, and perhaps (re)discovered, and then preserved as objects bearing witness to the past, and then may be destroyed and “forgotten” all over again’ (p.190). Although this might sound like simply understanding the transformation processes of the archaeological record, it is not. What Olivier’s anti-historicism points to is that ‘Historians and archaeologists invent the objects they study as much as they discover them’ (p.194).

So what might Olivier’s reflections on archaeological time have to say to archaeologists and heritage practitioners working in Australia? One aspect to which I would gesture is in the realms of Aboriginal archaeology, which has a tendency to disassociate deep time traces of the past from Aboriginal contemporary politics and aspirations. The inclination to historicise pre-1788 assemblages of Aboriginal presence (i.e. to apply a culture history framework) is to privilege history-making in a way that benefits the nowness of the material past to the archaeological community. While we are not talking gas chambers, we are, I suggest, failing to recognise the plurality of material memories and meanings that artefacts and other things can have. Why are archaeological meanings attributed to finds generally viewed as more authentic than Aboriginal owner readings? This issue is one that recurs in many post-colonial critiques of archaeology and therefore is not directly something arising out of Olivier’s work. What Olivier’s work does provide, however, is a powerful theoretical basis that can be drawn on to investigate issues concerning the privileging of knowledge.

Olivier’s book provides more than a theoretical reflection on archaeological time. For a person like myself, often struggling and grasping to find words, analogies and metaphors to talk about the stuff in my backyard or piled into Aboriginal keeping places, Olivier inspires by his creative writing and in his novel and exciting new ways of articulating the project of archaeology. He shows how the crafting of words does not have to resort to dense and impenetrable text; how complex ideas can be narrated in a way that entwines the personal (e.g. the contents of his mother’s black lacquered wooden box) with big ideas, different genres of literature and the humblest, little things that archaeologists dig up.

The ‘temporal turn’ in archaeology that Olivier argues for locates the fundamentally incomplete and truncated fragments of the past not behind us, but ahead (p.9). This works for me, and after reading Oliver’s book I prefer to emphasise mémoire in its entanglement with archaeology, rather than the reverse; un petit peu gesture to Frenchness. I would highly recommend the book to those of a phenomenological, sensuous and thingness persuasion. Je suis amoureux avec Laurent (in case it wasn’t obvious).


Gonzalez Ruibal, A. 2009 A review of Le sombre abibe du temps: Mémoire and archéologie.Available at the_dark_abyss_of_time.html.

Shanks, M. 2012 The Archaeological Imagination. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press.

Book review. Pinning down the past: Archaeology, heritage and education today by Mike Corbishley

Mike Corbishley The Boydell Press, Woodbridge, 2011, xvi+384 pp, ISBN 9781843836780

Reviewed by Craig Barker
Nicholson Museum A14,
The University of Sydney NSW 2006,

Of the broad research field that can be more or less indiscriminately described as ‘public archaeology’, it is the area of archaeological education, particularly that of primary and secondary education, which has generated a rapidly growing publishing industry in recent years. It is a significant and important area of study, as the earliest exposure to archaeology by students will impact upon the way they view, understand and value archaeological investigations for the rest of their lives. Studies have shown this even at the level of tertiary students who are engaging in archaeological studies at a university; often preconceived and incorrect notions of exotic adventurous romanticism, or the ‘Indiana Jones effect’, are difficult to combat even amongst those who should know better. The development of archaeology in educational curricula has been difficult across the world, often meeting resistance. At least considerable progress has been made from the era in which archaeological material merely existed to illustrate school history textbooks.

One problem is that it has often been difficult for us as a discipline conceptually to develop educational programs that actually work for children. Archaeologists themselves rarely have the resources or the training to provide curricula-based learning tools either for teachers or students, whilst educators, even with the best of intentions, rarely have any training in archaeological methodology beyond introductory levels. Traditionally it has fallen to either museums or educational programs run by heritage institutions to bridge the gap, providing kinetic learning experiences, or to the media (with its own inherent set of difficulties about communicating the truths of archaeological aims).

The author of Pinning Down the Past, Mike Corbishley, is in a rather unique position to write this book, the fifth volume in the ‘Heritage Matters’ series produced by Newcastle University aiming to address issues confronting the heritage sector in the twenty-first century. He lectures on heritage education at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, but, more significantly, he has a long background as both a field archaeologist and an educator. He was one of the founders of the Young Archaeologists’ Club, worked as a school teacher, was the Head of Education for English Heritage, and was involved in the development of education programs for archaeological projects in the UK, Greece and Turkmenistan. His more than four decades on the front line of archaeological education give him a special perspective on the worldwide development of archaeological educational outreach from both sides.

Although obviously aimed at a British audience and written largely from personal experiences, there is still much in this volume that is applicable to the Australian educational experience. This is particularly the case with chapters on the development of ‘Archaeology and Education’ that summarise learning resources available for educators, and present an overview of the inclusion of archaeology into school curricula from a global perspective. On the other hand, some chapters are perhaps too British- centric, especially the ‘Archaeology and the Media’ chapter, which is almost exclusively reviews of UK television programmes about archaeology. The chapter is not as useful as the rest of the volume in terms of direct examples of linking archaeology with learning experiences in the field, museums or the classroom. Corbishley emphasises at several points that the key message of this volume is that education should be looked at in its broadest sense, that is, to incorporate archaeology for the general public as well as in formal education. While both are important aspects of public archaeology in the UK, one wonders whether there is instead enough material to address the topics as two separate but more focused studies. The examination of the role of archaeology in formal educational settings is by far the stronger in this volume.

The role of archaeology in the Australian educational experience is varied; some states, such as New South Wales, have had a strong archaeological focus in the curriculum for many years now (albeit still more focused towards Egyptology and Classical archaeology rather than Australian archaeology). Other states have almost no archaeological components in history-based learning, thus depriving students of a more holistic understanding of the past. We await the new Australian National History Curriculum in its final form to see the future of pre-tertiary archaeological education in this country. The appearance of Australian archaeological stories in the media meanwhile remain, of course, incredibly rare compared to the UK experience (it still remains easier to see British archaeologists on Australian TV than their local counterparts). It is interesting to contrast our experiences with those described by Corbishley.

This volume is in many ways more a compendium than an instruction manual on archaeological education. It is not easy to read in its entirety, but works best when it is dipped into. As Corbishley himself writes, the book ‘takes in turns areas … present[ing] archaeology to the public and those in formal and informal education … Each section contains specific projects for teachers to use in presenting the evidence from the past as a learning opportunity.’ The sections are then divided relatively systematically: ‘Making Connections’ examines the major issues of public understanding of the past and ‘The Public and Past’ assesses the ways in which laypeople access the past. ‘Archaeology in Education’ is by far the most interesting section of the work, examining the history of archaeology in education in the UK and other regions, particularly focusing on the incorporation of archaeology into formal education curricula in several countries. ‘Investigating Evidence’ offers practical learning activities for educators, and the concluding section asks whether archaeologists can be optimistic that they are getting their message across (for the record Corbishley is generally positive about the British experience, albeit with some caveats).

The strength of Corbishley’s book is the detailed use of case studies for each chapter: family activities in the Roman Circus at Colchester, and education projects that ran in Athens and at Hadrian’s Wall. The Museum of London’s incredible public outreach program is described in detail, as are the initiatives developed at the Institute of Archaeology, such as wider participation programs designed to change the low levels of ethnic representation in the profession of archaeology in the UK. They provide a practical demonstration for the reader of situations where archaeological education does work, and good examples of interaction between archaeology and heritage and the general public, particularly school students. This makes the description of the funding cuts to education forced on the Council of British Archaeology (CBA) in 2010 all the more frustrating.

The examples presented in the volume of the use of archaeological material across non-history curricula areas are inspiring, and Corbishley rightly demonstrates that there are already sophisticated curriculum studies on areas of heritage management. One example is the pressure of tourism on sites, already being taught in schools around the world in a range of courses and curricula outside of traditional ‘ancient history’ subjects. The practical lesson resources designed to inspire younger students will give both educators and archaeologists some inspired ideas for explaining archaeological methodology to adults as much as children. They include teaching stratigraphy using sponge cakes, studying garbage from school dustbins, and the cataloguing of student’s own household items.

It is, after all, beneficial to all in our profession to develop stronger community relations and educational programs—to engage with students and to explain the aims, achievements and difficulties of archaeology. Corbishley’s book provides a valuable guide for how we can proceed based upon his own observations.

Interproximal grooving of lower second molars in WLH 4

WLH 4 mandible, arrow shows the location of interproximal groove on the second molar.

WLH 4 mandible, arrow shows the location of interproximal groove on the second molar.

Arthur C. Durband, Michael C. Westaway and Daniel R.T. Rayner

Interproximal grooving of the teeth is a form of nonmasticatory wear commonly found in precontemporary human populations. While its cause is debated, it is thought to be due to the repeated abrasion of fibrous materials across the distal surfaces of teeth during processing. This report describes the presence of interproximal grooves on the distal surfaces of the lower second molars of the WLH 4 individual from the Willandra Lakes in New South Wales, Australia. Although there has been considerable discussion regarding the distinct occlusal wear pattern in WLH 3, this is the first recorded instance of an interproximal wear pattern in the Willandra Lakes region, and has implications for our understanding of cultural behaviors practiced by those populations in the late Holocene.

North of the Southern Arc – the Mindoro Archaeological Research Program: A summary of the 2010 and 2011 fieldwork activities

Martin Porr, Armand Salvador B. Mijares, Alfred F. Pawlik, Philip J. Piper and Sabino Padilla Jr

This paper presents some preliminary results from a research project designed to identify, for the first time, prehistoric occupation sites in Mindoro Occidental, Philippines. The aim of the project was to identify cave and rockshelter sites with potential to contain undisturbed Pleistocene deposits and thus the prospect to enhance knowledge about the earliest settlement history of modern humans in Southeast Asia. Over the course of the project a number of previously unknown prehistoric sites have been recorded in the karst limestone regions on the islands of Mindoro and Ilin. The results of the first test excavations indicate that there is high potential for the recovery of archaeological remains that will provide exciting new insights into Holocene and Pleistocene colonisation and economies, as well as the timing of early settlement episodes in the Philippines. This project now forms the basis for future collaborative work in the region.

A progress report on research into stone artefacts of the southern Arcadia Valley, central Queensland

Grant W.G. Cochrane, Phillip J. Habgood, Trudy Doelman, Andy I.R. Herries and John A. Webb

We report on progress made to date on a collaborative project which aims to shed light on various aspects of lithic technology in the southern Arcadia Valley, central Queensland. Analysis of >4000 stone artefacts indicates that silcrete was an important lithic resource locally. Initial results from portable x-ray fluorescence analysis of a sample of artefacts suggests that this technique may be capable of characterising geochemical signatures for different silcrete sources. Gloss analysis suggests that 20–45% of the silcrete artefacts were heated prior to manufacture. Further use of this method, in combination with archaeomagnetism, is expected to provide more precise information about this practice.

Digital preservation, online access and historical archaeology ‘grey literature’ from New South Wales, Australia

Examples of historical archaeology consulting reports available from the NSW AOL archive. Copyright retained by original authors and accessed here, Thorp 1987 and Higginbotham et al. 1991.

Examples of historical archaeology consulting reports available from the NSW AOL archive. Copyright retained by original authors and accessed here, Thorp 1987 and Higginbotham et al. 1991.

Martin Gibbs and Sarah Colley

The New South Wales Archaeology Online (NSW AOL) Project aims to enhance the research, professional and educational value of archaeological information by using digital technology. Stages 1 and 2 (2009-13) involve collaboration with the University of Sydney Library eScholarship Repository and archaeologists studying colonial historic places and archaeological sites in New South Wales. So far the project has collected and digitised over 1000 hard-copy reports produced mainly before the mid 1990s that document previously unpublished heritage consultancy projects and student research. This ‘grey literature’ is being archived and content made publicly accessible online. The first version of the current NSW AOL sustainable digital archive was launched in March 2011 at This is designed to support preservation of digital content into the future, despite technology change, and is linked to a website with full-text search functionality and facetted-browsing that provides online access to over 600 PDF versions of digitised hard-copy reports. Stage 2 (2011-13) will archive and make further, and different kinds of, information accessible. Here we explain the background to the NSW AOL Project and our approach to creating a sustainable, scalable and interoperable digital archive and online publication. We outline the limits and future potential of the current digital tools and discuss key issues about digital preservation and online access facing archaeology in many countries, including Australia.

