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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).


‘The Plant for the Heart Grows in Magan …’: Redefining southeastern Arabia’s role in ancient western Asia


Dan T. Potts


The archaeological investigation of the four great riverine civilisations of the Old World—Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley and Shang China—has been conducted on a scale which undeniably dwarfs research in the intervening areas of the Asian landmass. Yet attempts to understand the ancient world of Asia which are narrowly pre-occupied with these so-called core areas, and those which, in the newer jargon, focus on the articulation of so-called centres with their peripheries, are, in my opinion, doomed from the outset to failure. The study of Civilisation with a capital C, like the study of centres and peripheries, fails to acknowledge the fact that ancient Asia was always a mosaic of interlocking cultures, each important in its own right, and an understanding of each is necessary if are to move beyond a simplistic, reductionist view of the past and confront the complexity of this part of the world in antiquity.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Inter-regional variation in glass bottle reduction and technology in the Northern Territory

Gerard Niemoeller and Daryl Guse


Contact material was discovered during a cultural resource management (CRM) artefact collection in the Pine Creek region in July 1998. To date, no contact period research has been done in this region. Gold mining began in the region in 1872, and was most prolific during the periods 1873–1886, 1894–1898 and in the 1930s. Encounters between Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures ensued and, while aggressive contact was generally recorded, shifts in Aboriginal technology are largely absent from ethnohistoric records. This paper contributes information about glass technology in northern Australia.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Pecked ‘cup and ring marks’ from the New South Wales south coast—art or implements?

Phillip Boot


Cobble sized rocks bearing pecked circle motifs similar to British Neolithic cup-and-ring marks (e.g. Bahn 1992:122; Walker 1977:452–69) have been found at four sites on the NSW south coast. Pecked circles at Kangaroo Valley and Hidden Valley rockshelter sites near Nowra have been described only briefly and no details other than their locations within the sites are available (Kelvin Officer pers. comm. 1993). Those at two other sites, a sandstone rockshelter, Gnatalia Creek 3 (GC 3) near Wandandian, south of Nowra, and an open artefact scatter, Spring Place 2 (SP 2) at Bingi near Moruya have been recorded in detail (Boot 1993:59, 1994:334, 1995:2–3, 1997:182; Officer 1987). The largest population of ‘cup and ring marks’ is at GC 3, where nine cobbles bearing 38 ‘cup and ring marks’ have been recorded. Only one cobble, bearing two ‘cup and ring marks’ has been found at SP 2.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

A resin-hafted stone implement from the middle Palmer River catchment, central Australia

The resin hafted implement (published in Australian Archaeology 48:45).

The resin hafted implement (published in Australian Archaeology 48:45).

Peter Thorley


A rare implement with an intact resin haft was recovered from the upper levels of the deposit from Amngu Rockshelter during excavations in 1996. Arnngu is a sandstone shelter on the edge of a large floodout plain on the middle Palmer River. The hafted implement overlies a modem date from the middle of the deposit (Beta-1 06998) and a basal date of 1420±100 (Beta-96376) near bedrock.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Australian excavations at Marki, Cyprus

Jenny Webb examining some of the finds from Cyprus.

Jenny Webb examining some of the finds from Cyprus.

David Frankel


From November 1998 to January 1999 the Australian Cyprus Expedition continued work at the Early to Middle Bronze Age settlement of Marki Alonia in central Cyprus. Dr Jenny Webb and I were once again fortunate in having an enthusiastic and talented team of students from five Australian universities—over 100 students from around the country have now participated in this project.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Post-European Aboriginal occupation of the southern Curtis Coast, central Queensland

Starch grains (published in Australian Archaeology 48:42).

Starch grains (published in Australian Archaeology 48:42).

Sean Ulm, Tony Eales and Sarah L’Estrange


During test excavation of the Ironbark Site Complex under the auspices of the Southern Curtis Coast Regional Archaeological Project (a sub-project of the Gooreng Gooreng Cultural Heritage Project), seven bottle glass fragments were recovered from surface deposits associated with extensive shell midden and quarried stone deposits (Reid 1998). In the absence of obvious signs of intentional modification of the glass, the assemblage was subject to systematic inspection for use-wear and residues.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Bowen Basin Aboriginal cultural heritage project: A strategic regional approach for research and management

Luke Godwin, Mike J. Morwood, S. L’Oste-Brown and A. Dale


Map showing towns and mines in the Bowen Basin.

Map showing towns and mines in the Bowen Basin.

There is a growing concern at the capacity of both Impact Assessment (IA) and land use planning processes to identify significant environmental values (both cultural and natural) and proffer means by which impacts on these from large scale development can be mitigated. Central to this is the recognition that the IA process is largely a reactive one, responding to each development in isolation. Thus, there is limited ability to assess the incremental and synergetic effects of developments on a region’s cultural heritage.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Dog’s dinner? Archaeological evidence for meat consumption on Chinese historic sites in the Pine Creek region

Scott Mitchell


Map of the study area (published in Australian Archaeology 48:23).

Map of the study area (published in Australian Archaeology 48:23).

Historians have lamented the scope and quality of the documentary evidence which is available concerning early Chinese activities in the Northern Territory (e.g. Bell 1989:4; Giese 1995:24; Jones 1990:xi; Tamblyn 1990:74). Thousands of Chinese sojourners flocked to the gold fields in the Pine Creek region of the Northern Territory, 200 km south of Darwin, during the 1870s and 1880s. Although they formed most of the non-Aboriginal population of the Territory until 1911, virtually all of the written records of their activities were made by Europeans (Mitchell 1995a:6–7). Those who wrote these accounts were typically apathetic, patronising or more frequently openly hostile to the Chinese. As a result, the calibre of written evidence concerning a whole range of Chinese activities, including their dietary practices, is indifferent at best.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Investigating relationships between motif forms, techniques and rock surfaces in north Australian rock art

Bruno David, Melita Lecole, Harry Lourandos, Anthony Baglioni Jr and Josephine Flood


Painted anthropomorphs in Garnawala 1 (published in Australian Archaeology 48:17).

Painted anthropomorphs in Garnawala 1 (published in Australian Archaeology 48:17).

As with many other parts of the world, rock art research has blossomed in Australia since the mid-1980s. There are undoubtedly many reasons for this, including the formation of new national and international rock art organisations and a growing sense of confidence in the archaeological ability to characterise rock art practices in both space and time (these two trends are presumably related). Until recently many archaeologists tended largely to ignore rock art as it could not easily be dated, and therefore could not easily be situated within regional models of prehistory. The advent of AMS radiocarbon dating on tiny amounts of carbon, such as is sometimes available in charcoal drawings, organic binders contained within pigments, and stratified oxalates located either immediately beneath or above rock art, changed this by offering archaeologists a means by which the antiquity of artistic expressions could realistically be investigated (e.g. Ilger et al. 1995, 1996; Van de Merwe et al. 1987; Watchman 1993; Watchman and Cole 1993; but see McDonald et al. 1990).

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Types of explanation in maritime archaeology: The case of the SS Xantho

Peter Veth and Michael McCarthy


The wreck of the SS Xantho.

The wreck of the SS Xantho.

The central aim of this paper is to open up debate about different theoretical approaches which can be used to provide explanations in maritime archaeology (see recent papers in Underwater Archaeology 1996, 1997). We use the example of the wreck of the iron steamship SS Xantho (1848–72) to explore the utility of processual and postprocessual approaches, as commonly used in terrestrial archaeology (cf. Lamberg-Karlovsky 1989; Shanks and Tilley 1992), to provide ‘explanations’ in maritime archaeology. While fully acknowledging the need for, and role of, historical particularist perspectives in any form of archaeology (e.g. Bass 1983), in this paper we argue that maritime archaeology may be well served by research which aims to create both general and predictive models about nautical behaviour (i.e. the functional/ systemic processual approach) and to characterise the motivation and meaning behind strategies adopted by maritime societies and individuals (i.e. a critical/ deconstructionist postprocessual approach) (cf. Carrell 1990; Gould 1983a, 1983b; Hodder 1991; Trigger 1991; Watson 1983).

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

A shell midden at Clybucca, near Kempsey, New South Wales

Stratigraphic section (published in Australian Archaeology 48:2).

Stratigraphic section of Clybucca 3 (published in Australian Archaeology 48:2).

Graham Knuckey


This paper reports on Graham Connah’s 1972 excavations at Clybucca, near Kempsey in northern New South Wales (Fig. 1). This has involved bringing together aspects of three unpublished BA(Hons) theses that resulted from those excavations, as well as re-examining the field records and reanalysing aspects of the excavated data. Analysis of Clybucca 3 suggests a shift in the subsistence strategy of the prehistoric inhabitants away from an economy based on shellfish toward one based on a broader range of resources available from an estuarine and a terrestrial environment. In addition, this paper looks at why subsistence strategies might have changed and discusses the Clybucca 3 data in light of two explanations for mid-Holocene changes of this sort currently found in the literature.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Thesis abstract ‘An Archaeological Approach to Quarry Studies: A Technological Investigations of the Ironbark Site Complex, Southern Curtis Coast, Australia’


Jill Reid

BA(Hons), Department of Anthropology and Sociology, University of Queensland, St Lucia, October 1998

This thesis presents the results of an analysis of a sample of the lithic material recovered from the Ironbark Site Complex, located on the southern Curtis Coast, central Queensland, excavated under the auspices of the Gooreng Gooreng Cultural Heritage Project. The aim of the study was to determine a possible site function for the complex. This was achieved through a combination of technological and descriptive investigation techniques. I demonstrate that a level of standardisation of the reduction sequence is evident at the site in several technological and descriptive indices. Based on this evidence, a possible use of the site was established as the manufacture of edge-ground axes. This evidence is then evaluated in terms of exchange and social significance and more generally in terms of archaeological approaches to quarry studies.

Thesis abstract ‘Fitting Pictures and Stories: A Study of Archaeology as a Resource’

George Susino

BA(Hons), School of Archaeology, Classics and Ancient History, University of Sydney, Sydney, October 1996

Since the 1960s the political arena and Australian society have increased recognition of Aboriginal culture and tradition. The Australian Government has accepted and adopted several United Nations resolutions and conventions which protect the rights of indigenous peoples. However, this recognition of cultural and social differentiation does not extend to the ownership of cultural material. In 1996, when this research was conducted, Aboriginal heritage legislation in New South Wales therefore did not reflect the wishes and needs of Aboriginal communities.

This thesis is based upon the reported experiences of several Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal heritage professionals who work in New South Wales. Tillett (1996) identified the crux of the argument through discourse with the Aboriginal staff of New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service. He reported that Aboriginal people identify all aspects of their culture and tradition as living and unique, whereas the institutionalised, archaeological and bureaucratic understanding separates and alienates the past from the present.

The Aboriginal people interviewed believe that Aboriginal culture has to reject archaeology, but not reject the entire methodology. The informants’ recognise that Aboriginal cultural sites must be managed by Aboriginal people. This is almost never mentioned in discussions of practical management problems, although the informants directed the relevant institutions towards the resolution of these issues. The requirements of management are clearly subservient to those of ownership and control. Perhaps management discussions are really about ownership and control. It is basically impossible for Aboriginal people to address problems of heritage management until they have control and ownership recognition. The Aboriginal perspective calls for a revision of the current situation. One conclusion drawn by this study is that there is a paramount need for changes in legislation to further facilitate Aboriginal ownership and control of their cultural material. Archaeology as a resource has no value to Aboriginal communities, beyond the use of practical field survey techniques. The informants believe that their priority is cultural renaissance, and archaeology can help this process.


Tillett, G. 1996 NPWS (NSW) Aboriginal Staff. National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW), Sydney (Internal document, quoted with permission).


Thesis abstract ‘Aboriginal Rock Engravings of the Panaramitee Hills, South Australia’

Dave Mott

BA(Hons), Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, Adelaide, October 1998

A great deal of rock art in the Panaramitee region has been described in detail. The focus of this thesis was to take one step further and analyse the data that is recorded in an archaeologically useful fashion. By investigating the rock art complex at the Panaramitee Hills engraving site from an archaeological approach I attempted to establish whether there is an existence of meaningfully placed motifs. Due to the lack of ethnographic evidence this thesis steers away from interpretive conjecture regarding the meaning of the art and attempts to find commonalities in the placement of the art in relation to its geographic context and to other bodies of rock art in the area.

The complete survey of all natural and cultural features of the landscape will allow a formal analysis of any spatial patterning of the art that may be present over a wide area. The fieldwork involved the tracing of motifs onto large sheets of polythene plastic. This method enabled a swift recording of the engravings ensuring minimal disturbance to the sites that are considerably exfoliated due to environmental erosion. This method of recording also enabled the spatial patterning of the motifs at each separate outcrop to be analysed efficiently away from the site. By counting and measuring motif types, identifying engraved tracks of certain animal species and by noting the direction certain motifs are situated in the landscape, the analysis will contribute to the question of whether a strictly archaeological approach can shed any light as to the level of significance of certain engravings and common associations between engravings.

The analysis of the superimposition of motifs will decipher whether there were different phases of artistic activity or alternatively, one period of engraving activity. The depth of patination over the motifs and the degree of weathering different motifs have been exposed too should give an approximate indication of their sequence of execution.

The final copy of this thesis will be presented to the Ngadjuri Peoples Council who kindly assisted in its formulation. The Department of State Aboriginal Affairs will also receive a copy and the site cards for the Panaramitee Hills complex of engravings will be filled out completing the recording of all known art sites in the Panaramitee region.

Thesis abstract ‘Painted Relationships: An Archaeological Analysis of a Distinctive Anthropomorphic Rock Art Motif in Northwest Central Queensland’

June Ross

BA(Hons), Department of Archaeology and Palaeoanthropology, University of New England, Armidale, March 1997

This thesis presents a detailed description of a painted rock art assemblage focussed on a distinctive anthropomorphic motif from 60 sites in the Leichhardt, Argylla and Selwyn Ranges of the northwest Queensland highlands. The anthropomorphic motif was found to occur in two different but standardised forms, each located in different geographic contexts. The contexts and discrete distribution of this motif suggests that it may have been used to signal group identify. The standardisation of its form and its differentiation from the art of neighbouring areas further suggests that its use may have been related to a process of boundary maintenance.


The creation of a distinctive art style as a mechanism for maintaining group boundaries may have arisen from an increased need to negotiate predictable social interactions with other groups as the result of an increase in widespread trade throughout the Lake Eyre Basin during the last one thousand years. In particular, the large scale manufacture of axes from quarries in the study region provided the trading network with a valued economic, social and ritual resource. The art would have reaffirmed the affiliation of the inhabitants of the region to each other, while at the same time marking out their territory, thereby governing the movements or behaviour of outsiders. I suggest that the artist utilised the art system as a mechanism to achieve the desired social outcome, while the viewer responded to the art by modifying their behaviour in some manner. Used in this way, art can be a powerful social tool which provides a means to reinforce social values, manipulate human behaviour and bring about predictable social interaction.

Thesis abstract ‘The Power of Gender’

Cherrie De Leiuen

BA(Hons), Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, Adelaide, October 1998

Little, if any, research has been directed into the roles and presence of Indigenous women on the whaling and sealing sites which operated last century in the Southern Pacific. The whaling and sealing industries and associated sites have been perceived to be a largely male domain, but are often the point of contact between black and white/male and female in Australia. Often, Indigenous women lived with non-Indigenous men at whaling stations. There is a gap in the archaeology of these industries and particularly in the area of the role of women. A complete picture of these industries cannot be seen by archaeologists until the nature of contact and occupation of such sites are explored and this involves issues relating to the trade and labour of these Indigenous women who were at these sites. This study, a feminist approach to interpretation of the archaeological record, will illuminate the presence of individuals and explore the possibilities for a greater visibility for women at both a local and regional scale.

This research determined some of the ways in which gender can be incorporated into archaeological methodologies to identify indigenous women at contact sites. An integrated approach to the archaeology of gender has the potential to produce more holistic interpretations of the past. A feminist approach has been debated, dismissed and practised for the past three decades but as Conkey and Gero (1997) point out, there is not ‘a shared orientation to the study of gender, or a single method for studying gender, or, perhaps more problematically, even a commonly held body of theory and data about gender’. How do we ‘do’ archaeology as feminists? What is gender and how does it manifest in the archaeological record? What does power have to do with the identification of gender on sites? The answers to these questions involve contemporary archaeological practice and prevailing perceptions as to what constitutes gender, and how these are extrapolated to form our reading of the past. The interpretation of what constitutes a ‘gendered’ artefact was explored, explicitly critiquing material culture in terms of both genders, and ways of changing paradigms.

Thesis abstract ‘A Technological Analysis of Stone Artefacts from Big Foot Art Site, Cania Gorge, Central Queensland’

Catherine Westcott

BA(Hons), Department of Anthropology and Sociology, The University of Queensland, October 1997

This thesis presents a technological analysis of the stone assemblage from one excavated square at Big Foot Art Site, a rockshelter in Cania Gorge, eastern central Queensland. The study was undertaken as part of the Gooreng Gooreng Cultural Heritage Project, a multidisciplinary study of the Burnett-Curtis region. Big Foot Art Site dates from 7923 cal. BP to 474 cal. BP and contains a variety of organic remains and stone artefacts of diverse lithologies. The aim of the analysis described here is to determine whether there is a change in the assemblage through time and, if so, to explain that change. Findings from sites to the north, south and west of Cania Gorge at Cape York Peninsula, southeast Queensland and the Carnarvon Ranges, respectively, suggest that changes could be expected during the mid- to late Holocene. The results from Big Foot Art Site indicate that there is a period of significantly increased artefact discard between 4400 cal. BP and 3200 cal. BP. Various artefact attributes are recorded and analysed in order to detect chronological changes in technology, including artefact size, raw material procurement, methods of core reduction, stages of reduction, use of excessive force and thermal treatment of stone. The change in the artefact discard rate cannot be accounted for by a corresponding change in technology. Nor does the evidence from the analysis support any other hypotheses considered in explanation of the change. Further study is needed to explain the processes resulting in the stone remains at this site and to place Big Foot Art Site in its regional context.

Late Holocene climatic changes in macropod bone collagen stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes at Fromms Landing, South Australia

Amy L. Roberts, F. Donald Pate and Richard Hunter


Map showing the location of Fromms Landing (published in Australian Archaeology 49:48).

Map showing the location of Fromms Landing (published in Australian Archaeology 49:48).

Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analyses of human and faunal bone have been used extensively by archaeologists to address past human dietary composition (Pate 1994; Bocherens et al. 1999). Because stable isotope values also vary in response to climatic conditions, isotopic analyses of faunal bone may provide information about changes in climate that can supplement data derived from palynology and other palaeoenvironmental techniques.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

The Davies toichometer, an accurate, simple, and inexpensive device for surveying enclosed areas

Sketch of the device (published in Australian Archaeology 49:47).

Sketch of the device (published in Australian Archaeology 49:47).

Neil Davies


After a less than satisfactory experience trying to produce a plan of an irregular and dimly lit interior, (a miner’s dugout dwelling in Burra, South Australia), struggling with insecure base lines, tapes, plumb bobs, etc., I designed and produced the following for a measuring device that would do that, and related jobs quickly, simply and accurately. The device is closely related in principle to the plane table and alidade described, for example, in Hobbs (1983:55–60) and Hester et al. (1997:211–212), but adapts the principle to interiors and similarly enclosed spaces, rather than to wider topography.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Archaeological research in the Keep River region, Northern Territory

Richard Fullagar, Lesley Head, Ingrid Ward, Ken Mulvaney and Paul Tacon


The aim of current research in the Keep River region is to understand long-term Aboriginal cultural landscapes, both physical and symbolic. We are integrating archaeological excavation and analysis, rock art studies, ethnography, geomorphology and biogeography to explore relationships between the changing environment, the archaeological record and human marking of the landscape. We summarise here recent research and the July-August fieldwork in 1999.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Pleistocene landscape in West New Britain, PNG

Team members pointing to artefacts in Tephra C (published in Australian Archaeology 49:44).

Team members pointing to artefacts in Tephra C (published in Australian Archaeology 49:44).

Robin Torrence, Jim Specht, Hugh Davies, Peter Ainge and Peter White


Holocene volcanic activity has created a well-preserved stratigraphic series of prehistoric landscapes in West New Britain, PNG which have enabled the interpretation of changing patterns of land use (e.g. Specht et al. 1991; Pavlides 1993; Torrence et al. in press). Recent fieldwork on Numundo Plantation has extended this remarkable record to include five superimposed Pleistocene surfaces each sealed beneath a volcanic tephra. This older landscape was heavily eroded leaving several small hills as remnants. Holocene tephras are draped uncomformably over the older dissected landscape. Four localities provide an opportunity for studying variations in human behaviour over a relatively large area and expand on the restricted viewpoints from rockshelters and test-pits on open sites.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

The politics of the past

Jim AllenJim Allen


. . .  some old things are lovely, warm still with the life of forgotten men who made them. D.H. Lawrence, Pansies.

The first archaeological aphorism I encountered as a student was that archaeology produces neither bombs nor butter. This proposition was put forward in print on at least two occasions by Gordon Childe (1955:240, 1956:127), an Australian born scholar who became the most influential archaeologist in Britain in the first half of this century. In Australia Childe was, and still is, recognised as a leftwing intellectual who was prominent in the World War I anti-conscription movement; as the man who became private secretary to the first Labor premier of New South Wales; and as the author of How Labour Governs, a critical history of the Australian labour movement up to 1921. In attempting to demonstrate that leaders of working class movements will inevitably become corrupted by success within a state parliamentary system (Gathercole 1976:5; Trigger 1980:34), Childe also revealed a disillusionment with modern day Australia which led him to prehistoric Europe (Allen 1967, 1979, 1981).

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Rock art and rock markings

Andree Rosenfeld


This paper examines a range of features commonly found at rock art sites, that have conventionally been considered components of rock art, but which (as briefly outlined elsewhere [Rosenfeld 1993:76–77, 1997:291]) should be considered as a distinct cultural category. These features include the finger flutings, abraded lines and pits of the caves along the southern margin of the continent, battered rock ridges that are common, for instance, in the Laura area, pitted rocks in several regions of subtropical Australia, incised grooves that are widespread throughout Central Australia, as well as hand stencils, hand prints and other stencils or prints.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Once, twice maybe, but not three times

Jeff Parr

Gas chromatography sequence for Sample 1 (published in Australian Archaeology 49:25).

Gas chromatography sequence for Sample 1 (published in Australian Archaeology 49:25).

Hafting is a process in which a handle is attached to a stone tool adding to its functionability and/or ease of use. This was normally achieved by using a resinous plant exudate as a fixative (Flood 1995:270) which was heated and then fashioned into place (Cribb and Cribb 1982:89). The resin may also have been reinforced with other materials such as grass, beeswax and fine sand (Cribb and Cribb 1982:89). A large range of stone tools have retained evidence of hafting in the form of resins long after separation or deterioration of handles due to taphonomic processes. These tools range in function from utilitarian and ceremonial uses to articles of trade. For example, backed blades, Bondi points, some eloueras, burrens and ground-edged axes were used to carry out a range of woodworking and food procurement tasks (McBryde 1975; McCarthy 1976; Kamminga 1977; Morwood and L’Oste Brown 1994; Flood 1995). Alternatively, leilira blades and Kimberley points often served important roles in ceremonial events and the latter is known as a significant item of trade (Tindale 1965; McCarthy 1976).

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Encoding the Dreaming

A toa representing a place on Coopers Creek (published in Australian Archaeology 49:17).

A toa representing a place on Coopers Creek (published in Australian Archaeology 49:17).

Howard Morphy


Australian Aboriginal cultures are rich in artistic traditions. If their art took a more permanent form Aborigines would be living in a forest of paintings and carvings that would be a visual testament to their artistic heritage. As it is, most of their art works are temporary, many almost transitory—body paintings that hardly outlast their production and sand sculptures that begin to weather before completion. Apart from certain sacred objects, only the paintings on sheltered rock walls, rock engravings, stone arrangements and tree carvings survive from past generations, and not all of these occur across Australia. Art exists for most of the time in people’s heads waiting for a purpose to call it into being: a ceremony to initiate young men, or a mortuary ritual to farewell the dead and see them to their spiritual home. For art in Aboriginal Australia is seen as a form of spiritual power; it is an intervention of the world of the mythical past in the present. It is a means by which knowledge is passed from generation to generation about the creative forces that shaped the world and will enable it to continue into the future. Art in Aboriginal Australia is, in this respect, information: one of the main ways, if not the main way in which individuals are socialised into the Dreaming—the Ancestral Past—is through art. People learn about mystic events through learning meanings that are encoded in paintings and explained in song and dance. In the case of many non-European indigenous art traditions referential meaning is absent from, or at best a secondary component of, the system (see e.g. Forge 1973; O’Hanlon 1989), but in Aboriginal Australia referential meaning is primary.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Aboriginal occupation on Rottnest Island, Western Australia, provisionally dated by aspartic acid racemisation assay of land snails to greater than 50 ka

Rottnes Island, Western Australian (published in Australian Archaeology 49:7).

Rottnes Island, Western Australian (published in Australian Archaeology 49:7).

Patrick A. Hesp, Colin V. Murray Wallace and Charlie E. Dortch


The generally accepted age for the earliest human occupation of Australia is about 60,000 years (e.g. Chappell et al. 1996), with many dates centred around 30,000 to 40,000 years (e.g. Pearce and Barbetti 1981; Dortch 1984; Allen and Holdaway 1995; Dortch and Dortch 1996). Recent, but disputed, archaeological evidence at Jinmium in the Northern Territory indicates a much earlier date of occupation of 116,000 years (Fullagar et al. 1996; Spooner 1998) in line with palaeoecological evidence (e.g. White 1994; Roberts and Jones 1994; Thorne et al. 1999). We present independent evidence from Rottnest Island, Western Australia, which provisionally suggests a late Pleistocene (and possibly Last Interglacial?) age for Aboriginal occupation in Western Australia.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Identifying style in Australian stone artefacts

Sandra Bowdler and Jenny Smith


Archaeologists in Australia have long had problems with stone tools. Aboriginal flaked stone artefacts quickly acquired the reputation of being amorphous and resistant to traditional archaeological analytical techniques. While it is recognised that this is a Eurocentric perception, it has nevertheless resulted in a reluctance to use stone artefacts as a source of cultural information. This paper suggests a theoretical framework articulated with a methodological approach to the study of Australian flaked stone artefact assemblages in a way which aims to identify style. The theory of ‘isochrestic style’ is not intended as a substitute for methodology, nor is it a theory which can be disproved by substantive results; it is a theory which allows a particular kind of interpretation, cultural rather than functional or technological.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Review of ‘Quaternary Environments’ 2nd ed. by Martin Williams, David Dunkerley, Patrick De Deckker, Peter Kershaw and John Chappell


Quaternary Environments Book CoverQuaternary Environments by Martin Williams, David Dunkerley, Patrick De Deckker, Peter Kershaw and John Chappell, 1998, Arnold, London, xvi + 329 pp. ISBN 0-340-691-51-4 (pbk).

Review by F. Donald Pate

Quaternary Environments was first published in 1993 by Edward Arnold with a reprint in 1994. After using the first edition for a number of years as the standard text for undergraduate topics in environmental archaeology and Quaternary ecology, I provided an initial review of the book that was published in Australian Archaeology 48 (1999).

As the book provides a clear overview of the key types of evidence employed to reconstruct global and regional environmental changes associated with the series of glacial and interglacial periods of the past 2 million years, it offers an excellent background text for university students. In addition, the text uses examples from every continent, including Antarctica, and illustrates key concepts with a range of maps, diagrams, and photographs. Furthermore, relevant events during the preceding Tertiary are addressed in relation to changes in Quaternary climate, vegetation, and prehistoric human adaptations. Finally, models developed from past environmental change are offered as a means to predict future climatic and ecological conditions.

The second edition follows the same general chapter outline as the first edition with an expansion of Chapter 3 ‘Quaternary Glaciations’ into three separate chapters. The use of a larger paper size improves the integration of text and illustrations, and additional maps, photographs, diagrams and tables are employed to address the updated and expanded subject matter. The reference section has been updated and expanded substantially. Recent developments in chronometric dating have necessitated a new appendix summarising key dating methods employed in Quaternary research.

The chapter outline of the second edition is:

Chapter 1 : Quaternary Environments: An Introduction

Chapter 2: Prelude to the Quaternary

Chapter 3: Quaternary Glaciations: Extent and Chronology

Chapter 4: Quaternary Glaciations: Causes and Feedback Mechanisms

Chapter 5: The Milankovitch Hypothesis and Quaternary Environments

Chapter 6: Quaternary Sea-Level Changes

Chapter 7: Evidence from the Oceans Chapter 8: Rivers, Lakes and Groundwater

Chapter 9: Evidence from the Deserts

Chapter 10: Evidence from Terrestrial Flora and Fauna

Chapter 11: Human Origins, Innovations and Migrations

Chapter 12: Atmospheric Circulation during the Quaternary

Chapter 13: Environmental Changes: Past, Present, and Future

Chapter I offers a detailed summary of the aims of the text and chapter contents. In addition, it provides a basic introduction to Quaternary chronology, environmental reconstruction, and the practical relevance of Quaternary research. The chapter concludes with a list of related publications in the general area of Quaternary environments.

There has been minimal change to Chapter 2. This chapter addresses the relationships between global tectonic events of the Tertiary and major regional episodes including the Himalayan uplift, North American ice sheet accumulation, and the expansion of savanna relative to tropical rainforest.

As indicated previously, the section of the text addressing Quaternary glaciations has been revised substantially by expansion of the former Chapter 3 into three chapters. Chapter 3 provides a detailed examination of major ice sheet build-up in the Northern Hemisphere as a case study of the characteristic process of slow ice accumulation to glacial maxima followed by rapid ice melting and sea level rise. A brief comparison is then made with glacial cycles in the Southern Hemisphere. Finally, the variety of environmental evidence that can be obtained from ice core records is reviewed. Chapter 4 explores various hypotheses to account for the occurrence of major glacial and deglacial episodes during the Quaternary. Variables such as changes in solar radiation, oceanic circulation, and atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (nitrous oxide, methane, carbon dioxide, water vapour) are considered. Chapter 5 addresses the longer-term rhythm of glacial cycles by exploring effects of variations in the Earth’s orbit, i.e. the Milankovitch theory of palaeoclimates.

Chapter 6 reviews the various mechanisms responsible for changes in global and regional sea levels. These include 1) changes in the volume of ocean basins related to tectonic activity or sedimentation, 2) changes in water availability related to cycles of glacial ice accumulation and melting, and 3) redistribution of mass among the ocean basins and the continents (subsidence and uplift) in response to changes in the weight of extensive ice sheets. The chapter concludes by providing a brief history of sea level fluctuations during the Tertiary, Quaternary, Holocene, Recent and Historic periods.

Chapter 7 addresses the reconstruction of past ocean water temperature and salinity, ice volume, sea levels, and continental climate from analyses of calcareous benthic and planktonic foraminifera, coral, and aeolian dust and pollen. Deep sea cores and ice cores provide long-term sequences of oxygen isotope data that can be employed to address the magnitude and timing of glacial cycles in various regions of the earth. Oxygen isotope analyses of foraminifera and ice complement traditional sedimentological and microfossil studies.