Taphonomy or paint recipe: In situ portable x-ray fluorescence analysis of two anthropomorphic motifs from the Woronora Plateau, New South Wales

The Woronora Plateau motifs analysed by Jillian Huntley (left and middle), and the PXRF in action (right).

The Woronora Plateau motifs analysed by Jillian Huntley (left and middle), and the PXRF in action (right).

Jillian Huntley (nee Ford)

Portable spectrographic techniques have desirable attributes for archaeological investigations because they can be applied in the field non-invasively and non-destructively. With the increasing ubiquity of portable spectrographic techniques in Australia it is timely that the complexities of field-based analyses are discussed. A review of portable x-ray fluorescence (PXRF), including the limitations of the technique, and discussion of the complex physical interactions encapsulated by the resulting elemental data, provide a firm basis for interpreting the analysis of a rock art panel on the Woronora Plateau, New South Wales. PXRF data supports the results of previous (laboratory-based) pigment characterisations, that a locally sourced, composite claybased paint was used to produce rock art. Results highlight the requirement for specific knowledge and expertise, not only in relation to the technique, but also the rock art under investigation and, critically, its taphonomic context. Ultimately this case study demonstrates that portable spectrometry should be considered an addition to the existing repertoire of archaeometric techniques applicable to the study of rock art, rather than as a replacement for laboratory analyses.

Endangered rock art: Forty years of cultural heritage management in the Quinkan region, Cape York Peninsula

Quinkan rock art from Giant Horse rockshelter (photograph by Noelene Cole).

Quinkan rock art from Giant Horse rockshelter (photograph by Noelene Cole).

Noelene Cole and Alice Buhrich

This paper reviews a changing scenario of cultural heritage management in the Quinkan region, Cape York Peninsula, currently experiencing unprecedented pressures from tourism and mining. From 1971 State and Federal governments acted to address concerns over protecting Quinkan rock art from modern impacts such as tourism: Gresley Holding (locally known as Crocodile Station) received statutory recognition as a declared ‘Aboriginal site’, the Quinkan Reserves were created, and ‘Quinkan Country’ was listed on the (now defunct) Register of the National Estate. In the 1990s the Quinkan Reserves were transferred to Aboriginal Land Trusts, and the local Aboriginal corporation received intermittent government grants to help manage tourism. In 2004 the State government opened an interpretive centre in Laura as a tourism initiative without providing for a visitor management system. Today, virtually the entire Quinkan region is affected by applications for minerals and coal exploration. The outstanding heritage values of the Quinkan region are threatened by this potential mining development, coupled with expanding tourism, and traditional owners are struggling to manage their cultural heritage. It is not clear how current heritage legislation, environmental codes and the status of ‘Gresley Pastoral Holding-Crocodile Station’ as a Declared Landscape Area (DLA002) will be applied to protect the area into the future.

Dating the present at Nawarla Gabarnmang: Time and function in the art of a major Jawoyn rock art and occupation site in western Arnhem Land

Exterior of Nawarla Gabarnmang (photograph by ben Gunn).

Exterior of Nawarla Gabarnmang (photograph by ben Gunn).

ben Gunn, Ray Whear and Leigh Douglas

Winner of the Ulm-Ross Prize for the best paper in Australian Archaeology in 2013 – available for free download to everyone via the link below!

Nawarla Gabarnmang is a major rock art and occupation rockshelter in the Jawoyn lands of western Arnhem Land. On the basis of (1) dating of beeswax underlying pigment art, (2) the presence of a probable contact motif, and (3) traditional owner comments, it appears that the most clearly visible art in the rockshelter was produced within an archaeologically narrow window of time in the past 600 years, with the most recent art production occurring between AD 1845 and 1940. Studies of motif superimpositioning also suggest that at least three functionally distinct phases have occurred in the recent period rock art. Spatial mapping of the major art styles also indicates that the latest styles are restricted to the central and largest panels, affording them visual prominence with the highest dramatic impact.

Orientations of linear stone arrangements in New South Wales

Robert Fuller surveys a stone arrangement in Armidale, NSW (left) and Duane Hamacher examines a small stone circle at Dungowan, NSW (right) (photographs courtesy of D. Hamacher and T. Britton).

Robert Fuller surveys a stone arrangement in Armidale, NSW (left) and Duane Hamacher examines a small stone circle at Dungowan, NSW (right) (photographs courtesy of D. Hamacher and T. Britton).

Duane W. Hamacher, Robert S. Fuller & Ray P. Norris

We test the hypothesis that Aboriginal linear stone arrangements in New South Wales are oriented along cardinal directions. We accomplish this by measuring the azimuths of stone arrangements described on site cards held in the New South Wales Aboriginal Heritage Information Management System. We find a preference recorded on the site cards for cardinal orientations among azimuths. We then survey a subset of these sites to test the accuracy of the information recorded on the site cards. The field surveys show that the site cards are reasonably accurate, but the surveyors probably did not correct for magnetic declinations. Using Monte Carlo statistics, we show that these preferred orientations did not occur by chance and that Aboriginal people deliberately aligned these arrangements to the approximate cardinal directions. We briefly explore possible reasons for these preferred orientations and highlight the need for future work.

Standing stones: An unrecorded form of stone arrangement from the Jawoyn Lands of the Arnhem Land Plateau

Author, ben Gunn, recording a standing stone.

Author, ben Gunn, recording a standing stone.

ben Gunn, Leigh Douglas and Ray Whear

Undertaken as part of the Jawoyn Rock Art and Heritage Project, a form of stone arrangement not previously documented in Arnhem Land was found to occur at many recorded site complexes. These ‘standing stones’, or plaques, are flat slabs of unmodified sandstone, typically measuring ca 60 x 40 cm, that have been deliberately erected in a near-vertical position. While most are visually prominent, others are in very inconspicuous locations. The function of these stones is unknown, but it seems likely that they acted as a form of marker. This paper provides a preliminary analysis of the size, placement and context of a sample of this particular type of stone arrangement.

Forum: Recent Lapita pottery from the south coast of New Guinea

Editorial, Volume 75


New Direction in Human Colonisation of the Pacific: Lapita Settlement of South Coast New Guinea

Forum Comments and Response: The restaurant at the end of the universe


Editorial, Volume 73


Editorial, Volume 74

We would like to welcome everyone to the first edition of Australian Archaeology produced by the new editors and Editorial Committee. Long before the editorial office moved from Brisbane to Adelaide, we realised we had some very big shoes to fill. Sean Ulm and Annie Ross, the previous editors, have been extraordinary. Since taking over the journal in mid-2005, they have worked hard to raise the quality and appearance of AA, as well as to promote archaeology to a wider audience – practices we aim to continue.

In recent years AAA has made substantial strides in addressing the issue of low membership rates, and improving our discipline’s public profile through such initiatives as National Archaeology Week, an improved new website, and the development of a Facebook site. While it is early days, the AAA Facebook page currently has 815 followers, and, although two-thirds of these are Australian, interestingly many of them are not AAA members – meaning we are indeed reaching a different audience than through our journal. Of the nearly 300 international Facebook followers, they are predominantly based in Italy, the UK, the USA, Spain and Greece, further demonstrating that we’re slowly reaching out to the wider community.

We’re pleased to advise that under the erstwhile leadership of Sean and Annie, AA was ranked in the 1st quartile of the SCImago Journal Rank (SJR indicator), with an SJR impact value of 0.065. SJR is a measure of the scientific influence of a scholarly journal that accounts for both the number of citations received by articles in it, as well as the ‘prestige’ of the journals the citations come from. This puts AA in front of prestigious international journals such as Antiquity, World Archaeology and Geoarchaeology. This is an excellent achievement and testimony to Sean and Annie’s hard work in raising the standard of our journal for the entire profession.

Sean and Annie also put in place a structure for returning royalties to the journal through the Copyright Agency Limited, providing a much-needed income stream to support new journal initiatives. The Author Agreement Form signed by authors for all published papers allows royalties deriving from these works to be assigned to the journal, while individual authors retain copyright of their works; the royalties are then reinvested back into the journal for benefit of the membership.

The printing of the journal in full colour is now a permanent feature of AA; thank you to all the sponsors, members and authors who have made this possible. The enhanced ‘attractiveness’ this affords the journal is, we’re sure, a contributing factor in the record high membership numbers in recent years (just shy of 1000 in December 2011 – see the Membership Secretaries’ Report in the 2011 AGM Minutes published in the Backfill section of this volume). It also has the added benefit of encouraging authors to submit their manuscripts here, particularly those with a strong visual component.

When they took over editing responsibilities, Sean and Annie noted that:

AA is at a crossroads. Many similar association journals are now managed by major publishing houses to ease editorial and production workloads and to promote broad distribution. Budgets are tighter than ever before, exacerbated by low membership rates. At the same time, there is an urgent need to increase the public profile of archaeology in Australia to aid in the protection of cultural heritage. (AA62:ii)

As the new AA editors we will continue to build on the journal’s – and indeed the Association’s – strengths: providing a venue for the best, leading edge research covering the broad ambit of archaeology as it is practiced in Australia today; ensuring that AA becomes more highly visible and more easily accessible; and taking its results to the broader public.

In addition, there are various goals we would like to pursue. We would like to investigate the potential for an online manuscript submission platform for the journal, as well as a mechanism for making current journal content available digitally. Improvements in the digital accessibility of AA will enhance how our members and wider readers access the journal. It will also lessen the volunteer contribution on which the production of AA is still so reliant.

With the change in editorship comes a new Editorial Committee and Editorial Advisory Board (EAB). Alice Gorman (Flinders University) and Jane Lydon (Monash University) take over as Book Review Editors, Sean Winter (The University of Western Australia) is the new Short Reports Editor, and Tiina Manne (The University of Queensland) has become the new Thesis Abstracts Editor. We would like to thank all members of the previous Editorial Committee for their contribution: Jon Prangnell and Jill Reid (Book Reviews), Lara Lamb and Catherine Westcott (Short Reports), and Steve Nichols (Thesis Abstracts). Their hard work has been essential to the journal’s success. The inestimable Linda Terry, long term editorial assistant, has also taken her leave; the efficient AA machine we inherited is in large part due to her dedication and superior organisational abilities.

As part of a rigorous refereeing process implemented by Sean and Annie in 2007, every paper submitted to AA is not only reviewed by two external referees, but also by a member of the EAB, as well as the editors. As you might imagine, this entails a substantial workload for EAB members, whose advice and guidance is also often sought by the editors on relevant policy matters and publishing issues. Coinciding with the change of editorship, and on the advice of our predecessors, we have made some changes to the EAB to allow those who have diligently served above and beyond their two year term the opportunity to relax. To this end, we graciously thank Martin Gibbs, Lynette Russell, Meg Conkey, Chris Gosden, Andy Fairbairn, Simon Holdaway and Luke Godwin for their dedicated service to AA over recent years, and trust their newly created spare time is being filled with some well-earned R&R. We’d also like to welcome Alistair Pike (University of Bristol), Huw Barton (University of Leicester), Oliver Brown (Oliver Brown Archaeology Consulting), Joe Flatman (University College London), Sven Ouzman (Iziko South African Museum), Nancy Tayles (University of Otago) and Michael Williams as new members to the EAB. We are sure their perspectives on Australian archaeology, its place in international debates, and the future directions of the journal, will be both enlightening and exciting.

Many things, of course, will remain unchanged at AA; after all, why change a winning formula? In their first issue as editors, Sean and Annie articulated one of their main goals as being ‘to continue to provide readers with rich and diverse content … we therefore welcome quality contributions on all flavours of archaeology’ (AA63:ii). Given the size of the current AAA membership, this goal is perhaps even more pertinent today to ensure that members not only encounter content of interest to them, but continue to look to AA as their journal of choice for the submission of high quality manuscripts, regardless of the area of archaeology in which they work. The content of AA74 is no exception.

Volume 74 tackles some fundamental questions in contemporary archaeology, and combines this with new perspectives on old ideas. It begins with a provocative forum article by Jim O’Connell and Jim Allen that sets up a testable model for the colonisation of Australia. The vigorous discussion this is sure to prompt is foreshadowed by the invited comments from national and international guests, each of whom approaches O’Connell and Allen’s paper from a different, thought provoking angle. The final response by O’Connell and Allen situates their research within a wider dialogue between practitioners and returns to some of the core concerns of archaeological model building.

Both the papers and the short reports in this issue epitomise the eclectic nature of contemporary Australian archaeology. The papers begin with one by Adam Brumm and Mark Moore, who revisit the concept of the Movius Line and ask whether we can continue to use such a concept to categorise Palaeolithic stone artefact assemblages. The pair of complementary papers that follow focus on a past concern that continues to have critical contemporary relevance: the centrality of water management technology to success in a dry continent. Susan Lawrence and Peter Davies’ paper on landscapes of water management in the gold mining areas of colonial Victoria adopts the perspective that technological solutions are part of a wider process of social learning about the environment. Luke Godwin and Scott L’Oste Brown investigate how the use of infrastructure to manage surface, rather than ground, water on a nineteenth century pastoral station in central western Queensland enabled vast improvements in stocking rates and subsequent massive profits for the pastoral industry. Kelsey Lowe provides a much-needed overview of methods of geophysical prospection and their use and history in Australian archaeology, as well as questioning why these methods have not become as central to the practice of archaeology here as they have elsewhere. Alan Williams, Peter Mitchell, Richard Wright and Phillip Toms synthesise the complexity of a river levee on the banks of the Hawkesbury River and what this tells us about occupation and resource exploitation in the Nepean River system. The Short Reports in this volume highlight the first engraved archaic face motif from the Woodstock Abydos Protected Reserve in the inland Pilbara, WA, the careful burial of a canine on the Arnhem Land Plateau, and the oldest known date yet to be obtained in South Australia.

Beyond the journal, more generally, Australian archaeologists have built a successful research profile over the past six months. In early November 2011 the Australian Research Council announced the successful recipients of Discovery, Linkage, LIEF, DECRA and Future Fellowships grants to commence in 2012. Five grants worth just under $1.5 million were awarded to international archaeology projects, with a further five grants worth nearly $1.7 million awarded for Australian archaeological projects. An additional project comparing Australian and French archaeological records was awarded $232,500. A little under $1 million was awarded for three Australian palaeoenvironmental projects of archaeological relevance. Congratulations to all of those who were successful, including Dr Ambra Calo, who was awarded a DECRA in the field of archaeology, and Drs Robyn Pickering and Gilbert Price who were awarded DECRAs in areas of palaeoenvironmental research of relevance to Australian and international archaeology. We also extend our congratulations to those elected as Fellows of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the Society of Antiquaries of London in 2011 (see Backfill Section of this issue for details).

For assistance in bringing AA74 to fruition, we would like to thank Sean and Annie, and their hardworking Editorial Committee, for leaving the journal in such a well organised state, with such a large number of manuscripts already well along the publishing pathway. Our contributors, referees, Editorial Committee, Editorial Advisory Board, graphic designers, Lovehate Design and printer, Hyde Park Press, have all been extremely supportive during the transition and we gratefully acknowledge their contributions.

A final, but by no means lesser, thank you to all of those whom we’ve approached to referee papers for us – we know the authors appreciate the rapidity with which we’ve been able to provide advice to them, something that can only be achieved through the hard work and conscientiousness of our referees.

Finally, the vision and dedication of our predecessors were formally recognised by the Association at the 2011 AAA Conference Dinner in Toowoomba, when Val Attenbrow (as Chairperson of the AAA Awards & Prizes Subcommittee) and Lynley Wallis (as former President of AAA) announced a newly created Prize to acknowledge their efforts. Known as the ‘Ulm-Ross Prize for the Best Paper in Australian Archaeology’, it will be awarded to the author(s) of what is judged to be the ‘best’ paper by an external, independent panel. We have sought advice about establishing guidelines for the prize from Martin Carver, current Editor of Antiquity (which offers a similar type of prize). Further details about the prize will be forthcoming in a future editorial. The inaugural prize will be selected from papers published in AA volumes 71 through 74 inclusive, and the winner(s) will be announced at the 2012 AAA Conference to be held in Wollongong from 10-13 December – we hope to see you all there!

Heather Burke and Lynley Wallis

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Review of geophysical applications in Australian archaeology


An example of electrical resistance tomography (ERT) on the historic St Michaels Cemetery in Pensacola, Florida

An example of electrical resistance tomography (ERT) on the historic St Michaels Cemetery in Pensacola, Florida

Multidisciplinary approaches are now commonplace in the investigation of archaeological sites worldwide. Consequently, geophysics has become an increasingly important tool for reconstructing past landscapes and investigating research questions. However, despite their acceptance internationally, in Australia the use of geophysical techniques on archaeological sites has been underutilised. This paper examines the history of archaeological geophysics in Australia and seeks to understand, given their potential advantages, the role that factors such as costs, time, instrument availability and lack of theoretical knowledge have played in the underrepresentation of these methods in local archaeological investigations to date. With the recent introduction of short courses in archaeological geophysics to at least one Australian tertiary institution, this review is a timely overview of where this discipline has been, what it has to offer and whether there is potential for Australian archaeologists to develop the skills necessary to conduct archaeological geophysic investigations, as their international counterparts do already, in the future.

‘We want men whose hearts are… full of zeal.’ An investigation of cross-cultural engagement within the Weipa mission station (1898–1932)

When D.H. Snow first highlighted the archaeological potential of missions in North America he suggested that historical archaeologists should be concerned with the ‘adjustment of the missionary to his new field of endeavour’ and consider the impact of cross-cultural engagement upon the missionaries themselves as well as Native American culture (Snow 1967:57).In Australia, missions have been recognised as places of archaeological importance since Birmingham’s (1992) seminal work at Wybalenna in 1969, however it has only been during recent years that they have been considered as suggested by Snow. The last decade has seen archaeologists begin to consider the impact of cross-cultural engagement upon the aims and approach of the missionaries themselves (e.g. Dalley and Memmott 2010; Lydon 2009; Morrison et al. 2010).

Utilising multiples lines of evidence this thesis investigates the nature of missionary and Aboriginal cross-cultural engagement within the context of the Weipa mission station (1898–1932). Placing particular emphasis on the missionary experience of this relationship, this thesis asks whether the aims and approach of the missionaries themselves changed as a result of their interaction with the Indigenous peoples of this region. The physical layout of the mission itself is analysed as a physical manifestation of the aims and priorities of the missionaries operating at Weipa. This part of the investigation also seeks to determine whether structures and space were used to control and restrict the movement of Indigenous residents in the manner of a total institution as suggested by Sutton (2003).

The thesis demonstrates that the missionaries operating at Weipa did indeed begin to alter their own missionising ideals in the course of their engagement with the Indigenous peoples of this region, accommodating and even incorporating Indigenous practices and resources within the daily operations of the mission. Furthermore, rather than operating as a total institution, the mission appears to have been concerned primarily with segregating the Indigenous peoples of this region from the undesirable elements of white settlement while allowing them to periodically re-engage with their traditional regional networks.

References Birmingham, J. 1992 Wybalenna: The Archaeology of Cultural Accommodation in Nineteenth Century Tasmania. Sydney: The Australian Society for Historical Archaeology. Dalley, C. and P. Memmott 2010 Domains of the intercultural: Understanding Aboriginal and missionary engagement at the Mornington Island Mission, Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia, from 1914–1942. International Journal of Historical Archaeology 14:112–135. Lydon, J. 2009 Fantastic Dreaming: The Archaeology of an Aboriginal Mission. Lanham: Alta Mira. Morrison, M., D. McNaughton and J. Shiner 2010 Mission-based Indigenous production at the Weipa Presbyterian Mission, western Cape York Peninsula (1932–66). International Journal of Historical Archaeology 14:86–111. Snow, D.H. 1967 Archaeology and nineteenth century missions. Historical Archaeology 1:57–59. Sutton, M.J. 2003 Re-examining total institutions: A case study from Queensland. Archaeology in Oceania 38:78–88.

Landscapes of memory: Living heritage and the Gummingurru cultural landscape, south east Queensland

Cultural heritage practice reveals how people turn physical spaces into meaningful places through engagement with sites and landscapes as a result of daily activities, beliefs and values. Heritage management discourse recognises the multiplicities of meaning created by different individuals and communities at different times within a particular landscape. I use a cultural heritage methodology to identify the cultural landscape of the ceremonial stone arrangement site of Gummingurru, southeast Queensland. Gummingurru is managed and interpreted as a living heritage place that exists as both a tangible set of sites in a landscape and a range of intangible elements that include history, memory and current connections to country. Using a collaborative approach that enables the incorporation of archaeological places and oral traditions in my survey methods, I detail the tangible and intangible elements that were identified during a survey of the adjacent, local and wider landscape of the Gummingurru stone arrangement site during fieldwork undertaken as part of the AIATSIS funded Gummingurru Mapping Project in 2008. I present the archaeological findings and associated memories and stories as a ‘memoryscape’ of individual and community experience through time. I conclude that the incorporation of memory in cultural heritage practice provides considerable potential for the interpretation and management of heritage places and landscapes through offering a nuanced, dynamic and rich account of landscape that is seen as being more than a collection of physical attributes and measurable artefacts.

Contested heritage, contested Aboriginality and the Blue Tier, northeast Tasmania

In this thesis I examine a case study of contested heritage in northeast Tasmania as an embodiment of contested heritage issues generally. The focus of my analysis is the contestation over the authenticity of rock markings on Forestry Tasmania land known as the Blue Tier. I demonstrate that Aboriginal connections to country are routinely underappreciated in cultural heritage legislation, policy and practice that privileges archaeological interpretations of Aboriginal cultural heritage. I show that claims of custodianship of cultural heritage by traditional owners are tied to broader issues than authenticity of sites, and include assertions of Aboriginality and connections to country.

For some time, cultural heritage management has been dominated by archaeological approaches to classifying and managing cultural heritage, which may exclude traditional owners from the management process. Despite new discourses and theories which advocate greater community involvement and consultation, heritage management, particularly in Tasmania, continues to be viewed from a scientific perspective. In the setting of Tasmanian society and politics, input into cultural heritage management for Tasmanian Aboriginal people is primarily an issue of asserting identity as ‘Aboriginal’ in the face of a historical denial of their existence. This makes a Tasmanian case study an excellent test ground for conceptualising strategies that can aid in reducing instances of disputed heritage in a broader Australian context.

I approach my analysis by viewing and contextualising cultural heritage as a social construction. To understand Aboriginal constructions of heritage, I undertook interviews and visits to the Blue Tier in northeast Tasmania, and observed traditional owners’ articulations of their connections to country. I have grounded my findings in cultural heritage discourse and theory to demonstrate that the issues encountered in my analysis are those seen in instances of contested heritage all over Australia. This allows me to conceptualise strategies for alleviating contestation both in the Blue Tier and more widely. I conclude that approaches to cultural heritage management that emphasise both Aboriginal interpretations of heritage, and properly situate management of that heritage in a socio-political setting, are long overdue. I highlight strategies to achieve this aim.

Treading a fine line: An examination of interpretive materials from world heritage sites in the United States, Canada and Australia

The interpretation of World Heritage sites has often focused on certain aspects of significance at the expense of others which are considered less important. This has frequently occurred where different perspectives lead to conflicting interpretations of a place. Two of the most frequently conflicting viewpoints are those of the scientific community and Indigenous communities. This research examines the language used in the publicly available literature from World Heritage sites to determine whether they emphasise certain heritage values over others. It does this via an examination of Indigenous archaeological landscapes in the United States (US), Canada and Australia.

By using both qualitative and quantitative analytical techniques this research explores how the language used in interpretive materials at three World Heritage sites –Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area, Mesa Verde National Park and Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Site – presents conflicting viewpoints. Thematic analysis is used to determine the themes and language used by heritage managers to present both the scientific and social values of each landscape to the public. These themes are then quantified and analysed using content analysis and key-word-in-context to determine whether one theme dominates. Such triangulation of methods has to date enjoyed only limited application in the analysis of interpretive heritage materials. The benefits of combining these techniques in a single analysis can be seen in the way that each technique highlights different approaches used by each place to present values to the public.

Results indicate clear differences in the interpretation of World Heritage sites. The interpretive material from the case study in the US focuses specifically on two scientific values, while those from the Canadian case study place more emphasis on the social values of the landscape. With only a small set of samples from the Australian World Heritage site analysed in this research, it is difficult to highlight any specific trends. Generally, the North American brochures encourage school and other education-orientated groups to their World Heritage sites, something that has not been adopted in Australia, but which has great potential to increase visitation. By focusing on specific audiences, particularly schools due to the enactment of a new history curriculum in Australia, Indigenous heritage landscapes have the chance to implement a new generation of effective long-term interpretive programmes. These programmes can then be used to ensure that all Australians understand and appreciate the importance that these places have, not only to Indigenous communities, but all sections of society.