Chapter 8 focuses on changes to local and regional terrestrial landscapes as reflected in variations in sediments deposited by rivers and lakes in response to changing evaporation, precipitation and groundwater regimes. In addition, palaeoecological inferences from fossil aquatic organisms (diatoms, ostracods, gastropods, molluscs) are addressed. Case studies include the Nile, Amazon, and Murray-Murimmbidgee-Darling (Australia) river systems and a range of large and small lakes demonstrating various formation processes.

As periods of cold temperature associated with glacial maxima are correlated with terrestrial aridity and desert expansion, studies of desert landforms provide important information about changes in past global and regional climates. Chapter 9 addresses geomorphological studies of desert landforms and associated invertebrate and vertebrate fossils as a means to reconstruct aridity. A new section reviewing research with Quaternary palaeosols including a case study of the loess sequence in China is included.

Chapter 10 summarises environmental evidence derived from analyses of terrestrial plant and animal remains (microfossils and macrofossils). A standardised method of sediment description is provided in relation to sediment core correlation and palaeoecological interpretations employing sediment cores. A new section on plant phytoliths is included and the former section addressing plant macrofossils derived from pack rat middens is expanded to discuss similar middens produced by hyraxes in Africa and stick-nest rats in Australia.

Chapter 11 discusses relationships between changes in local and regional habitats and the evolution of Miocene hominoids (Gigantopithecus, Ramapithecus) and Plio-Pleistocene hominids (Australopithecus, Homo). Hominid biological and cultural evolution from 4.5 million years ago to the Neolithic is reviewed in a dynamic context involving biological, social-cultural, economic, technological and environmental variables. Various sections are updated to address recent hominid fossil evidence. In relation to explanations for spatial and temporal variability in Pleistocene fauna1 extinctions, the authors support the use of more complex and multi-causal models employing climate variability, changes in vegetation distribution and abundance, and human agencies including hunting, burning and deforestation.

Chapter 12 addresses changes in global atmospheric circulation patterns during the late Quaternary. As the most complete palaeoclimatic evidence is restricted to the past 20,000 years and this period includes climatic extremes, a glacial maximum at ca. 18 ka BP and the early Holocene ‘climatic optimum’ at ca. 9 ka BP, this time period is employed to test global atmospheric circulation models. These models involve dynamic relationships between ocean, atmosphere and land. Comparisons are made with reconstructions provided by models derived from the CLIMAP and COHMAP projects.

Chapter 13 discusses recent impacts of human behaviour on the natural environment. The authors argue that human impacts on the global climate system have increased dramatically following the domestication of plants and animals in the early Holocene. Land clearance, cultivation, overgrazing, increased sedentism and population growth led to greater soil erosion and nutrient depletion, desertification, salinisation, water pollution and loss of native flora and fauna. These impacts have been’ more severe since the Industrial Revolution and affected a wider range of habitats and ecosystems including the global atmosphere. Atmospheric, marine and terrestrial pollution and deforestation have been accelerated significantly in recent years. The chapter concludes with a range of recommendations to counteract these detrimental environmental changes.

The Appendix has been revised substantially to address recent developments in Quaternary dating methods. It focuses on radiocarbon (conventional and AMS), thermoluminescence (TL), optically stimulated luminescence (OSL), and selected uranium-series methods. In addition, a brief overview of potassium-argon (K-Ar), electron spin resonance (ESR), amino acid racemization (AAR) and palaeomagnetism are provided. Other dating methods used in Quaternary research, such as fission track, obsidian hydration and various chemical techniques are not discussed but references are provided. Thus, the Appendix provides a good basic introduction to key dating methods with references to more specialised texts for those who desire more detail.

In conclusion, the second edition of Quaternary Environments provides an updated version of an excellent undergraduate level text book with an improved larger format. It offers an authoritative overview of the core theories and methods employed in Quaternary environmental reconstruction, including case studies from various regions of the world. Rather than attempting to cover the entire range of environmental processes and analytical methods, the authors focus on key concepts and techniques. Complex concepts and methods are presented in a clear manner, and a large number of relevant illustrations and photographs are employed to demonstrate principles and improve understanding. As indicated in my review of the first edition, the primary strength of the volume is its ability to present dynamic processes in a simple yet comprehensive format. Although the book does not focus on Australian environmental reconstruction, it provides a sound understanding of the principles and methods that can be employed by archaeologists and environmental scientists in Australia.

Review of ‘Second Nature: The History and Implications of Australia as Aboriginal Landscape’ by Lesley Head

Review by Harry Allen

Second Nature Book Cover

Second Nature: The History and Implications of Australia as Aboriginal Landscape by Lesley Head, 2000, Syracuse University Press, xiii + 272 pp. ISBN 0-815-60587-0 (hbk).

Second Nature brings together a number of themes which Lesley Head has explored over the past decade. These include Lake Argyle and the Ord River scheme, and concepts of the natural, of Aboriginalness, of the traditional, of hunter gatherers, and a variety of perspectives on landscapes. The book presents a discourse rather than an argument though running just below its surface is the notion that, in seeking simple answers to complex problems, we run the risk of missing facts which are in front of our eyes.

The manner in which Australians conduct political debates about their country and its human inhabitants has a history of its own. The first five chapters of Second Nature locate this history in attempts to classify nature and the Aborigines in geological, geographical and anthropological terms, based either on climate, race, evolution, time or function. Head argues that there was a ‘conceptual dispossession’ of the Aborigines which ran parallel with the processes of physical dispossession. Both forms of dispossession continue to the present.

Arguments about the Australian past are often presented as generalities. In drawing our attention to the Head family history and the author’s genealogical connections to the land and the dispossession of the Yarra and Ovens River peoples, Lesley Head shows the power of understanding the details of specific tracts of land. In so doing, she demonstrates that neither Aboriginal nor European Australian history benefits from being seen in simplistic terms.

In Second Nature, she addresses questions of serious importance for the future of the Australian nation-state. The shrillness of contemporary debates about sorry business, reconciliation and treaties, continues to drown out Aboriginal voices (see the concept of ‘white noise’ p. 71). Despite providing instance after instance of shallowness of thought and the intractability of powerful interests, on both sides of such debates, Second Nature remains an optimistic book. Lesley Head holds out the possibility that multi-vocal Aboriginal voices will be heard, that we can break through the misleading imagery of environmental debates, that non-Aboriginal Australians can see themselves in historical terms (p. 217) and, in so doing, recognize that the Australian environment, both social and physical, represents nature transformed.

Although trained as a physical and a cultural geographer, Lesley Head holds an important place within the discipline of archaeology. She has participated in many of our discoveries and her work extends the richness of our conceptual discussions. Though Second Nature is aimed towards a wider audience it should find a distinguished place on our bookshelves, in our teaching reading lists, and, most importantly, in our discourse. I have reservations about the line-drawings, some of which are blurred and hard to read, but this concern is a minor one. Such reservations should not detract from the clarity of the writing and the high quality of the book overall.

History and prehistory: Essential dichotomy or arbitrary separation?


Clayton Fredericksen


Last year I was co-applicant on a request for funding to carry out archaeological research at an early contact site in northern Australia. In due course I received the assessors’ comments and, as might be expected in today’s competitive environment, the application was supported by some and not so enthusiastically received by others. A comment by one of the more critical assessors stood out. This particular assessor wrote that although I had expertise in prehistoric archaeology, in his or her opinion I lacked sufficient experience in Australian historical archaeology to ensure that the project would be competently executed. My co-applicants, a professor of history and an historical geographer, expressed more than a little surprise at this statement, with one exclaiming to the effect that he had always thought that ‘archaeology is archaeology, irrespective of the time period under investigation’. To archaeologists this may seem a little naïve but it does succinctly highlight a fundamental issue facing the discipline in Australia; exactly what is ‘historical’ archaeology and does it possess a sufficiently robust identity to justify its separation as a distinct branch of archaeology.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

A history of Aboriginal heritage legislation in south-eastern Australia

Laurajane Smith


This paper details the role that archaeologists and archaeological knowledge played in the lobbying for, and framing of, Aboriginal heritage legislation in south-eastern Australia (New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania). The central contention of the paper is that a fortuitous set of circumstances during the 1960s and 1970s privileged archaeologists and archaeological knowledge in the creation and framing of heritage legislation, which has establish the framework under which Cultural Heritage Management (CHM), and indeed all archaeology in Australia, has since been conducted. Central to this process was the mobilisation of the discourse of the ‘New Archaeology’, which lent confidence to the perception of archaeology as a rigorous science. This self perception was reflected in the way in which the relevant bureaucracies were able to utilise the supposedly neutral and value free nature of archaeology as ‘science’. Archaeological knowledge, and archaeologists as the holders of expert knowledge, were afforded a central role in the legislation over the interpretation and disposition of material culture, which in a sense allowed them to play a role in the regulation and governance of Indigenous cultural claims (though see Smith in press(a) with reference to the erosion of that authority).

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Analysing Australian stone artefacts: An agenda for the twenty first century

Peter Hiscock and Chris Clarkson


Over the last 25 years we have had repeated evaluations of the history of stone artefact analysis in Australia (e.g. Mulvaney 1977; Hiscock 1983, 1998; Fullagar 1994; Holdaway 1995). Each of these reviews brought a different emphasis to the quest for an understanding of the trends, motive factors and constraints in archaeological investigations of bygone years. Although it is pleasing to observe the progress of analytical practice it is equally clear that the major benefit of these historical reviews is their ability to identify those subject areas requiring remedial attention and warranting emphasis in future investigations. With this point in mind it is not our intention to revisit the intellectual history of artefact analysis, but to concentrate on developing a summary of issues that might be the focus of our research efforts over coming decades. Our purpose is to define elements of a research agenda for the study of archaeological stone artefacts, and to this end we do not offer solutions to those problems that remain but seek to identify components of research design deserving attention.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

A future for Australian maritime archaeology?

Mark Staniforth


For a small sub-discipline of archaeology, maritime archaeology seems to have had a relatively long and glorious history in Australia. Celebratory reviews or overviews of selected part of the history of Australian maritime archaeology have been published fairly regularly since the 1986 appearance of Graeme Henderson’s book Maritime Archaeology in Australia (Henderson 1986). These publications include two articles that were published in the pages of this journal (Hosty and Stuart 1994; McCarthy 1998). While there is obviously much to be celebrated about the history of maritime archaeology in Australia, a self-critical examination of the state of the sub-discipline with some ideas about where it might be going in the next two or three decades is, I suggest, a useful exercise as we enter the 21st century.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Australian historical archaeology: Retrospects and prospects

Alistair Paterson and Andrew Wilson


The primary aim of this paper is to provide a review of historical archaeology in Australia. We feel that the continuing debate on the nature and course of the subject could benefit from such a review. Our goal is to provide by demonstration a de facto profile of the discipline and suggest some potential future directions. We do not give a description of the development of Australian historical archaeology but attempt to demonstrate what the discipline has been at least in terms of publications and theses.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

The archaeology of somewhere-else: A brief survey of Classical and Near Eastern archaeology in Australia

Margaret O’Hea


It all started in Sydney. This is no more Sydney-sider’s chauvinism. If the institutional pursuit of Classical or Near Eastern archaeology began anywhere in Australia, it was begun by two men: A.D. Trendall and J.R. Stewart. Individually, the created to strands of scholarship, Classical and Near Eastern, respectively, which on the one hand established Australian-based archaeological scholarship for the first time in an international field, and on the other, started an academic tradition which has since expanded far beyond the pseudo-Gothic halls of Australia’s earliest university. The more familiar tradition of Australian making their name overseas may have been famously personified by V. Gordon Childe—another Sydney alumnus—in London in the 1940s, but this was not an academic trail that was to produce future Australian scholars. Universities are old-fashioned in the way that scholarship is transmitted. Master and apprentice, professor and post-graduate: for all the disadvantages and nepotism that often accompany it, this is a generational inheritance, and ‘success’ can be gauged as much by the strength of an established flow of archaeologists as by the output of a single, world-class scholar. What follows, then, is a very abbreviated history of the institutional development of the archaeology of the Classical and Near Eastern cultures within Australia. The story of the wider, public interest in archaeology has been told in parts elsewhere (see, for example, Merrillees 1990). If this history centres upon Sydney University, it is only because that institution neatly encapsulates wider trends; and if the work of any Near Eastern of Classical archaeologists has been overlooked in this attempt to summarise the great diversity of research by Australian scholars in the twentieth century and beyond, it is a result of dumb oversight rather than intentional slight by the author.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Bone chemistry and palaeodiet: Bioarchaeological research at Roonka Flat, lower Murray River, South Australia 1983–1999

F. Donald Pate


The predominance of stone and bone in prehistoric archaeological deposits has resulted in the development of a range of methods to extract information from these important cultural resources. Since the development of radiocarbon dating in the late 1940s, a variety of analytical techniques derived from chemistry have been applied to archaeological research problems. Many of these methods have been employed in the analysis of archaeological skeletal remains, both human and faunal. In addition to providing information about chronology, chemical analyses of bones and teeth offer independent scientific methods to address past diet, climate and ecology that supplement conventional approaches (Price 1989; Schoeninger and Moore 1992; MacFadden and Bryant 1994; Pate 1994, 1997a; Bocherens et al. 1999).

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Perspectives on ecological approaches in Australian archaeology

Peter Veth, Sue O’Connor and Lynley A. Wallis


In this postmodern world the evocation of ecological approaches in archaeology conjures up visions of banal environmental determinism and passive human actors receiving their cues from terrifying landscapes. And yet anything but the most superficial critique of the myriad approaches that have been labelled ecology easily illustrates that social and cognitive factors may be given voice at both the individual and group level. As Pardo (1994:182) has argued in a recent review of studies of human ecology in Australia, ‘Humans are one species capable of rewriting deterministic ecological equations through consciousness and intentionality’.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

A historical perspective on the Australian contribution to the practice of archaeology in Southeast Asia

David Bulbeck


Archaeology in Southeast Asia is still at the sage of completing the basic outline of human evolution and culture history in the region. As yet it is unclear whether Homo arrived in Southeast Asia closer to one million or two million years ago (Anton 1997). The region’s archaeological and palaeoanthropological record is sporadically documented until the last 40,000 years, for which period we do find suitable rockshelter deposits virtually across the whole of Southeast Asia. Of course, the quantity of information exponentially increases as we move towards the present, but even an issue as fundamental as the capital site of the celebrated state of Srivijaya (seventh to fourteenth centuries AD) has been resolved only within the last decade (Manguin 1992). The relative paucity of data in the region has provided a situation far from ideal for the development of archaeological theory which, to the degree that it has been explicitly formulated, tends to follow an idealist conception of culture history, within the constraints of cultural ecology. Similarly, in human evolution, theoretical debate is largely focused on the number of species which should be recognised and their likely relationships by descent.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

So near and yet so far: Reflections on archaeology in Australia and Papua New Guinea, intensification and culture contact

Ian Lilley


The use of the word ‘Sahul’ in the title of this book indicates that it will focus on the similarities, as well as the differences, between Australia and New Guinea. Because these are now two islands, and separate political entities, they are usually studied by different people, from different perspectives and using different methodologies … But for at least 80% of the time during which people have occupied the area, Australia and New Guinea were subsumed into the single continent of Sahul. For about the first 40,000 years, the people of Sahul have a common history (White with O’Connell 1982:3).

Although some researchers have worked in both countries, White and O’Connell’s statement sums up relations between archaeology and archaeologists in Australian and Papua New Guinea (PNG) quite accurately. This situation persists even though, as Ballard (1993:21) reminds us, ‘any significant cultural continuity between New Guinea and Australia during the Pleistocene … remains to be demonstrated’ rather than assumed (as does the lack of continuity in the Holocene). The fact that the two regions were joined at times of lowered sea levels encourages archaeologists in each region to consider the other, at least when referring to the Pleistocene. However, most scholars have long seen the post-glacial human histories of the two regions as very different. Thus Holocene PNG is generally considered separately from Holocene Australia. Moreover, despite the unquestionable substantive and theoretical significance (e.g. Allen 1998:11–12) and supposed professional glamour of Pleistocene archaeology (e.g. Moser 1995:126), it is in fact the post-glacial period that has received the most detailed archaeological attention overall, especially in PNG. This focus on the Holocene has led to the situation where ‘the two islands are now usually studied by different people, from different perspectives and using different methodologies’.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

That shadowy band: The role of women in the development of Australian archaeology

Sandra Bowdler and Genevieve Clune


The role of women in the development of Australian archaeology is so manifest, and has been so substantial, that it hardly seems necessary to devote a paper to it. On the other hand, as the only substantial published history of Australian Aboriginal archaeology does manage to exclude this contribution (Horton 1981; Bowdler 1993), there is clearly a case for indicating what was overlooked. McBryde (1993a:xi) refs to ‘that intrepid yet often shadowy, even invisible, band of women archaeologists’, but we would contend that, in Australia, the band has been rather less diaphanous than that.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Confessions of a wild colonial boy

Rhys Jones in conversation with Vincent Megaw


Editorial note

The following is based on a transcript of an interview which took place on 13 October 1999 at Flinders University, Adelaide. The interview formed one of a series of public lectures marking the inauguration of the Department of Archaeology at Flinders. For technical reasons it has only been possibly to reproduce a selection of the 50 or so images which acted as visual cures to what was otherwise an extempore happening. A minimum of changes have been made in the process of translating the spoken to the written word; equally, only a very few bibliographic references have been added/ While the text as a whole has been transcribed and edited by Amy Roberts assisted by Vincent Megaw, Betty Meehan’s resourceful picture research is also gratefully acknowledged.

VM: Where to start? Well, in a logical sort of way I suppose one starts at the beginning. Rhys Maengwyn Jones, the Welsh-speaking boyo, this is your life. Tell us something about where you were born, and, if you’re not shy, when? (Figure 1)

RJ: To answer your question briefly, I was born in Bangor District Hospital in north Wales on Ash Wednesday, 26 February 1941; I was delivered by Dr OV Jones, known affectionately as ‘Ovary Jones’. SO I am 58 now. I came from a Welsh-speaking family, and we might discuss that later.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Childe among the penguins

Peter Gathercole


Gordon Childe (1892–1957), often considered the most distinguished European prehistorian of his time, had a previous career as political activist and New South Wales civil servant. As recent work has demonstrated (Gathercole et al. 1995), this career provided some richly varied experiences of the vagaries of politics, including the knife-thrusts that can enliven those of the university world. In 1927, however, as he told his friend, Palme Duff, founder member of the CPGB (Dutt 1956), Childe abandoned involvement in revolutionary politics in favour of the academic life, when he was appointed the first holder of the Abercromby Chair of Prehistoric Archaeology at Edinburgh University.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Digging in the archaeology archives

John Mulvaney


Personal correspondence written during the 1950s—by now a virtual archaeological Dreaming—provides a context for excavations on the Murray River, at Fromm’s Landing rockshelter 2, during January–February 1956, and the 1960 Queesnaldn expedition during which pilot digs at Kenniff Cave and The Tombs collected late Pleistocene radiocarbon 14 samples.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Thesis abstract ‘Dependent Colonies: The Importation of Material Culture land the Establishment of a Consumer Society in Australia before 1850’

Mark Staniforth

PhD, Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, Adelaide, August 1999

This thesis uses an archaeological perspective to examine the ways in which a consumer society became established in the Australian colonies between 1788 and the middle of the 19th century. It argues that in order to successfully colonise places like Australia it was necessary to establish trade networks that provided adequate supplies of culturally ‘appropriate’ food, drink and other consumer goods for the newly arrived population. This thesis suggests that there were three inter-related reasons why newly arrived colonists needed material culture and its associated meanings: first, to distinguish themselves from Indigenous groups; second, to reassure themselves about their place in the world; and third, to help establish their own networks of social relations. It contends that the role of consumption and the part played by material goods were more important to the negotiation of social position in the colonies than in the homeland. Furthermore this thesis demonstrates that four principal factors structured consumer preference: the quantity, variety, type and quality of goods available to them.

This research is concerned with the symbolic and cognitive meanings: the underlying, or embedded, meanings as well as the meanings that were attached food, drink and other consumer goods. It provides a theoretical and methodological model for the systematic analysis of consumer goods that can be used to better understand cultural aspects of colonial settlement. The analytical framework draws on applications of Annales approaches to archaeology in what is termed the ‘archaeology of the event’ and the holistic approach undertaken in this thesis places the specificity of the event within the wider social context.

This thesis integrates both maritime and historical archaeology in order to follow the life trajectories of artefacts and to explore their changing meanings over time and between cultures. A major part of the archaeological data used in this research is drawn from the assemblages of four post-settlement shipwrecks excavated in Australian waters during the past 30 years: Sydney Cove, James Matthews, William Salthouse and Eglinton.

Thesis abstract

Di Smith

BArch(Hons), Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, Adelaide, 1995

Three research projects were completed in 1995 to fulfil the thesis requirement for Archaeology Honours at Flinders University. Unified by a discourse on women missionaries, the thesis topics were developed through a study of artefact assemblages and mission sites inspired by the personal diaries and artefact collections of an Australian lay missionary, Edith Safstrom (b. 1889–d.1973). Her record of the quotidian aspects of mission life provides a new perspective for the many existing historical accounts provided by male missionaries. From 1921 to 1942 Edith Safstrom served with the Melanesian Mission in the Solomon Islands, returning to Australia after evacuation from Guadalcanal.

‘Taking up the Collection’: A Missionary Assemblage from the Solomon Islands, 1921–1942

An assemblage of artefacts donated to the Museum of Victoria in 1949 by Edith Safstrom formed the basis for research conducted in this project. The missionary collection became a focal point for an analysis of indicators of cultural exchange. Such indicators were signified both overtly and subtly by material culture produced in the Solomon Islands during the first half of this century.

Over 118 artefacts were examined at the Museum of Victoria. The majority of artefacts in the Safstrom collection were identified as being of a personal or domestic nature such as necklaces and brooms. Edith’s diary entries revealed the range of objects made at the Bunana mission school.

Modes of reading the evidence presented by artefacts became a strong focus for analysis of the collection both as a whole and on an individual specimen basis. It is argued that artefacts that reflect or represent non-indigenous religious elements are primary examples of synergetic production. Conversely, Professor Nick Stanley (1989:116, 1994:36) used the term ‘syncretic compromise’ when referring to a chalice in the Sunderland collection as a ‘compromise between western Christian form and Melanesian decorative interpretation’. This would seem to imply a domination of cultural principles over the yielding principles of the other.

Two objects in the Safstrom collection, a church collection plate and a kneeler, may concur with Stanley’s definition to an extent, yet these appeared to represent a cooperated unification of form. A Pandanus umbrella in the collection also signified a merger of the two principles, i.e. where one does not dominate and override, but rather compliments the other principle in a reciprocal fashion. The resultant synergetic relationship mirrors the relationship the women missionaries enjoyed with their students at Bunana and the mission schools elsewhere. The mutual and continual exchange of gifts between the women infers a level of egalitarian principles rather than a culture engulfed by non-indigenous domination. By using the Safstrom collection to model the phenomena of alternative modes of reading, the significance of the dynamic levels of historical realities of material culture can be recognised.

Gendered Spaces–Mission Places: The Mission as Community

The mission site, whether abandoned or operational, represents the blending of appositional or different cultures. The significance of mission sites as points of cultural exchange and human interaction within culturally defined spaces, and hence, the physical manifestation of that activity as community was explored. Location and use of space on different mission sites was investigated in an attempt to deconstruct the image of the mission as a place dominated exclusively by white male European missionaries.

A case study focused on two mission sites developed by the Anglican church through the Melanesian Mission in the Solomon Islands and the Australian Board of Missions. Bunana, as it existed during the period from 1910 to 1959, is examined as a conceptually built environment reconstructed through the perspective of the Safstrom diaries, journals and comparative literature. The other mission site of Selwyn College at Maravovo, Guadalcanal, was built in 1992 and represents the modern day mission. Selwyn College allowed for a comparative analysis of spatial organisation and community over time.

At the ground level, the manifestation of cultural differentiation can be read from the physical design of the mission site. The semiology of the mission was then analysed by considering how the layout and function of the buildings and satellite features (areas that service the mission) converge to form the site as a whole.

The nascent development of missions in the realm of cultural heritage suggests that the study area provides a rich source of information about how the culture of others is colonised at a material and behavioural level. Throughout this process a contemporaneous imposition and assimilation of gendered spaces occurs within the community. Some gender differentiated areas were dictated by the mission, for example, seating arrangements in classrooms, others existed in traditional indigenous cultural lifeways, such as segregated sleeping houses, whilst emergent circumstances may have been responsible for the creation of newly defined areas. These processes were suggested by the conscious and the more subtle underlying policies and actions of mission administration, individual missionaries and people brought together at the mission.

‘Show him your Cross! Writing about Gender in Archaeology’

An interpretative literature review of approaches to writing about gender in archaeology was conducted in this thesis using a collection of ornamental crosses as the basis for a case study. Recent trends in literature tend to confront some traditionally ponderous archaeological texts as suggested by di Zerega Wall (1994). Presentations of archaeological practice and theory delivered in dull and clinical reports seem far removed from representing the people whose lives are supposedly captured in some way by the process of writing. It is suggested that the study of gender in archaeology has provided a means for revitalising the literary function of archaeology whilst also generating a forum for critical analysis and debate.

The title of the project evokes the gendered religiosity and socially constructed aspects of material culture produced on mission sites. A case study is developed around crosses identified as a singularly religious artefact type. Religious artefacts are set within the sacred and secular life experienced on Anglican missions in the Solomon Islands during the period from 1921 to 1942. The place of the cross in mission contexts is explored through an examination of of symbolic representation, archaeological significance, and the contemporary vantage point of Edith Safstrom. The relationship of the cross with archaeological and documented evidence for crosses in the repertoire of Melanesian material culture is closely linked. Finally, the cross is found to be a vital element in the symbolic construction of community in the context of an all female mission site.

It is argued that the proliferation of crosses from the study area characterise the cross as a structuring symbol of relationships between people on mission sites. The significance of writing about gender in archaeology lies in the way material culture is created and how artefacts are used to negotiate and delineate meaning. A theme of synergetic acculturation is argued as a vehicle for the development of a distinct social existence, manifested in material culture elements unique to missions. The distinction may be ascribed to the presence of non-Indigenous women and Melanesian women on mission sites in the Solomon Islands.


di Zerega Wall, D. 1994 The Archaeology of Gender: Separating the Spheres in Urban America. New York: Plenum Press.

Safstrom, E. Unpublished diaries and journals, 1921–1942, in possession of D. Smith.

Stanley, N. 1989 The unstable object: Reviewing the status of ethnographic artefacts. Journal of Design History 2:108–121.

Stanley, N. 1994 Recording island Melanesia: The significance of the Melanesian Mission in museum records. Pacific Arts : July:25–41.

Thesis abstract ‘Stone Artefact Assemblage Composition at Stud Creek, Sturt National Park, New South Wales, Australia’

Justin Shiner

BA(Hons), Department of Anthropology, University of Auckland, Auckland, November 1999

This thesis presents an analysis of the composition of the silcrete dominated flaked stone assemblages recorded during the 1996 and 1997 field seasons of the Western New South Wales Archaeological Project in the Sturt National Park, arid far northwestern New South Wales. The objective of the analysis is to investigate patterning in the structure of lithic assemblages from the surface archaeological record. It is argued that the Stud Creek assemblages are palimpsests that represent the accumulation of material from a number of behavioural events within the last 4000 years. Therefore, the assemblages are regarded as time-averaged records of human behaviour whose interpretation is beyond the scope of ethnographic scales of explanation. Rather, they have the potential to inform about the long-term processes that structure the archaeological record at Stud Creek.

To analyse the composition of the Stud Creek stone artefact assemblages the concepts of curation, artefact use life, occupation duration and the intensity of raw material utilisation are used to examine artefact discard as a time dependent process. Heavily curated artefacts with long use lives (tulas and scrapers) have a lower probability of discard than lightly curated artefacts with a short use life (utilised and unretouched flakes). As occupation duration increases so does the intensity of raw material utilisation. An assemblage from an intensively occupied place will contain a .high proportion of curated artefacts and have evidence for the intensive utilisation of raw materials. By analysing assemblage composition from this perspective, it is possible to examine the long-term use of places in the landscape by Aboriginal people.

Two types of silcrete were recorded in the Stud Creek assemblages; local clast silcrete occurring as gibber and imported microcrystalline non-clast silcrete obtained from quarry sources. Analysis of the assemblages reveals a number of differences between the reduction of local and imported silcrete. The presence of cortical flakes with greater than 50% cortex in both classes of silcrete indicates that cortical nodules were transported to Stud Creek. In situ reduction of these nodules is suggested by the reduction of flake size with decreasing proportions of cortex and a larger surface area relative to thickness for cortical flakes compared to non-cortical flakes. A higher flake to core ratio and noncortical to cortical core ratio for imported silcrete indicates that imported silcrete cores were more intensively reduced than local silcrete cores. This is also suggested by a higher ratio of imported silcrete non-cortical flakes to cortical flakes compared to equivalent local silcrete flakes. More intensive utilisation of imported silcrete than local silcrete in both assemblages is demonstrated by the lower flake to tool ratio for imported silcrete.

Applying these concepts and methods to the analysis of the stone artefact assemblages from Stud Creek indicates that this is a place where Aboriginal people spent enough time to discard heavily curated tools and intensively utilise imported non-clast silcrete. It is concluded that Stud Creek represents a persistent place on the landscape because it was abandoned and re-occupied on many occasions. However, the composition of the Stud Creek assemblages suggests that these visits were most likely fleeting and sporadic in nature.

Thesis abstract ‘Microdebitage and the Archaeology of Rock Art: An Experimental Approach’

George J. Susino

MSc, Department of Archaeology, University of Sydney, Sydney, October 1999

The search for a reliable and non-invasive technique for the dating of rock art has produced an array of different, localised, and limited techniques. Still in its experimental stage, the recognition of quartz microdebitage surface features produced by the pecking of engravings is the aim of this research. The investigation established that microdebitage from rock engravings can be distinguished from other sedimentary material. Analysis of microdebitage derived from the experimental manufacture of rock engravings was used to determine the difference between lithic debris and naturally derived particles. This study discusses methodologies and applications for the recognition of quartz grain surface features, derived from experimental and natural material from Mutawintji National Park (Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia) and the Sydney region (New South Wales, Australia).

Microdebitage from experimental rock engravings was examined using optical and scanning electron microscopy to identify diagnostic attributes, with the objective of assessing the potential of microdebitage analysis for spatial and temporal investigations of archaeological and rock engraving sites. Characteristics of the quartz grains in the microdebitage were compared with quartz grains from differing environments. The observation of diagnostic surface features on quartz grains made it possible to discriminate between microdebitage from rock engravings and the natural soil background. This knowledge may be applied to material previously excavated from archaeological sites, or by sample drilling. The methods may be applied to identify episodes of rock engraving and other lithic activity. With the application of chronological techniques, microdebitage analysis can be added to other evidence of cultural activity.

Thesis abstract ‘Here and There: Links between Stone Sources and Aboriginal Archaeological Sites in Sydney, Australia’

Tessa Corkill

MPhil, Department of Archaeology, University of Sydney, Sydney, December 1999

The main aims of this research were to identify the distribution of potential sources of flaked stone found in Aboriginal archaeological sites in Australia’s Sydney region, and to find methods suitable for directly relating artefacts and source materials.

Ethnohistoric evidence for the procurement, manufacture or use of flaked stone in the region in the late 18th century (at ‘contact’), is sparse but tends to suggest that little was being used, particularly in the coastal zone. However, since the late nineteenth century, considerable quantities have been found throughout the area, in archaeological sites spanning many millennia.

Previous attempts to identify stone sources relied on data from geological research, archaeological reports, word of mouth or chance discovery. Inadequacies in the data often resulted in source misidentification, with many types of stone thought only to be available beyond the region – a factor which would have necessitated the involvement of long distance trade/exchange systems and all the social interactions these entail. This research demonstrates that all stone raw materials in Sydney archaeological assemblages are available in the Sydney region, mainly from Tertiary and Quaternary gravel beds, and that these are widely scattered.

Studies aiming to characterise and identify rock from potential sources, mainly silcrete, had mixed results. Examination of whole rocks, fragments and thin sections was undertaken or commissioned. Experts’ descriptions of the same rock type, from the same sources, tended to differ in quite significant ways. Other analyses indicated that discrimination between some regions might be possible but that variation within rocks from individual locations is often greater than between locations. PIXE-PIGME analysis supported this finding. Heating experiments showed that red colouration of silcrete and IMTC (indurated mudstone/tuff/chert) is an unreliable source indicator – yellow rock turns red when heated, which can happen to source material or artefacts, accidentally or deliberately, at any time. Conversely, yellow artefacts have not been heated and their colour may help to identify a source.

In most analysed assemblages, the highest percentage of flaked stone, numerically, is silcrete or quartz, depending on site category and location—quartz predominates in rockshelters in the deeply incised sandstone areas, silcrete is dominant in open ‘campsites’ on the less rugged Cumberland Plain. Variations in raw material abundance mainly seem to correlate with distance from potential sources. However, evidence suggests that, where a number of other knappable rock types were also available, silcrete may have been preferentially selected. Analyses also demonstrated that quartz discard rates in rockshelter sites (all of which are near to potential sources of quartz) changed through time—more was discarded in recent years, compared to other raw materials which were dominant earlier. This may signal changes in mobility or territoriality.

This research should dispel some myths about raw material availability and use in the Sydney region and add new information about the materials themselves, where to find them and which techniques may and may not be worthwhile in relation to future research.

Obituary: Michael Alderson

Maree David

In March this year a man of great courage and conviction sadly passed away. Michael Alderson* was a senior Murrumburr man whose country lies within Kakadu National Park. He was instrumental in the establishment of Kakadu National Park and became Chairman of the Kakadu National Park Board of Management many years ago. He was also a tireless worker for numerous other Indigenous associations and committees in the region. Mick worked with most anthropologists and archaeologists that had the good fortune of working in Kakadu. All of those who have had the honour and pleasure to spend time with this great man, to share stories, roast magpie goose, or share a quiet wander through the tropical savanna with him will know of the significance of this loss. He had a passion for the care of his country and a great vision for heritage management in Kakadu that was truly inspirational. He is sadly missed.

*Mick Alderson’s family have given permission to use his name in print.

The Arrawarra Beach stone structure: Another perspective

Fish taxa identified from the Arrawarra I midden (published in Australian Archaeology 51:68).

Fish taxa identified from the Arrawarra I midden (published in Australian Archaeology 51:68).

Deborah Vale


The Arrawarra Beach stone arrangement is located on a rocky platform at the southern end of Arrawarra Beach, approximately 30 km north of Coffs Harbour on the mid-north coast of New South Wales. The identification of the structure as an Aboriginal fishtrap has been controversial’ over the last 20 years, its status as an Aboriginal site having changed over time, and numerous lines of evidence have been proposed to settle the issue (Campbell 1978; Coleman 1980; Godwin 1988). Godwin (1988) suggested the analysis of material from an associated midden might provide evidence of the structure’s origin and use. Recently, two historical accounts of the use of the structure as a fishtrap by Aboriginal people have been reported (Heron 1994) and further oral evidence has been collected from the Garby Elders (Somerville et al. 1999). In this report I will focus on the analysis of an archaeological fishbone assemblage from the Arrawarra I shell midden (Vale 1998) which has now also provided substantive evidence with which to reassess the structure’s status.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Evidence for early focussed marine resource exploitation from an open coastal site in central Queensland

Radiocarbon dates from the Seven Mile Creek Mound (published in Australian Archaeology 51:66).

Radiocarbon dates from the Seven Mile Creek Mound (published in Australian Archaeology 51:66).

Sean Ulm


Recent excavation of a shell mound on Seven Mile Creek, just south of Gladstone, Central Queensland, has revealed a dense midden deposit dated to 3700 cal. BP (Wk-8327). This result provides some of the earliest evidence of highly focussed marine resource exploitation from an open archaeological site on the Queensland coast.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Dietary stress or cultural practice: Fragmented bones at the Puntutjarpa and Serpent’s Glen rockshelters

Pamela A. Smith


The debate concerning the adequacy of the diet of Aboriginal people in the Western Desert of Australia has been contradictory, with some evidence for both an adequate diet and nutritional stress (Gould 1980, 1984, 1996; Veth 1993; O’Connor et al. 1998; Cane 1984; Smith and Smith 1999). The archaeological evidence is, however, limited in its ability to provide information about the full range of the traditional diet in this region, as, according to recent evidence, it was largely vegetarian leaving few bones and only occasional seeds and grinding tools in the archaeological record (Gould 1980, 1986; Veth 1993; Cane 1989; O’Connor et al. 1998). The range of foods obtained was also subject to seasonal variation and the remnants recorded in rock-shelters represent only the very limited wet season diet and were vulnerable to disturbance by predators (Schrire 1972; Walshe 2000).

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Viewing Riversleigh as a cultural landscape

Laurajane Smith and Anita van der Meer


Riversleigh, the location of a sequence of fossil sites dating back to at least 25 million years, is situated 250 km northwest of Mount Isa, Queensland. It comprises 10,000 hectares of Lawn Hill National Park and was added to the World Heritage lists in 1994 as part of the Australian Fossil Mammal Sites World Heritage Area (which also incorporates Naracoorte, South Australia). The listing was ‘based on its outstanding natural heritage values’ (Manidis Roberts 1998:v), and Riversleigh is highly significant to palaeontological understanding of the origin and diversification of Australian mammalian fauna (Archer et al. 1991). The specific World Heritage Values of Riversleigh define it as a physical landscape.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Media and social context: Influences on stylistic communication networks in prehistoric Sydney

Jo McDonald


The Sydney region (published in Australian Archaeology 51:54).

The Sydney region (published in Australian Archaeology 51:54).

This paper explores some inter-relationships between style, media and social context in a regional prehistoric art style in the Sydney Basin in coastal southeastern Australia (Figure 1). Engravings on open sandstone platforms and a predominantly pigment tradition within sandstone shelters represent a dual media style which operated in the recent prehistoric past. These combined media provide insight into how style may have been used in the pursuit of differing social strategies within this region. There is an assumption that varying degrees of heterogeneity within two components of the one art system – operating simultaneously in the one environment – must be interpreted differently. It is argued that the differing stylistic uses of the two media reflects the pursuit of different social ends. In particular, varying degrees of heterogeneity within the assemblages of the two art media are interpreted in terms of varying social strategies associated with differing degrees of network ‘openness’.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Intersubjectivity and understanding rock art

Robert Layton


As a student in the mid-1960s, and in the early 1970s as a junior lecturer, I worked with Peter Ucko and Andree Rosenfeld on a project studying the prehistoric rock art of northern Spain. These beautiful paintings and engraving were made between ten and twenty thousand years ago by the hunter-gatherers of the Solutrian and Magdalenian. Although apparently full of meaning for their creators, they are tantalisingly silent today. The frustration of not knowing how to interpret them lured me to Australia in 1974, to work with living hunter-gatherer communities on their art. Although, in the end, I did more work on land claims than on rock art over the next seven years, the problem of interpreting the past and present art of other cultures has remained with me.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Burnt and broken: An experimental study of heat fracturing in silcrete

Fracture thresholds for  silcrete sets (published in Australian Archaeology 51:43).

Fracture thresholds for silcrete sets (published in Australian Archaeology 51:43).

Alison Mercieca


Heat-induced fracturing of archaeological stone is a worldwide phenomenon, yet it is poorly understood. Not only does confusion surround the common perception of heat fracturing, where it is often confused with heat-treating, but our knowledge of the specific processes responsible for heat fracturing has been retarded by a lack of explicit and controlled experimental investigation. Apart from two North American experimental studies (Purdy 1974, 1975; Patterson 1999, no published and/or widely available experimental data on heat fracturing of archaeological stone material exists.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Technology of Hunter Valley microlith assemblages

Artefacts from Bettys Creek (published in Australian Archaeology 51:30).

Artefacts from Bettys Creek (published in Australian Archaeology 51:30).

Mark W. Moore


This study was prepared as part of a lithic analysis for an archaeological testing project undertaken by the Australian Museum Business Services in 1996 at three Aboriginal sites encountered on Bettys Creek, near Singleton in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales. The goal of the analysis was to determine the place of the Bettys Creek assemblage within Hunter Valley lithic technology, thereby providing information relevant to evaluating the significance of the Bettys Creek sites.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

The accumulation of charcoal within a midden at Cape Byron, northern New South Wales, during the last millennium

William E. Boyd, J.P. Collins and J. Bell


The analysis of the presence and distribution of wood and charcoal fragments often forms part of archaeological studies in Au

Cape Byron midden charcoal counts (published in Australian Archaeology 51:25).

Cape Byron midden charcoal counts (published in Australian Archaeology 51:25).

stralia, providing either some measure of fluctuations in charcoal fragment abundance or sedimentation rate or sources for radiometric dating (e.g. Colley 1997; Lilley et al. 1998; Bird et al. 1998). However, there have been relatively few studies in which the range of species represented by the charcoal or wood remains has been studied in detail (cf. Hope 1998).

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Pleistocene Timor: Some corrections

Map of Timor (published in Australian Archaeology 51:16).

Map of Timor (published in Australian Archaeology 51:16).

Robert G. Bednarik


The Indonesian island Flores has been suggested to have been occupied by hominids up to 830 ka ago (Koenigswald and Ghosh 1973), by 730 ka (or 780 ka) ago (Sondaar et al. 1994), or before 800 ka ago (Morwood et al. 1999), and Middle Pleistocene jasperite quarrying has been reported from Roshi Danon in Roti (Bednarik 1998; Bednarik and Kuckenburg 1999). In the absence of such early finds from northern Wallacea it therefore stands to reason that, of Birdsell’s (1957, 1977) three colonisation routes leading to Australia, the southemmost has the best prospects of being the correct version. It would have led from Java and Bali (Bali was connected to Java, and thus to the mainland, at times of low sea level) to Lombok. The most important biogeographical division in the world, the Wallace Line, runs through Lombok Strait. After this, a second sea crossing was necessary, at any sea level during the geological past, from Lombok to Sumbawa, and a third from there to Flores (assuming that some smaller islands such as Komodo were connected to the larger ones).

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

The OCR carbon dating procedure in Australia: New dates from Wilinyjibari Rockshelter, southeast Kimberley, Western Australia

Wilinyijibari rockshelter, Kimberley, WA (published in Australian Archaeology 51:8).

Wilinyijibari rockshelter, Kimberley, WA (published in Australian Archaeology 51:8).

Rodney Harrison and Douglas S. Frink


This paper presents the results of the application of the newly developed absolute dating technique, the OCR carbon dating procedure, to a sequence of soil samples from a pre- and post-contact Aboriginal rockshelter site in the southeast Kimberley, Western Australia. This represents the first published set of OCR dates on Australasian soil samples from archaeological site contexts. The sequence of OCR dates has been paired with several [‘C dates as an initial trial of the technique under Australian conditions. The OCR procedure measures the site-specific rate of biodegradation of organic carbon in soils, which under most circumstances will closely approximate the age of artefacts and cultural features contained within them. Close agreement between paired OCR and I4C determinations from Wilinyjibari suggest that with further research, the OCR carbon dating procedure may have potential applications to both pre- and post-contact archaeological sites in Australia, particularly sites with little organic carbon from which to derive radiometric carbon dates. The paper provides a contribution to the growing literature on alternate chronometric methodologies in Australian archaeology.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Excavations revealing 40,000 years of occupation at Mimbi Caves, south central Kimberley, Western Australia

Plan of Japi, Kimberley, WA (published in Australian Archaeology 51:1).

Plan of Japi, Kimberley, WA (published in Australian Archaeology 51:1).

Jane Balme


Mimbi is the name given by Gooniyandi people to a place about 90 km east of Fitzroy Crossing in the southern Kimberley (Figure 1). Its western boundary is defined by the Emanuel Range and the eastem boundary by Lawford Range. Both of these ranges are composed of Devonian limestone. Caves have formed within the limestone and in some, perennial water pools are present. The width between the ranges varies between two and five kilometres. It is a relatively flat area of savanna woodland with many ephemeral creeks draining the ranges.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Learning archaeology: Another story


Catherine Clarke

Developing more effective teaching and learning approaches is an important aspect of disciplinary practice and will require archaeologists to undertake a scholarly exploration of educational theory and methods, areas as yet unfamiliar to most. Here, I argue for this undertaking through an exploration of the role of narrative in teaching and learning. Although often undefined, the term ‘narrative’ has been addressed by archaeologists from a range of theoretical persuasions to argue for different research and interpretive perspectives as well as to acknowledge the value of narrative for developing public awareness of archaeology. However, such projects are primarily aimed outside the discipline: to provide socially responsible information about the past and to generate and maintain public support. There has been a dearth of attention given to the possible ways that narrative can be used to educate archaeologists to better equip them to engage with their professional responsibilities. Here, I outline theoretical considerations for the use of narrative in education and suggest some research approaches for improved teaching and learning in archaeology.

Hearts and minds: Public archaeology and the Queensland school curriculum

Steve Nichols, Jonathon Prangnell and Michael Haslam
Students from Gympie West State School surveying a grid square for artefacts (published in Australian Archaeology 61:77).

Students from Gympie West State School surveying a grid square for artefacts (published in Australian Archaeology 61:77).

The school education system is an important public sphere where popular notions of archaeology and the archaeological past are produced and reproduced. Within the framework of an interpretive public archaeology, schools represent a significant social context in which archaeologists might seek meaningful engagement with the wider community. Analysis of the Queensland Education Studies of Society and Environment (SOSE) syllabus reveals that there are many opportunities for the inclusion of Australian archaeology examples in the curricula of both primary and secondary schools. In this paper we develop a public outreach strategy for engaging the Queensland school curriculum and report on two case studies from southeast Queensland where this strategy was implemented.

Perceptions of archaeology amongst primary school aged children, Adelaide, South Australia

Tim D. Owen and Jody Steele
Sample of responses to Question 1: 'What is archaeology?' (published in Australian Archaeology 61:67).

Sample of responses to Question 1: ‘What is archaeology?’ (published in Australian Archaeology 61:67).

A public archaeology programme was initiated at the Fern Avenue site (an early nineteenth century Adelaide jam factory) as an integral part of the archaeological investigations conducted between March 2000 and November 2000. One component of the public archaeology programme was an archaeological education programme for primary and early secondary aged school children. The primary school component of the programme provided 583 inner-city primary aged school children (aged between 7 and 11) with a classroom introduction to archaeology followed by practical on-site experience. This paper focuses on the outcomes of the primary school class-based teaching. Analysis of the children’s written schoolroom answers has enabled a basic evaluation of the students’ overarching perceptions relating to Australian archaeology.

In general, this study suggested that the primary aged school children involved in the programme understood that archaeology involved ‘investigating the past’ and ‘excavation’. However, comprehension beyond these fundamentals was limited—especially in terms of more specific knowledge, such as an understanding that Australian archaeology comprised the major disciplines Aboriginal, historical or maritime. Although the children’s initial understanding of archaeology was limited, it held a high level of appeal. The base interest generated by archaeology was used to teach the fundamentals, whilst the site visit compounded and enhanced most of the students’ awareness of the discipline, creating a memorable experience for all involved.

‘Consumer choice’ and public archaeology in and beyond the academy

Sarah Colley
Age-group in which 31 respondents said they first became interested in archaeology (published in Australian Archaeology 61:57).

Age-group in which 31 respondents said they first became interested in archaeology (published in Australian Archaeology 61:57).

Archaeology students at the University of Sydney answered a questionnaire about what first attracted them to archaeology and any changes in their opinions about the subject following university study. Primary and secondary education, media and visits to overseas archaeological sites were major factors in developing students’ interests in archaeology. More students were interested in overseas archaeology and in archaeological processes than Australian archaeology or archaeological knowledge. The main impact of university study was to increase students’ awareness of the scope of archaeology, its contemporary relevance, the contingency of archaeological knowledge and the complexity of method and practice. Results are compared with other data about public attitudes to archaeology. The study suggests that potential students, like other members of the public, are attracted to aspects of archaeology which don’t reflect realities of professional practice. Stressing archaeology’s contemporary relevance and skills training for employability seems unlikely to attract more students. Ways to increase public interest in Australian archaeology include actively embracing archaeology’s links with history and palaeontology, more focus on narratives of discovery in public education, and increasing the scope of archaeology taught in schools and shown on television.

Teaching archaeological excavation at the University of Queensland: Eight years inside TARDI

Jay Hall, Susan O’Connor, Jonathon Prangnell and Tam Smith
The TARDIS concept of layered and patterned cultural scenarios (published in Australian Archaeology 61:49).

The TARDIS concept of layered and patterned cultural scenarios (published in Australian Archaeology 61:49).

Effective teaching and learning of archaeological excavation at university is a complex and difficult task for various pedagogical, logistical, practical, financial and ethical reasons. TARDIS, a simulated multi-component archaeological site, was built on the University of Queensland campus in 1996 as an experiment designed to overcome growing concerns associated with teaching field research discipline on ‘real’ sites to undergraduate students. The experiment drew considerably on the problem-based learning (PBL) method of fixed resource sessions in combination with scenario-based problem-solving. The ‘safe’ on-campus learning environment of TARDIS afforded novice undergraduate students an opportunity to practice transferable management skills as well as those specific to archaeological fieldwork. Results from the past eight years indicate that the TARDIS experiment has facilitated more flexible, equitable and efficient student learning without compromising academic or ethical standards.

Archaeology out of the classroom: Some observations on the Fannie Bay Gaol field school, Darwin

Excavating a 19th century water storage feature (published in Australian Archaeology 61:43).

Excavating a 19th century water storage feature (published in Australian Archaeology 61:43).

Clayton Fredericksen

This paper reviews the role of the Fannie Bay Gaol undergraduate field school in archaeology teaching and learning at Charles Darwin University. It details trends in the field school’s history in attracting students to the archaeology programme and provides an account of the issues encountered in retaining student interest while simultaneously teaching the fundamentals of archaeological practice. A decline in student participation in the latter years of the field school is critically examined. Undergraduate students, most of who had no intention of becoming professional archaeologists, were eager to participate in fieldwork but only if they were engaged with the novelty of the adventure. The conclusion drawn is that a field school must be specifically oriented toward a target audience. Graduate and postgraduate field schools are vital to providing future practitioners with a strong grounding in method and technique. Undergraduate field schools are equally important, but not for teaching the finer details of methods. They must instead be designed as out of the classroom exercises that, if university archaeologists are to maintain the viability of their undergraduate programmes, need to be delivered as education and entertainment in equal measure.

Benchmarking for archaeology honours degree in Australian universities

Frequency of Honours grades at three universities (published in Australian Archaeology 61:35).

Frequency of Honours grades at three universities (published in Australian Archaeology 61:35).

Wendy Beck and Jane Balme

A bachelor degree with honours in archaeology is still seen as the fundamental level of academic achievement required to gain entry to the profession and to higher degree research in archaeology in Australia. This is despite the recent proliferation of other kinds of similar university awards, such as specialist diplomas and coursework masters programs. A comparison of the content and standards of honours degrees currently offered by Australian universities suggests variation in the threshold standards, the contents and the grading systems used. Considering our common belief in the role of the degree we think that it is now time to introduce standardisation and benchmarking practices, such as those implemented in British universities.

Useless graduates? Why do we all think that something has gone wrong with Australian archaeological training

Is current teaching and training appropriate? (published in Australian Archaeology 61:25).

Is current teaching and training appropriate? (published in Australian Archaeology 61:25).

Martin Gibbs, David Roe and Denis Gojak

Over the last half a decade or more professional archaeologists have been voicing a deepening sense of dissatisfaction with both undergraduate training and opportunities for graduate skill development. Much of this appears to arise from continuing transformations in industry directions and needs colliding with a period of significant reduction in university staff numbers and capabilities. This paper presents the results of both a qualitative questionnaire and an informal discussion on the AUSARCH-L listserver, setting out the nature of some of these concerns and identifying some possible areas where consistency and agreement might be reached.

Mapping the shape of contemporary Australian archaeology: Implications for archaeology teaching and learning

Respondents by age and gender (published in Australian Archaeology 61:13).

Respondents by age and gender (published in Australian Archaeology 61:13).

Sean Ulm, Steve Nichols and Cameo Dalley

Results from the largest survey of professional Australian archaeologists ever undertaken are considered in the context of teaching and learning issues. The survey asked questions about the composition of the archaeological workforce, professional activities of archaeologists, skills and qualifications needed to work in archaeology, and opinions on university learning and professional training. Data about the discipline are a basic requirement for informed decision-making on archaeology teaching and learning, but few useful datasets are available. While results generally confirm anecdotal evidence and findings of previous surveys, the large sample size (n=301) enables more detailed characterisation of important aspects of the contemporary archaeological workplace. An analysis of self-assessed skill sets and skill gaps indicates that the training of many professionals left significant gaps in several core skill and knowledge areas which are remarkably consistent across various industry sectors. These findings can be used to inform curriculum development and the exploration of new archaeology teaching and learning models that are more attuned to the contemporary Australian archaeological workplace.

Teaching, learning and Australian archaeology

Sarah M. Colley and Sean Ulm


This volume is based on papers and posters presented at the 2004 Australian Archaeological Association Annual Conference held at the University of New England, Armidale, plus some additional contributions. In a session called ‘Learning Archaeology’ organised by Wendy Beck, Martin Gibbs and one of us (SC) contributors were asked to address the following questions: How do we learn archaeology? What can we learn from archaeology? What are some links between learning, teaching, research and professional practice? Learning was defined not only as formalised teaching in the class or field, but included learning through practice, learning for ourselves, and learning and teaching through communicating our results and knowledge to others.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

The education of archaeologists for the 21st century

Donald Pate


The recent introduction of archaeology to the Australian university curriculum in the late 1940s and the rapid changes in archaeological theory and method that occurred worldwide during its establishment in academic institutions have resulted in major adjustments in course content and scope over the past 50 years. A curriculum that focused initially on classical archaeology and ancient history (Cambitoglou 1979; Mulvaney 1993; O’Hea 2000; Trendall 1979) was expanded to include prehistoric archaeology (Allen and O’Connell 1995; Flood 1999; Mulvaney 1969, 1971, 1990; Mulvaney and Kamminga 1999; Smith et al. 1993; Spriggs et al. 1993; White and O’Connell 1982), archaeological science (Ambrose and Duerden 1982; Ambrose and Mummery 1987; Fankhauser and Bird 1993; Pate 2000; Prescott 1988), historical archaeology (Birmingham 1976; Connah 1993; Murray and Allen 1986; Paterson and Wilson 2000), cultural heritage management (Bickford 1991; Egloff 1984; Flood 1993; Green 1996; McKinlay and Jones 1979; Smith 2000) and maritime archaeology (Green 1990; Henderson 1986; Hosty and Stuart 1994; McCarthy 1998; Staniforth 2000). More recent additions to the curriculum include the archaeology of contemporary human societies, i.e. modern material culture (Farmen 2005; Noble 1995) and forensic archaeology (Blau 2004; Pate 2003).

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Review of ‘East of Wallace’s Line’

east of wallaces book cover ‘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, 2000, Modern Quaternary Research in Southeast Asia 16, Balkema, Rotterdam, viii+380 pp. ISBN 9058093190 (hbk).

Martin Williams*

This volume arose from a symposium held, appropriately, on Magnetic Island in northern Queensland, Australia. Inspired by Wallace’s (1869) remarks relating to the ‘maritime enterprise’ that enabled people to move between the islands separating mainland Asia from Australia, this book provides a rich and discursive analysis of the elusive archaeological connotations of the terms ‘maritime’, ‘marine’ and ‘coastal.’ The time frame spans the last 50,000 years, with special emphasis on the last 3000 years, and the geographical scope is equally broad, again with a focus on islands occupied in the later Holocene.

Two chapters deal with the Pleistocene migrations into Australia. Over the past thirty years archaeologists have extended the accepted duration of a human presence in Australia from 10,000 to perhaps 55,000 (Jones, 1999; Mulvaney and Kamminga, 1999). John Chappell examines the ‘Pleistocene seedbeds’ of western Pacific maritime cultures and concludes from careful scrutiny of site ages and numbers that synchronous occupation of Australia and New Guinea was highly unlikely. He notes also that tropical coastal people were best equipped for voyaging at times of rising sea level, an insight accepted by Sue O’Connor and Peter Veth, who provide a refreshingly detailed and non-doctrinaire account of early human colonization of Australia.

Atholl Anderson’s scholarly disquisition on water-craft, notably single-outrigger canoes, explains how the Austronesians crossed the Indian Ocean about 1500-2000 BP. Matthew Spriggs examines the evidence for Neolithic occupation of the western Pacific islands and opts for an inception mainly in the period 3000-4000 BP. The nature and timing of pre-Lapita, Lapita and post-Lapita colonisation of Melanesia and the western Pacific is a contentious issue, and is the subject of thoughtful and robust debate by Jim Allen and by Ian Lilley. A concise analysis by David Roe of the subtle interconnections between coastal and inland societies in the Solomons and Vanuatu concludes that there are ‘no major linguistic, kinship or material culture boundaries’ between the saltwater, coastal and inland groups discussed. An excellent account of the late Holocene maritime societies in the Torres Strait Islands between Papua New Guinea and northern Queensland by Anthony Barham provides a wealth of ecological and chronological detail so essential to productive archaeological enquiry.

Anne Clarke describes the cross-cultural interactions between Indonesian (Macassan) fishing fleets and northern Australian coastal Aborigines during the period between about 1650 AD and 1906 AD. James Fox considers that ‘the migration of the Austronesians was one of the transformative events in world history – on a par with the migration of the Indo-Europeans.’ He discusses the role of three key Indonesian sailing populations (Bugis, Butonese, Bajau) and explains why they are today among the poorest groups in Indonesia. The final chapter by Sandra Pannell is a poignant epitaph on the accelerating disappearance of maritime societies and lifestyles in eastern Indonesia when confronted with powerful external forces (commercial fishing fleets, government-controlled relocation of entire villages) beyond their control.

This volume is a fitting successor to the classic volume edited by Mulvaney and Golson (1971), encompasses a broader geographical region, and shows the increasingly subtle interpretations now available to explain something of the cultural and ethnic diversity of the lands that so fascinated Wallace, Darwin, Cook and Flinders during their ‘maritime endeavours’.


Jones, R. 1999 Dating the human colonisation of Australia: Radiocarbon and luminescence revolutions. Proceedings of the British Academy 99:37–65.

Mulvaney, D.J. and J. Golson 1971 Aboriginal Man and Environment in Australia. Canberra: Australian National University Press.

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

*Reprinted from the British Quaternery Society Newsletter with their approval.

Review of ‘The Archaeology of Drylands: Living at the Margins’

archaeology of drylands book cover‘The Archaeology of Drylands: Living at the Margins’ edited by Graeme Barker and David Gilbertson, 2000, Routledge, London, One World Archaeology 39, xxviii+372 pp. ISBN 0415230012 (hbk).

Mike Smith

I looked forward to The Archaeology of Drylands, expecting a set of papers that might offer a fresh comparative perspective on desert archaeology. However the title is misleading. This volume is exclusively about dryland agricultural systems, mainly those in the Northern Hemisphere. Of the 18 chapters, none consider dryland hunter-gathers, only four chapters present case studies from the Southern Hemisphere, and there is no coverage of the major deserts in the south: the Namib, Kalahari, Australian deserts, Atacama or Patagonian deserts. The Archaeology o Drylands arose out of a symposium at the World Archaeological Congress, in Cape Town in 1999 and never quite transcends the feeling that this is a conference proceedings, minimally repackaged.

What the book does offer is a strong series of case studies on floodwater agricultural systems in North Africa, the Middle East and in central Asia. This reflects Barker’s own strong research interests in this topic, honed in the UNESCO Libyan Valleys surveys. A sense of catastrophic environmental change is evident in these areas: the remains of ancient and sophisticated agricultural systems and urban settlements occur in what appear to be dead landscapes today. What happened? Barker and Gilbertson take aim at the idea of desertification – in particular at the notion that desertification (either climate change or human-induced environmental change) was responsible for the collapse of these agricultural systems. Rosen looks at the Negev Desert. In the 6th century AD, extensive agricultural terraces captured run-off from local wadi systems so successfully that the region exported olives, wine and pomegranates to the Roman Empire. Rosen argues that the system was relatively stable and collapsed only when the Mediterranean economy, and the market for Negev produce, collapsed with the decline of Roman administration. This is a theme that runs through much of the book. Barker presents an overview of the gradual intensification of water harvesting structures – walls, channels, cisterns, and terraces – in the Wadi Faynan in Jordan from 6000 BP. Here, increasingly sophisticated systems of water control offset greater aridity in the late Holocene, together with an expansion of farming into the wadi systems where floodwater could be most effectively captured. Newson argues that the expansion of agriculture into the al-Harra, the Syrian Black desert, was a direct consequence of political and social changes imposed by Roman imperialism. In Turkmenistan, Nesbitt and O’Hara outline the expansion of agriculture and pastoralism in the region, from flood-out areas on the margin of the Kara Kum desert (such as at Jeitun), to more intensive use of the piedmont of the Kopet Dagh Mountains, and finally irrigation agriculture in the desert oases (such as the famous Merv oasis). They suggest a correlation between increasing population growth and urbanism, increasing sophistication of agricultural technology, greater diversity of crops (including salt tolerant crops) and increasing centralisation of authority – until the system was destroyed during the Mongol invasions. Like many of the papers in this volume, it is Boserup rather than Malthus whose shadow lays over the analysis. One exception is the paper by Mattingly, which presents a history of Saharan oases in the Libyan Fezzan, where the Garamantes developed a powerful desert state. The story of Fezzan agriculture is one of ever-more sophisticated strategies to extract enough groundwater to maintain the system, as the water table progressively dropped through over extraction.