PXRF and earthenware ceramics: An investigation into the use of pXRF measurements of elements to categorise Anatolian Iron Age ceramics

Jess Walker TA

Author, Jessie Walker

PXRF and earthenware ceramics: An investigation into the use of pXRF measurements of elements to categorise Anatolian Iron Age ceramics

Jessie Walker

BA(Hons), Department of Archaeology and Palaeoanthropology, University of New England, January 2011

Most methods of elemental analysis are expensive, timeconsuming and destructive, but the easy, cheap and nondestructive portable X-Ray Fluorescence (pXRF) process has rarely been used with ceramics. This thesis investigates the reliability and accuracy of pXRF for measuring a particular range of elements in earthenware ceramics which may be useful for categorisation. When fitted with a Cu/Ti/Al filter to measure elements in the atomic range from Fe to Nb, a Bruker pXRF TRACeR machine reliably measures almost all of these elements. Principal Component Analysis showed that, of the elements Fe, Rb, Sr and Zr, only three were required to categorise 50 Anatolian Iron Age sherds as accurately as Neutron Activation Analysis data, and that there was flexibility in which three elements were used. Also, this research demonstrated that pXRF could be conducted in museum contexts on valuable earthenware artefacts which could not be removed or destroyed, and that resultant measurements were capable of confirming their typological categorisation.

Biface Distributions and the Movius Line: A Southeast Asian Perspective

The ‘Movius Line’ is the putative technological demarcation line mapping the easternmost geographical distribution of Acheulean bifacial tools. It is traditionally argued by proponents of the Movius Line that ‘true’ Acheulean bifaces, especially handaxes, are only found in abundance in Africa and western Eurasia, whereas in eastern Asia, in front of the ‘line’, these implements are rare or absent altogether. Here we argue, however, that the Movius Line relies on classifying undated surface bifaces as Acheulean on typological grounds alone, a long-standing and widely accepted practice in Africa and western Eurasia, but one that is not seen as legitimate in eastern Asian contexts. A review of the literature shows that bifaces are relatively common as surface finds in Southeast Asia and on this basis we argue that the Movius Line is in need of reassessment.

Refitting stone artefacts at Lake Mungo: A study of the integrity of chipped stone artefact scatters on the lunette surface

The eroding lunette at Lake Mungo in the Willandra Lakes Region World Heritage Area is littered with surface artefacts, as are many of the surfaces of other landforms in arid Australia. However, the present surface of the Mungo lunette is made up of sediments of late Pleistocene to Holocene age, and artefacts do not always lie on the surface from which they originated. In order to interpret human behaviour over long-term scales using data collected from large areas, methods for identifying the stratigraphic origin of surface artefacts are needed. Refitting was undertaken of surface scatters on the Mungo lunette to explore the possibility of using this technique to understand the impact of complex post-exposure processes on the surface artefact record.

The integrity of 10 surface stone artefact scatters in different topographic and stratigraphic settings was investigated. All the artefacts in each scatter were tested systematically for the presence of refits. The number, type and distribution of refits at each site were analysed, together with the non-refitting artefacts from the same scatter. Information about the topographic and geomorphic context of each scatter was also recorded. Refitted artefacts from the same site were found to retain their association with the location in which they were made, and in many cases, permitted identification of assemblages likely to have derived from the same knapping event.

Comparison of the artefact assemblages found in different topographic settings and lying on different sedimentary surfaces allowed an assessment to be made about the impact of site formation processes on surface artefact assemblages found on the Mungo lunette. A case study illustrating the potential for obtaining technological information from surface artefact assemblages with demonstrable integrity was presented.

The results from this thesis show that refitting artefact studies can make a useful contribution to landscape archaeology at Lake Mungo and could be applied in other settings where surface artefacts are found on eroding, stratified landforms.

Public or perish: An ethnographic study of archaeology in a southeast Queensland community

Steve Nichols TA AA74Stephen Nichols

PhD, School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, June 2011

As post-colonial and post-processual forces continue to exert their influence on the theory and practice of archaeology in the twenty-first century, the nature of the relationships between archaeology and its publics has become a topic of increasing interest to Australian archaeologists. A reassessment of archaeology’s public relationships and its representation to the wider world has emerged as a fundamental issue for the ongoing processes of decolonisation and democratisation upon which the future meaning and relevance of archaeology in Australian society will depend. Yet, despite such growing realisations, there remains a major research gap concerning qualitative studies of public archaeology in Australia. A number of basic questions need to be answered. Who are the public? In what ways do people encounter archaeology in Australian society? And what do those encounters mean to them?

In this study, I consider such questions through an ethnographic investigation of public interactions surrounding the Mill Point Archaeological Project, an historical archaeology research project at Lake Cootharaba, within the contemporary southeast Queensland community of Noosa. Through the participant observation method I explore the social contexts and popular meanings of archaeology amongst a variety of different people, including site visitors, fieldwork volunteers and various members of the local community. In accordance with the adopted reflexive methodology, I also undertake an autobiographical exploration of my own relationship with archaeology and my experiences of the Mill Point Archaeological Project.

The observations and insights arising from my research inform a deeper understanding of archaeology’s place in the day-to-day lives of contemporary Australians and provide some basic foundations upon which future models of public engagement might be constructed by a decolonising Australian archaeology. In particular, I identify popular culture, the education system and community participation in archaeological research as key social contexts for engaging with mainstream Australian society. I propose that within these priority areas, the specific nature and shape of our public engagement activities should be guided by a reflexive understanding of our own transformative experiences of archaeology which include both physical and intellectual dimensions.

Review of ‘Cultural Heritage, Ethics and the Military’ by Peter G. Stone (ed.)

By Umberto Albarella

This edited volume is the third of a Newcastle University (UK) series dedicated to a discussion of the role of archaeologists in managing cultural property in situations of conflict and/or in collaboration with the military. The purpose of the book, as stated by the editor, is ‘to place the relationship between cultural heritage experts and the military into both a historical and a wider contemporary context’.

The book begins with an introduction by Stone, providing a background to his involvement with the UK Ministry of Defence in preparation to the invasion of Iraq. This is a well-known story already detailed elsewhere (Stone 2005), and thus here only the main points of the debate are summarised. The chapter also includes a section that Stone specifically dedicates to his ‘critics’ (Albarella 2009; Bernbeck 2008; Hamilakis 2009) and a commented summary of the remaining contributions.

I will not abuse my role as book reviewer to respond to Stone’s comment on my criticism, but I do need to point out, as an aid to the potential readers of the book, that he entirely misses the core point of my argument, quite possibly because I had not explained it sufficiently well in the first instance. More generally, I wish that Stone did not insist on defining any word of criticism as an ‘attack’, ironically as if we were involved in some form of military combat rather than an academic dialogue. There are other areas of his argument – which are echoed elsewhere in the book – which I also find rather unfortunate, such as his insistence that his opinion represents the majority view. This is an arguable, and suspiciously defensive, claim, particularly in view of the position expressed by the World Archaeological Congress (WAC) general meeting in Dublin in 2008. In addition, Stone (like other contributors) repeatedly confuses the refusal of some archaeologists to collaborate with the military (at least in certain circumstances) with an alleged, and in my view grossly incorrect, unpreparedness in debating with the military.

The first chapter of the book, ‘Still in the aftermath of Waterloo: A brief history of decision about restitution’, is by Margaret Miles and provides an historical account of plunder and restitution. Though interesting and beautifully written, it is only indirectly related to the subject of the book.

In one of the most revealing chapters, ‘Physicians at war: Lessons for archaeologists?’, Fritz Allhof (a self-defined ‘academic philosopher’) discusses the ethical dilemmas associated with the involvement of physicians with the military, then draws parallels with the role of archaeologists. He is strongly pro-engagement and even justifies the possibility of collaboration in torture and the making of biological weapons. He believes that archaeological organisations should not express opinions on issues of politics and legality, therefore confining academics and intellectuals to the role of technocrats that many governments of the world would so much like to see. His is the sort of argument that would make people like Donald Rumsfeld cheer.

In ‘Christian responsibility and the preservation of civilisation in wartime: George Bell and the fate of Germany in WWII’, Andrew Chandler discusses Bishop George Bell and his contribution to the debates surrounding military strategies during WW2. The chapter presents us with a remarkable historical figure and an interesting case study, but the relevance to the book is very indirect.

Despite the general title of Oliver Urquhart Irvine’s chapter, ‘Responding to culture in conflict’, this will only be of interest to those engaged with the legality of keeping and acquiring library collections; its link with the subject of the book is tenuous at most.

Chapter 5, ‘How academia and the military can work together’, is by Barney White-Spunner, an army general who has commanded British forces in southern Iraq. He briefly presents a history of the close relationship between heritage operators and the military through to the present-day ‘Operation Heritage’ carried out in southern Iraq. A significant omission in this historical overview is represented by the close collaboration that occurred between some archaeologists and the Nazi army as discussed by Arnold and Hassmann (1995).

This is followed by a long, thoughtful and interesting article, ‘Archaeologist under pressure: Neutral or cooperative in wartime’, by one of the main participants in the debate.René Teijgeler has had experience of working in Iraq during the recent conflict, therefore facing personally some of the dilemmas that he presents in his chapter. His main focus is drawing parallels between the challenges faced by humanitarian and ‘heritage’ forces operating either during a conflict or, more generally, collaborating with the military. Similarities and differences are highlighted, and the possibility for such operators to be ‘neutral’ is explored. Teijgeler correctly identifies some of the key ethical issues, though I found the structure of the chapter to be, in places, chaotic, which detracted from the prose. Most peculiar is the inclusion of a section called ‘Medécins Sans Frontières’, where the organisation is not even mentioned (p.88). I found the logic of some of his concluding arguments also to be confused, with any ideological stand (such as an anti-war sentiment) interpreted as some kind of dogmatism that prevents open discussion. Pacifism is interpreted as feeding ‘prejudice’ (p.107). Comments such as, ‘That the military is, in principle, a bad employer in an untenable position nowadays’ (p.107), seem to be far more dogmatic than any of the anti-war (or even anti-military) positions that he refers to in the article.

Chapter 7 by Katharyn Hanson, ‘Ancient artefacts and modern conflicts: A case study of looting and instability in Iraq’, looks at the extent of looting during the 2003-2009 period of invasion of Iraq, as illustrated by satellite images of archaeological sites. The article also investigates the evidence of stolen artefacts, particularly seals, smuggled from Iraq. It discusses with concern the possibility that the insurgence may partly fund itself through the black market in antiquities. It does not, however, raise the observation that the destruction of the Iraqi heritage is a consequence of the general breaking down of the overall society that followed the invasion.

In Chapter 8, ‘Whose heritage? Archaeology, heritage and the military’, Martin Brown deals with the perception of heritage which characterises the military. In particular, he discusses the interest that the military have for their own history and for the excavation of bodies of past fellow soldiers from the recent, as well as the ancient, past. The chapter is mainly of interest for military historians and those archaeologists who engage actively with the military.

In Chapter 9, ‘Military archaeology in the US: A complex ethical decision’, Laurie Rush informs us that she is an archaeologist who works not ‘with’, but rather ‘for’, the US Army (p.139) – an important distinction to make, as Teijgeler points out later in the book (p.210). Her allegation that ‘the irony of avowed pacifists behaving in a way that encouraged violent behaviour has to be appreciated’ (p.139) is quite extraordinary and unreferenced. We are left in the darkness regarding who such pacifists are and what they do to encourage violence. Rush believes that once an archaeologist accepts work with the military, it inevitably follows that they should equally be prepared to support their employer in situations of conflict, as ‘the mission of the military requires the use of violence’ (p.142). Moreover, she adds that ‘members of the military, at least in the United States, do not have a choice about whether they serve in what they determine to be just or unjust conflicts’ (p.142). Both premises provide support to the view that a close link with the military may inevitably lead to a limitation of academic freedom, which is an essential premise underlying sound and reliable research. Like Stone in his introduction, Rush is anxious to move the debate from whether or not to engage with the military to how to do it. Considering the nature of Rush’s employer, such an argument is understandable, but voices of dissent will not so easily be silenced.

In Chapter 10 (by Francis Scardera), ‘Akwesasne – Where the partridges drum to Fort Drum: Consultation with native communities, an evolving process’, the desirability of creating a relationship of mutual trust between the military occupying/ owning a certain territory and local native communities is emphasised. The case of Fort Drum is used as an example of good practice. Politically, it is a rather anodyne chapter, but it would be churlish to argue against its core point.

In Chapter 11, ‘Heritage resources and armed conflicts: An African perspective’, Caleb Adebayo Folorunso suggests that looting and destruction of cultural property represent war strategies that were introduced by colonial forces in Africa. There is no evidence of such practice in pre-colonial wars and, even in more recent decades, internal African conflicts have shown limited focus on the destruction of property belonging to the opposing faction. He argues that the Hague Convention may only partly be applicable to the African scenario. The chapter is concluded by a statement in support of the engagement of archaeologists with the military. The fact that, after dedicating his chapter to Africa, the author chooses Iraq as an example of how such cooperation may be effective, illustrates the lack of consequentiality between the core of the article and its final statement.

In the following article, ‘Human shields: Social scientists on point in modern asymmetrical conflicts’, Derek Suchard mounts a defence of the engagement of archaeologists and anthropologists with the military, including the controversial ‘Human Terrain System’. Suchard sees the point of anti-engagement positions merely in terms of preserving the ethical integrity of certain professions, thus failing to understand its wider political implications. He cannot even conceive the possibility of refusing ‘support to an armed force engaged in combat operations in war’ (p.175). From his narrow perspective the simplistic conclusion that ‘if a cultural property or artefact is worth protecting, then efforts to ensure that it is protected should be welcomed by all concerned’ (p.175) is all but inevitable.

In the final original paper of the book, ‘Politicians: Assassins of Lebanese heritage? Archaeology in Lebanon in times of armed conflicts’, Joanne Farchakh Bajjaly presents the interesting case of the discovery of the Roman town of Orthosia beneath the remains of the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared, destroyed during the 2007 bombing. Political manipulation and demagogy led in 2009 to link the rights of the Palestinian refugees with the backfilling of the archaeological site and the reconstruction of the camp on the same site. In fact, it would have been possible to move the camp to a different, possibly better, location and at the same time to rescue the archaeology, if only there had been political will to do so.

The last section of the book is not new, having previously been published in the Papers from the Institute of Archaeology. It consists of a foreword by Ian Shearer, a core paper by John Curtis (Keeper of the Department of the Middle East at the British Museum), four commentaries and finally a reply by Curtis to the comments. Many important points are raised, to which it is impossible to give full justice in this review. There is, however, one point made in Curtis’ paper, which is important to highlight. This concerns his refusal to engage with the military during the phases that led to the invasion of Iraq, which is explained mainly on the basis of a political awareness of the context and of the way his expertise could have been used for motives that went beyond a genuine care for cultural property. I find myself in disagreement with many points made by Curtis, but, in a book in which virtually all contributors appear to be almost exclusively concerned with technical, legal and ethical issues, it is reassuring that somebody was sufficiently alert to reflect on the political implications of his own archaeological work.

As a whole I find that this book mostly presents views that are very conventional and that will be looked at with the greatest sympathy by military, political and academic establishments. There is little thinking ‘outside the box’ on display and, consequently, I find most of the contributions to be uninspiring, though occasionally interesting. It is true that some views differ between authors, but they do not adequately represent the full range of opinions that have been expressed on the subject. The editor explains the bias with the fact that those who are critical of engagement with the military refused to contribute to the book. Such a claim seems to be based on the idea that there are two camps – pro-engagement and anti-engagement – in the archaeological profession, whereas I believe in a more complex, intellectual scenario. Possibly an ‘anti-engagement’, token opinion was sought and declined, perhaps not without reasons, though this is not made explicit. The book that ultimately emerged contains many elements of interest but readers should be aware that it is unrepresentative of the full range of opinions on the subject and that it is politically, at its best, naive and, at its worst, disingenuous.


Albarella, U. 2009 Archaeologists in conflict: Empathising with which victims? + A response to Malin-Boyce and Trimble. Heritage Management 2(1):105-114 + 117-118.

Arnold, B. and H. Hassmann 1995 Archaeology in Nazi Germany: The legacy of the Faustian bargain. In P.L. Kohl and C. Fawcett (eds), Nationalism, Politics and the Practice of Archaeology, pp.70-81. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bernbeck, R. 2008 Structural violence in archaeology. Archaeologies 4(3):390-413.

Hamilakis, Y. 2009 The ‘War on Terror’ and the military-archaeology complex. Iraq, ethics and neo-colonialism. Archaeologies 5(1):39-65.

Stone, P. 2005 The identification and protection of cultural heritage during the Iraq conflict: A peculiarly English tale. Antiquity 79:933-943.

If you are interested in purchasing this book, please click here to be taken to the publisher’s website.

Out of sight, out of mind? An examination of built heritage conservation in rural South Australia

Rural heritage in South Australia (SA) is represented by more than 3000 heritage listed properties located beyond municipal areas. It encompasses tangible aspects of South Australian history including buildings, places, sites and objects. Created by past generations of South Australians this heritage reflects pastoral, agricultural, commercial, industrial and social landscapes of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The survival of these heritage places relies heavily on effective heritage legislation and its associated administrative and financial support frameworks. The focus of this thesis has been to investigate the practical outcomes of current heritage legislation and frameworks. The study has aimed to determine the condition of selected state and locally listed rural heritage places in SA. It has explored how the protection afforded and the grants and incentives offered to heritage owners, differ between local and state listings. It has examined the conservation and condition monitoring approaches utilised by state and local governments, and considered the extent to which responsibility for listed built heritage is placed on the private property owner. Interviews were carried out with owners and an archaeological survey was completed to record the interior and exterior condition of nine properties which included homestead complexes, hotels and mining engine houses.

The research has revealed that it is the substantial time and/or financial commitment made by private owners and organisations, rather than heritage legislation and frameworks implemented by government, which leads to successful conservation. Furthermore, the study demonstrates the pressures faced by rural heritage, including neglect and isolation. This thesis argues that, when these pressures are combined with ineffective heritage legislation and frameworks, heritage listing does not guarantee that the heritage values of a place will be protected.

Non-destructive pXRF characterisation and authentication of museum ceramics

This study uses non-destructive portable X-Ray Fluorescence (pXRF) to characterise 47 museum artefacts attributed to Greek and south Italian production of the Archaic Tolate Classical Periods (600-300 BCE). The identification of broad compositional groups for typologically well-understood classes of ceramics is used as a baseline against which to identify and compare the compositional profiles of typologically ambiguous artefacts. Results, interpreted using non-parametric multivariate analysis (Principle Components Analysis), enabled both the re-attribution of typologically misidentified samples as well as the identification of compositional anomalies. The pXRF has also shown new potential for the identification of modern pigments used on reconstructed areas of museum ceramics. Thisstudy demonstrates that non-destructive pXRF offers great potential as a significant new avenue for authentication and compositional research for this class of museum artefact.

Stable carbon and nitrogen isotopic analysis of skeletal remains from Azapa 71 and Pica-8, northern Chile: An assessment of human diet and landscape use in the late Holocene

This thesis presents the results of stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses of human bone from two northern Chilean late Holocene (c.4000 to 700 BP) aged archaeological sites: Azapa 71 (Az-71) in the Azapa Valley of the Arica and Parinacota region, and Pica-8 in the Pampa del Tamarugal inland basin of the Tarapacá region. The thesis seeks to address issues relating to human diet and landscape use in these regions during this time period as well as the reliance, or otherwise, on marine foods and/or agriculture. It also aims to investigate the potential of this information to inform our understanding of the degree of inter-regional social interaction between populations.

The outcomes of this research reveal the importance of using independent analyses, such as stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses, to understand the diets of past populations. Results indicate that both populations retained diets based on terrestrial hunter-gatherer economies, with the addition of marine foods. Further, these marine foods were found to be exploited to a far greater extent than the archaeological evidence for subsistence at the sites suggested. These results challenge the archaeology which to date has potentially over-represented the use of both wild and farmed plant foods by these populations. Archaeological evidence identified at the sites suggests social interaction in the form of trade with highland and coastal populations. However, the social mechanisms explaining how different social groups had access to marine resources continue to remain uncertain.

A second recent canine burial from the Arnhem Land Plateau

A canine burial was recently located on the Arnhem Land Plateau. This is the second such feature recorded for the region. Radiocarbon dating of a vertebrae from the canine provided an age of 88±25 BP (Wk-31813). Both canine burials known from the area occur in similar archaeological contexts and are of similar age, suggesting there may be a cultural link between them.

Review of ‘After Modernity: Archaeological Approaches to the Contemporary Past’ by Rodney Harrison and John Schofield

Review by Alice Gorman

At the 2007 New Ground Conference in Sydney, Annie Bickford posed an interesting question at the end of a session on contemporary archaeology. After hearing papers on post-war urban architecture, depression work camps, modern graffiti, abandoned offices and orbital space stations, she asked “In what way is this different to historical archaeology?” This is a question that After Modernity goes some way towards answering – but the success of the answer is something you will have to judge for yourself.

For the last decade or so there has been a growth of interest in the archaeology of the contemporary or recent past, and it now seems to be a sufficiently distinct field for Harrison and Schofield to have written this introductory text, aimed at archaeologists and also interested lay readers. Despite the title, which might suggest that the contents are on the impenetrable post-modern side, the book is very clearly written and easy to read. The first part looks at the history, theory and methods of contemporary archaeology, while the second takes the reader through a number of case studies based around artefacts, sites and landscapes. While the details given for some of these examples are minimal, everything is carefully and thoroughly referenced, providing a starting point for deeper research.

Harrison and Schofield define ‘contemporary archaeology’ as the archaeology of late modern industrial societies, i.e. the period from 1950 until the present. It is, effectively, an archaeology of ‘now’ or of ‘us’. This period is argued to be qualitatively different to the earlier twentieth century because of the growth of new communications and electronic media, globalisation, mass migrations and transnationalism, among many other factors. They note that the study of the recent past is common in disciplines such as history, anthropology, sociology etc, but archaeology has something distinctive to offer: the emphasis on material culture, deep time perspectives and the recognition of change. Like conventional historical archaeology, contemporary archaeology can investigate those people and groups left out of authorised accounts or official documents, and places that are interstitial or overlooked.

So why is contemporary archaeology not the same as historical archaeology? It could be argued that some differences lie in the methods used and the nature of the contemporary record. Let’s look at the methods first. Survey, excavation, artefact analysis, documentary research, oral history, analysis of aerial and satellite imagery, and GIS; all of these are also standard in contemporary archaeology. However, the latter makes more use of photography and film, and interactions with artists to record and interpret. There is an emphasis on the experience of being in a place and the ways that this can be conveyed. An example, following Augé (1995), is the ‘non-place’ of an airport, designed to be generic and disconnected from history and identity. An artistic work may convey the essence of this kind of non-place, which is so integral a part of its character, far better than a site plan or a still photograph. In this we find one of the defining principles of contemporary archaeology: its very closeness to us means that we need to “make the familiar past unfamiliar” (p.1; see also Graves-Brown 2000), sometimes even just to become aware of it and foreground some aspect of it for attention, and this is something at which artists excel.

There are ways in which the material record of the recent past differs from that of the earlier twentieth century. Waste management and processes of decay and discard have, in some cases, been radically transformed. As Harrison and Schofield point out, few modern buildings survive long enough to decay; they are more likely to be renovated or demolished. Artefacts are mass-produced and distributed globally on a scale never before possible, bringing with them certain philosophies and aesthetics; IKEA is the perfect example of this. While this contributes to a homogenisation of culture, the archaeological investigation of seemingly identical artefacts reveals a surprising range of variation that can reveal information about the local environment.

The record of the recent past is both an embarrassing abundance of riches and full of lacunae. Cold War and military secrecy means documents may be unavailable, and in the fast-changing world of national security, sites, landscapes and technologies can be hard to recognise and describe. With the growth of electronic media, there may be no documents at all to illuminate function and social context. The rapid rate of technological change means objects and technologies can flicker into existence and be superseded and forgotten within a decade. On the other hand, not enough time has passed for organic and perishable materials to disappear: we actually have all of the fragile materials and ephemera, the entire contents of rooms and buildings, and memories and tales of the people who interact with them. Consequently, different research questions and methods are necessary. In summarising what makes contemporary archaeology distinct, Harrison and Schofield argue that:

… the role of the archaeology of the contemporary past is to start from the present and work backwards in time, being sensitive to the influence of the materiality of the past which constantly intervenes in the present. This approach runs counter to the modernist roots of professional archaeology, which takes for its frame an evolutionary perspective … that necessitates the search for origins in the deep past, and the analysis of material, social and economic change by tracking their progress forwards through time (p.283).