As a set, this cluster of case studies amplify the themes outlined by Barker and Gilbertson at the beginning of the volume: that dryland agricultural systems are often very resilient; that there is overall similarity of the techniques used to harvest and manage water, especially flood-water; and that these systems are not simply tailored to their environment but reflect the outcome of a range of social, political, and economic factors. They argue that dryland agriculture involves ‘living at the margin’ of wider economic and political systems and that this is a stronger determinate of the sustainability of dryland agricultural systems than the fact that they are ‘on the edge’ environmentally. There are few reasons, argue Barker and Gilbertson, to believe that long-tern environmental change or human-induced land degradation (both of which occurred) played a central role in the abandonment of these systems.

The other papers in this book from sub-Saharan Africa and the Americas, seem poorly integrated into the rest of the volume, unless they are included simply to illustrate something of the diversity in dryland systems. One factor that links this second set of papers is that they are concerned with subsistence agriculture, whose fortunes are more closely tied to environmental conditions than markets. If this is a counter argument to Barker’s main themes, it is not explicitly addressed. Sutton looks at relict field systems in Maasailand and concludes that strong environmental limits to agricultural expansion in this area, combined with population growth and climate-driven hydrological decline, led to abandonment of the system by AD 1700 AD. One of the features of intensive agriculture in African drylands is that it is very patchy in time and space. Kinahan, in one of the more original papers, looks at agropastoralists in southeast Botswana and concludes that such disequilibrium is fundamental to the overall sustainability of these systems. Local (or even regional) agricultural collapse and abandonment serve as a sort of fallow that sustains the wider system. Minnis looking at dryland agriculture in the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts in southwestern USA seems inclined to a similar conclusion. Dryland agriculture systems are resilient and opportunistic: subject to decline and local environmental degradation but able to regenerate.

The most unexpected additions to a volume on dryland agriculture are two papers on Europe – one on Switzerland (that well-known desert), the other on the Rhone valley in France – and one on the eastern highlands of Zimbabwe where the local rainfall is 750-1200 mm pa. This is stretching the concept of drylands somewhat and reveals the strong concern of the editors with water management systems rather than desert environments per se.

In Australia, I expect this book will be of most interest to archaeologists and historians researching dryland agricultural systems and to scholars more broadly interested in the comparative archaeology of drylands. At $264 the book is a fairly specialised buy and it mainly destined for university libraries. It is not systematic enough in coverage to be of value as a university text, and the production values are too low for it to be an attractive book, bought solely for the appeal of desert landscapes.

Review of ‘An Annotated Bibliography of Thesis in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies at the University of Queensland, 1948–2000’

Annotated bibliography book cover‘An Annotated Bibliography of Thesis in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies at the University of Queensland, 1948–2000’, by Sean Ulm, Anna Shnukal and Catherine Westcott, 2001, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit Research Report Series 5, vi+101 pp. ISBN 1864995939; ISSN 1322-7157.

Annie Ross

This volume is a comprehensive listing of virtually every thesis relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture undertaken at The University of Queensland between the years 1948 and 2000 (1948 is the year of the earliest thesis located). The listing includes theses on archaeology, anthropology, history, health, architecture, literature, language, cultural heritage, and many other aspects of Indigenous culture. Every thesis is presented with details of author, title, degree, School or Department in which the thesis was undertaken and location of copies. Apart from those theses unable to be located by the compilers, all the theses come with a brief abstract. I concentrated on reading the abstracts of all the theses that I have read and I found each abstract to be both accurate and concise.

There is a clear introduction on how to use the volume and an explanation of how the data were collected and presented. This front section of the volume is important as it explains all the codes used in the presentation of each thesis.

Each thesis is allocated a series of keywords, which are then used as the basis for the construction of the index at the back of the volume. I was disappointed to find that the main emphasis in the index was location of thesis case study, rather than the central issue of the thesis. For example, I was interested in finding which theses related to issues of place, but there is no entry for this. However, there is an entry for cultural identity, and this category does provide, in part, access to those theses of interest. But in compiling any index the compilers must make some selection – it is impossible to list every interest area or possible category.

There are 352 theses listed in this volume, most of which relate to Indigenous issues in Queensland. I was not aware of many of the theses and some appear, from their abstracts, to contain material which I am certain will be useful to my research or to that of my students.

Clearly there is a need for such a resource to be available Australia-wide. If The University of Queensland has over 350 theses on topics of relevance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, there must be many hundreds more in other universities. There is a clear need for all Australian universities to add to the excellent beginnings made in this volume.

It would also be valuable to have such a resource available as a web-based database that can be searched on either keywords or on text (hence addressing my needs for particular categories). Such a database could be easily updated every year, providing a highly valuable resource for all researchers into issues relating to Indigenous Australia.

The volume compiled by Ulm et al. is a most useful reference for anyone working in areas of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. I hope that other institutions will follow the lead provided by this volume and compile similar collections. Perhaps it could then be the duty of the Australian Archaeological Association Executive to provide the full database on the Web, with State Representatives charged with updating the database annually.

A PDF copy of this volume can be downloaded by following this link.

Review of ‘Uncovering Australia: Archaeology, Indigenous People and the Public’

uncovering-australia book cover‘Uncovering Australia: Archaeology, Indigenous People and the Public’, by Sarah Colley, 2002, Allen and Unwin, Crows Nest, xvii+251 pp. ISBN 1865082090 (pbk).

Ian J. McNiven

Sarah Colley’s book claims to be ‘an accurate, timely snapshot of the state of archaeology in Australia today and its interplay with the institutions, the culture and the ideas of the time’. This is a big call. So has Colley managed to pull it off? Australian archaeology, despite its relatively small size compared to many other professions, is a fragmented assemblage of practitioners. It is also a culturally embedded domain with broad popular interest because it deals with people’s history, heritage and ultimately their identity. As such, archaeology in Australia, like archaeology in all parts of the world, has multiple representations stemming from multiple stakeholders from diverse backgrounds. At the very least, we have emic representations by practitioners and etic representations by a media-informed public. We also have different opinions on a range of archaeological issues: What is appropriate to research archaeologically? What are legitimate and ethical archaeological techniques? Who is qualified to make archaeological inferences about the past? Who has the authority to control archaeological research? Who ‘owns the past’ and has the right to control the protection of archaeological heritage? These are but a few of the fundamental issues that have gripped Australian archaeology over the last couple of decades. The fallout and outcomes of these debates are so profound that they are rapidly changing the face of Australian archaeology. The archaeology I was taught as an undergraduate in the early 1980s is not the archaeology undergraduates are exposed to in the 21st century. Colley’s book Uncovering Australia succeeds because it chronicles, highlights and critically discusses these issues, debates and changes.

Uncovering Australia focuses on the ‘practice, politics and ethics of Australian archaeology’, with an emphasis on Indigenous archaeology. Eight chapters tackle various contemporary issues at the heart of Australian Indigenous archaeology, such as the archaeological record and types of archaeologies (Chapter 1), cultural heritage management and consulting archaeology (Chapters 2 & 5), Aboriginal participation (Chapters 3 & 4), public and the media (Chapters 6 & 7) and post-colonialism (Chapter 8). Careful reading of these chapters (in conjunction with the extensive endnotes and references) provides a comprehensive overview of the state of play of doing Indigenous archaeology in Australia. One of the most important points made by Colley is that the days of undertaking archaeological research without meaningful involvement of Indigenous people are gone. Chapter 4, aptly titled ‘Negotiating archaeological research’, uses Judith Field’s work at Cuddie Springs in NSW to highlight the commitment required by archaeologists to establish ongoing working relationships with local Aboriginal communities. In this sense, all Indigenous archaeology in Australia today is ‘community archaeology’ based upon ‘partnership’ working relationships. While some members of the archaeological profession (cynically) consult by necessity, it is my experience that we are at a point where working jointly with Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders for most archaeologists is one of the highlights of our profession, not a chore!

The issue of whether or not different groups of Indigenous Australians want archaeological research undertaken on their history and heritage is complex and nuanced (cf. Chapter 3). It is not simply a case of Indigenous people agreeing to archaeological research because they like archaeological findings. In some cases, people may begrudgingly agree to research because it will help support a native title claim. In other situations, people may follow a Dreaming ontology that sees Aboriginal people as eternal occupants of the land, but at the same time fully support and encourage excavation of Pleistocene or more recent cultural materials (e.g. Judith Field’s ‘Cuddie Springs Project’ and Bruno David’s ‘Ngarrabullgan Project’). A key issue is the management of results and the degree to which Indigenous people feel they co-own the research process and have control on the wider dissemination of results.

Colley follows a growing body of literature pointing out that many tensions between archaeologists and Indigenous peoples are a legacy of colonialism. However, the issue of ‘who owns the past’ and who controls interpretations of the archaeological record also have wider relevance in the Australian public arena. Colley briefly discusses the early role played by amateur archaeologists in the development of Australian archaeology. She notes that a consequence of the professionalisation of Australian archaeology during the second half of the 20th century was marginalisation of amateurs and the wider public from the practice of archaeology. In this sense, the lack of engagement with Aboriginal people can also be linked to a broader process of exclusion. However, Colley points out that despite the rise of academic archaeology, the ‘amateur archaeology’ scene remains strong. She notes that ‘alternative archaeology’ and New Age interpretations of the Aboriginal past have a wider market than ‘professional’ offerings in AA or AO. Furthermore, it seems that much of the widespread public support for, and media coverage of, Graeme Walsh’s controversial interpretations of Bradshaw rock paintings in the Kimberley stem from Walsh’s independence from both the halls of academia and the perceived conservatism of ‘boffins’. Colley also points out that many Australians believe that professionals are not just conservative but involved in a conspiracy to hide the true history of Australia – a history that includes ancient Egyptians and Phoenicians.

Uncovering Australia makes a unique and valuable contribution because it decentres the academy and exposes Australian archaeology as a multi-dimensional domain and multi-representational arena. It is written in an engaging style and lives up to its aim of being ‘an easily accessible overview to students, interested members of the public, academics in other disciplines and archaeologists overseas’. Overall, the ‘snapshot’ presented is one that I immediately recognised. Uncovering Australia leaves us at a point where future chroniclers of Australian Indigenous archaeology need to enter into deeper theoretical explorations of contentious issues while at the same time providing positive role models of successful partnership research projects between archaeologists and Indigenous communities. Colley points out that the road to success it not only recognising and overcoming our limitations, but also understanding that we need to take a more active and responsible role in the representation of our profession in the public arena.

Review of ‘The Languages of Archaeology: Dialogue, Narrative and Writing’

Darren Griffin

Languages of archaeology book cover‘The Languages of Archaeology: Dialogue, Narrative and Writing’, by Rosemary A. Joyce, 2002, Blackwell, Oxford, viii+176 pages. ISBN 0631221786 (hbk); 0631221794 (pbk).

Every archaeology student will be aware of the post- processualist argument that archaeologists themselves continually create and re-create interpretations and representations of the past. These representations have just as much to do with the archaeologist’s cultural, social and economic background as they do with an independent, objective interpretation of the past. But what exactly are the processes involved in this creation of representations of the past? Joyce explores this question in her book, The Languages of Archaeology, which examines how archaeological languages are created and how and why archaeologists give authority to one voice over others.

In order to explore this process Joyce uses the work of Mikhail Bakhtin and his analyses of the construction of human language and dialogue. Bakhtin’s main theoretical point is that the construction of scientific knowledge and writing produces a singular form of knowledge. Bakhtin’s dialogic model is a complex model of communication and meaning, where a whole society of speakers and listeners create knowledge through evaluating, criticising, confirming, contesting and reflecting on dialogues. However when these multi-voiced dialogues are put on paper to create scientific texts, these processes are often reduced to one authoritative voice, and the dialogic construction of the knowledge is lost.

Central to Bakhtin’s dialogic model are the concepts of heteroglossia and polyphony or multivocality. Heteroglossia refers to the multiple speech types present in any single language such as dialects, the languages of generations, authorities, and sub-cultures, and scientific jargon. Multivocality refers to the attempt by speakers of one of these types to engage the speakers of the others across the stratification of language. Joyce states that the recognition of archaeology’s heteroglossia and the attempt to make it more multivocal has been discussed previously by post-processualist archaeologists. The reflexive process of including and privileging Indigenous voices in archaeological languages, which is also an important part of making archaeology more multivocal, has been explored recently by researchers here in Australia (see Roberts 2003). Joyce claims that her book is able to show archaeologists how to make archaeological language more multivocal and recover the multitude of stories which create archaeological knowledge, by using Bakhtin’s analysis of dialogues, narratives, and texts.

The book is divided in to seven chapters and includes the contributions of Robert W. Preucel, Jeanne Lopiparo, Carolyn Guyer and Michael Joyce. At the core of most of the chapters are papers previously presented at various conferences, a factor that contributes to the lack of flow between chapters. In an attempt to move away from a formal scientific text towards a multivocal archaeological language Joyce employs different narrative devices in some of the chapters, such as using a collection of email correspondence with Preucel in Chapter Two and an almost conversational story about the oral examination of her PhD student, Lopiparo in Chapter Three.

The most coherent chapter is Chapter Three, in which Joyce considers the writing of archaeology, which she argues has always been as integral to the production of archaeological knowledge as encounters in the field. Joyce explains that writing pervades archaeology from the creation of field notes, records and observations to informal and formal presentations. In the field, archaeology students make a decision on what types of evidence is meaningful and therefore should be recorded on the basis of not only what they have been taught at University, but all the previous dialogues about archaeological knowledge they have been involved in. If the archaeological writing process starts at this point, in the field, then the archaeologist has already been involved in a low level of interpretation and has begun to choose which voices about archaeological knowledge to use in their writing. The acts of recognition in which archaeologists identify which pieces of evidence should be recorded is bound up in the dialogic production of narrative. The main argument of Joyce is that each archaeological text is simply a material form for one segment of the ongoing narrative production of archaeological discourse.

In the final chapters Joyce attempts to suggest how archaeologists can recapture the dialogic process during the experience of constructing archaeological knowledge and make archaeological language more multivocal. It is interesting to note that the examples used are all web sites or hypertexts. There are less examples of how archaeologists can produce a multivocal archaeological language through the traditional forms of printed text. Joyce returns to Bakhtin’s belief that human relations are best exemplified through story telling and therefore the novel is the best form of text which can be employed in order to express human reality. Joyce argues that while a mix of stories, narratives, dialogues and traditional archaeological language can be linked together quite easily on a web site, it may be more difficult to achieve in printed text form. It seems that Joyce is suggesting that the future of archaeological reporting and discussion is through interactive web sites and CD Roms.

The Languages of Archaeology is an interesting and engaging text, although it employs a lot of the archaeological heteroglossia which it is criticising. The book presents and suggests ways in which archaeologists can critically examine the narratives they have produced before they attempt to write an authoritative text on their interpretation of the past. It will be an important addition to post-processualist references. Whether or not archaeologists will throw away their textbooks and journals and use hyper-linked web sites to present their findings from now on remains to be seen.


Roberts, A. 2003 Power, Knowledge and Voice: An Investigation of Indigenous South Australian Perspectives of Archaeology. Unpublished PhD thesis, Department of Archaeology Flinders University, Adelaide.

Rhys Jones awarded the Order of Australia

Claire Smith
Published in Australian Archaeology 56:51, courtesy of Betty Meehan.

Published in Australian Archaeology 56:51, courtesy of Betty Meehan.

On Friday, 11th April the late Emeritus Professor Rhys Maengwyn Jones was appointed an Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia. The award was received by his wife, Dr Betty Meehan at a ceremony at Government House, Canberra. Professor Jones was invested with this award ‘for service to archaeology, particularly in the areas of research and teaching, and as a leader in matters relating to world heritage, conservation and indigenous social justice issues’.

Rhys Jones was born in Wales on 26 February, 1941. He died in Canberra, Australia, on 19 September, 2001. In 1963, at the age of 22 he joined Sydney University as a Teaching Fellow. In 1969 he accepted a position as a Research Fellow at the Australian National University, where he held a personal Chair in Archaeology from 1993. He was a visionary, both in terms of the directions that archaeological research might take and the development of the discipline as a whole. He took a global perspective on these issues and had an outstanding intellectual grasp of the problems facing world archaeology as well as a clear understanding of what still needs to be done. He was a prolific researcher and, at the time of writing, 18 months after his death, he has around six papers still in press. His research and views shaped both the development and current form of Australian archaeology.

A renaissance scholar who published in both the arts and sciences, his research had a profound impact on the discipline of archaeology in three principal ways. He was in the vanguard of archaeologists in the 1960s who found value in the archaeological study and excavation of Australia, rather than overseas; he was among the first archaeologists to appreciate the importance of ethnographic field studies to an understanding archaeological data and was a pioneer in the integration of archaeology and ethnography; he has been closely involved with the development of an interdisciplinary approach and scientific techniques in archaeology, especially in regards to the dating of rock art. His outstanding ability as a teacher is reflected in the fact that several of his ex-students are now professors, including the current Professors of Archaeology at the Faculties, Australian National University, and the University of Western Australia. His standing with the Aboriginal people with whom he worked can be gauged by the Aboriginal Honours which were bestowed on him. He was invited to attend Kunapippi ceremonies in Arnhem Land in 1972 (twice) and 1986. In addition, he was co-recipient of Rom ceremonial regalia in 1982. He was assigned to the Wamut Malk and is affiliated with the Galamagondidja Baparru by the Gidjingarli people, Arnhem Land.

Rhys Jones held both elected and appointed positions in professional societies. He became an elected member of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies in 1966, at the age of 25, and was elected to the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 1982. In 1976 he was invited to present the Institute’s inaugural Wentworth Lecture. In 1987 he was made a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London (FSA) and in 1992 the Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales elected him to the Gorsedd (Gwisg Wen). He was President of the Australian Archaeological Association from 1977-79 and Vice-President of the Australian Academy of the Humanities from 1986-87. He was an invited speaker at the Royal Society and the Academy of Science, London, on regular occasions. From September, 1995 to June, 1996 he was invited Professor in Australian Studies at Harvard University, USA.

Rhys Jones was a public intellectual who has been a leader in the discussion of world heritage, conservation and Aboriginal social justice issues. His views helped shape the Australian public’s appreciation of both our past and our present. His work at Kutakina cave in Tasmania, for example, was fundamental to the nomination and subsequent listing of this area of the Franklin river on the World Heritage List. He had a deep knowledge of Australia’s Indigenous heritage and the rare ability to engender enthusiasm for this subject in both students and members of the general public. As such, he made major contributions to the quality of Australian society through enhancing a broad community understanding of Indigenous cultures.

Patricia Vinnicombe obituary

Peter Veth, Val Attenbrow and Nicola Stern

During the last days of March 2003 the news of Dr Patricia Vinnicombe’s death became known throughout the Australian archaeological community. Friends and colleagues of Pat both in Australia and overseas were immediately in touch with each other, trying to make sense of what was such an untimely loss. As details of the circumstances of her death were relayed by her family it became clear that she had been involved in doing what she had passionately pursued for many decades – the study and protection of indigenous culture and rock art in all its myriad forms. Having just completed a walking inspection of rock engravings on the spectacular Burrup Peninsula during the last weekend of March, Pat was involved in a meeting of specialists concerned with the future management and monitoring of Aboriginal cultural heritage on the Burrup Peninsula being held at Karratha. Pat died from a heart attack during that meeting.

Two years before arriving in Australia Pat published People of the Eland, a profound and influential account of the rock art of the San of the Drakensberg Range, in southern Africa. This elegant volume not only brought an extraordinary and dynamic body of art to the attention of a global audience, but also helped to lay the foundations for a new generation of research into the meaning of prehistoric art.

Earlier studies of the rock art of southern African were stymied on the one hand by colonial attitudes toward the San as a people so primitive that they were devoid of religious or spiritual sensibilities, and on the other hand, by uncritical application of interpretations developed for European rock art. Exhorted by the doyenne of European rock art research, the Abbe Breuil, to develop her own strategies for delving into the meaning of the Drakensberg art, Pat was to pioneer an approach which employed myth and metaphor as a key into the cognitive world of the artists.

Pat’s interest in this art was fostered in her youth, growing up as she did on a farm in the shadow of the Drakensberg Mountains. Together with her brother, John, Pat spent a lot of time exploring the art preserved on the cliffs and shelters of those mountains. From 1958 until 1961 she took time away from her work as an occupational therapist to make a detailed pictorial record of this art, producing hundreds of meticulous, painted copies, a selection of which were reproduced in People of the Eland.

After an absence of some years Pat eventually returned to the  Drakensberg  Mountains  to  undertake  excavations  at selected rock shelters. Subsequently, a Fellowship at Clare Hall, Cambridge University, gave her the opportunity to write a detailed account of her rock art research, published in 1976 by the University of Natal Press as People of the Eland: Rock Paintings of the Drakensberg Bushmen as a Reflection of their Life and Thought. In this work Pat combined quantitative analyses with insights drawn from anthropological and historical accounts to identify the visual metaphors that run through this body of art and to make inferences about what it was that the artists were celebrating in their paintings. Thus she showed that the Drakensberg art was an expression of the both the lives and spiritual world of the Bushmen who had once inhabited this landscape. In 1977 Cambridge University awarded Pat a Doctorate of Philosophy for this seminal work.

In 2000 Pat picked up the threads of her Drakensberg research, accepting an invitation to join the Rock Art Research Institute at the University of Witwatersrand for three months as a Visiting Research Fellow. This provided an opportunity to catalogue hundreds of her original painted records and to begin the task of transferring them to archival paper, for posterity.

The fulfilment of her dreams, however, came in 2001 through her participation in the making of the film, Spirits of the Rocks. This gave her the opportunity to meet and talk with San people in Namibia and to pursue an inquiry into aspects of their spiritual and intellectual lives, an inquiry stimulated forty years before, by her studies of the Drakensberg art.

Many people world-wide will remember Pat for her contributions to rock art. Perhaps less well recognised internationally, but certainly well-acknowledged in research and consulting archaeological projects is Pat’s contribution in introducing the concept of potential habitation (PH) sites which led to the development of the recognition of potential archaeological deposits (PADs) in Australia.

Pat came to Sydney to work for the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service on the North Hawkesbury project, which began in 1978. The project was completed in 1980 with the production of her massive report Predilection and Prediction: a study of Aboriginal sites in the Gosford-Wyong region. Pat identified the opportunity in the North Hawkesbury project to gain more reliable data on the selection of habitation sites and choice of location. She addressed this aim by comparing the location, distribution and characteristics of rockshelters that were available for use against those for which there was evidence of use. Rockshelters that were potentially available for habitation (for which there was a listed set of criteria) were called potential habitation (PH) shelters. During her first fieldwork season in the Mangrove Creek Dam storage area, it was noted that many PH shelters had floor deposits that looked the same as those identified as ‘archaeological deposits’ and could thus contain buried artefact or faunal assemblages. Such deposits came to be known as potential archaeological deposits (PADs). Although initially only used in respect to deposits in rockshelters, use of the concept has been extended to include PADs in open contexts. Where threatened by proposed developments, PADs are usually test excavated, frequently with positive results, thereby enabling the detection of otherwise ‘invisible’ Aboriginal sites.

The North Hawkesbury project synthesized data from ethno-historical sources, environmental studies, past site recordings for the region as well as Pat’s own archaeological surveys. In addition to the Upper Mangrove Creek catchment (a freshwater area) the areas surveyed were in estuarine (Spencer, Lower Mangrove Creek) and ocean/estuary mouth (Brisbane Waters) contexts, enabling comparisons to be made between the Aboriginal use of these different environments. It is a great piece of work and despite not being published is still in constant use by many archaeologists working in the Sydney/NSW central coast.

Pat had long-term engagement with AIATSIS; as a grantee, referee and researcher. She held research posts in both NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and with the Aboriginal Affairs Department of WA. Pat’s ongoing engagement with the cultural heritage of the Burrup Peninsula led to her part in the Western Australian Government’s Rock Art Monitoring Management Committee. Since leaving the AAD Pat was active as an Honorary Associate of the WA Museum, a member of the Kimberley Society and specifically in the research of Bardi dancing boards (ilma).

AAA extends its’ sympathies to Pat’s family and her extended network of colleagues and friends.

In recognition of Pat’s enormous contribution to Australian archaeology a special session in honour of Pat will be hosted at the AAA Conference in Canberra 2003. It will specifically address the issue of the evaluation of the significance of rock art and discuss the current initiative of the Australian Heritage Commission to identify and nominate major provinces within Australia for the National Estate.

Pat Vinnicombe obituary

Sylvia Hallam

Pat Vinnicombe died on Sunday, 31st March, 2003, aged 71, whilst at a meeting of the Committee monitoring the effect of industrial emissions on the rock art of the Burrup Peninsula in the Dampier Archipelago off the Pilbara coast in Western Australia.

As a girl Pat had lived on the family property in the Drakensburg Mountains in South Africa, where she walked and rode (on horseback) through the mountains, and made accurate tracings of the great corpus of the magnificent Bushman art in rockshelters high in the valley-walls.

Pat trained as an occupational therapist at the University of Witwatersrand., where her lecturers included Professor Raymond Dart and Phillip Tobias. When she went to work in hospitals in Britain in 1954-56 she took her tracings with her, where they enraptured the archaeological world. She received encouragement from Kenneth Oakley; while the Abbe Breuil told her “You just go ahead and do the job. It doesn’t matter how you do it. Nobody knows more than you do. Develop new ideas, new techniques.” She did. The work already accomplished was so impressive that it attracted grants which enabled her to continue recording and analysis from 1957 to 1961.

In 1961 I was entranced to hear Pat’s exposition of the art record and its interpretation in terms of group ritual and ecstatic states, in a lecture which she gave in the department of Archaeology and Anthropology at Cambridge, where she had come to continue this immense work as a Fellow of Clare Hall, Cambridge.

Pat undertook further fieldwork and excavation in the Drakensburg jointly with her husband, Cambridge archaeologist Patrick Carter, in 1969 and into the seventies. She published a full account of fieldwork, art transcriptions, descriptions, analyses and interpretation in her magnificent 1976 book, People of the Eland1.

Pat laid the theoretical basis for a new approach to rock art studies when she used ethnohistorical sources, in conjunction with field recording, numerical analysis, and excavation, to elucidate her records of art in the Drakensburg, where it was no longer being produced. She demonstrated that dance, music, myth and depiction were all part of ceremonial participation, whose power was focussed in certain gifted individuals, but shared by the total ceremonial community. There was a frequent connection between artistic depictions and ecstatic states. Depictions were metaphoric sources of power. “The creation of a painting or engraving was also in itself . . . a religious act. And herein lies the crux of motivation.”2

In the late seventies, when her marriage failed, Pat came out to archaeological work in Australia, first in New South Wales, then with the Aboriginal Sites Department at the West Australian Museum. Pat had used historical sources to interpret Bushman art. She wanted now to work with extant exponents of Aboriginal art, myth, and ritual. In Africa Pat had linked rock art themes to historical evidence. In Australia she explored art in extant, living, communities. Pat wanted now to observe extant societies creating art, to study the nexus of ties between overlapping kin sets of land-holders and land-users, and the ritual and economic / ecological structuring of their terrain.

Pat used to the full every available opportunity to work with Aboriginal people in the Kimberleys, particularly with women. To the friendships she formed there Pat gave herself generously, as to all her friendships.

Recording the areas of art which would be destroyed by the Woodside development on Burrup3 was initially sheer hard work, one of the difficult and trying chores involved in Pat’s “Sites Department” work. It must be frustrating to put into effect policies one has had no say in formulating. Pat worked meticulously, and remained always measured and cautious in her assessments, never rash. But she became, reluctantly, dedicated to preserving the even more diverse and astounding art over the remainder of the peninsula4. She knew the heavy commitment involved, at a time when she should have been relaxing into overdue retirement. But once committed she gave both mental and physical energies unstintingly, and died while defending that priceless world heritage.

On the day before her death Pat had just addressed a Conference on the Burrup art at Karratha in the Pilbara, explaining to exponents of other disciplines (chemists and geomorphologists looking at pollutants and their effects on rock surfaces) that Aboriginal “rock art” is not just crude decoration in rough natural galleries, but the record of group participation in solemn and complex cycles of religious ceremonial. The extraordinary concentration on the Burrup Peninsula of engravings in a diversity of styles, a diversity of techniques, in a diversity of locations, showing a wide range of degrees of weathering, represented a palimpsest of such records, showing continuity and change over a very long, but yet to be precisely determined, time-range. The chemical experts,  at  the  Conference  and  Committee  monitoring  the effects of industrial pollution on the engravings, were awed by Dr Vinnicombe’s command of her subject. They were even more impressed when she took them scrambling over rock-strewn valleys next morning. Pat was at her peak. Later she felt unwell while attending a meeting of the Committee, collapsed and died.

Pat was recognised throughout the world as one of a very few real pioneers and innovators in the study of rock-art. She not only set new standards of empirical recording, but gave the world a deeper understanding of sacred art sites as nodes in a nexus of story and song and ceremony, tying into the community’s network of secular subsistence activities, “Law” linking with “lore”.

Messages of grief from every continent have expressed shock and sadness at Pat’s sudden death. The best memorial we can offer would be to ensure that her objectives of recognition and conservation for Burrup art are achieved.

Pat leaves a son, Gavin Carter, and a partner George Kendrick. She will be deeply mourned and missed, by the academic world, and by her many, many friends. Pat’s way of living could be Spartan – yet overflowing with the abundance of the food she garnered, the lovely objects she treasured, the friends she nurtured, the garden she delighted in, the love and care she had for George and for Gavin. Pat crafted a life full of richness, generosity, beauty and diversity. She gave, and there was given to her, “full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and flowing over”, “honey from the rock”.


Sandstone quarries and grinding stone manufacture: Survey and excavation at Yambacoona Hill in south-eastern Australia

Judith H. Field, Richard Fullagar, Joe Dortch, Adriana Dutkiewicz and Paul Gordon


Location of Cuddie Springs, Yambacoona Hill and Mt Oxley in SA Australia (published in Australian Archaeology 56:46).

Location of Cuddie Springs, Yambacoona Hill and Mt Oxley in SA Australia (published in Australian Archaeology 56:46).

Grinding stones are a ubiquitous feature of arid and semi-arid Australia, yet there have been few investigations into production at particular quarries (e.g. McBryde 1997; Mulvaney 1998). These implements were manufactured in many parts of Australia to process a variety of materials: ochre, bone, small animals, wood, and plant foods such as nuts and grass seeds (Field and Fullagar 1998; McCarthy 1967). Seed-grinding stones provided a crucial technology for occupation of drier regions (Balme 1991; Smith 1986; Edwards and O’Connell 1995).

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

A preliminary report on archaeological investigations at Malea Rockshelter, Pilbara Region, Western Australia

Map showing the location of Malea Rockshelter in the Pilbara (published in Australian Archaeology 56:44).

Map showing the location of Malea Rockshelter in the Pilbara (published in Australian Archaeology 56:44).