Despite this, I’m in two minds about what has been learnt from the numerous case studies discussed, such as the abandoned Soviet mining town Piramida in the Arctic, and the “excavation” of a mantelpiece. What do we know about ourselves that we didn’t know before? Are these results purely local, unable to be applied to any other time or place? Perhaps the most persuasive examples of contemporary archaeology are those with measurable impacts on the lives of the people they engage with. Schofield’s work on the abandoned red light street of Valletta in Malta played a part in bringing life back to the street, along with a social place for the bar and street workers who were officially denied existence. Several archaeological studies of homelessness (e.g. Zimmerman and Welch 2006) have had policy outcomes. Forensic, disaster and human rights archaeology can bear witness and make visible that which was suppressed, performing a therapeutic role, which emerges as strong theme in the book. Perhaps the book, and the studies it highlights, should be seen more as an indication of what could be done, an invitation to take up and pursue some of the themes and questions raised.

As a practitioner of contemporary archaeology myself, I suspect I will find myself constantly referring to After Modernity, for the clarity with which it expresses the theoretical underpinnings of the field and the complex relations to other disciplines. (It doesn’t hurt that Harrison and Schofield look on my own work favourably!). There is much to ponder, and much to inspire in this book, which provides a thoughtful and accessible introduction to the field. While its clear prose recommends it as a textbook, After Modernity is also enjoyable to read. I encourage you to follow the authors’ exhortation: “Stop reading this! … put the book down and look around you … think about what you see” (p.153). As they point out, we are all experts in the archaeology of us.


Augé, M. 1995 Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity. London: Verso.

Graves-Brown, P. 2000 Introduction. In P. Graves-Brown (ed.), Matter, Materiality and Modern Culture, pp.1-9. London: Routledge.

Zimmerman, L. and J. Welch 2006 Toward an archaeology of homelessness. Anthropology News 47(2):54-55.

If you are interested in purchasing this book, please click here to be taken to the publisher’s website.


Beyond a suggestive morphology: A study of point use in Wardaman Country, Northern Territory, Australia

WPP Experimental Artefacts TemplateJared Brindley

BA(Hons), School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, November 2011

Points in Australia have been interpreted using two models, either primarily as projectile tips (e.g. Mulvaney and Kamminga 1999) or as multifunctional implements used to mitigate the effects of environmental variation (Clarkson 2007; Hiscock 1994). In this thesis competing interpretations are assessed using macrofracture, use-wear and morphometric analysis of archaeological material from four sites, and ethnographic accounts from Wardaman Country in the Northern Territory. The results unequivocally show that Aboriginal people from this area used a small percentage of points as projectile tips while the majority were used for other purposes. These findings provide clear support for the model of points as multifunctional implements.


Clarkson, C. 2007 Lithics in the Land of the Lightning Brothers: The archaeology of Wardaman Country, Northern Territory. Terra Australis 25. Canberra: ANU E-Press.

Hiscock, P. 1994 Technological responses to risk in Holocene Australia. Journal of World Prehistory 8(3):267-292.

Mulvaney, J. and J. Kamminga 1999 Prehistory of Australia. Sydney: Allen and Unwin.

In the groove: An integrated functional analysis of arid zone millstones from Queensland

Birgitta Stephenson

‘In the Groove Analysis’ at work: Birgitta Stephenson and Andrew Gordon in the Pilbara (photograph courtesy of Birgitta Stephenson).

Birgitta Stephenson

BA(Hons), School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, October 2011

This study addresses the unresolved issue of millstone function within Australian archaeological contexts. A proposed subsistence shift leading to an increased reliance on seeds during the late Holocene currently underpins a number of Australian arid zone settlement and social models. The late Holocene appearance of millstones, which, according to Smith’s (1985) functional grindstone typology, represent a formal, specialised seed-grinding tool, is frequently cited as evidence of this shift. Yet this typological classification is challenged by others who recognise the millstone as a multipurpose grinder whose particular form relates to the end stage of a variable reduction process, rather than specialised function. Due to methodological constraints which include issues relating to grindstone morphology, sample size, ground fragment identification and perceived interpretative weaknesses associated with use-wear and residue analyses generally, millstone function currently remains equivocal.

To resolve these interpretative issues and the disparate views of millstone function, a sampling strategy based on extensive experimental work, portable digital microscopy and innovative biochemical staining, are integrated into recognised use-wear and residue analyses to empirically assess the function of 10 arid zone Holocene millstones from Queensland, Australia. The resulting expanded hierarchy of evidence allows for more informed assessments of past behaviour and has the potential to directly contribute towards the resolution of a number of seminal Australian arid zone debates. Additionally, these developed approaches have broader application for studies of in situ features across a variety of archaeological contexts.


Smith, M. 1985 Australian seedgrinding implements and Australian Pleistocene-age grindstones. The Beagle 2(1):23-38.

Review of ‘Exhuming Loss: Memory, Materiality and Mass Graves of the Spanish Civil War’ by Layla Renshaw

Review by Jon Prangnell

Until recently I was the Book Review Editor for Australian Archaeology and whenever books concerning the exhumation of mass graves came in for review I tended to send them to forensic archaeologists such as Richard Wright or Glenys McGowan, but even a cursory glance at this book showed me that it was of a different caste. Certainly there are the obligatory photographs of mass graves and gunshot wounds, and evocative images of material culture, such as spectacles and wedding rings, but there are not many of these and they are not the subject matter of the book. The book is about the political and power relationships enacted between the deceased, the expert investigators, the community members and the relatives of the deceased.

The preamble sets the tone for the book and contains an excellent literature review of recent exhumation projects of mass graves and genocide, and discusses issues related to post-conflict memory, judicial structures, representation, graves as sites of protest, the symbolism of exhumation and the different perceptions of the process for the forensic anthropologists and archaeologists, relatives of the dead, and members of the ‘Association for the Recuperation of Historical Memory’, a lead organisation in the Republican memory campaign.

The focus of the book is on exhumations of two mass grave sites from the Spanish Civil War. This war was fought between 1936 and 1939 between Franco’s Nationalists and the Republican (Popular Front) government (although, as Renshaw makes clear, the political reality was never as neat as that, with many right and left wing factions based on class, geography and ideology). Renshaw’s first field site at Villavieja was the scene of a 1936 killing of 22 local men who were members of the village council and the working men’s club (i.e. politically active working class men). The second field site at Las Campanans saw the execution of 46 men and their burial in a single mass grave in September 1936. Once again these men were politically active working class or liberal middle class villagers. It is not just the dead, though, who were the victims: female relatives were targets for specific, gendered forms of structured violence. There also was a concerted effort by the regime to impose an official memory of the war, resulting in a silence within republican families and the loss, or altering, of memory.

Exhuming Loss is an ethnography of the process of exhumation, identification and reburial at these two sites and presents the complexity of issues related to collective versus individual memory across a vast range of participants. Chapter 5 on the ‘Reburial and Enduring Materialisations of the Dead’ is probably the most fascinating part of the book, as Renshaw does an exemplary job of disentangling the multiple contestations surrounding debates concerning individual reinterment or collective burial and the memory politics to which the reburial ceremonies would be put. I particularly like Renshaw’s analysis of post-memory and the role of the archaeologists in the reburial ceremonies as they dramatically unveiled the scientific evidence that led to the identification of individuals, almost as a replacement for the eulogies of a standard burial ceremony. These issues are explored, along with the agency of the archaeologist, the agency of the deceased, the multiple remembered pasts and the creation of memory. Archaeologists should always be conscious of the role they play in memory making.

If you are interested in purchasing this book, please click here to be taken to the publisher’s website.

Geoarchaeology of artefact-bearing strata in Middle Stone Age Malawi

Amanda_Greaves TA AA74Amanda Greaves

BArts (Hons), School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, November 2011

Geoarchaeological analysis of artefact-bearing sediments from the Karonga District, northern Malawi, is applied to assess the region’s potential for site stratification and depositional integrity. Hypotheses about site formation and disturbance are tested across two Middle Stone Age (ca280 to 30 ka) sites: the Airport Site and the historically-significant ‘Sangoan’ elephant butchery site of Mwanganda’s Village. These sites consist of Plio-Pleistocene Chiwondo sediments overlain by gravelly Middle to late Pleistocene Chitimwe sediments forming alluvial terraces. Graphing of particle size distributions (PSA) indicates that fluctuating fluvial processes contributed to aggradation and erosion events at both sites. The Airport Site demonstrates several channel incising and migration events, producing contact points of variable age between Chiwondo and Chitimwe layers. The Mwanganda’s Village site reveals correlations in the upper terrace layers only (with one potential correlation via ICP-MS analysis in lower layers). PSA, combined with field observations, also indicates potential artefact displacement, but gravel distributions throughout the Chitimwe beds suggest that movement was likely confined to within individual stratigraphic layers. This restricted movement suggests depositional integrity. Although intra- and potentially intersite correlations were found, site formation processes have affected site stratification in some artefact-bearing locations. These site formation processes could indicate that the previously identified Sangoan tools at the Mwanganda’s Village elephant butchery site may represent another MSA industry.

Experiencing Kokoda: Constructing heritage through engagement with place

In this thesis I explore how consumers of heritage construct, conceptualise and create heritage values through personal experiences of place. The main aims of my thesis are to understand how people engage with heritage places, and to investigate the values that are created through an embodied engagement with heritage. To explore how people interact with tangible places, and the intangible heritage values associated with such places, this thesis examines the contemporary significance of the Kokoda Trail within a theoretical framework of a lived experience of heritage. I review the notion of engaging and experiencing heritage as a technique for expanding our understanding of non-Indigenous heritage to include aspects of spirituality, performance and memory. Heritage can be consumed, enacted, experienced and felt, and this takes place in both physical and cognitive realms of human activity.

My research includes an investigation of the ways in which people who trek the Kokoda Trail attach meaning to heritage. I use a constructivist paradigm and qualitative methods. This approach has allowed the trekkers’ voices to be the central focus for understanding what people do at cultural heritage sites and how they give value to their experiences. Through a theoretical framework of a lived experience of heritage, I demonstrate that non-physical dimensions of heritage are important elements for how people attach meaning to experiences and for how heritage values arise through those experiences. Through the exploration of the Kokoda Trail as an experience of cultural heritage, I was able to reveal that relationships between tangible places and intangible heritage are also enacted in non-Indigenous heritage settings. Cultural heritage is a part of people’s lived experiences, and a failure to recognise these non-physical dimensions of heritage denies people the opportunity to engage with and construct a range of values for heritage places. My thesis serves to fill a gap in cultural heritage management discourses on how heritage places become significant through present-day cultural processes and activities. I conclude that cultural significance is a judgement based on people’s relationships to place and that intangible qualities of heritage are important elements in how people create the living value of cultural heritage.

A terminal Pleistocene open site on the Hawkesbury River, Pitt Town, New South Wales

Salvage excavations of 25 m2 on a levee adjacent to the Hawkesbury River near Pitt Town, New South Wales, identified a 1.5 m deep sand body containing three discrete artefact assemblages, collectively designated as site PT12. Six optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) ages provide a chronology for the sand body, which began forming >50 ka. Peak artefact numbers for the two lowest assemblages were centred on ca 15 ka and ca 11 ka, and had Capertian (pre- Bondaian) characteristics. These included amorphous pebble tools and manuports of locally-derived river cobbles, which were probably exposed through entrenchment of the river during lower sea-levels. Comparisons with the KII rockshelter, approximately 20 km upstream, show a similar assemblage dated to ca 13 ka. The uppermost assemblage at PT12 was dominated by backed artefacts and composed primarily of silcrete. Reliable OSL ages indicate this assemblage may have been deposited in the early Holocene, with a proliferation of backed blades occurring ca 5 ka, although typological comparisons with other local assemblages suggest an age of <4.5 ka is more likely. Along with other studies, the site indicates the systematic exploitation of resources along the Hawkesbury River from ca 15 ka before an apparent abandonment of the region in the early/mid-Holocene. Late Holocene artefact numbers suggest a subdued reoccupation of the area following this hiatus.