Kevin Edwards and Angela Murphy


In February and March 1994, McDonald, Hales and Associates conducted on behalf of Hancock Prospecting Propriety Limited (subsequently Hope Downs Management Services) a series of archaeological evaluations within the proposed Hope Downs Iron Ore Project area, located approximately 75 km northwest of Newman, Western Australia (Fig. 1). These evaluations formed part of an on-going programme of Aboriginal heritage research and consultation initiated in March 1992 and only recently completed (McDonald, Hales and Associates 2001). During the course of the archaeological evaluations, some 23 potential archaeological deposits were test-pitted. Of these, only one, named ‘Malea’ by participating members of the Aboriginal community, was found to contain a significant depth of cultural deposit.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Advent of Anadara mounds and theories on mid- to late Holocene changes in forager economic strategies – a comment

Patricia Bourke


Recently, Veitch (1999) has argued that the large Anadara mounds of  north Australia  represent widespread change  in foraging behaviour in the mid- to late Holocene, characterised by an increased focus on small-bodied organisms such as the marine mollusc Anadara granosa. Veitch’s (1999) preferred social explanation for the appearance of these mounds, as opposed to environmental explanations such as changes in local ecological habitats (e.g. Hiscock 1999; O’Connor 1999), is linked chronologically to increased reliance on seed grinding in the arid zone and the appearance of points in northern Australia. It is seen as part of the proposed widespread mid- to late Holocene changes in forager economic strategies and population size (Lourandos 1983, 1985). Others, such as O’Connor (O’Connor 1999; O’Connor and Sullivan 1994) have pointed out the links between the appearance of the mounds and evidence for environmental change on the coast, of increasing aridity and northward movement of the northwest Australian monsoon, and lack of correlation with the timing of appearance of points.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Valuing Aboriginal cultural heritage sites in Central Queensland

Jill Windle  and John Rolfe
Aboriginal cultural places in the Fitzroy River Basin, central Queensland  (published in Australian Archaeology 56:36).

Aboriginal cultural places in the Fitzroy River Basin, central Queensland (published in Australian Archaeology 56:36).

The protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage sites is not consistent across Australian states. In part this is because of the considerable variation in the perceived quality of different sites. For example, these range from camping areas, rock-working sites and marked trees through to important art gallery and burial sites. It is also because it is not clear what values are held within the Australian community for protecting sites. This paper will describe a Choice Modelling valuation study that assessed the values held by both the Indigenous community and the general community for the protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage sites in central Queensland, Australia.

Australian Aboriginal biface reduction techniques on the Georgina River, Camooweal, Queensland

Mark W. Moore
Late stage large bifaces from the Georgina River project area (published in Australian Archaeology 56:23).

Late stage large bifaces from the Georgina River project area (published in Australian Archaeology 56:23).

A technological analysis was recently completed on a collection of stone artefacts recovered during bridge construction at Camooweal, northwest Queensland. The results indicate that various bifacial reduction techniques were an integral part of the Aboriginal stone-working repertoire. A sophisticated knowledge of biface flaking and a multi-staged approach to manufacture is suggested by large hand axe-like bifaces and small bifacial points. The reduction techniques used in manufacturing these bifaces were also used on other elements in the stone toolkit.

Shell artefacts from northern Cape Range Peninsula, northwest Western Australia

Kathryn Przywolnik
Map showing inset of study area and midden sites in the Cape Range Peninsula, northwest Australia (published in Australian Archaeology 56:12).

Map showing inset of study area and midden sites in the Cape Range Peninsula, northwest Australia (published in Australian Archaeology 56:12).

This paper describes a range of flaked, ground and utilised shell artefacts that were recorded and analysed as part of a broader study of archaeological sites in a section of arid coastal northwest Western Australia. Despite the relative profusion of shell artefacts in the study area, ethnographic sources for the Cape Range region do not reference the making or using of shell artefacts by Aboriginal people. Previous and recent archaeological research in the Cape Range region are discussed and a shell artefact assemblage with components such as baler shell pendants, knives and dishes, shell beads and giant clam shell adzes is identified. Shell artefacts have been generally neglected by archaeologists in Australia, but are potentially a substantial source of information regarding the function of archaeological sites. This paper provides a resource for the identification of shell artefacts from sites in coastal northwestern Australia.

AMS radiocarbon dating of bone collagen: Establishing a chronology for the Swanport Aboriginal burial ground, South Australia

F. Donald Pate, Timothy D. Owen  and Ewan Lawson
Map showing location of the Swanport Aboriginal burial ground (published in Australian Archaeology 56:8).

Map showing location of the Swanport Aboriginal burial ground (published in Australian Archaeology 56:8).

The Swanport Aboriginal skeletal population has played a significant role in physical anthropological research in Australia. This paper provides the first chronometric dates for this important burial population. AMS radiocarbon determinations on bone collagen from six individuals showed a calibrated 2σ range from 1027 BC to 1521 AD. On the basis of this sample, the Swanport population appears to pre-date all European contact in Australia. These dates contradict previous assumptions that associated the Swanport burial population with a recent protohistoric period or a discrete period of time related to historic smallpox epidemics in the 19th century. The current chronometric range of approximately 2500 years for inhumations at Swanport indicates the use of the site as a burial ground over an extended period of time during the late Holocene.

A Lang Park mystery: Analysis of remains from a 19th century burial in Brisbane, Queensland

Layout of the North Brisbane Burial Grounds showing the locations of the denominational cemeteries (published in Australian Archaeology 56:1).

Layout of the North Brisbane Burial Grounds showing the locations of the denominational cemeteries (published in Australian Archaeology 56:1).

Michael Haslam, Jonathan Prangnell, Luke Kirkwood, Anthony McKeough, Adrian Murphy and Thomas H. Loy

Salvage excavation of the Suncorp Stadium (Lang Park) redevelopment site in Brisbane revealed almost 400 graves. Originally known as the North Brisbane Burial Grounds, it was the site of Brisbane’s principal cemetery between 1843 and 1875. A grave in the Anglican section of the cemetery yielded several teeth and associated non-dental bone fragments, and stature data derived from the coffin indicate a child burial. Observation of the stages of tooth eruption, resorption, and formation revealed evidence for two children, one aged approximately three years old and the other aged 12. An examination of the coffin furniture showed that the coffin was bought by a wealthy Anglican family, and DNA analyses suggest that the older individual was of Eastern European descent. These results suggest the burial of the older child in the same grave as the younger was most likely clandestine, and highlight the importance of post-excavation analyses to the interpretation of Australian cemeteries.

Thesis abstract ‘Numerous Indicators: The Archaeology of Regional Aboriginal Behaviours in Northwest Central Queensland’


Mal Ridges

PhD, Department of Archaeology, University of New England, Armidale, 2003

This thesis examines the dynamics of regional Aboriginal behaviour in northwest central Queensland as it is indicated by several scales of spatial patterning in archaeological evidence. Using geographic information system (GIS) analysis and multivariate statistical techniques, patterns in the distribution of archaeological features were derived using a combination of two spatial scales and three levels of archaeological feature classification. The two spatial scales comprise analysis performed for the entire region and more detailed analysis performed within two smaller areas within the region. The classificatory scales include modelling the distribution of locations containing archaeological features; modelling the types of features occurring at these locations; and modelling spatial variation in the attributes of these features. For example, at two different spatial scales, models are presented for the location of places containing any type of archaeological feature; for the location of places containing stone artefacts; and for locations containing stone artefacts made from various rock types. In addition, point pattern analysis is used to examine patterns in the distribution of different rock art figures and spatial variation in the form of one particular type of figure.

The results of this study illustrate that several levels of spatial patterning can be identified in northwest central Queensland. Specifically, these reveal that at the regional level, the occurrence of locations containing archaeological features is primarily driven by proximity to water. However, the types of features occurring at these locations is driven by a multitude of other factors, such as proximity to stone raw materials, stream order, terrain, and geology. Importantly, the way these factors combine varies throughout the region. For example, in one part of the region, the most important factor determining the location and type of archaeological features is the location of outcrops suitable for manufacturing stone axes. In contrast, in another part of the region, the important factors become proximity to escarpment areas that produce places suitable for depicting rock art. In addition, analysis of the distribution of rock art figures shows that the depiction of different types of figure demonstrates a northeast to southwest trend, corresponding to trends in regional drainage, and consequently, the movement of people into and out of the region. In contrast, the variation in the form of one particular figure demonstrates spatial patterns that trend northwest to southeast, relating to the movement and information flow between people within the region.

The thesis argues that these results demonstrate patterns in behaviour operating on several different levels. Some of the archaeological patterns discerned correspond with levels of behaviour described anthropologically, such as the extent of linguistic groups, or descriptions of foraging behaviour. However, other archaeological spatial patterns do not fit into such anthropological classifications of hunter-gatherer behaviour quite so easily. Consequently, it is argued that the recognition of archaeological pattern, and its behavioural interpretations, is dependent upon the spatial, temporal, and categorical scale at which they are examined. In doing so, the thesis illustrates that understanding the dynamics of regional hunter-gatherer behaviour requires an understanding of the factors driving archaeological pattern occurring at a variety of scales, and across a range of evidence. The thesis suggests that scale is therefore a critical, but little explored component of archaeological theory generally, and which has important implications for the understanding archaeologists have of Australia’s prehistory, and particularly interpretations relating to mid-Holocene change. It is also argued that the study demonstrates how useful GIS and statistical modelling approaches are for visualising the trends and variation in archaeological spatial pattern occurring at the regional level. Such tools offer potential benefits to the research and management of Aboriginal cultural heritage.

Thesis abstract ‘A Space of their Own: Nineteenth Century Lunatic Asylums in Britain, South Australia and Tasmania’

Susan Piddock

PhD, Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, Adelaide, 2002

In the early nineteenth century the advent of new treatments for insanity, the emergence of the non-restraint movement, and an increasing social awareness of the conditions in which the insane were being kept, led to the rise of the lunatic asylum. A growing trend to use institutions to deal with perceived problem groups within society supported the development of a system of government-funded lunatic asylums across Britain. In this thesis it will be argued that the design of the lunatic asylum was an essential part of the treatment of the insane, and that its design encompassed a whole range of ideas both explicit and non-explicit.

As will be discussed the advent of moral therapy to treat insanity and the non-restraint movement, which sought to improve the living conditions of the insane, both required the provision of specific features in a lunatic asylum that would aid in the cure of the insane person and their management on a daily basis. To access these ideas the techniques of historical archaeology are used to examine a range of documentary sources from the nineteenth century that dealt with the construction and arrangement of lunatic asylums. This in turn led to the development of a series of ‘ideal’ asylum models that were then tested against the lunatic asylums actually built in the nineteenth century to determine whether these works actually influenced the design of these lunatic asylums.

This thesis, firstly, considers lunatic asylums in nineteenth century Britain in relation to the ‘ideal’ models, and secondly, considers the lunatic asylums built in South Australia and Tasmania during the nineteenth century against these models. These two colonies were chosen because of their differing histories. Tasmania was for many decades a penal colony, while South Australia was established as a free colony and never received convicts. It will be argued that the adoption of the ‘ideal’ asylum features can be directly related to a number of key factors. These were access to a pool of knowledge about lunatic asylum design; economic constraints; the treatment mode adopted; and social perceptions of who was to be accommodated in the asylum – paupers, the middle class, the higher class, or convicts.

Thesis abstract ‘Inland Pilbara Archaeology: A Study of Variation in Aboriginal Occupation Over Time and Space on the Hammersly Plateau’

Ben Marwick

MA, Centre for Archaeology, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, July 2002

In this thesis I describe the results of my analysis of archaeological material and sediments excavated from four rockshelters on the northeast Hamersley Plateau, Western Australia and synthesise previously reported archaeological evidence from the inland Pilbara to answer two questions about Aboriginal occupation. The first question asks how humans inthe inland Pilbara responded to the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and compares their response to those of people in surrounding areas. Archaeological evidence from areas surrounding the inland Pilbara, such as the northwest coast, the interior and the Kimberley, indicate that people abandoned sites or used them less frequently during the LGM. A unique and significant feature of the inland Pilbara is the Hamersley Plateau, a massive plateau and escarpment feature that concentrates plateau runoff into long and deep gorges with aquifer-fed pools. Previously reported sites in the inland Pilbara are not near the escarpment and suggest abandonment or reduced frequency of use during the LGM, but I present new evidence from Milly’s Cave, located near the escarpment, that indicates increased use during the LGM. This evidence indicates that the pliancy of hunter-gatherer adaptive systems during the LGM may have been underestimated and the local as well as regional environments are significant in understanding hunter-gatherer adaptations to climate change.

The second question asks what technological, economic and demographic changes occurred in the inland Pilbara during the middle and late Holocene and how these changes relate to those in surrounding areas. Located between the northwest coast and the interior, the inland Pilbara has been suggested to be a bridge for populations or ideas moving between the coast and the interior. New Holocene stone technologies appear at similar times in the Pilbara, northwest coast and interior, suggesting the three areas were part of regional systems of technological and economic change. Cultural changes associated with the new technologies are suggested by ethnographic information from the inland Pilbara that links the new technological types to ceremonial activities and gender-specific tasks. Archaeological evidence suggests that late Holocene increases in population dynamics in the inland Pilbara may be related to similar increases in the interior. This evidence suggests that there is a relationship between cultural, technological and economic change and population dynamics in hunter-gatherer populations.

Thesis abstract ‘The Archaeology and Socioeconomy of the Gunditjmara: A Landscape Analysis from Southwest Victoria, Australia’

Heather C. Builth

PhD, Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, Adelaide, 2002

An  archaeological  study  of  Indigenous  precontact settlement was undertaken on the Mt Eccles lava flow in Southwest Victoria. The aim was to investigate the hypothesis that Gunditjmara socioeconomy was based on large-scale environmental management, incorporating aquaculture, food preservation and storage. Conclusions of previous archaeological excavation and survey on the landform were contradictory in their interpretations regarding Gunditjmara occupation. The shortfin eel (Anguilla australis) was economically the most important freshwater fish in the region, in the indigenous past as well as today. Ethnohistorical and local indigenous oral histories indicate that this resource was exploited as a major part of the regional precontact economy. However, no archaeological research has been undertaken on the extent of eel exploitation by Gunditjmara.

In order to investigate the nature of Gunditjmara resource exploitation, an understanding of environmental relationships was considered essential. In this study a landscape analysis was used to determine the associations between the archaeology on the lava flow and its environmental context. In pursuance of this aim an innovative and appropriate archaeological methodology was designed. In consequence, stone features were identified as dams, weirs, dwellings and storage caches. Their relationships were investigated using GIS. On the basis of the data generated by the landscape-scale studies individual sites were selected for a more detailed investigation. It is hypothesised that culturally modified trees served as domestic hearths and smoking facilities for eels. Biomolecular analysis was used to search for eel lipids in soil samples from the trees to determine whether these could be associated with food processing.

The archaeological study produced a model of Gunditjmara settlement on the Mount Eccles lava flow. The multifarious approach proved crucial for determining aspects of a past economy not previously identified but highly significant to the settlement model. The findings include the first archaeozoological evidence for an indigenous exploitation of the shortfin eel in Victoria. The results challenge accepted Australian approaches to investigating precontact archaeology, with its focus on depth and age in preference to past socioeconomies. They strongly support a methodology designed to determine ecological and archaeological relationships to accurately interpret the evidence.

This study demonstrated how economic change alters the nature and value of resources and allows for different social behaviour to develop. It has been recognised outside of Australia that the procurement and storage of a seasonally abundant resource may lead to the emergence of social organisation and inequality. Ethnographic documentation, as outlined in this study, supports the existence of a social hierarchy among the southwest language groups of Victoria. However, there is no archaeological evidence to date of any large-scale resource procurement and storage that could lead to controlled resource management in these precontact Australian Aboriginal societies.

A global ethnographic and archaeological comparison was undertaken of the technology used in the trapping of Anguilla spp., or other migrating fish, and its socioeconomic implications. The results revealed parallels in the methods used and their social ramifications, both of which showed strong analogy with Gunditjmara data.

Thesis abstract ‘Beyond the Divide: A New Geoarchaeology of Aboriginal Stone Artefact Scatters in Western NSW, Australia’

Patricia Fanning

PhD, Macquarie University, Sydney, March 2002

Surface scatters of stone artefacts are the most ubiquitous feature of the Australian Aboriginal archaeological record, yet the most underutilised by archaeologists in developing models of Aboriginal prehistory. Among the many reasons for this are the lack of understanding of geomorphic processes that have exposed them, and the lack of a suitable chronological framework for investigating Aboriginal ‘use of place’. This thesis addresses both of these issues.

In arid western NSW, erosion and deposition, accelerated as a result of the introduction of sheep grazing in the mid-1800s has resulted in exposure of artefact scatters in some areas, burial in others, and complete removal in those parts of the landscape subject to concentrated flood flows. The result is a patchwork of artefact scatters exhibiting various degrees of preservation, exposure and visibility. My research at Stud Creek, in Sturt National Park in far western NSW, develops artefact and landscape survey protocols to accommodate this dynamic geomorphic setting. A sampling strategy stratified on the basis of landscape morphodynamics is presented that allows archaeologists to target areas of maximum artefact exposure and minimum post-discard disturbance. Differential artefact visibility at the time of the survey is accommodated by incorporating measures of surface cover which quantify the effects of various ephemeral environmental processes, such as deposition of sediments, vegetation growth and bioturbation, on artefact count.

While surface stone artefact scatters lack the stratigraphy usually considered necessary for establishing the timing of Aboriginal occupation, a combination of radiocarbon determinations on associated heat-retainer ovens, and stratigraphic analysis and dating of the valley fills which underlie the scatters, allows a two-stage chronology for hunter-gatherer activity to be developed. In the Stud Creek study area, dating of the valley fill by OSL established a maximum age of 2040±100 yr BP for surface artefact scatters. The heat-retainer ovens ranged in age from 1630±30 yr BP to 220±55 yr BP. Bayesian statistical analysis of the sample of 28 radiocarbon determinations supported the notion, already established from analysis of the artefacts, that the Stud Creek valley was occupied intermittently for short durations over a relatively long period of time, rather than intensively occupied at any one time. Furthermore, a gap in oven building between about 800 and 1100 years ago was evident. Environmental explanations for this gap are explored, but the palaeoenvironmental record for this part of the Australian arid zone is too sparse and too coarse to provide explanations of human behaviour on time scales of just a few hundred years.

Having established a model for Stud Creek of episodic landscape change throughout the late Pleistocene and Holocene, right up to European contact, its veracity was evaluated in a pilot study at another location within the region. The length of the archaeological record preserved in three geomorphically distinct locations at Fowlers Gap, 250 km south of Stud Creek, is a function of geomorphic dynamics, with a record of a few hundred years from sites located on channel margins and low terraces, and the longest record thus far of around 5000 years from high terrace surfaces more remote from active channel incision. But even here, the record is not continuous, and like Stud Creek, the gaps are interpreted to indicate that Aboriginal people moved into and out of these places intermittently throughout the mid- to late Holocene.

I conclude that episodic nonequilibrium characterises the geomorphic history of these arid landscapes, with impacts on the preservation of the archaeological record. Dating of both archaeological and landform features shows that the landscape, and the archaeological record it preserves, are both spatially and temporally disjointed. Models of Aboriginal hunter-gatherer behaviour and settlement patterns must take account of these discontinuities in an archaeological record that is controlled by geomorphic activity.

I propose a new geoarchaeological framework for landscape-based studies of surface artefact scatters that incorporates geomorphic analysis and dating of landscapes, as well as tool typology, into the interpretation of spatial and temporal patterns of Aboriginal hunter-gatherer ‘use of place’.

Thesis abstract ‘Deep Structures: An Examination of Deliberate Watercraft Abandonment in Australia’

Nathan Richards

PhD, Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, Adelaide, September 2002

This thesis is an examination of deliberately discarded watercraft in Australia. It represents a comparative, non-particularist approach that seeks to understand abandoned vessels within a diverse theoretical framework. This view sees the remains of abandoned watercraft as an important component of Australian maritime heritage with the potential to shed light on a number of areas.

A database of over 1500 discarded and demolished watercraft sites, containing over 6000 primary and secondary historical records, and information from archaeological inspections was collated. This data was used to assess degree of correlation between discard activities and economic, social and technological events. The logistics of discard, as reflected in commentaries describing discard procedures, and as seen in the discernible signatures of these events in the archaeological record were observed during the examination and survey of over 120 beached and submerged abandoned watercraft all over Australia. This information was used to illustrate the causal mechanisms between landscape, economic trends, regulatory frameworks and cultural site formation processes associated with harm minimisation, placement assurance, salvage and discard activities.

This combination of historical and archaeological data illustrates that discard events and demolition activities are intimately connected to economic trends, and technological developments throughout the many phases in the life history of a vessel. Additionally, this illustrates that abandoned watercraft are not only a prominent part of the Australian landscape, but also have theoretical consequences for how we see the relationship between the archaeological and historical record.

The rocky road: The selection and transport of Admiralties obsidian to Lapita communities

Map of the Admiralty Islands (published in Australian Archaeology 57:136).

Map of the Admiralty Islands (published in Australian Archaeology 57:136).

Glenn Summerhayes

This paper builds upon the previous work of Ambrose, Kennedy and Fredericksen on the movement of Admiralty Island obsidian by focussing on the obsidian found in sites with Lapita pottery located outside the Admiralty group of islands in the Bismarck Archipelago, Papua New Guinea. The results offer a new perspective in modelling the mechanisms of obsidian exchange and the nature of the societies that extracted and moved the obsidian. The model proposed to explain the Lapita period distribution of Admiralties obsidian goes some way to filling the gaps identified by White in 1996.

Obsidian artefacts and land-use in the mid-Holocene of the Willaumez Peninsula, Papua New Guinea

Location of Willaumez Peninsula, West New Britain, PNG (published in Australian Archaeology 57:129).

Location of Willaumez Peninsula, West New Britain, PNG (published in Australian Archaeology 57:129).

Josh Symons

This paper addresses the land-use strategy of people occupying Willaumez Peninsula, West New Britain, Papua New Guinea, between 5900 and 3600 BP to determine whether they were mobile or sedentary. The study employs the proposition that mobile and sedentary situations have different and distinctive characteristics in the manner of flaked stone tool production and use. It develops a model that outlines expected differences in flaked stone artefact manufacture and use by mobile and sedentary populations. Mobile land-use should show both intra- and inter-site variability reflecting distance from a raw material source, and spatial differences in the production and use of raw material within the source area. Sedentary land-use should show little intra- and inter-site variability due to the concentration of activities and similar patterns of utilisation at each site. The paper tests this model through the analysis of ten flaked obsidian assemblages from Willaumez Peninsula. It concludes there is some spatial patterning in obsidian reduction that supports a model of mobile land-use between 5900 and 3600 BP.

Producing value: Stemmed tools from Garua Island, Papua New Guinea

Type 1 stemmed artefacts possible broken during manufacture (published in Australian Archaeology 57:120).

Type 1 stemmed artefacts possible broken during manufacture (published in Australian Archaeology 57:120).

Pip Rath and Robin Torrence

Previous studies have proposed that large, stemmed obsidian artefacts from the Willaumez Peninsula region, Papua New Guinea, might have circulated as ‘valuables.’ To evaluate how the value of these artefacts was created, an integrated characterisation and technological study was conducted on Type 1 retouched blades from Garua Island. A staged production system using obsidian from both local and imported sources was identified. Although the final shape and size of the artefacts are nearly identical, imported and local obsidian were treated in different ways. Partially trimmed cores of non-local obsidian were imported to Garua Island, where the final stages were completed alongside the complete reduction sequence using local obsidian. We argue that these objects acquired their meaning as valuables partly because they represented successful management of the social relations required to acquire raw material and complete the staged production process.

Contingent scales of analysis at Omaha, northern New Zealand

Sites recorded on Omaha Sandspit (published in Australian Archaeology 57:114).

Sites recorded on Omaha Sandspit (published in Australian Archaeology 57:114).

Matthew Campbell

The modern landscape approach is often treated as a natural extension of settlement analysis in archaeology, but in fact these methods are very different from each other. One way to begin reconciling the two may be through an examination of hierarchies of analytical scale. I propose that the relationships between scales are contingent, and that to treat them this way will allow settlement and landscape analyses to complement each other in a spatial archaeology. I present an example from Omaha Sandspit, a shell midden complex in northern New Zealand, and, in order to demonstrate this contingency, analyse Omaha’s role within a wider regional framework from both a settlement and a landscape perspective.

Indigenous transfer of La Perouse artefacts in the southwest Solomon Islands

Tikopia-Vanikoro exchange (published in Australian Archaeology 57:107).

Tikopia-Vanikoro exchange (published in Australian Archaeology 57:107).

Geoff Clark

Defining the extent and consequence of prehistoric interaction in Oceania is an important archaeological problem. The nature of the inter-island contact responsible for the prehistoric record of exotic items is unclear, and methods for evaluating indigenous interaction need to be explored. Here, ethnohistorical sources are used to examine protohistoric patterns of interaction in the southeast Solomon Islands. Two French frigates under the command of Comte de La Pérouse, lost on Vanikoro in 1788, formed an artificial ‘quarry’ of European items used by Pacific Islanders for almost 40 years. The distribution and abundance of La Pérouse items on Vanikoro and neighbouring islands, informed by historical sources, are used to investigate properties of the region’s interaction networks. The study has implications for understanding intra-island and inter-island distributions of durable archaeological materials, and why exotic materials extend to some islands but not to others.

Investigating early settlement on Lord Howe Island

Lord Howe Island showing places mentioned in the paper (published in Australian Archaeology 57:99).

Lord Howe Island showing places mentioned in the paper (published in Australian Archaeology 57:99).

Atholl Anderson

A survey of unconsolidated sediments overlying Pleistocene calcarenites and Tertiary basalts on Lord Howe Island was undertaken in 1996 in order to test the hypothesis that human settlement had not occurred before the European era, beginning in AD 1788. The results, largely from augering in lowland areas suitable for settlement, showed almost no sign of human occupation, and two radiocarbon dates on charcoal from sand-dune deposits are both modern. As the original argument stands, the remains of the AD 1834 colony may now be used in comparative analysis of initial island colonisation.

Lessons for the profession: Teaching archaeological practical work skills to university students

Student responses to course registration questionnaire (published in Australian Archaeology 57:91).

Student responses to course registration questionnaire (published in Australian Archaeology 57:91).

Sarah Colley

This paper reports research into teaching and learning of archaeological practical work and professional practice skills through an undergraduate work placements course offered by the University of Sydney. One aim of the research was to improve course assessment through the development of criteria to measure competency and learning outcomes, based on ideas of educational theorists such as Biggs, Collis and Ramsden. Data from markers’ comments on student notebooks and supervisors’ comments on student performance were analysed in terms of scales of learning and competency. The results are discussed in the wider context of professional archaeological practice in Australia, to address the questions: What is good archaeological practice and how can archaeologists measure and promote it? Given the current and likely future state of the Australian university system, how can universities and professionals best cooperate to improve student learning?

An archaeology of historical reality? A case study of the recent past

Location of sites in the Murchison and Davenport Ranges (published in Australian Archaeology 57:82).

Location of sites in the Murchison and Davenport Ranges (published in Australian Archaeology 57:82).

Alistair Paterson, Nicholas Gill and M. Kennedy

An Aboriginal elder, an archaeologist and a geographer report on an interdisciplinary project about colonial-era settlement in the Murchison and Davenport ranges in the Northern Territory. Oral history, physical evidence and historical records reveal a distinct central Australian cultural landscape and show that archaeology can do more than merely exhume material to support historical ‘realities’. This project provides new or improved understandings of (1) colonial technology in pastoral ventures, (2) continuity and change in Aboriginal life following European arrival, (3) social behaviour in colonial settings, and (4) alternatives to Eurocentric Australian histories.

Gunumbah: Archaeological and Aboriginal meanings at a quarry site on Moreton Island, southeast Queensland

Annie Ross, Bob Anderson and Cliff Campbell
Northeastern portion of Moreton Island (published  in Australian Archaeology 57:78).

Northeastern portion of Moreton Island (published in Australian Archaeology 57:78).

Cape Moreton – Gunumbah – on Moreton Island, Queensland, is an area of high cultural value to the Ngugi traditional owners, and has considerable archaeological significance. The extensive area of stone outcrops is the largest raw material source for stone artefact manufacture in Moreton Bay, yet there is no evidence for extraction activities or stone working associated directly with the outcrops. Stone working is only visible at two nearby workshop sites. Furthermore, the area is made up of multiple outcrops of different raw material types. Each quarry is owned by a particular family, and the quarries were a major focus for trade on Moreton Island. Significant places close to the quarries imposed restrictions on access to the stone and obliged visitors to behave in accordance with Ngugi Law. Although several archaeologists have analysed the Cape Moreton stone outcrops, the full meaning of Gunumbah can only be determined by including Aboriginal knowledge of the entire place.

Quantitative exploration of size variation and the extent of reduction in Sydney Basin assemblages: A tale from the Henry Lawson Drive rockshelter

Peter Hiscock
Plan of Henry Lawson Drive rockshelter, NSW (published in Australian Archaeology 57:65).

Plan of Henry Lawson Drive rockshelter, NSW (published in Australian Archaeology 57:65).

A study of the artefact assemblage from the Henry Lawson Drive Rockshelter, a stratified midden deposit near Sydney excavated by Peter White in 1971, reveals new information about the temporal and morphological complexities of stone working technology in eastern Australia. Not only does this site provide further evidence of the presence of backed artefacts in this region more than 5000 years ago, it also reveals abundant production of backed artefacts during the last millennium. The site contains small implements and cores that can be interpreted as being more extensively reduced than assemblages reported from other sites in the region. Quantitative examinations of size and extent of reduction reveal that artefact assemblages in eastern New South Wales display variation which has yet to be characterised or explained.

‘Part and parcel’ – blade industries and modern human behaviour

Retouched blade from mining village at Osbourne, NW Qld (published in Australian Archaeology 57:61).

Retouched blade from mining village at Osbourne, NW Qld (published in Australian Archaeology 57:61).

Iain Davidson

In this paper I address the question of the presence or otherwise of elongated parallel-sided blades in Australian stone artefact industries. I begin with a set of data from European sites which shows that such blades are indeed characteristic of later phases of European prehistory, but not exclusively so. I then show that by these criteria, there are blades in Australia too, recorded both ethnographically and archaeologically. I then argue that blades in the European Upper Palaeolithic show some characteristic properties which can be related to the use of indirect percussion as the technique of production. This technique seems to be absent from Australia. Following discussion of the relevance of the appearance of blades in making judgements about the history of modern humans, I conclude, as Peter White did in 1977, that Eurocentric models are not relevant.

The Menindee Lakes: A regional archaeology

The Menindee Lakes on the central Darling River (published in Australian Archaeology 57:43).

The Menindee Lakes on the central Darling River (published in Australian Archaeology 57:43).

Colin Pardoe

The Menindee Lakes are a ‘chain of ponds’ or series of large overflow lakes nestled in the Darling River floodplain, which is situated disconformably in the arid zone. They form an outpost of the greater Southeast, where it meets the Centralian desert. An intensive archaeological survey of the Lakes recorded 4,978 new sites and features at 2,432 localities. Distribution and patterning of sites was correlated with environmental data using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Survey results revealed distinctive characteristics for this region: fields of ovens and large ashy grey deposits; two very different kinds of milling equipment; and stone tools representative of both desert and southeastern technologies. The Baakantji live on a shifting frontier, part of two larger regional systems with very different ecologies and social and biological systems. The Baakantji territory of the Menindee Lakes emerges as a distinct region, sharing features with both Desert and Riverine economies.

The thin film of human action: interpretations of arid zone archaeology

The study area (published in Australian Archaeology 57:33).

The study area (published in Australian Archaeology 57:33).

Huw Barton

Laid across most of inland Australia is a behavioural record aggregating the material history of human actions that is of vast size and of vast temporal span. This four-dimensional landscape is a palimpsest on which successive generations have left their impressions, removed and sometimes re-worked the impressions of others. How do we frame and picture this record of the past? Such an archaeological record has the potential to reveal much about the nature of human behaviour and histories of human action, providing we remain aware of the influence of scale on our interpretation and select appropriate units of analysis. This paper explores these issues to infer the long-term behavioural patterns of hunter-gatherers from the Simpson Desert in central Australia.

Habitation and land use patterns in the Upper Mangrove Creek catchment, New South Wales central coast, Australia

Val Attenbrow
Upper Mangrove Creek catchment: number and distribution of habitations used in each millenium (published in Australian Archaeology 57:24).

Upper Mangrove Creek catchment: number and distribution of habitations used in each millenium (published in Australian Archaeology 57:24).

Explanations for dramatic late Holocene changes in numbers of habitation sites and artefacts in Australia include changes in demography, technology, subsistence strategies, risk minimisation strategies, levels of mobility and land use patterns. Archaeological fieldwork in the Upper Mangrove Creek catchment, New South Wales central coast hinterland, revealed evidence of increasing numbers of habitation sites over the past 11,000 years, with dramatic increases in the 2nd and 1st millennia BP. However, the timing and direction of changes in artefact accumulation rates in individual habitations and the catchment as a whole did not coincide with trends in the habitation sites. Dramatic increases occurred in the 3rd millennium BP and substantial decreases in the 1st millennium BP. This paper explores ways of interpreting the late Holocene trends in the habitation indices for the Upper Mangrove Creek catchment in terms of changing habitation, mobility and land use patterns.

Revised age for Mojokerto 1, an early Homo erectus cranium from East Java, Indonesia

Geological column section (published in Australian Archaeology 57:2).

Geological column section (published in Australian Archaeology 57:2).

Mike J. Morwood, P. O’Sullivan, E.E. Susanto and F. Aziz

Dates of around 1.8 Ma have been claimed for a hominin cranial vault excavated near Mojokerto City in East Java, Indonesia. Such an early date for presumed Homo erectus in East Asia would require a major revision of the general model for timing of initial hominin dispersal ‘Out of Africa’. Instead, our field study and redating of two pumice horizons at the site indicate that the age of the Mojokerto cranial vault is less than 1.49 Ma. Furthermore, we argue that a basic understanding of site and regional depositional processes is fundamental for assessing the significance of any radiometric date.

The long and the short of it: Archaeological approaches to determining when humans first colonised Australia and New Guinea

Jim Allen and James F. O’Connell
Simplified summary of mid-Upper Pleistocene stratigraphy at Joulni, Willandra Lakes (published in Australian Archaeology 57:9).

Simplified summary of mid-Upper Pleistocene stratigraphy at Joulni, Willandra Lakes (published in Australian Archaeology 57:9).

Despite significant advances in radiometric dating technologies over the last 15 years, and concerted efforts in that time to locate and date new sites and redate known sites in Australia and New Guinea, there is yet little consensus on when humans first arrived in the Pleistocene continent. A majority of scientists now agree people were present at least by 45,000 years ago, but many still argue for dates up to and beyond 60,000 years ago. The long chronology continues to be driven by the five well-known sites of Nauwalabila, Malakunanja, Huon Peninsula, Lake Mungo and Devil’s Lair. This paper reviews the data which have appeared for these sites over the last decade. It argues that uncertainty over much of the earliest data stems from questions of artefact context and site taphonomy rather than dating technologies. The problem is an archaeological one which has received insufficient attention.

Risk and economic reciprocity: An analysis of three regional Aboriginal food-sharing systems in late Holocene Australia


Kevin Tibbett

This paper is a theoretical examination of food-sharing systems and archaeological theory. The specific aim is to assess the archaeological indicators of three different food-sharing systems, with the variable relationships between risk management, social regionalisation, economic reciprocity and exchange. It is suggested that the bogong moth (Agrotis infusa) festivities in the southern highlands of New South Wales, the bunya nut (Auracaria bidwillii) gatherings in southeast Queensland and the seasonal food-sharing along the riverine corridors of the Lake Eyre Basin form a continuum between positive and negative reciprocity.

An adze manufactured from a telegraph insulator, Harvey’s Return, Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Keryn Walshe and Tom Loy


An adze manufactured from a telegraph insulator (published in Australian Archaeology 58:38).

An adze manufactured from a telegraph insulator (published in Australian Archaeology 58:38).

A small, modified flake tool manufactured from telegraph insulator material was located along the north western coast of Kangaroo Island, at a place known as Harvey’s Return. The tool was hafted and has been well used during its active life and its working edge is illustrated in Figure 1. Residue analysis indicates a thick coating of resin, which cannot be specifically identified although spinifex and xanthorrea can be excluded (Loy 2002).

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Radiocarbon dates for baler shell in the Great Sandy Desert

Mike A. Smith and Peter M. Veth


One of the distinctive features of Aboriginal groups in the Australian desert was the large geographical scale of these hunter-gatherer systems. The residential mobility of groups was invariably high, with some individuals regularly moving 200 km or more, and this was coupled with exchange systems which moved goods across the continent or from coast to interior, often over distances >1000 km (Mulvaney 1976). The scale of these systems is much greater than those recorded for other comparable parts of the world (for example: for southern Africa see Mitchell 1996,Table II: cf Veth 2000 for Australia) and represents a significant challenge for archaeological research into the development of Australian desert societies. The prospect of being able to examine the prehistory of customary trade and exchange systems, social boundaries and regional interconnections has provided incentive for studies of the temporal and spatial distribution of ground-edge axes and grindstones (Binns and McBryde 1972; McBryde 1987), pearl shell and baler shell (Akerman and Stanton 1994; Mulvaney 1976), and red ochre (e.g. Smith and Fankhauser 1996; Smith et al. 1998). Here we report radiocarbon dates indicating ‘down-the-line’ exchange of baler shell (Melo amphora) into the heart of the Great Sandy Desert 2000 years ago.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Tales of a flying Dutchman: An Exaugural Lecture

Vincent Megaw


Vincent Megaw aged 7 (published in Australian Archaeology 58:28).

Vincent Megaw aged 7 (published in Australian Archaeology 58:28).

The horrors of Auschwitz revealed; Srebrenice, a shocking memorial of ethnic cleansing; Iraq, an ancient land despoiled by modern cruelty and global Realpolitik …

One might think these are odd images to conjure up at the beginning of the musings of a kangaroo Celt, the disjointed thoughts of an archaeological wanderer between many worlds, both past and present. But visual evidence for one of Saddam’s Kurdish death pits of the 1990 campaign has added and ironic significance when one realises that it was intentionally located on the edge of a scheduled archaeological site in an attempt to avoid subsequent detection. True, sensibilities have become dulled over the past sixty years and such images are now almost media cliches. But for me at least the horror of these scenes are not assuaged but rather heightened when, for example, observed against the background of Henry Purcell’s Musik on the death of Queen Mary, music first heard in Westminster Abbey in March 1695 and then again in the same place in November of the same year—for Purcell’s own funeral. Beauty and terror are often not far apart.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Perceptions of archaeology in Australia amongst educated young Australians

Percentage of responses to the question 'What is an archaeologist's job?' (published in Australian Archaeology 58:20).

Percentage of responses to the question ‘What is an archaeologist’s job?’ (published in Australian Archaeology 58:20).

Jane Balme and Moss Wilson

A survey of Western Australian undergraduate students asking them about their knowledge of and interest in archaeology as well as their beliefs in other explanations for the past was undertaken in 200 l. The results of this show that most of these students have a fair idea of what archaeologists do but there is much confusion between the disciplines of archaeology and palaeontology. While Australian archaeologists have been successful in passing on the results of some of their findings to the public, few people understand the study of the Indigenous past as archaeology. There is also much acceptance by the survey respondents of non-archaeological explanations of the past. Some of this acceptance might be attributed to religious belief but perhaps some because these explanations offer more exciting versions of the past. Our challenge is to bring some of this excitement to Australian archaeology.

A solution for the permanent storage of historical skeletal remains tor research purposes: A South Australian precedent that keeps most people happy

A concrete tank used as a crypt at St Marys CHurch, Adelaide (published in Australian Archaeology 58:17).

A concrete tank used as a crypt at St Marys CHurch, Adelaide (published in Australian Archaeology 58:17).

Tim Anson and Maciej Henneberg

Archaeological excavations in the mid-19th century cemetery of the Anglican Church of St Mary’s in Adelaide resulted in the recovery of 70 human skeletons. Following a period of time for osteological analyses, the remains were to be re-interred in the church cemetery. Osteological examinations revealed good preservation and a variety of pathologies. The re-burial of collections such as this effectively means that they are permanently lost to science. As a consequence efforts were made by the researchers to avoid the loss of the collection and negotiations with the Church led to the creation of a storage facility in the grounds of the Church. A 13,640-litre concrete rainwater tank was buried and modified internally to accommodate the skeletal collection. This approach was found to be both cost effective and ethically acceptable to all parties involved.

Forensic archaeology in Australia: Current situations, future possibilities

Soren Blau

The aim of this paper is to examine the potential for forensic archaeology to develop in Australia. A brief history of the development of the discipline is provided highlighting the ways in which archaeological principles and techniques have been used in North America and Britain to enhance the investigation of crime and disaster scenes. While a number of practitioners with expertise in biological anthropology have assisted police in forensic-related work involving human remains in Australia or its near neighbours, little use has been made of the archaeologist in the investigation of domestic forensic cases. The frequency of homicides and minimal knowledge about what exactly forensic archaeology encompasses are considered as possible reasons for the limited use of forensic archaeology in Australia. International case studies clearly illustrate the benefits of including an archaeologist in the investigation of a crime and/or disaster scene. It is argued that Australia should learn from these case studies and look to develop a professional group of forensic archaeologists.

Risk and economic reciprocity: An analysis of three regional Aboriginal food-sharing systems in late Holocene Australia

Kevin Tibbett

This paper is a theoretical examination of food-sharing systems and archaeological theory. The specific aim is to assess the archaeological indicators of three different food-sharing systems, with the variable relationships between risk management, social regionalisation, economic reciprocity and exchange. It is suggested that the bogong moth (Agrotis infusa) festivities in the southern highlands of New South Wales, the bunya nut (Auracaria bidwillii) gatherings in southeast Queensland and the seasonal food-sharing along the riverine corridors of the Lake Eyre Basin form a continuum between positive and negative reciprocity.

The Argan stone arrangement complex, Badu lsland: Initial results from Torres Strait

Stone arrangements at the Argan complex (published in Australian Archaeology 58:2).

Stone arrangements at the Argan complex (published in Australian Archaeology 58:2).

Bruno David, Ian McNiven, Mura Badulgal (Torres Strait Islanders) Corporation Committee, Joe Crouch and Liam Brady

The Argan stone arrangement complex of the island of Badu is a series of mainly geometrically shaped stone formations that together extend for I km along an isolated ridge-top in Western Torres. Here we report on archaeological excavations at this ritual site in an attempt to historicise Badulgal spiritscapes.


The feasibility of using charcoal from Devil’s Lair, south-west Australia, to access human responses to vegetation changes at the Late Pleistocene-Holocene boundary

Australia's southwest and the location of Devils Lair (published in Australian Archaeology 59:62).

Australia’s southwest and the location of Devils Lair (published in Australian Archaeology 59:62).

Shane Burke


Using identified wood charcoal to determine vegetation change and its effects on humans in pre-historic and historical times is not a new technique here in Australia (Hall 1984; Smith et al. 1995), or elsewhere (Prior and Price Williams 1985; Neumann 1989; February 1994; February et al. 1995; Figueira 1995). However, Australia’s high endemic vegetation regimes suggest that great variation exists among plant types with the potential to affect charcoal preservation and its use as a palaeoenvironmental indicator. Because of temperate southwest Australia’s encirclement by desert and ocean, it has become isolated from the rest of Australia causing the region’s flora and fauna to develop species endemism ranging between 68% and 85% which is exceptionally high by world standards (Beard 1981). The question of charcoal’s suitability as a method of reconstructing palaeovegetation from this region of Australia was examined as part of an Honours thesis, the results of which are presented here.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

When is a scar a scar? Evaluating scarred and marked trees at Sydney Olympic Park

Paul Irish


'Aboriginal scar' on tree recording in 1995 in the Wangal Woodland (published in Australian Archaeology 59:60).

‘Aboriginal scar’ on tree recording in 1995 in the Wangal Woodland (published in Australian Archaeology 59:60).

In 2003 several tree scars at Sydney Olympic Park were evaluated to determine their possible Aboriginal origin. This work was carried out as part of the Aboriginal History and Connections Program (AHCP), established by the Parklands Unit at Sydney Olympic Park in April 2002, to examine Aboriginal connections to the Homebush Bay area of Sydney from the earliest occupation until the present day. The AHCP included a review of previous archaeological work in the area and the completion of an Aboriginal sites survey in those parts of Sydney Olympic Park deemed to have potential to retain evidence of pre-European use of the area by Aboriginal people.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

A review of low-level aerial archaeology and its application in Australia

Vertical kite photograph of the Harbour Master's Cottage, Port Willunga, SA (published in Australian Archaeology 59:52).

Vertical kite photograph of the Harbour Master’s Cottage, Port Willunga, SA (published in Australian Archaeology 59:52).

Matt Schlitz

This paper examines methods of low-level aerial archaeology and provides a rationale for utilizing these systems more widely in Australian archaeological projects. While the value of conventional aerial archaeology is apparent, different low-level aerial photographic methods can be employed more comprehensively by archaeologists to document, interpret and monitor sites in Australia. Kite, balloon, boom and other low-altitude remotely controlled camera platforms are rarely applied in Australian archaeology despite the fact that archaeologists overseas have used these aerial imaging platforms for decades. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and more conventional wireless remote sensing image technology will be used more consistently in the next decades to reconstruct and reinterpret the landscape of the past.

Recent archaeological surveys on Middle Park Station, northwest Queensland

Aerial shot showing the Norman River and adjacent sandstone escarpment to the right of view (published in Australian Archaeology 59:45).

Aerial shot showing the Norman River and adjacent sandstone escarpment to the right of view (published in Australian Archaeology 59:45).

Lynley A. Wallis, Darby Smith and Helen Smith

This preliminary report describes the initial results from an archaeological survey conducted in the foothills of the Gregory Ranges on Middle Park Station in inland northwest Queensland. Nearly 130 Aboriginal sites were located during the survey, which was carried out as a collaborative project between an archaeologist (LW) and members of the Woolgar Valley Aboriginal Corporation (DS and HS). Sites were dominated by rockshelters containing stenciled art, although open artefact scatters, grinding surfaces, axe grinding grooves and quarries were also present. This project has enabled the Woolgar Valley Aboriginal Corporation to begin compiling a detailed inventory of sites in their traditional country, thereby allowing a better understanding of their cultural heritage and addressing various research oriented questions about the nature of Aboriginal occupation in the region.

Monuments to colonialism? Stone arrangements, tourist cairns and turtle magic at Evans Bay, Cape York

Susan McIntyre-Tamwoy and Rodney Harrison

This paper reports on an archaeological survey at Evans Bay, Cape York, which recorded a large number of stone arrangements on the rocky headland at Evans Point. We interpret two phases of stone cairn co

Recording a large stone circle (published in Australian Archaeology 59:33).

Recording a large stone circle (published in Australian Archaeology 59:33).

nstruction; the first associated with the building of stone cairns as part of joint Aboriginal and Islander turtle increase ceremonies, and the second with the partial demolition and rebuilding of these stone cairns by tourists and tour operators. Rather than dismiss the disturbance of such sites by non-Indigenous people, as many archaeologists have done in the study of Aboriginal stone arrangements, we seek to document this as archaeological evidence in its own right. We argue this evidence records a specifically colonial response to an Indigenous landscape which has its roots in earlier acts of defacement and erasure of Aboriginal monuments by ‘invaders’ in Cape York. We suggest that such sites of defacement/erasure are best understood as documenting broader colonial processes, representing a palimpsest of contesting responses to a landscape by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Our analysis cites work by Michael Taussig on the mimetic impulse in colonial relations to account for the meaning of the erasure, through mimicry, of such stone arrangements by tourists and tour operators in Cape York.

Late Holocene occupation and coastal economy in Blue Mud Bay, northeast Arnhem Land: Preliminary archaeological findings

Patrick Faulkner and Annie Clarke
Distribution of sites in the study area (published in Australian Archaeology 59:26).

Distribution of sites in the study area (published in Australian Archaeology 59:26).

Twelve months of archaeological excavation and survey were conducted on the Blane Peninsula in Blue Mud Bay over three field seasons between 2000 and 2002. During this time, 141 sites were recorded, and 16 sites were excavated. Though archaeological work in the region prior to this study has not been extensive, some general patterns have been identified that are similar to those reported by other researchers across the tropical north of Australia. These patterns include the type of sites present, the use of similar resources; the distribution of sites across similar landscapes, and the timing and extent of occupation through the late Holocene. The preliminary analysis of the archaeological evidence demonstrates Aboriginal occupation and marine resource exploitation on the Blane Peninsula from 3000 years ago to the present day. This evidence includes relative continuity in the range of shellfish species gathered, in the site locations used during this time, and in the patterns of shellfish discarded in midden deposits.

Three Aboriginal shell mounds at Hope Inlet: Evidence for coastal, nor maritime Late Holocene economies on the Beagle Gulf mainland, northern Australia

Shell mound HI81, showing excavation square overlooking saltflats (published in Australian Archaeology 59:11).

Shell mound HI81, showing excavation square overlooking saltflats (published in Australian Archaeology 59:11).

Patricia M. Bourke

Many hundreds of Aboriginal shell mounds exist on the northern coasts of Australia. Though these archaeological features increasingly figure in broad constructions of past coastal hunter-gatherer economies, few have been analysed in any detail. This paper describes the excavation and analysis of three Anadara-dominated shell mounds situated in adjacent microenvironments at Hope Inlet, Shoal Bay near Darwin on the Northern Territory coast. These stratified deposits, formed over some 15 centuries between about 2000 and 500 years BP, provide a relatively fine grained record of subsistence and settlement strategies of hunter-gatherer peoples during this Late Holocene period. This study finds that these North Australian coastal groups practiced not a specialised marine or maritime subsistence economy focused on offshore resources, but a generalised and flexible coastal subsistence economy tied to the land.

Comparative records of occupation in the Keep River region of the eastern Kimberley, northwestern Australia

Ingrid Ward
Local of major archaeological excavation sites in the Kimberley, Keep River region and Arnhem Land (published in Australian Archaeology 59:1).

Local of major archaeological excavation sites in the Kimberley, Keep River region and Arnhem Land (published in Australian Archaeology 59:1).

This paper considers the record of occupation in the Keep River region of the eastern Kimberley, and whether archaeological records are equally preserved within as well as between regions. Luminescence dating, radiocarbon dating and archaeological evidence from eight rock shelter sequences provide only late Holocene (5–0 ky BP) occupation sequences, whereas luminescence dating and archaeological evidence for three sand-sheet sequences indicate occupation dating to 18 ky BP. Given that rockshelters and sand sheet excavations can produce such different chronologies, it is questioned to what extent the representative records for the eastern Kimberley, and the adjacent western Kimberley, Victoria River District and Arnhem Land regions can be compared. It is also argued that in the absence of comparative non-occupation chronostratigraphy, particularly of rockshelters, it remains unclear whether apparent Holocene intensification is a product of cultural change or of research and preservation.

Review of ‘Treasures of the Nicholson Museum, The University of Sydney’

Reviewed by Vincent Megaw*

Treasures of the NM book cover‘Treasures of the Nicholson Museum, The University of Sydney’ edited by D.T. Potts and K.N. Sowada, 2004, The Nicholson Museum, University of Sydney, Sydney, 120 pp. ISBN 0-909-602-17-4.

‘The Senate have much pleasure in recording a further instance of the munificence of the Provost Sir Charles Nicholson, to whose personal exertions and liberality the University owes so much, viz., the donation of his large and valuable collection of Etruscan, Greek, Roman, and Egyptian Antiquities.’ Thus reads the Report of the University of Sydney for the Year Ending December 31, 1860 and, given that new publications on the archaeological collections of Australian museums—any archaeology, any museum—are as rare as a Bronze Age barrow in Uluru National Park it would seem that a volume dedicated to what Dan Potts in his introductory ‘Anatomy of a collection’ claims as ‘Australia’s largest collection of antiquities from Greece, Italy, the eastern Mediterranean, the Near East and Europe’ should be a cause for celebration. Well, yes—but again, perhaps no …

Let us start on a positive note. Though not cheap for a slimmish paperbound volume which after a few weeks use is proving what a misnomer the term ‘perfect binding’ is, Treasures (the abbreviation I shall use hereafter) is a collection of stunning photographs by the Nicholson’s photographer, Russell Workman, accompanied by (not always totally accurate) commentaries by a number of Sydney-based archaeologists—plus one Melbournian ringin. It offers an attractive introduction to a sampling of objects from the Near East, Egypt, Cyprus and the Classical world—though why choose a virtually monochromatic subject for the cover? Inside, at least at the visual level, things are much better. Some objects obviously had to find a place: the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B plastered human skull from Kathleen Kenyon’s excavations at Jericho, the Assyrian ivories from Max Mallowan’s excavations at Nimrud, a New Kingdom stela from Sir Charles Nicholson’s original gift, the late fifth-century ‘Aura’ drinking cup from Southern Italy—for my money a rule-proving exception to the normal awfulness of South Italian vase painting—and, largest of all, the Nicholson Hermes, a Hellenistic or early Roman statue, a copy of an earlier Greek original, improved if anything by having been weathered through lying in running water and a gift to the University in 1934 from the Nicholson family. There may be rather too much of Egypt which reflects perhaps the special interests of the second editor but I freely admit that Egyptology has never been my thing.

This is not the first modern publication to present a selection from what was first established as ‘the Nicholsonian Museum of Antiquities’. Almost a century after its foundation, in collaboration with David Jones’ Art Gallery, two exhibitions were mounted, the first with a range of material more widespread than its title might suggest and sourced from a number of museums (Lawler 1970) and the second under the title of, yes, gentle reader, you’ve guessed it, Treasures from the Nicholson Museum (Lawler 1979) restricted to a selection from the University’s collection. These were followed after a lull of nearly two decades by a volume aimed squarely at the specialist market (Cambitoglou and Robinson 1995). In contrast, the earlier history of publication is in fact nothing short of remarkable, mindful of place and time, commencing in 1858 with Joseph Bonomi’s Catalogue of Egyptian and other antiquities followed by a first and in some ways unsurpassed attempt at a complete catalogue (Reeve 1870), Nicholson’s own Aegyptica (1891), and a catalogue of Greek, Etruscan and Roman pottery by the then Principal of Women’s College (Macdonald 1898).

Then, Dale Trendall, Honorary Curator of the Nicholson between 1939-54 and latterly first Professor of Archaeology and the greatest classical archaeologist that the Antipodes has ever produced—who incidentally with W.C. Wentworth was also instrumental in bringing into being the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies (as it then was)—not only added importantly to the classical holdings but in 1941 prepared a Guide to the cast collection. Examples of these casts can be seen on the walls of the Nicholson in the 1950s photograph which acts as a frontispiece to Treasures. Unfortunately in the ‘60s during the refurbishment of the Nicholson the then Honorary Curator decided that the casts no longer had a role to play and gave a number of them away to Sydney schools, apparently unaware that many of the casts made in Berlin in the Imperial Cast Workshops more than a century ago were in themselves highly valuable as records of monuments now damaged or otherwise unavailable. Trendall’s remarkable service in World War II as a cryptographer, didn’t prevent him producing two editions of the Nicholson Museum Handbook, more an introductory text to Classical art and archaeology than a guide to the Nicholson Museum (Trendall 1945; id. 1948).

Now, I have inserted these historical and bibliographical notes since, while they are in part capable of being picked up by the sharp-eyed field worker wandering amongst the text matter of Treasures, it lacks a certain number of features which would have considerably added to its usefulness and of which a bibliography of publications concerned with the Nicholson is simply one. Thus we have a list of ‘Curators of the Nicholson Museum’ but not a list of the Assistant Curators who, with sundry other assistants, have for the past four decades and more shouldered the greater part of the curatorial duties of the Museum; Karin Sowada, the co-editor of Treasures is one such. This lacuna is all the more unforgivable since the list of curators is sourced from an unpublished history of the Nicholson completed in 1990 by Kate Lawler, Assistant Curator in the ‘60s. This certainly is made clear by Dan Potts in his introduction; what is not clear is why this study planned originally in two parts, languishes in manuscript form in the Museum. And I cannot tell a lie, it might also be thought odd that Potts does not seem to have made use of let alone quote from, a much slighter—but published—history of the Nicholson (Megaw 1965).

But there are odder gaps; Potts seems to have airbrushed out whole chapters of the development of the Nicholson particularly during the ‘60s when Judy Birmingham was appointed Lecturer in Near Eastern Archaeology, one of several imports to Sydney intended to realise the vision of J.R.B. Stewart of a Department of Archaeology which reflected all aspects of the archaeology of the Mediterranean and the lands bordering on it; Jim Stewart was the foundation Edwin Cuthbert Hall Professor of Middle Eastern Archaeology and thus Dan Potts’ predecessor at one remove. Before Potts, came Basil Hennessey, Sydney born and a Sydney graduate who served for a period of time as the Director of the British School at Jerusalem. It follows, I suppose, as no surprise that those who actually carried out the major transformation of the Nicholson which culminated in its re-opening in 1966, an event which after 40 years will soon see a further re-birth, receive absolutely no acknowledgement in Treasures, the most glaring omission being that of R.K. ‘Dick’ Harding, Photographic Technician in the Museum, joiner, artist, orchidist, preparator and designer extraordinary. Notwithstanding, Dick I’m sure will appreciate Russell Workman’s photography.

There was in Jim Stewart’s grand design one major flaw and that was his implacable resistance to the study of let alone research into Australia’s own archaeology. This led to a bifurcation in the study of archaeology at Sydney which I believe has proven to be a major stumbling block in the development of the discipline and what should have led to Sydney’s recognition as an international centre supreme in Australia and equal to any in the Northern Hemisphere. But this takes us away from Treasures with its insidious invitation just to enjoy objects for their own sake. Can it be that there is something else missing? Back to basics, and let’s glance through Reeve’s 1870 Catalogue again; under items 1178-90 we find ‘spear heads of flint. . .found at Abbeville in France, and presented to Sydney University Museum by M. Boucher de Perthes’. While Reeve may not have got his facts quite right, there is no doubt that in these ‘spears’ the Nicholson has an important collection of Acheulean handaxes, of impeccable provenance and thus at upwards of a million years amongst the oldest human artefacts located in any Australian collection. Yes, you’ve guessed it, there is nothing in Treasures, absolutely not a single object from prehistoric, provincial Roman and early historic Europe although amongst the 25,000 objects in the Museum — certainly now a few more than the 1400 or so listed in Reeve’s catalogue — there is a range of material more than worthy of inclusion ranging from Boucher de Perthe’s handaxes through British Bell-Beaker pottery and Hungarian bronzes to Irish Late Bronze Age gold, Celtic coinage from a key hoard in the Channel Islands and Saxon brooches, not to mention a fine Villanovan cinerary urn, the last prehistoric European object to have been purchased for the Nicholson — again some time in the later ‘60s. In 1962 there was in fact a major exhibition mounted to display the much expanded range of European material which, at Stewart’s request had been assembled by the new Lecturer in European Archaeology (Anon. 1962) followed a year later by a much expanded exhibition at the ANU (Barnard et al. 1963). If the editors of Treasures had forgotten what European material they have in their charge they could have refreshed their minds by consulting one of a series of Handlists prepared in advance of the 1966 re-opening, interim guides which added short introductory texts to a complete listing of all material on display (Anon. n.d.). Finally made redundant by the current alterations, these Handlists, with one addition marking a partial re-design of what was termed the ‘New Gallery’ (Cambitoglou 1978) were still available for consultation when last I visited the Nicholson; plus ça change …

Karin Sowada seems to have made a seamless transition from State politician to museum curator while Dan Potts has been widely and justly praised for his energetic and fearless pursuit of measures which might lead to protection of what is left of Iraq’s priceless cultural heritage. Together with Alison Betts, Dan has done much to restore some intellectual balance to what under Alexander Cambitoglou’s single-minded and undoubtedly materially highly successful control between 1963–2000 had in effect become a Department of Classical Archaeology with appendages. All the more shameful, then, that the two Editors, by their exclusion from Treasures of any examples of Europe’s nonclassical heritage, should seemingly have deleted part of what to the majority of Australians is their cultural heritage—and that heritage is not that of classical Greece and Rome or even the Near East and Egypt. As with Iraq, ignorance is no defence. However, not all is lost.

Last November a new temporary exhibition opened in the Nicholson entitled Unearthed tales: Treasures of the Nicholson Museum. Curated by Michael Turner, the latest in the list of un-sung Assistant Curators, it is concerned with context not appearance and concentrates on the human stories behind a selection of objects, including several from European prehistory. Maybe in its second modern coming the Nicholson, and perhaps some at least of those who work there, will realise that a modern museum has to be something more than just a collection of beautiful — and even not so beautiful — things.


Anon (Megaw, J.V.S.) 1962 Foundations of Europe 6000 B.C.–A.D .600. Sydney: Nicholson Museum and War Memorial Gallery, University of Sydney (exh. cat.).

Anon (Megaw, J.V.S.) n.d. [1965] Nicholson Museum: European Collection. Sydney: Nicholson Museum, University of Sydney (exh. cat.).

Barnard, N., J. Golson and H. Loofs (eds) 1963 Patterns of Culture: An Exhibition of the Early History of Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific . . . Exhibition Handbook. Canberra: The Australian National University.

Bonomi, J. 1858 Catalogue of Egyptian and other Antiquities Collected by Sir Charles Nicholson. London: Reynolds and Co.

Cambitoglou, A. 1978 Nicholson Museum: New Gallery. Sydney: Nicholson Museum, University of Sydney (exh. cat.).

Cambitoglou, A. and E.G.D. Robinson (eds) 1995 Classical Art in the Nicholson Museum, Sydney. Mainz: Philipp von Zabern.

Lawler, C.A. 1970 Three Thousand Years of Classical Art. Sydney: David Jones’ Art Gallery (exh. cat.).