An archaic face from the Woodstock Abydos Protected Reserve, northwestern Western Australia

This paper discusses an archaic face motif recently recorded from the inland Pilbara region of northwestern Australia. Although these motifs are well-known from other parts of arid and semi-arid Australia, very few have been previously reported from the inland Pilbara. Located at the Lukis Granites site in the Woodstock Abydos Protected Reserve (WAPR), the archaic face forms one small part of a much larger cultural complex. Using one of Mulvaney’s (2010) four classes of archaic faces recently identified from the Dampier Archipelago – the ‘Concentric’ style face – this find reinforces suggestions of a stylistic link between the Dampier, inland Pilbara and the Durba Hills (near the Canning Stock Route) areas. Building on recent observations of other shared graphic styles we highlight the potential of the inland Pilbara, and more specifically the WAPR, to contribute to our understanding of social networks and interregional interaction in both the Pilbara and further afield. We conclude by highlighting the importance of this motif in the context of arguing for better protection of the WAPR archaeological landscape.

‘To just be here’: Aboriginal relationships to, and management of, freshwater at Bummiera, North Stradbroke Island

Water is essential for life and an integral part of every environment. Today, as water becomes scarcer across the world, conflicts about ownership and management are surfacing with increasing frequency. Underlying these conflicts are complex constructions of the ‘meaning of water’. Aboriginal people have high stakes in water management decisions due to their social, cultural and spiritual relationships with water; however, relatively little is known about the traditional ecological knowledge of freshwater in Australia in comparison to land and sea. This means that little traditional ecological knowledge is sought or incorporated into mainstream management of freshwater.

This thesis explores Aboriginal relationships to a freshwater lake, Bummiera (Brown Lake) on North Stradbroke Island, southeastern Queensland. Bummiera is a significant place to the Gorenpul-Dandrabin people and especially the women for whom the lake has particular meaning. Relationships with the lake provide insights into a web of meanings linking water to ideas of creation and creator beings, ancestors, health, education and the importance of social and cultural activities for maintaining these relationships established through the Law and handed down in the Dreaming. The data demonstrate that Aboriginal traditional ecological knowledge of freshwater offers alternative perspectives on human-water relationships, challenging mainstream approaches to water management.

Global patterns and local contexts: An archaeological investigation of late nineteenth to early twentieth century gold mining settlements in the Upper Murchison, Western Australia

Kelly Fleming TA AA74Kelly Fleming

PhD, School of Social and Cultural Studies, University of Western Australia, June 2011

The gold rush/mining era of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was an event unprecedented in scale, with global repercussions. For this reason, the concept of a global, or international ‘mining culture’ was identified as potentially being a useful analytical tool when studying gold rush era sites due to the similar demographic, political and social conditions in goldmining communities, and their potential to be manifest in the archaeological record. This thesis evaluates that hypothesis by analysing, within its local, national and global perspective, data collected from three archaeological sites in the Upper Murchison region of Western Australia.

Findings suggest that, although a global perspective in archaeological analyses is important, when the local context and its impact on the archaeological record is taken into account, the interpretation of sites in terms of overarching global patterns becomes less tenable. It is undeniable that gold rush/mining era sites have comparable facets and general patterns. However, when these sites are approached from an agency-centred perspective that privileges the local rather than the global context, the complexities inherent in social relations, demography, and political and ideological conditions are more likely to be revealed.

Using this approach it is proposed that these Western Australian goldfield populations were adapting to accommodate their new environs and fundamental shifts in politics, ideology and social relations during this period, and that this phase of transformation is visible in the archaeological record. The largely homogenous material culture, little evidence for adherence to gentility and a burgeoning nationalistic sentiment suggests the sites’ occupants were pursuing a strategy of co-operation over competition in an environment where many relied on their neighbours for survival. As the conditions and events that resulted in the pursuit of this strategy are locally situated and context specific, attempts to explain them solely in terms of an overarching global ‘mining culture’ would be unsuccessful.

‘Water water everywhere’: Attempts at drought-proofing properties using surface water infrastructure in central western Queensland in the early 1880s

There is a long and continuing history in Australia of private enterprise and governments attempting to ‘drought-proof’ businesses and communities. In this paper we explore the strategies employed for this purpose in the late nineteenth century on the massive Wellshot Station, jewel in the crown of the Australian wool industry, in central western Queensland. We describe some of the technology used and its archaeological footprint. Questions reviewed include the purpose and operation of the water management facility, as well as when it was built and who constructed it. We consider the overall efficacy of this, and subsequent technologies, in sustaining the huge sheep flocks depastured on this property. We demonstrate that the highest rates of stocking on the property were achieved during the period when surface water, rather than groundwater, was harvested. We then turn our attention to the broader implications of this success, noting that the use of this technology on Wellshot, and throughout the region, resulted in massive profits being made by the pastoralists during the last few decades of the nineteenth century. These pastoralists deployed these financial resources for larger economic and industrial purposes, which in turn triggered unexpected responses that have had political ramifications through to the present day.

Differentiation of Biomarkers in Anatolian-Chalcolithic and Bronze Age Ceramic Residues using GC/MS

Elyse Beck TA AA 74 Manual Soxhlet Extraction

Manual soxhlet extraction (photograph courtesy of Elyse Beck).

Elyse M. Beck

BA(Hons), Department of Archaeology and Palaeoanthropology, University of New England, October 2011

The identification of archaeological biomarkers preserved in absorbed ceramic residues has revolutionised our understanding of past human foodways. This study re-evaluates previous characterisation work on ceramic residues from Western and Central Anatolia that found poor biomarker preservation. These findings contradict strong evidence of biomarkers reported elsewhere for comparable samples from these regions.

Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) analysis of ceramic residues from six samples revealed an unexpected abundance and diversity of biomarkers preserved. These biomarkers could be identified with a range of foodstuffs. Principal biomarkers preserved in Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age cooking pots indicate the use of terrestrial animal, milk and aromatic plant products. Contrastingly, Late Bronze Age pithoi were associated with the storage of wine and grain.

The study makes two substantive contributions to this area of research. It increases the range of natural products that have been recognised in the  archaeological record via biomarker analyses. Accompanying this finding was a novel application of portable X-Ray Fluorescence (pXRF) that has been flagged as a rapid, non-destructive means of screening the residue absorption potential of archaeological ceramics.

Future biomarker analyses on larger sample populations of Chalcolithic and Bronze Age ceramics from Central Anatolia are likely to produce new and valuable insights into foodways and the study of human activity.

Tools or tucker? Developing methods for identifying utilised Polymesoda (Geloina) erosa (Bivalvia: Corbiculidae) shell valves

Matthew Harris TA AA74Matthew Harris

BA(Hons), School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, October 2011

In contrast to the robust analytical frameworks developed for stone tool identification, there is at present a paucity of research addressing the identification of expedient shell tools in archaeological contexts. The development of analytical frameworks to identify expedient shell tools would enhance archaeological understandings of coastal economies in Australia and abroad. The identification of shell tools requires a holistic approach that considers the life cycle of the shell as a component of the mollusc as a living organism, and the shell as a tool. Identification of shell tools also requires detailed consideration of pre- and post-mortem processes of alteration post-depositional processes, including environmental and taphonomic sources of modification.

Experimentally derived expedient shell tools and archaeologically recovered samples were investigated to ascertain diagnostic differences between anthropogenically and naturally modified shell valves. By utilising a number of complementary analyses at different scales (macroscopic and microscopic), a robust framework for the identification of expedient bivalve tools was created. Results indicate that it is possible to differentiate between those shell valves which were utilised, and those which were not. A case study of archaeological shell tools from Princess Charlotte Bay, Cape York, northeast Queensland, has shown that these methods can be successfully applied to archaeological samples.

Limits of control: The archaeology of socio-political communities on the rural margins – a case study from Australia

Conventional approaches to colonial landscapes are generally descriptive and both downplay the social implications of administrative control in the formation of the rural cultural landscape, and the eighteenth century antecedents for the interplay between authority and rural populations. They also typically utilise concepts that are inherently difficult to adapt to archaeological investigation. In this study I adopt interpretative frameworks derived from the work of Foucault in the social sciences and Pauketat in anthropological archaeology to specifically counter these deficiencies in undertaking an archaeological analysis of cultural landscapes of late nineteenth and early twentieth century rural Australia. Both Foucault and Pauketat develop conceptual frameworks that are rooted in observable phenomena that as such are amenable to archaeological analysis.

For this study, discipline and surveillance are proposed as core forces in the formation of the Australian rural cultural landscape. An effect of rapid and somewhat arbitrary rural land subdivision in the mid-nineteenth century was the creation of new marginal spaces. Such radical transformations in land parcelisation methodologies and socio-political structures that occurred in my study region on the northern tablelands of New South Wales, are proposed as a paradigmatic exemplar of European colonial era settlement patterns with widespread applicability.

Finders keepers: An examination of the impact of diver interaction with shipwrecks as revealed by the 1993 amnesty collections

Dunbar ceramic jar_RodriguesJ

Ceramic jar recovered by a diver from the Dunbar (1857) wreck in Sydney (photo courtesy of Jennifer Rodrigues).

Finders keepers: An examination of the impact of diver interaction with shipwrecks as revealed by the 1993 amnesty collections

Jennifer Rodrigues

PhD, School of Social and Cultural Studies, University of Western Australia, June 2011

Despite the significant volume of research carried out on private collecting behaviour and the theories that underpin this phenomenon, the nature and pattern of collecting behaviour relating to shipwreck sites have not been the focus of previous studies. The culture surrounding wreck diving and souvenir hunting in Australia prior to the enactment of the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 was such that there was little or no restriction on what divers felt they could do to shipwrecks, and what or how much material they removed. As a result, since the 1950s (though in some cases earlier), most wrecks off Australia’s coast that were known to divers suffered varying degrees of impact from souvenir hunting and scrap metal collecting activities. These included the use of explosives, dredging and tools (e.g. hacksaw, crowbar, hammer, chisel) to dislodge or loosen material for recovery. Consequently, a portion of Australia’s submerged archaeological evidence was lost into private hands. What proportion, and what material, was unknown to those tasked with the responsibility of managing and preserving this resource.

In 1993 a nationwide historic shipwrecks amnesty was announced in Australia to encourage divers, collectors and others to declare their historic shipwreck relics for documenting and enhancing information on Australia’s maritime heritage. This study analysed this largely unrecognised and underutilised evidence to determine the degree of impact that private collecting has had on Australian shipwrecks, and the extent to which interpretation has been affected by this behaviour. The results were then used to explore the applicability of existing theories about collecting behaviour, such as the criteria applied to adding objects to collections, the different types of collecting (e.g. collecting tangible objects versus collecting of experiences, and collecting rare or mundane objects driven by different personal motivations), changes in collecting behaviour through time due to personal circumstances, and the fate of private collections since acquisition.

Other important outcomes of this study are a detailed and critical analysis of Australia’s shipwrecks amnesty process, its effectiveness in bringing to light private collections, and the legal and practical implications for Australian maritime heritage management as a result of the amnesty. As well, there are now availabile two (relational) databases resulting from this work: the National Amnesty Artefact Database and the National Amnesty Shipwreck Database.

Review of ‘Digging Up a Past’ by John Mulvaney

Review by Bruno David

It is rare in Australia to be able to read the book-length autobiography of one’s mentor. In itself this adds a very personal dimension to a book’s reading. But in Digging Up a Past, this experience is multiplied by the fact that the author, Professor Mulvaney, was the one to instil a hitherto unparalleled level of professionalism to Australian archaeological field and ethical practice. This book thus represents a rare insight into the origins of modern professional archaeological practice in Australia (‘where we come from’) as informed by the giant on whose shoulders we all stand, from the personal experiences and viewpoint of the very man who made it all possible.

To review an autobiography is to reflect on the personal account of someone else’s life: unless there are ethical issues to stand to account, the review of an autobiography needs to take in rather than judge that person’s self-representation and version of events as personal experiences and values. This is an easy task to do in this case, partly because Mulvaney’s words come from someone renowned for his straight-talking, and partly because he himself has, and continues to, set the very highest standards of ethical practice. In short, Mulvaney is renowned for ‘talking the talk’ and ‘walking the walk’: he is unmatched for speaking and writing in clear language, for speaking to social issues when required, and for fighting various causes without mixing words while at the same time deeply understanding the political realities of the situation at hand. And here in this book we have these two strands intermixed: a personal record of those aspects of life that Mulvaney has chosen to share with the world, as a ‘family history’ for his own kin; and a setting straight of the record for the sake of the discipline and the broader public and political field in which he has been involved all his professional working life. This book is a balancing act between these two aims – the personal and the public – but then again so are all published autobiographies. What we are left with after reading the last page is a sense of the social, political and archaeological scene starting around WWII to the present day, focusing especially on the discipline’s key professional formative years of the 1960s to the late 1980s.