Lawler, C.A. 1979 Treasures from the Nicholson Museum. Sydney: David Jones’ Art Gallery (exh. cat.).

Macdonald, L. 1898 Catalogue of the Greek and Etruscan Vases and of the Greek and Roman Lamps in the Nicholson Museum, University of Sydney. Sydney: Wm. Brooks and Co.

Megaw, J.V.S. 1965 Museum without walls. Teaching History 15:7–15.

Nicholson, C. 1891 Aegyptica, Comprising a Catalogue of Egyptian Antiquities Collected in the Years 1856, 1857, and now Deposited in the Museum of the University of Sydney. London: Harrison and Sons.

Reeve, E. 1870 Catalogue of the Museum of Antiquities of the Sydney University. Sydney: E. Cunningham and Co.

Trendall, A.D. 1941 A Guide to the Principal Casts of Greek and Roman Sculpture in the Nicholson Museum. Sydney: University of Sydney.

Trendall, A.D. 1948 Handbook to the Nicholson Museum (2nd ed.). Sydney: University of Sydney.

*Editorial note: Between 1961–1972 Vincent Megaw was Lecturer and subsequently Senior Lecturer in European Archaeology at the University of Sydney.

Review of ‘Much More than Stones and Bones: Australian Archaeology in the Late Twentieth Century’

Much more than book cover‘Much More than Stones and Bones: Australian Archaeology in the Late Twentieth Century’ by Hilary Du Cros, 2002, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, xv+204 pp. ISBN 0-522-850-20-0 (pbk).

Reviewed by Tracey Ireland

Du Cros’s study of Australian archaeology has come at a time when archaeologists are interested in reviewing and historicising their discipline for several different reasons. One of these could be that, as the century ticked over, there was a desire to see how far archaeology had come. As the first generation of Australian archaeologists came to retirement age, it was time to review and celebrate their achievements. Another explanation for this introspective turn derives from a broader interest in the social context of archaeology, seeing research as a product of a particular time and place rather than as completely objective science, with a progressive, evolutionary trajectory. Yet another relevant theme here relates to the establishment and growth of the heritage industry, a movement that has seen ‘archaeological research value’ expressed in Australian legislation as an aspect of ‘cultural’ or ‘heritage significance’—as a collective possession of the nation and its ‘estate’. Archaeology situated within the philosophy of the heritage movement is therefore ‘public property’, a ‘national asset’ to be managed for the benefit of its stakeholders or owners. It is significant that 2002 saw publication of another important book concerning the social context of Australian archaeology, focusing on the relationship between archaeology, Indigenous people and the broader public (Colley 2002).

One of du Cros’s main aims in this book seems to be the demystification of archaeology as a job done by (relatively!) ordinary people, with a range of workplace and operational issues, just like any other job. Du Cros states that erroneous myths or misconceptions about what archaeology is, and what archaeologists do, impact upon heritage management in negative ways (page 15). Another aim of the book therefore seems to be to enable archaeological research to contribute more effectively to Australian cultural life by providing a clearer explanation to the interested public about its nature and aims.

In Chapter 1 du Cros considers some of these misconceptions about Australian archaeology, as well as the ways in which archaeologists themselves have responded to local historical myths which are sometimes held dear by communities. The latter section introduces an important issue for any consideration of the social context of archaeology: namely the authority of the discipline of archaeology and the ability of its interpretations of the past to prevail over alternative versions.

Du Cros states that her intended audiences are those who have dealings with archaeological research and ‘entry level’ students of archaeology. The book is based on a case study approach, featuring five major cases which pick up on the areas and issues where Australian archaeology has gained the highest media profile; firing controversy and conflict in most instances. The case studies cover: excavation and community involvement (Chapter 3), Tom Haydon’s film The Last Tasmanian (Chapter 4), First Government House site in Sydney (Chapter 5), archaeology and the Franklin Dam (Chapter 6) and human skeletal remains (Chapter 7). She draws on a diverse array of sources including interviews, media reports, scholarly articles and unpublished consultants’ reports and this is undoubtedly one of the main strengths of her work.

While another review described du Cros’s style and tone as ‘gossip’ (Mackay 2003) because she draws in details of the personal as well as the professional lives of archaeologists, I have more sympathy with this approach. I prefer to see the ways in which research, theory and practice develop as the result of a complex amalgam of individual’s strengths and interests, as well as social and political factors, rather than as a discrete, disciplinary evolution. In this vein, biographies can indeed be an important way to understand how social, political and personal circumstances combine to provide a microcosm of their own times. Admittedly, it can be a fine line between a voyeuristic interest in the personal lives of people who have made an important contribution to archaeological research, and a genuine attempt to link trajectories of archaeological research to the personalities and interests of influential archaeological writers. I don’t think du Cros crosses this line, however her motivations for using this technique could have been more fully explained by further, in-depth analysis. For instance we know from her past research that du Cros has a keen interest in feminist analysis and in sexism and gender dynamics in archaeology. Yet while we hear the voice of a feminist in this work, sexism is not an overt object of examination. Du Cros’s comment on the ‘Boy’s Own adventure’ attitude towards fieldwork on the Franklin Valley, Tasmania, is one of the few instances where this issue enters her discussion. Otherwise, discussion of feminist critique is limited to the section in Chapter 2 on archaeology and postmodernism (page 37). Changes to attitudes towards women in the work force, and the broader intellectual implications of feminism, must be one of the most significant social changes of the late twentieth century, and du Cros has been influential in raising this issue in the Australian context. The biographical style would have been amenable to raising more feminist issues for Australian archaeological practice and I am surprised that it is not a greater feature of this work.

Overall the book is attractively presented with a great cover and lots of illustrations and photographs inside—although the quality of the reproduction of some of these must have been a disappointment. While there are some niggling errors, such as consistently describing archaeologist Judy Birmingham as Cambridge trained, we must admit that in undertaking accounts of events in recent years, du Cros dives into dangerous waters. She has chosen to see the players as individuals and personalities and has rejected the academic veneer of a depersonalised account. It is inevitable that some will not see events as she sees them, it is also inevitable that those actually involved in the events will know of factors and circumstances unavailable to author. So was the risk worth it? I think that we need writers who are brave enough to critique and make sense out of recent events and to reflect upon why we, as archaeologists in Australia, do things the way we do. In this vein du Cros’s research is a valuable addition to the literature, and one that is accessible to a broad cross section of the community. On the negative side I think the book missed the opportunity to link the case studies to the broader cultural discourses of their time, and to account for the cultural, political and social changes which are an undeniable feature of the late twentieth century. Archaeology itself has been intertwined with cultural change, meaning that the ‘past’, its values, and the act of studying them, has also been transformed.


Colley, S. 2002 Uncovering Australia: Archaeology, Indigenous People and the Public. Sydney: Allen and Unwin.

Mackay, R. 2003 Review of ‘Much More Than Stones and Bones: Australian Archaeology in the late Twentieth Century’. Archaeology in Oceania 38(2):126–127.

Review of ‘The Fabrication of Aboriginal History. Volume One, Van Diemen’s Land 1803–1847′

Fabrication book cover‘The Fabrication of Aboriginal History. Volume One, Van Diemen’s Land 1803–1847′ by Keith Windschuttle, 2002, Macleay Press, Sydney, 472 pp. ISBN 1-876-492-05-8.

Reviewed by Sandra Bowdler

Keith Windschuttle’s project is to prove that the numbers of Aboriginal people deliberately killed by Europeans in the early days of colonial settlement were far fewer than is commonly believed, and that the numbers have been exaggerated for political purposes. This book is the first in a projected three volume series, and concentrates on Tasmania. He also argues that, contrary to received belief, there was no conscious policy of genocide, and also that there was no guerrilla war, no organised resistance waged by Aboriginal people in Tasmania. He further attempts to demonstrate that Tasmanian Aborigines had no concept of land ownership, that they numbered no more than 2000 souls at the time of European contact, and that (and this will be familiar to many readers) they were probably on the decline anyway, demographically and culturally.

Not only does Windschuttle suggest that scholars have exaggerated these issues, he accuses some of them of deliberate fabrication. This has understandably triggered a heated debate, particularly on the part of those scholars so accused. His general target is history and historians, and in large part his work is an exercise in historiography, dredging through footnotes to establish how well, or rather how badly, historians have supported their case. I do not intend to go over this ground to any extent, as historians can well look after themselves. In the case of this volume, however, Windschuttle has also targeted some archaeologists, and draws on some archaeological evidence to support his case.

This is in many respects a very peculiar book, as will emerge. Not the least of its curiosities is that no archaeologists are actually referred to as such: only historians and anthropologists people its pages (e.g. pp.59, 115, 419, 422) apart from Rhys Jones who is suddenly revealed on p.378 to be an archaeologist and a prehistorian. Since Windschuttle is Australian educated, he must be aware that in Australia the term anthropologist is generally reserved for people who study living societies by participant observation, and archaeologists are people who study societies both past and present through their material remains. I know of no-one calling him or herself an anthropologist who has worked with Tasmanian Aborigines since the days of Tindale and Birdsell. So it is hard to see whether this is some sort of deliberate policy, of which I at least fail to understand the point, or is just a form of sloppiness.

I will not here enter the fray about how many Aborigines were ‘deliberately’ killed by Europeans, and whether or not there was an intent of genocide formal or informal, nor the level of resistance put up by Aboriginal people. These are the areas in which Windschuttle is most scathing about historians, but not just historians. He takes Rhys Jones severely to task for the stories of atrocities against the Aborigines which are included in his PhD thesis. It would appear that Jones has not fully referenced these stories, and Windschuttle accuses him of outright fabrication: he refers to ‘Rhys Jones’s practice of simply making it up’, and comments that historian ‘Robson’s omissions are every bit as dishonest as Rhys Jones’s inventions’ (pp.45–46).

Of interest to archaeologists is the issue of the level of the pre-European population. Windschuttle challenges the general consensus of 5000–6000 people; obviously, if there were fewer of them to start with, it is easier to explain the decline in numbers. The consensus figure is derived primarily from the work of Brian Plomley and Rhys Jones, who have separately studied in detail the writings of George Augustus Robinson, the so-called conciliator of the Aborigines who made several journeys across Tasmania in the 1830s with Aboriginal people. Robinson’s journals (Plomley 1966) are a uniquely detailed source of information about Aboriginal life in the early days of the colony, but of course he was hardly a trained observer. Jones attempted to construct a picture of Aboriginal social structure from which he extrapolated the population levels. While his results are of course open to debate, they probably represent the best estimate that can be expected from this kind of data.

Windschuttle criticises some of the more extrapolative aspects of Jones’s work here, and also of Plomley’s, but does not really work out an alternative figure of his own. He states that ‘the only serious studies [of population] are those by Rhys Jones, Brian Plomley and James Backhouse Walker’ (p.367), and latches on to the figure of 2000 offered by Walker. And what does Walker’s ‘serious study’ consist of? As far as I can tell, he just quotes Joseph Milligan, the medical doctor at the Flinders Island Aboriginal institution in the 1840s (Walker 1973:269). Windschuttle seems to think he is a good source because ‘as well as being, with Ling Roth, one of the two genuinely scholarly nineteenth-century investigators of the subject, Walker was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Tasmania 1898–99’ (p.367 fn). Say no more.

Another line of attack on the question of Aboriginal populations in Tasmania was that of Colin Pardoe (1991). From his study of the relationship between morphological characteristics of Tasmanian Aborigines with those of the Australian mainland, Pardoe argued that the differences were so relatively small, given 10,000 or so years of isolation, that the population must have much larger than 6000 for the effects of genetic drift and founder effect not to be more evident. Windschuttle does not cite this work, published in Current Anthropology, at all. He must however know of it, because he cites a comment by Plomley attached to it (p.420 fn).

Even with a small population to start with, it is evident that something must have happened to the Tasmanian Aborigines to reduce their number to the very small remnant evident by the 1840s. Windschuttle invokes not only our old friend, the ‘slow strangulation of the mind’, but also ‘internecine warfare’ fought between Aboriginal bands over women, and of course disease, which was down to Europeans, but was not a deliberate attempt to kill them off.

The dysfunctionality of Tasmanian Aboriginal society is demonstrated firstly in their declining technology. According to the work of Rhys Jones, ‘they once used bone tools, barbed spears and weaving needles made of fish bone. They also had wooden boomerangs, hafted stone tools, edge ground stone axes and tools fashioned from volcanic glass … the manufacture of fish hooks and fish spears’ (p.378). Strangely, Jones seems to have got this right, despite being such a liar about other things, and having made such a mess of the population stuff. Of course, readers of AA will be aware that evidence for weaving needles made of fish bone (??), barbed spears, wooden boomerangs, hafted stone tools, edge ground axes, fish hooks and fish spears has never been found in Tasmania, and Jones never said any such thing. Who is making things up?

Windschuttle states in a footnote (p.378) that ‘there have been several attempts to argue the Tasmanians were not as technically backward as Jones claims. Few dispute his evidence, however, and instead offer rationalisations to show their actions were always ‘functional’ for their conditions’. Obviously the work of archaeologists (or anthropologists or whatever they are) does not need to be properly discussed or scrutinised before being summarily dismissed out of hand. Only other historians are to be held to account for not properly dealing with factual evidence.

One of the other reasons given for the sad decline of the inept Tasmanians is their bad treatment of women, including the above mentioned internecine warfare between bands during which women were routinely abducted. It might be observed that 10,000 years is a long time for this level of behaviour to be sustained without an earlier extinction episode. Windschuttle’s evidence for this however can be scrutinised in its turn. He states that ‘Robinson records at least ten other incidents of inter-tribal fighting to capture women’, with ten references to Friendly Mission (Plomley 1966) being footnoted. In examining these, I found that two (25/10/30 and 10–22/6/32) actually described not incidents, but generalised comments that such things happen or happened. One mentioned a practice of stealing women from neighbouring tribes. Two had no relevance to the issue at all. Two mentioned Aboriginal women being killed, not captured, another referred to an Aboriginal man stealing a female child, finally there was story about a woman leaving her husband and his subsequent revenge.

There is probably little need to go on in this vein. It is clear that the high standards prescribed by Windschuttle for others are not intended to apply to himself. Perhaps it is more important to ask what the point of this is. It is ironical that Tasmanian Aborigines who had to defend themselves against charges of not being who they were because they were supposedly extinct, now have to contend with not dissimilar people complaining about false reports of genocide. Of course Windschuttle does not believe they are who they say they are either, since the whole point of the exercise is to deny land rights or any special rights at all to Aboriginal people. He argues that they cannot expect land rights anyway since ‘the notion of ‘rights’ derives exclusively from the European political tradition, and has no meaning in traditional Aboriginal culture. The term ‘land’ is just as alien, having no role in either the vocabulary of the conceptual apparatus of Tasmanian hunter-gatherers’ (p.404). On the other hand, ‘Freedom of information might be a cultural artefact born in the West, but it belongs to all of humanity’ (p.421). Unlike rights.

Windschuttle also feels impelled to explore why all these historians have engaged in this pernicious conspiracy to make up stories about Aborigines. He finds the reason in their exposure to Marxism either as students, or genetically. ‘Lyndall Ryan’s parents, Jack and Edna Ryan, were well-known members of the Communist and Trotskyist political movements from the 1920s to the 1940s’ (p.401). Oh, for heaven’s sake. I went to school with a girl whose parents were hard-line communists and she became a raving New Ager avant le lettre. My mother holds Robert Menzies in high regard. So what? One begins to wonder why anyone is even taking this book seriously at all. But then this is from a man who appears to believe in all seriousness that the decline in belief in the Tri-Hybrid theory of Aboriginal origins is due to a communist plot.

One is left wondering why anyone should feel so violently in need of attacking the most oppressed and disadvantaged members of Australian society. Windschuttle writes with a total lack of affect for Aboriginal people, referring in many places to ‘natives’ and ‘half-castes’. Few people these days would be unaware that such terms are considered by them to be offensive, but evidently he doesn’t care about that. It just doesn’t seem to occur to him that you don’t need to invoke a communist plot to understand why people who work with Aborigines might feel some kind of fellow feeling for them: it’s called compassion.


Pardoe, C. 1991 Isolation and evolution in Tasmania. Current Anthropology 32:1–21.

Plomley, N.J.B. 1966 Friendly Mission: The Tasmanian Journals and Papers of George Augustus Robinson 1829-1834. Hobart: Tasmanian Historical Research Association.

Walker, J.B. 1973 Early Tasmania: Papers Read before the Royal Society of Tasmania During the Years 1888 to 1899. Tasmania: T. J. Hughes, Government Printer.

Thesis abstract ‘Investigations Towards a Late Holocene Archaeology of Aboriginal Lifeways on the Southern Curtis Coast, Australia’

Sean Ulm

PhD, School of Social Science, The University of Brisbane, St Lucia, June 2004

In this thesis I combine data from regional archaeological surveys and the excavation of eight stratified sites to examine aspects of continuity and change in the late Holocene archaeological record of the southern Curtis Coast, southeast Queensland, Australia. I focus on theoretical and methodological problems emerging out of studies in southeast Queensland, particularly the issues of chronology-building and assessment of site integrity.

Results of surveys and excavations are presented. Excavations were conducted at the Seven Mile Creek Mound, Mort Creek Site Complex, Pancake Creek Site Complex, Ironbark Site Complex, Eurimbula Creek 1, Eurimbula Creek 2, Eurimbula Site 1 and Tom’s Creek Site Complex. Differences in site structure, content and chronology are used to establish a framework to describe variability in the regional archaeological record through space and time. Radiocarbon dates and items of European material culture indicate that occupation of these sites spans from around 4000 years ago into the post-contact period. Dates were also obtained from several eroding archaeological deposits which were not subject to excavation. In total, 66 radiocarbon dates are presented from 12 archaeological sites.

Radiocarbon determinations are critically assessed to provide a reliable basis for calibrating radiocarbon dates into an absolute regional chronology. Local marine and estuarine reservoir effects are characterised through a study of known age marine shell specimens and archaeological shell/charcoal paired samples. The object of the study was to assess the potential influence of localised variation in marine reservoir effect on accurately dating marine and estuarine shell from archaeological deposits in the area. Results indicate that the routinely-applied DR value of –5 ± 35 for northeast Australia is wrong. The determined values suggest a minor revision to Reimer and Reimer’s (2000) recommended value for near-shore open marine environments in northeast Australia from DR= +11±5 to +12±7, and specifically for central Queensland to DR= +10±7. In contrast, data obtained from estuarine shell/charcoal pairs demonstrate a general lack of consistency, suggesting estuary-specific patterns of variation in terrestrial carbon input and exchange with the open ocean. Preliminary data indicate that in some estuaries, at some time periods, a DR value of more than –155 ± 55 may be appropriate.

Radiocarbon determinations, stratigraphy and bivalve conjoin analyses are used to evaluate the integrity of the open shell midden deposits investigated for the project. Methods for identifying and interpreting bivalve conjoins in archaeological shell assemblages are developed and tested. Results indicate that contrary to the cautions of Lourandos (1996, 1997), the open sites studied exhibited a high degree of vertical and horizontal integrity.

Results suggest continuous restructuring of settlement subsistence systems in the region throughout the late Holocene. A regional trajectory towards increased site occupation, intensity of site use, and localisation of resource use is identified. A three-phase cultural chronology is developed for the region which proposes initial occupation before 4000 years ago and significant changes in resource use after 1500 BP, including the widespread appearance of shellfishing and changes in stone raw material sources. Phase I (pre-4000 BP–ca 1500 BP) saw ephemeral coastal occupation by groups which occasionally used coastal resources as part of a diffuse and highly-mobile settlement strategy covering a broad area. Land-using groups may have been primarily based around the predictable resources of major rivers such as the Boyne. Phase II (ca.1500 BP–ca AD 1850s) is characterised by intensive permanent and structured low mobility strategies throughout the coastal zone. This phase is defined by a localisation in the use of resources. Extremely large, low density archaeological sites are established throughout the region on the lower margins of major estuaries and smaller resources extraction sites are also established. Phase III (ca AD 1850s–ca AD 1920s) saw the emergence of post-European mobility systems. Despite disappearing from the European historical record for the area, Aboriginal people continued to use traditional camping places well into the period of European settlement.

Results are discussed in the wider context of key themes in archaeological cultural chronologies proposed for southeast Queensland and adjacent regions which emphasise recent changes in settlement and subsistence strategies linked to intensifying patterns of regional land-use. Patterns identified on the southern Curtis Coast generally concur with other findings from southeast Queensland, suggesting major restructuring of coastal occupation strategies in the late Holocene and especially the last 1000 years.

Thesis abstract ‘Agate and Carnelian Beads and the Dynamics of Social Dynamics of Social Complexity in Iron Age Mainland Southeast Asia’

Robert Theunissen

PhD, Department of Archaeology and Palaeoanthropology, University of New England, Armidale, November 2003

The prevailing view of social complexity dynamics in Iron Age mainland Southeast Asia is best represented by the work of Charles Higham. Underpinning Higham’s model for the emergence of Iron Age chiefdoms is an elaboration of existing prestige goods exchange networks triggered by exposure to new, highly valuable and exotic prestige goods from India. A critical review of Higham’s model reveals weaknesses in the use of a regional scale neo-evolutionary theoretical framework, and in the data required to assess wealth and status differentiation and the origin, exchange and social function of new exotics such as agate and carnelian beads.

A comprehensive study of agate and carnelian beads at both regional and site-base scales is used to investigate the origin, exchange, value and social function of the beads, and through this investigation is argued to shed light on Iron Age social dynamics. Alternative scenarios for bead exchange are investigated at the regional scale via a geochemical sourcing analysis and an analysis of the spatial and chronological distribution of the beads. At the local scale the detailed study of the beads and their burial contexts is used to evaluate alternative scenarios of organisational dynamics at the site of Noen U-Loke in Northeast Thailand.

The introduction of new exotics from external sources is suggested to trigger change in social complexity, but in ways and for reasons that vary between different areas in mainland Southeast Asia. The dynamics of social complexity following exposure to new exotics is shown to differ between inland and coastal areas. The factors that determine the trajectory of social complexity dynamics in any area are identified as the character of social organisation prior to exposure to new exotics and the degree of control a society has over external exchange. As a result, while regional scale analysis is appropriate and required for understanding broader exchange patterns, understanding and articulating social complexity dynamics is argued to require detailed local modelling and investigation.

Thesis abstract ‘Place as Occupational Histories: Towards an Understanding of Deflated Surface Artefact Distributions in the West Darling, New South Wales, Australia’

Justin Shiner

PhD, Department of Anthropology, University of Auckland, Auckland, July 2004

This thesis develops theoretical and methodological approaches to the investigation of deflated surface stone artefact distributions beyond those that emphasise synchronic behavioural interpretations. The study was undertaken on Pine Point and Langwell Stations, two adjoining pastoral leases in the foothills of the Barrier Range south of Broken Hill in arid Western New South Wales. The main objective was to investigate long-term accumulated patterns in stone artefact assemblage composition from four archaeological deposits adjacent to the Pine Creek – Rantyga Creek confluence. These locations were selected for investigation because they contain extensive distributions of stone artefacts and heat retainer hearths in similar geomorphic settings. Occupational chronologies were established through the dating of charcoal from heat retainer hearths. These chronologies demonstrated that the Pine Point-Langwell assemblages represent multiple episodes of accumulation over the last 2,000 years. Therefore, the formation of the Pine Point-Langwell assemblages meant that they are ideal for the investigation of long-term accumulated patterns.

The composition of the assemblages was investigated through an analysis of artefact use life, curation, the intensity of raw material utilisation and occupation intensity. These permitted consideration of assemblage accumulation as a temporal process. Assemblages are not thought of as synchronic functional sets, but rather as the consequence of repeated and discontinuous discard episodes overtime. As occupation intensity increases, so does the intensity of raw material utilisation. Cores and tools will be worked more intensively and assemblages will be dominated by local raw material, as access to distant sources becomes restricted.

Results indicate both consistencies and inconsistencies in the reduction and utilisation of lithic raw materials. Some of the consistencies are argued to reflect the character of the wider lithic landscape. In general, there is a distance decay relationship in the reduction of silcrete, however this relationship is not evident in all measures of reduction intensity. Variation in measures of core reduction is interpreted to reflect the variable nature of occupation through time at each of the locations in both duration and frequency. Over the time span represented in the Pine Point-Langwell occupational chronology, multiple behavioural patterns result in internal assemblage variability.

Environmental variation may also contribute to the formation of variable assemblage patterns. There is evidence from south western New South Wales for environmental oscillation over the period represented by the occupational chronologies in the Pine Point-Langwell study area. This is interpreted as a possible impulse for the punctuated record of human occupation in the area during the last 2000 years. Hiatuses in the occupational chronology provide further evidence of the variability associated with the formation of the assemblages. Finally, notions of continuity and discontinuity in assemblage formation were explored across the wider region of Western New South Wales with the comparison of late Holocene assemblages from Fowlers Gap and Burkes Cave to the Pine Point-Langwell assemblages.

It is concluded that the approaches to reconstructing past settlement systems in the Australian arid zone are based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the formation of deflated archaeological deposits. This in turn leads to the use of inappropriate interpretive frameworks for the archaeological record. These frameworks often ignore chronological patterns at individual locations and assume both contemporaneity and consistency in behaviour through time. This denies the opportunity to investigate the diachronic aspects of deflated deposits, both in terms of occupational chronologies and discontinuities in the raw material management and reduction.

Thesis abstract ‘‘Of More than Usual Interest’: A Bioarchaeological Analysis of Ancient Aboriginal Skeletal Material from Southeastern South Australia’

Timothy D. Owen

PhD, Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, Adelaide, December 2003

This thesis presents the conclusions of a variety of scientific and archaeological techniques used to investigate ancient Aboriginal subsistence patterns in southeastern South Australia. Many of the investigations look at a wide land area within South Australia; however, particular focus is drawn to the Aboriginal burial site located at Swanport. Investigations include ethnographic, historical archaeological, biogeographical, nutritional, osteological and bioarchaeological studies. The primary aim was to combine the results from these disciplines with the outcome of a stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis programme to decipher ancient Aboriginal dietary patterns. The isotopic and oesteological analyses focused on the Swanport human skeletal collection and permitted investigation of ancient South Australian Aboriginal lifeways in an inland riverine habitat. The study was conducted in collaboration with the Ngarrindjeri Heritage Committee and the South Australian Museum.

The investigation included ethnographic studies, which addressed the different land, riverine and marine food groups consumed by the Ngarrindjeri people during the 19th and 20th centuries and biogeographical analysis which addressed the geography of South Australia. A map of isotopic variability for plants and animals that may have been consumed by Aboriginal people living at Swanport was developed and nutritional analysis produced a model that could test hypothetical diets inferred from stable isotope analysis.

Radiocarbon analysis of human bone indicated that individuals were buried at Swanport between 3029 and 482 years ago. Following oesteological analysis the Swanport samples could be separated into male (n=49), female (n=56) and juvenile (n=9) groups. Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope results for each of these groups exhibited a distinct signature, although a degree of overlap existed between the groups. These results were transformed into human diets, based around the food categories of marine food, terrestrial plants, terrestrial animals, riverine plants, riverine animals and riverine shellfish. Results suggest that the males, females and juveniles buried at Swanport ate different proportions of these categories, where plants constituted roughly 40% of the male diet, 50% of the female diet and 70% of the juvenile diet. In contrast to the main group of 112 Swanport residents that exhibited isotopic signatures characteristic of the local environment, 11 individuals exhibited a unique isotopic signature (with a higher proportion of marine food) that suggests a coastal diet.

The results from each of the studies were compared to decipher differences between the published ethnographic data and the new isotopic data. The results supported previous work conducted by Pate, Pardoe, Pretty and others in South Australia. The current study provides additional insight into ancient Aboriginal subsistence patterns in South Australia including an improved understanding of isotopic variability in human bone collagen.

The results confirm the validity of using stable isotope analysis as a means of increasing the knowledge base of past Aboriginal lifeways. These studies are able to benefit both the Aboriginal people and the wider community. A multi-disciplinary approach has particular relevance for studies of riverine and coastal areas, and also highlights the potential and importance of using stable isotope analysis in confirming the provenance of Aboriginal human skeletal material in South Australia.

Thesis abstract ‘Bioarchaeology of the St Mary’s Free Ground Burials: Reconstruction of Colonial South Australian Lifeways’

Tim Anson

PhD, Department of Anatomical Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, May 2004

Seventy skeletons were archaeologically recovered from the unmarked section of a suburban Adelaide church cemetery. The generally well-preserved sample consisted mostly of subadults comprising more than two-thirds of the collection. Twenty-nine (41.4%) individuals were infants aged less than one year at death. A total of 50 (71.4%) subadult skeletons (aged less than 15 years at death) were recovered. Although skeletal lesions among the subadult group were rare, it is believed that infection was the principal cause of death among this group. One eight to nine-year-old girl, presented with pathognomonic lesions indicative of congenital syphilis.

The 20 adult skeletons ranged in age from approximately 18 to 59 years at death. Observed among the group were a variety of infectious, traumatic and occupational lesions. Infectious lesions existed in 70% of adults some of which allowed diagnosis of conditions including acquired syphilis, tuberculosis/pulmonary infection and unspecified systemic infection. Perimortem traumatic pathologies allowed, in two cases, positive identification of the individual against historical records. Skeletal markers of stress were observed in the majority of adults aged over 30 years at death. High rates of upper limb robusticity, spinal and joint lesions corroborated historical records indicating a hardworking and physically active community. Dental analyses revealed very poor dental hygiene and very little alleviating dental intervention beyond tooth extraction.

Characterised by factors such as high infant representation; high rates of infectious and traumatic lesions; and, corroborating historical records, the skeletal collection showed a society, struggling to cope in its new environment. However, application of bone stable isotope analysis and documentary evidence suggested that nutrition was not necessarily the principal cause. Comparison with various other skeletal samples indicated that the St Mary’s people were a population in transition.

Life table analyses using church burial records showed that following an establishment period, the colony was able to overcome many of its problems, leading to improvements in infant mortality and life expectancies. The principal causes of infant mortality and deaths among adults were alleviated following improvement in living conditions. Furthermore, a growing awareness of personal hygiene; inoculation against disease; and, improved access to medical facilities saw significant improvement by the turn of the 20th century.

The material was analysed with the intention of deriving information regarding past individual and population lifeways. Church records indicated that the unmarked burial area dated from 1847, and was still in use into the 20th century. Analysis of the skeletal material provided an opportunity to gain insight into the lifeways of a little known and discrete group of people. The study area had long been associated with burial of the poor and destitute. The ‘paupers section’, as the area had come to be known, was also used for disposal of the many still and newborn babies.

Biographical details of the positively identified individuals and others buried in the study area, suggest that some individuals may have chosen an unmarked burial on ideological grounds. This finding, in association with other analyses, shows that despite struggling through an establishment period, the St Mary’s people were, hardworking, adequately nourished and generally (in the health sense) robust; not the ‘paupers’ that popular myth would have us believe.