Digging Up a Past has 18 chapters: 1. A country youth; 2. RAAF service; 3. History recollected, 1946-51; 4. An archaeologist abroad, 1951-53; 5. Dawn of Australian archaeology, 1954-64; 6. Adventures in archaeology, 1965-69; 7. Globetrotting; 8. 1971-76 in retrospect; 9. Museums and heritage; 10. An English interlude 1976-77; 11. A surfeit of committees; 12. A Harvard year, 1984-85; 13. A rewarding retirement, 1986-89; 14. The Australian Academy of the Humanities; 15. Conferences and travel; 16. Confrontations; 17. Years with Jean, 1995-2004; 18. Coda – archaeological retrospect.

My friend and professional colleague Ian McNiven is wont to say to his friends, colleagues and students that it is our professional and ethical responsibility as archaeologists to familiarise ourselves deeply with our disciplinary history, not simply so that we don’t just re-invent the wheel or learn from our mistakes, but, just as importantly, as a way of paying due justice and respect to our elders in whose footsteps we stand – a view that I entirely agree with. Professor Mulvaney, technically retired yet still a very active elder of our discipline, gives us numerous examples in this book of the kinds of practical hurdles a professional archaeologist can be expected to face in the course of their professional lives, and it is only by ‘taking the bull by the horns’, rather than shunning seemingly unsurpassable political situations, that the sought after social (and archaeological, as a social practice with social outcomes) benefits can arise. I fully recommend this book to all involved in Australian archaeology in any way and, paradoxically at a time when the available literature has outgrown available reading time, particularly recommend it as required reading for undergraduate students intending to become professional archaeologists in Australia. I imagine and hope that my recommendations are not needed for those of us who are personal friends or colleagues or students of Professor Mulvaney’s.

If you are interested in purchasing this book, please click here to be taken to the publisher’s website.

This little piggy: The effects of post-mortem fire on pig skulls with perimortem blunt force trauma

Frances Dawson

Cremated human and animal remains are commonly found both in the archaeological record and the forensic setting. Arguably the most common problem associated with burnt bone is fragmentation and it is often unclear whether the bone was fragmented as a result of the fire or was caused by prior trauma. The question then arises if perimortem blunt force trauma can be differentiated from post-mortem fragmentation caused by fire. To address this question a cremation experiment was conducted on 44 pig heads exhibiting perimortem blunt force trauma. Comparisons were made between fresh or “fleshed” (group A) and decomposed (group B) remains, and between fire exposure for two hours (groups A1 and B1) versus four hours (groups A2 and B2). The results show that the duration of burning affects the trauma sites much more than the state of the bone when burned (i.e. fleshed versus decomposed). Experiments show that from a forensic perspective, the presence of flesh aids in establishing the duration of the fire but does not significantly change the shape or size of the trauma sites themselves. These results also have implications for archaeological bone, both in cases where remains have been purposefully burned prior to deposition (cremation), and also those where they have been incidentally burned after deposition.

Learning about landscape: Archaeology of water management in colonial Victoria

Landscape learning provides a model for examining how colonists in Australia came to terms with the landscape, positioning the environment at the centre of investigations into settler activity. The successful management of water was crucial in the colonising process, and settlers rapidly developed a sharp awareness of climate, soils and topography in their manipulation of environmental resources. Upon learning about climatic variability they built dams, races, reservoirs and other features to capture, store and divert water, which have left extensive archaeological traces. This paper explores the archaeological remains associated with water use on the goldfields of Victoria’s central highlands, and the ways in which settlers learned the possibilities and limitations of natural landscapes.

Port Augusta hearth site dated to 40,000 years

An Aboriginal hearth near Port Augusta has been dated to ca 40,000 years old, making it the oldest known site in South Australia (SA). It is also one of only two sites in southern Australia and one of only seven locations in Australia to demonstrate such antiquity (cf. David et al. 2011; O’Connor and Veth 2006). Since first observing the hearth in 2010, it has been entirely eroded by natural processes. This paper describes the find and confirms the urgent need for (1) systematic archaeological and palaeoecological research on the Quaternary dunes in this region, and (2) conservation and protection of these fragile open sites.

Rock art and modified tree tracings digitisation: Background, sites, issues and access


Style, Space and Social Interaction: An Analysis of the Rock Art on Middle Park Station, Northwest Queensland

This thesis investigates the previously undescribed rock art of Middle Park Station in northwest Queensland. Queensland rock art has been intensively studied over the past four decades, leading to the identification of several distinct art ‘provinces’: central Queensland, Mt Isa, the northern Queensland highlands and Cape York Peninsula. The Middle Park study area is centrally located between these art provinces, and is also situated in an area of ethnographically documented trade routes, making it an ideal setting in which to explore themes such as territoriality, social interaction and ideas exchange. This is achieved through characterisation of the Middle Park rock art assemblage, including analysis of motifs, techniques and their frequencies, and subsequent comparison with those of surrounding regions.

Using GIS to assess site locations, and motif and technique frequencies, a spatial-stylistic approach was adopted at both local and regional levels to identify patterning within the landscape. Application of the principles of the information exchange theory of style then allowed conclusions to be drawn from this data regarding territorial behaviour and inter-group interaction. It was argued that, despite superficial stylistic similarities, the northern Queensland highlands, of which Middle Park is a part, cannot be considered merely an extension of the Central Queensland Province, owing to distinctly different motif ranges and technique frequencies. Further, owing to distinct stylistic and technical disparities within their rock art assemblages, it was deemed highly unlikely that there was contact with groups from the adjacent Cape York or Mt Isa regions.

Analysis of material culture and hand variations present within the Middle Park rock art assemblage was also undertaken to complement ethnographic information and extend our knowledge of traditional lifeways. A range of boomerangs, shields, spear throwers and digging sticks were identified, and through ethnographic analogy it was concluded that the majority of artefacts depicted were associated with hunting or fighting. Hand stencil variations were also present, though examination indicates that suggestions by others that they represent sign language among groups in the Middle Park area as recorded ethnographically cannot be supported. Closer consideration of such motifs using digital image enhancement indicated that people bearing cultural hand mutilations were present in the study area.

To See With New Eyes: A Phenomenological Investigation of a Contact Landscape at the Weipa ‘Twenty Mile’ Mission, Northwestern Cape York Peninsula, Queensland

This thesis presents the results of a phenomenological analysis of a contact landscape at the Weipa Mission in Weipa, Cape York Peninsula, Queensland. Many archaeological studies of contact have framed relations and experiences in terms of domination and passivity. In response, later studies have focused on the innovation, agency, resistance and accommodation of Indigenous people through ethnographic, landscape and material culture studies. This shift towards an archaeology of engagement brings to light the active participation of both cultures in social interaction.

Phenomenology serves as an alternative framework which deconstructs the inequality implicit in conceptions of contact relations by attempting to understand these experiences through the body’s mediation of the contact landscape. The potential of phenomenology to contribute to contact archaeology was tested at Weipa Mission. To do this, archaeological survey was carried out to map the spatial arrangement of the site and mission diaries were analysed for records of people and events occurring within the landscape. These records were plotted into the map generated by the survey using GIS, which modelled the relationship between spatiality, sensuality, social practices and the landscape. These maps also acted as a reference point from which phenomenological recreations of past Indigenous experiences of space were made, complemented by the mission diaries and historical photographs. This enabled a phenomenological exploration of how the landscape was sensuously perceived by the Indigenous inhabitants of the Mission.

Analysis showed that many experiences of Mission places were common to all inhabitants as dictated by the ideological and social role they played in the life of Weipa Mission. However, the phenomenological reconstructions of sensory experience, based on the events narrated in the mission diaries, suggest a wide scope of diverse and individualistic experiences which were deeply personal. This study shows that post-contact relations at the Weipa Mission were much more interactive and dynamic than can be revealed using a domination and resistance model, and that phenomenology has great potential for exploring past human behaviours in historical archaeological contexts.

Mining the Landscape: Finding the Social in the Industrial through an Archaeology of the Landscapes of Mount Shamrock

In this thesis I offer a fresh approach to the historical archaeology of industry, using landscape as a framework for the investigation of a mining settlement. This approach marries the study of the social with the industrial reality of mining towns, acknowledging the role of landscape in framing people’s understanding of their everyday world. In particular, I examine how people made – created, constructed and understood – their landscape in the gold mining town of Mount Shamrock, in Queensland, Australia, settled in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Landscape as a theoretical perspective provides a means of articulating how people understood the place in which they lived and worked. Although landscape studies have been undertaken in historical archaeology, they have generally not extended to a holistic view that includes the construction and embedding of meaning in landscape. Instead, landscape studies in historical archaeology have tended to limit analyses to the structuring of a landscape, not taking into account the dialectic of creating meaning in and taking meaning from the landscape. Further, in historical archaeology as a whole and in Australia in particular, there is frequently a false dichotomy in the way industrial towns are approached with the separation of industry and settlement.

This study examines social influences in the establishment and layout of Mount Shamrock, identifying significant elements in the construction of the physical and social landscape of the residents. I also consider how people created landscapes of meaning and attachment as they settled in the area and how this meaning was embedded in the landscape through movement, narrative and experiences. The influence of technologies on the social landscape the residents constructed and lived in is analysed and conversely social influences on the way mining and processing were carried out.

Archaeological survey, historical documentation, maps, photographs and experiential reading were used to examine the remnants of Mount Shamrock. I argue that there was a constructed landscape at Mount Shamrock with a degree of structuring, evidenced by spatial arrangement and location of particular features in the landscape. People’s social relationships were embedded in landscape, for example with kinship networks represented in the proximity of properties. However, there was also evidence of social mobility within the social landscape of the settlement, the context of Mount Shamrock as a goldmining town, situated in nineteenth century Queensland facilitating that mobility.

Residents initially perceived their landscape as wilderness – quickly transforming the landscape into something they could know and understand. They also regarded the landscape as a resource – they conceptualised it as such, they promoted it that way and they structured it that way – as a mining landscape that was experienced in everyday activity and even through sensory perceptions. The influence of technology on the social hierarchy of Mount Shamrock was clear; technology was integral to how the residents operated and how they perceived the social landscape. Further, analysis also demonstrated the role social influences played in the adoption of particular types of technology.

The analysis of the landscapes of Mount Shamrock shows both the applicability of a landscape framework to historical archaeology and the versatility and depth of interpretation that can be gained by considering landscapes as a whole. Further, it is evident that industry and settlement are integrally linked, and all part of a meaningful and engaged landscape. At Mount Shamrock, gold mining was all pervasive in people’s perceptions of the landscape, part of the lived experience and it is clear that the ‘social’ of everyday life was indeed to be found in the ‘industrial’.

Unveiling Rock Art Images: A Pilot Project Employing a Geophysical Technique to Detect Magnetic Signatures

The use of geophysical techniques in archaeology has become widespread, however these methods have rarely been applied to rock art research. There is a need to record and document rock art images as they face deterioration from environmental, industrial and human impacts. This project trials the use of a magnetic susceptibility (MS) meter to non-invasively detect and spatially resolve ochre rock art images. Ochre is frequently used in rock art production and previous research in other contexts has shown that it emits a MS signature due to its inherent magnetic characteristics. These ochre images can be hidden behind silica or carbonate crusts or may deteriorate over time limiting their visibility. The rock art images that lie behind such crusts are likely to be protected from weathering and are amenable to dating using such techniques as uranium-series and radiocarbon accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS).

This research demonstrates that, if present in sufficient abundance, red ochre can be imaged and spatially resolved with a MS meter when applied to a rock face in a variety of geological environments. The type of binder used, pre-application heating or the rock type does not appear to have a significant effect on the viability of the technique. More important to the success of a survey is the equipment setting, spatial resolution of the survey and the use of a correction to control instrument drift. Imaging ochre beneath a proxy crust was trialled without success; however this is attributed to poor survey design rather than a fundamental problem with the technique. The success of this trial demonstrates the validity of continuing investigations in the emerging field of rock art geophysics and highlights the importance of future trials on field sites.

Betwixt the Male and Female Quarters: Engendering the Historical Archaeology of the Peel Island Lazaret


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.