Obituary: Bruce Veitch (30 June 1957–10 March 2005)


Bruce Veitch

Peter Veth and Sean Ulm  

Bruce Veitch passed away in Perth on 10 March 2005 after a short battle with motor neurone disease. Bruce was married to archaeologist Fiona Hook and had a young son Conall. Bruce was a co-director of the cultural heritage company Archae-Aus Pty Ltd with Fiona.

Bruce has made a major impact on the practice and ethics of archaeological work in Western Australia. From his pioneering work on the Mitchell Plateau for his doctorate, to his collaborative cultural heritage work with Fiona in the Pilbara and elsewhere, he was known for his energy, persistence and honesty. He mobilised and published consultancy work, collaborated closely with the traditional owners whose sites he was working on and worked strategically with major industry players—such as Hamersley/Rio and BHP—as well as colleagues in the Department of Indigenous Affairs and in the archaeological profession. Bruce was committed to mentoring graduates and was endlessly supportive and generous with his time, skills and knowledge. This obituary tracks some of Bruce’s more significant achievements through time.

Bruce completed his BA(Hons) at the University of New England in 1985, examining ethnohistorical sources and archaeological imprints of the pre-contact exploitation of bracken fern. In his later postgraduate life for his doctorate he carried out ethno-archaeological survey and excavation programs on the Mitchell Plateau of the very remote north-west Kimberley coast of Western Australia. His analysis of rockshelter deposits and mounded middens, in particular, generated discourses about the likely prime movers for economic and demographic change being embedded in either social process or changing environmental landscapes. The work of Dr Harry Lourandos was pivotal in these analyses and debates. Part of his PhD research specifically focussed on a technological analysis of flaked stone from three rockshelters from the Mitchell Plateau (Ngurini, Wundalal and Bangorono). As stated by Bruce, the object of the exercise was to: (a) identify the time when points were first produced; (b) identify and quantify the nature of change associated with the appearance of points both on the Mitchell Plateau and in northern Australia; and, (c) identify changes in lithic procurement strategies, and by inference, changes in relative levels of logistic and residential mobility from the time points appeared both on the Mitchell Plateau and in northern Australia. The other major contribution of his thesis involved the analysis of three large shell mounds on the Mitchell Plateau (Goala, Wundadjingangnari and Idayu). Here Bruce challenged prevailing models relating Anadara shell mound formation in northern Australia to environmental change, instead linking the appearance of Anadara and Tapes to regional population growth, reduced mobility, a broadening of the resource base and wider structural changes in Aboriginal territorial arrangements. Bruce was awarded his PhD from UWA in 2000.

Most of Bruce’s cultural heritage and collaborative research work over the last decade was in the Pilbara region—where mitigation projects included recovering and dating stone arrangements, linear middens and rockshelter habitation sites (see major publications below). Bruce was always field-active (a cruel irony given his disabling condition during the last 6 months of his life). In 1982 he participated in excavations with Professor Graham Connah at Bagots Hill historic site, NSW, and with Professor Mike Morwood at the Rocky Scrub Creek site, in south-east Queensland. In 1984 he participated in surveys with Dr Luke Godwin within the Apsley Gorge of northwest NSW and then with Dr Dan Gillespie and Ms Hillary Sullivan on the rock art assemblages of Kakadu National Park. In 1985 he acted as an excavation supervisor (with Prof. Graham Connah and A/Prof. Judy Birmingham) for a joint University of Sydney and University and New England project at Regentville, NSW. During the next year his field efforts accelerated and Bruce spent a month with Dr Moya Smith engaged in anthropological study of Bardi fishing technology at Cape Levique, WA, and with myself (Peter Veth) for three months carrying out the first field season of archaeological survey and excavation in the Great and Little Sandy Deserts of Western Australia.

By 1987 Bruce was establishing the base for his doctoral research on the Mitchell Plateau, negotiating with Wunambal people at Mowanjum (near Derby) and Kalumburu. Enrolled in a doctorate at UWA Bruce subsequently carried out 8 months of Mitchell Plateau fieldwork; funded by AIATSIS. During the following years, while working (usually part-time) on his PhD, Bruce tutored at UWA (1989), carried out surveys for the Northern Territory Museum and Art Gallery (1990), worked as a Heritage Assessment Officer for the Department of Aboriginal Sites (1992) and then as Manager of the Port Hedland Department of Aboriginal Sites Office (1993). Bruce self-employed consulting career began in earnest between 1993–1994.

Between 1993 and 1996 Bruce worked as a Senior Archaeologist for the company Anthropos Australia Pty Ltd engaging in studies in the southern Lake Eyre region, the Little Sandy Desert, the WA Goldfields and on the arid north-west coastline near Onslow.

In 1997 he established the company Archae-Aus Pty Ltd with Fiona Hook and Gavin Jackson. As their Senior Archaeologist, he worked in the WA Goldfields, Western Desert, the Pilbara uplands, the Burrup Peninsula, northwest Queensland and arid South Australia. In 1998 he completed his first native title report—destined for eventual litigation—for an area of the WA Goldfields and in 1999 was the Expert Witness for the Karajarri Native Title Claim for the Kimberly Land Council. This claim saw native title awarded by the Federal Court in 2004 He was also the Expert Witness for the Wanjina/Wunggurr-Wilinggin Native Title Claim, again for the Kimberly Land Council, which was successfully determined in 2004.

In 2003 Bruce oversaw the archaeological salvage/excavation programme of the Stone Arrangements Relocation and Dating Program for BHP Billiton Iron Ore, Marditja Bunjima and the Innawonga, Bunjima Nyapialri Aboriginal Communities. This ambitious project saw the survey, excavation and dating with relevant traditional owners (via hundreds of OSL dates) of stone arrangements scheduled for impact. In 2004, when already ill, Bruce participated in the Indigenous, maritime and historical archaeological field reconnaissance, of Barrow Island with colleagues from both the company, the WA Maritime Museum and UWA.

What is patently clear from this précis is that Bruce was engaged in an extraordinarily broad range of archaeological endeavours across Australia—all of which were carried out closely with custodial and traditional owner support and participation and which were supervised and written up to a satisfactory conclusion. In addition to these productions, and his peer-reviewed papers and chapters (some of which are listed below) Bruce presented some 15 papers on all aspects of his research and consultancy activities at both domestic and international conferences.

Bruce’s dedication to his friends and the profession will make him sorely missed. The loss to his family is immeasurable. As the numerous mourners at his funeral filed past Bruce’s coffin, his iconic and severely battered Akubra placed jauntily at one end, votives—n the form of Western Australian (South-West, Pilbara and Kimberley) shellfish—were symbolically offered, in recognition of a truly admirable person and career.

Major Publications

Veitch, B. 1985 Burning Bracken Fern: A Contribution to the Ecology of the Aborigines of Southeast Australia. Unpublished BA(Hons) thesis, University of New England, Armidale.

Veitch, B. 1994 Hearth stones in the mound: One variable that may aid in the differentiation between shell mounds and megapode incubation nests. In M. Sullivan, S. Brockwell and A. Webb (eds), Archaeology in the North: Proceedings of the 1993 Australian Archaeological Association Conference, pp.167–175. Darwin: North Australia Research Unit.

Veitch, B. 1996 Evidence for mid-Holocene change in the Mitchell Plateau, northwest Kimberley, Western Australia. In P. Veth and P. Hiscock (eds), Archaeology of Northern Australia, pp.66–89. Tempus 4. St Lucia: Anthropology Museum, University of Queensland.

Veitch, B. 1999a Shell middens on the Mitchell Plateau: A reflection of a wider phenomenon? In J. Hall and I. J. McNiven (eds) Australian Coastal Archaeology, pp.51–64. Canberra: ANH Publications, Department of Archaeology and Natural History, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University.

Veitch, B 1999b What Happened in the Mid Holocene? Archaeological Evidence for Change from the Mitchell Plateau, Northwest Kimberley, Western Australia. Unpublished PhD thesis, Centre for Archaeology, Department of Anthropology, University of Western Australia, Crawley.

Veitch, B. 2002 Aspects of the use and fire management of bracken fern (Pteridium esculentum). In D. Georghui (ed.), Fire in Archaeology: Papers from a Session held at the European Association of Archaeologists, Sixth Annual Meeting in Lisbon 2000, pp.45–54. BAR International Series 1089. Oxford: Archaeopress.

Veitch, B., F. Hook and E. Bradshaw 2005 A note on radiocarbon dates from the Paraburdoo, Mount Brockman and Yandicoogina areas of the Hamersley Plateau, Pilbara, Western Australia. Australian Archaeology 60:58–61.

Indigenous archaeological sites and the Black Swamp Fossil Bed: Rocky River Precinct, Flinders Chase National Park, Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Blowout in dune (published in Australian Archaeology 60:62).

Blowout in dune (published in Australian Archaeology 60:62).

Keryn Walshe


Fossil evidence for extinct megafauna at Black Swamp, Rocky River in the Flinders Chase National Park, Kangaroo Island was first noted in 1908 by C.J. May, then caretaker of the Rocky River Reserve (Tindale et al. 1935). Formal palaeontological investigation of the fossil area was initiated during a visit to the former Flinders Chase Flora and Fauna Reserve by Norman Tindale in late 1934 (Tindale 1937a, 1937b; Tindale et al. 1935). Further interest was not rekindled until the late 1970s (Hope et al. 1977). Since 1995 however, palaeontological investigations have been intensely focused on the Black Swamp fossil site (Dalgairns 1999; Thammakhantry 1998; Wells et al. 1997).

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

A note on radiocarbon dates from the Paraburdoo, Mount Brockman and Yandicoogina areas of the Hammersley Plateau, Pilbara, Western Australia

Map showing the Pilbara region (published in Australian Archaeology 60:59).

Map showing the Pilbara region (published in Australian Archaeology 60:59).

Bruce Veitch, Fiona Hook and Elizabeth Bradshaw


Excavations have been carried out at a number of rockshelters in the Pilbara region of Western Australia as part of mitigative salvage work and research supported by Hamersley Iron Pty Ltd (Fig. 1). The excavations commenced in 1998 and are ongoing. At all times, the work was conducted with participation of and supervision from the relevant Aboriginal people. These people are the Innawonga in the Paraburdoo area, the Gurama in the Mount Brockman area and the Bandjima and Niabarli in the Yandicoogina area. Their contributions to the research are gratefully acknowledged.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Late Holocene occupation at Bunnengalla 1, Musselbrook Creek, northwest Queensland

Michael Slack, Richard Fullagar, Andrew Border, Jackson Diamond and Judith Field


Photograph showing Musselbrook Creek showing location of the Bunnengalla 1 site (published in Australian Archaeology 60:56).

Photograph showing Musselbrook Creek showing location of the Bunnengalla 1 site (published in Australian Archaeology 60:56).

Bunnengalla 1 is a sandstone rockshelter fronting onto a permanent waterhole on Musselbrook Creek located on the northern margin of Boodjamulla National Park in northwest Queensland. In July 2004 excavation of the rockshelter revealed a rich 1.5 m sequence of human occupation. A preliminary report of the radiocarbon ages and stratigraphic sequence is presented here. The site provides a record of Late Holocene occupation from at least 6000 years BP with a considerable increase in occupation debris from 1300 years BP that is coincident with the amelioration of the ENSO dominated climate and increased precipitation in northern Australia.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Walter Burley Griffin and a Museum of Archaeology at the heart of Australia’s capital

Drawing of Canberra by Marion Mahony Griffin (published in Australian Archaeology 60:53).

Drawing of Canberra by Marion Mahony Griffin (published in Australian Archaeology 60:53).

Sally Brockwell and Chris Chippindale


An exhibition at the National Archives of Australia in 2002 put on view the remarkable drawings made by Marion Mahony Griffin for her husband Walter Burley Griffin’s designs, the designs that won the 1912 competition for Australia’s new national capital in Canberra. Within those designs is an archaeological element, not before noticed, which we report in this note.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.


Purple haze: Evidence for a later date for solarized amethyst glass

Australian Glass Manufacturers maker's mark in use 1934-1948 (published in Australian Archaeology 60:51).

Australian Glass Manufacturers maker’s mark in use 1934-1948 (published in Australian Archaeology 60:51).

Samantha Bolton


On historical sites, artefacts with datable attributes provide a terminus post or ante quem for a deposit. Glass is common on 19th and 20th century sites, and is useful as the period of manufacture can sometimes be determined. One attribute used to date glass artefacts is colour. However, the discovery of a piece of solarized amethyst glass with a post-1934 trademark casts doubt on the commonly accepted date of ca 1890-1916 for its manufacture. The artefact in question was found at Woolgangie town site, a rock catchment and railhead established in 1895. Woolgangie is located approximately 450 km east of Perth, Western Australia, along the transport route and settlement corridor to the Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie goldfields.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Sourcing stone from the Sydney region: A hatchet job

A hafted hatchet (from Stockdale 1789) (published in Australian Archaeology 60:42).

A hafted hatchet (from Stockdale 1789) (published in Australian Archaeology 60:42).

Tessa Corkill

This paper provides an analysis of 326 edge-ground hatchet heads collected from the region surrounding Sydney, New South Wales. A study of attributes based on raw material and form reveals that the majority of blanks in all areas are likely to have originated in gravels of the present Nepean/Hawkesbury River and abandoned palaeochannels, which are mainly located about 50 km inland from Port Jackson. This finding supports sparse ethnographic and some archaeological accounts but contradicts a number of reports that have postulated sources for these hatchets considerably further afield. Results of the study also invalidate a commonly held belief about raw material type, which has influenced the identification of sources in the past. The findings have implications for studies of social factors such as trade and exchange, selection criteria, the accessibility of raw materials and time budgeting.

Socialising stone artefact assemblages: Regionalization and raw material availability in northern Queensland

SE Cape York Peninsula showing location of sites (published in Australian Archaeology 60:37).

SE Cape York Peninsula showing location of sites (published in Australian Archaeology 60:37).

David Guilfoyle

During the late Holocene in northern Queensland, Australia, a process of increasing regionalization appears to have resulted in a decline in the access to raw material sources, and as a result, an increase in the concern for the conservation of raw material has occurred at certain sites. This pattern suggests that socio-demographic processes are the primary agent affecting variation in stone artefact assemblages. Moreover, it suggests that traditional models linking stone artefact assemblage variation to environmental conditions and/or mobility systems are to be amended.

Aboriginal occupation at Hawker Lagoon, southern Flinders Ranges, South Australia

Keryn Walshe
Hawker Lagoon lunette and location of test pits (published in Australian Archaeology 60:27).

Hawker Lagoon lunette and location of test pits (published in Australian Archaeology 60:27).

Two Indigenous archaeology field schools were conducted by this author and Pauline Coulthard, an Adnyamathanha elder, during 2001 and 2002 for a total of four weeks. The schools were held at Hawker Lagoon, in the southern Flinders Ranges with participation of students from the Department of Archaeology, Flinders University. The archaeology program continued earlier work undertaken by Ron Lampert in the 1980s at the same site. Excavation revealed a disparity between earlier stratigraphic patterns and dating outcomes. The surface material is subject to significant environmental disturbance. Three surface hearths returned dates ranging from about 1500 to 550 years BP for associated charcoal. The lagoon is discussed within the broader context of occupation, trade and response to the LGM rather than within the narrow context of disturbed archaeological assemblages.

Water views: Water-based survey methods on Cowan Creek, New South Wales

Susan Guthrie and James L. Kohen
Location of the study area (published in Australian Archaeology 60:18).

Location of the study area (published in Australian Archaeology 60:18).

A survey of shell midden sites within the Cowan Creek area, which lies to the north of Sydney, was conducted over a period of five months. The survey design was based upon a site location printout obtained from the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service Aboriginal Heritage Information Management System. Due to the ruggedness of the terrain within the area, the sites were first identified from the water, and GPS was used to verify the coordinates. The location of the sites was then confirmed on foot. During the survey potential habitation sites were also examined, and a total of 38 new sites containing middens, were identified and recorded for inclusion on the site register with National Parks. Recorded site density, as a result of the survey, has increased along Coal and Candle Creek from 0.5 sites/linear km, to 8.5 sites/linear km. Surface examinations of the midden deposits in this area suggest that Trichomya hirsuta and Crassostrea commercialis were strongly favoured by Aboriginal people in the past. The results of the survey indicate that the waterbased survey method adopted for the purposes of this project was highly efficient in the location of sites containing middens in Cowan Creek, within a short period of time. The results also indicate that a great deal of this information is being rapidly degraded within the area, with the majority of sites displaying damage due to both natural and anthropogenic influence, despite the protection afforded by inclusion of all of these sites within a National Park.

‘BELIEF’ in the past: Dempster-Shafer theory, GIS and archaeological predictive modelling

Shaun Canning
Distance to water for all known AAV site types (published in Australian Archaeology 60:10).

Distance to water for all known AAV site types (published in Australian Archaeology 60:10).

This paper introduces the use of a new technique in archaeological predictive modelling which has particularly wide ranging appeal and application in the cultural heritage management sphere. Most predictive modelling programs are restricted to the use of certain types of data with a range of untested assumptions or caveats. Traditional probability based models are difficult to construct, and are often limited by the use of data sets which render the results statistically suspect. The method introduced here makes use of non-parametric statistical methods which are not hampered by imperfect raw data. In particular, this paper introduces the use of Dempster-Shafer theory in archaeological predictive modelling.

Kangaroo Island sealers and their descendants: Ethnic and gender ambiguities in the archaeology of a creolised community

Lynette Russell

Our understandings of the European-Aboriginal contact period are restricted by our limited engagement with and interrogation of the categories used for analysis. Dividing
the past into Indigenous and non-Indigenous, Aboriginal and invader and so on, fails to reveal the complexity and nuances of cross-cultural, negotiated encounters and the
emergence of new social formations and identities. Furthermore the ascription of ethnicity to historical actors generally relies on late twentieth (early twenty-first) century
conceptions of what it means to be Aboriginal which are not necessarily valid for the period under consideration.

Thesis abstract ‘Bones, Bones, Bones; What Secrets do they Keep? Examining the Feasibility of Using Trace Elements and Rare Earth Elements to Determine Geographical Differences of Archaeological Remains’

Ian Scott

BA(Hons), School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, November 2004

The provenancing of unprovenanced human remains is an issue of increasing concern to anthropologists, archaeologists and indigenous communities. A range of techniques is currently employed to determine the origin of unprovenanced human remains. However, the techniques currently available are either too broad or too specific in the scale of data resolution. There is a need for a method that will help place the remains in a more specific geographical area than is already possible.

This pilot study examines the feasibility of using trace elements and rare earth elements to determine geographical difference of archaeological remains. Non-human bone material from two sites, Platypus Rockshelter in southeast Queensland and Grinding Groove Cave in central Queensland are used as case studies. As this is a pilot study limited by the availability of resources, it does not produce a set of elements that are unique to the sites. However, this study demonstrates that it is feasible to separate archaeological remains from sites in different geographical areas with the use of trace elements and rare earth elements.

Thesis abstract ‘The Bloke Museum: Motor Museums and Their Visitors’

Rob Pilgrim

 PhD, Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, Adelaide, August 2004

Motor vehicles have been on the roads of Western nations for over a century and in that time they have changed the world in which they operate to the point that today’s society could not exist in its current form without them. The motor vehicle has altered daily life beyond the comprehension of those who lived in the pre-automobile age. In that same 100 years, museums too have changed radically in the way in which they collect, interpret and exhibit objects. They have gone from being places of private pleasure for a select few to being places of public recreation and education.

The development of the museum has paralleled the rise of the automobile. The first motor museum came into existence in 1912, less than two decades after the advent of the motor vehicle and, since that first emergence, motor museum numbers have fluctuated, but generally increased. With the centenary of the coming of the motor car, however, there has been a sudden increase in the number of motor museums in existence. Although there is no central register or list of motor museums, and many museums are private entities that are publicised by word of mouth, there are probably well over a thousand in the Western world.

This thesis uses the National Motor Museum at Birdwood in South Australia as a lens through which to examine motor museums generally through a face to face survey of visitors to that museum. The aim of that survey was to ascertain what it is that visitors expect from their visit. A further postal survey of motor museums in English speaking countries, examines what staff in those museums see to be the aims of the visitor and also the way in which the museums strive to meet those aims. As essential elements of the thesis, the nature of car collecting and how this influences the vehicles collected by, and exhibited by, the motor museum; as well as how those collected vehicles are interpreted, are examined. In addition, the way in which collection policies and goals vary from museum to museum is addressed. The desire of many visitors to see ‘the real thing’, the authentic vehicle, is also considered as is the status and use of simulacra and replicas in the motor museum. The ambition of many museums, in response to that perceived visitor objective, to fill the exhibition halls with numbers of vehicles that have been restored, to a point beyond their original, as manufactured condition is also evaluated. The nostalgic goals of many visitors, as well as the ways in which the museums strive to meet those goals is assessed. Finally the thesis examines the intersection of the gendered object, the automobile, and the gendered space, the museum, examining the ways in which the female motoring experience is interpreted in the motor museum and suggesting ways in which motor museums might change to better include visitors of all types.

Thesis abstract ‘Out of the Box: Popular Notions of Archaeology in Documentary Programs on Australian Television’

Steve Nichols

 BA(Hons), School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, November 2004

In this thesis I investigate the relationships between mass media and popular notions of archaeology in Australia, and consider the implications of these relationships for the public outreach strategies of Australian archaeologists. First, I review the limited survey data available regarding public opinions of archaeology in Australia, together with the results from more extensive surveys conducted in North America. These surveys suggest that popular notions of archaeology are characterised by a variety of misconceptions and stereotypes that are not only incongruous with the ethical goals of the profession, but which may also inhibit the wider acceptance of archaeological perspectives in contemporary social and political discourses. Second, I develop a theoretical model of mass media that articulates the nature of the relationships between producers of mass media and their audiences. This model predicts that widespread popular notions of archaeology are likely to be reflected in the texts of mainstream mass media. Third, I present the results of a content analysis study undertaken in relation to archaeological documentary programs screened on Australian television, demonstrating that a number of misconceptions about archaeology are deeply entrenched within contemporary Australian society. Finally, I identify a number of pathways along which archaeologists might seek to engage mass media as part of a broader ‘popularisation’ approach to public outreach in Australian archaeology.

Thesis abstract ‘The Historical Archaeology of Tasmanian-Based Whaling in South Australian Waters 1820–1850’

Kylii Firth

MA, Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, Adelaide, January 2005

This thesis provides a comparative historical and archaeological analysis of the shore-based and pelagic (deep-sea) whaling industry of Tasmania and South Australia. This was an important maritime industry which, more often than not, has been dismissed within contemporary Australian historical writings. It is argued that Launceston and Hobart Town whalers, who plied their trade during a relatively short but vital period of economic growth in colonial history, were familiar with the spoils of whaling, not only in their own coastal and oceanic waters, but also in those of South Australia. The identities of this industry, both owners and workers, are examined. They were often well acquainted, either through business or through rivalry, and were entrepreneurs with a common goal. The whaling vessels were owned, captained and regularly exchanged within the same small group of men. The coastal whaling voyages and shore-based whaling establishments set up by these men opened up a significant number of frontier settlements along the South Australian coastline. Historical documentary records combined with maritime archaeological evidence are employed to examine the nature and extent of the role played by the Tasmanian entrepreneurs in the development of the South Australian whaling industry. A database is developed that provides a summary of whaling vessel voyages, dates and destinations from both primary and secondary source material. This information is sufficient to determine a trajectory of events, and provides a direct correlation between vessels, owners and workers, and the establishment of several early shorebased whaling sites in South Australia. Both maritime and historical archaeology are integrated to determine that a shore-based whaling station site existed at Fisherman’s Point in Spalding Cove, South Australia. It is confirmed that the whaling station was owned and operated by Henry Reed of Launceston during 1831 and 1832. Furthermore, the precise location of the site is determined from the documentary and archaeological evidence.

Thesis abstract ‘Recognising Physical Child Abuse in Antiquity: A Palaeopathological Approach’

Stefani Eagle

 BA(Hons), School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, November 2004

A study was conducted to establish the optimal means of inferring physical abuse from immature skeletal remains in past populations. Skeletal trauma commonly associated with physical abuse was examined in light of the sociocultural and archaeological context of subadult remains. The varied perceptions of child maltreatment and abuse were explored in agricultural Indian settings to illustrate the complexity of deconstructing societal views concerning child abuse. The quantitative and qualitative analysis of subadult skeletal trauma and cultural perspectives of child abuse determined that the most useful means of interpreting skeletal trauma was through a palaeopathological guide. The research emphasises the significance of applying multidisciplinary strategies for a balanced and consistent interpretation of trauma in skeletal remains recovered from archaeological excavations. An holistic construal of skeletal pathologies in ancient remains is important for understanding human actions of the past.

Thesis abstract ‘Control and Power in Australian Community Archaeology: Case Studies from Waanyi Country, Northwest Queensland’

Cameo Dalley

BA(Hons), School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, October 2004

In this thesis I undertake one of the first critical examinations of Australian community archaeology, focussing on issues of control and power which are central to the community archaeology approach. In the past, archaeologists have driven archaeological inquiry, creating a situation where Indigenous communities rarely benefited directly from research. In response to this, community archaeology attempts to reorient the archaeological process to better suit the needs of Indigenous communities, thus moving towards greater Indigenous control.

I argue that understanding relationships between archaeologists and Indigenous communities also requires consideration of the institutional frameworks under which research is undertaken and the relative access that archaeologists and Indigenous communities have to ‘power resources’. In order to understand how community archaeology compares to more conventional approaches to heritage investigation, I compare a community archaeology project to a cultural heritage assessment and a processual research project all conducted in Waanyi country, northwest Queensland.

I conceptualise my findings as being along a continuum of control. While the community archaeology project achieved more control for the Waanyi than the other projects, I also recognise the significant contributions that the other projects make towards achieving Indigenous control. Findings suggest that the issues surrounding community archaeology will continue to play a defining role in guiding Australian archaeology in the future. I conclude that archaeologists must continue to engage with issues of Indigenous control and that community archaeology is a suitable way to achieve this.

Thesis abstract ‘An Archaeological Analysis of Gender Roles in Ancient Non-Literate Cultures of Eurasia’

Mike Adamson

MA, Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, Adelaide, July 2004

Ascription of sex to inhumed remains on the principle basis of grave-goods, as distinct from anthropometric data, can be a vague process due to incipient gender bias in interpretation. Cross-matching of anthropometrics with grave goods can sometimes generate results that appear ambiguous or paradoxical as they may not accord with preconceived relationships between gender roles and sex. This reduces confidence in the demography of various archaeologically-revealed cultures, especially those of Iron Age Europe, which were erected on the basis of what we may now see as potentially flawed analysis.

Comparative and contrasting analyses are made of contemporary and related cultures to investigate gender role assumptions on a wide basis. Regarding non-literate cultures, archaeologists have limited means to interpret the relationships between sex and gender-roles, and these methods are explored. The traditional outlook is assessed for functional bias in light of its origins and perpetuation, and a new synthesis is proposed for ongoing analysis. This synthesis includes strict application of refined anthropometric methodology and the resolution of paradox by adoption of a revised underlying hypothesis.

A correlation is observed between use of the horse and a significant blurring of gender role stereotypes, occurring in nomadic cultures whose legacy persists to the present day. This is examined in light of the proposed new synthesis for a consequential or coincidental relationship, the former being apparent. It is found that gender role bias has played an uncomfortably large part in Iron Age scholarship, and that outdated sociocultural assumptions continue to foster an unsupportable view of elements of world history.

Review of ‘Constructing Frames of Reference: An Analytical Method for Archaeological Theory Building using Ethnographic and Environmental Data Sets’ by Lewis R. Binford

Constructing frames book cover‘Constructing Frames of Reference: An Analytical Method for Archaeological Theory Building using Ethnographic and Environmental Data Sets’ by Lewis R. Binford, 2001, University of California Press, Berkeley, xx + 563 pp. ISBN 0-5202-2393-4 (hbk).

Reviewed by F. Donald Pate

Lewis Binford has devoted his professional career to the development of a rigorous scientific framework for the reconstruction of past human lifeways. During the past 40 years, Binford has made significant contributions to the foundations of contemporary anthropological archaeology. Binford’s major influence on the development of scientific archaeology or the ‘New Archaeology’ is reflected in his seminal publications that emerged in the 1960s–1980s (Binford 1962, 1965, 1968, 1972, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1989; Binford and Binford 1968). The ‘New Archaeology’ and subsequent post-processual approaches resulted in critical assessments of archaeological theories and methods employed to make inferences about past human behaviour. The epistemological dynamics associated with scientific archaeology have had a major impact on the ongoing evolution of archaeological theory and method.

This volume represents a landmark synthesis of Binford’s approaches to the scientific analysis of past human behaviours. “The primary problem that this book addresses is the development of a method for productively using ethnographic data to serve archaeological goals” (p. 3). Binford provides a detailed analysis of ethnographic and environmental data from 339 historically known hunter-gatherer societies and argues that behavioural variability is influenced significantly by a small number of environmental and demographic variables. With a focus on hunter-gatherer dynamics and the emergence of early farming societies, the book is an essential reference for all prehistorians. Binford’s critical assessment of the employment of ethnographic data in studies of past hunter-gatherer societies makes this book particularly valuable to Australian archaeologists.

Binford’s ‘frames of reference’ are methodological devices for structuring data in order to make them useful to archaeologists (p. 3). Two major frames of reference are developed in the book. The first documents the primary variables conditioning habitat variability and provides a means to relate archaeological ‘facts’ to various environmental variables. Thus, this frame of reference addresses the documentation and identification of huntergatherer adaptive responses to habitat variability. In the second frame of reference, variability documented among ethnographically known hunter-gatherers is related to archaeological remains. This frame of reference facilitates the development of models relating archaeological remains to past hunter-gatherer behaviour.

The book is divided into four parts. Part I Exploring Prior Knowledge and Belief consists of three chapters that summarise prior conceptions about hunter-gatherers. Chapter 1 “Founders effect” and the study of hunter-gatherers assesses the utility of theories and methods developed by the anthropological ‘founders’ of huntergatherer research. The role of past anthropological research in relation to the continuing growth of archaeological theory and method is addressed. Chapter 2 Human actors and their role in the evolutionary play addresses the unique characteristics of humans that influence responses to environmental variables. Binford focuses on ‘planned or volitional action and on the associated idea that goal-directed behavior, extreme behavioral plasticity, and the capacity for culture itself are important human characteristics that must be considered as constants in any discussion of humans as actors in the ecological theater and the evolutionary play’ (p. 43). Chapter 3 The play of ideas in the scientific theater discusses the important role that science plays as a ‘learning strategy’ in relation to the advancement of archaeological knowledge about human behaviour in past societies. Two different kinds of analytical tools, frames of reference and projections, are discussed. A scientific investigation of the human past offers a systematic and critical approach to the analysis of archaeological data within the context of particular environmental contexts. ‘The ability to tease out implications from repetitively patterned relationships among variables (classes of data) provides the clues to the way the world is organized and how it works in a dynamic sense’ (p. 48).

Part II Methods for Using Prior Knowledge: Building Frames of Reference and Models consists of three chapters that address the methods involved in the development of frames of reference and models from ethnographic and environmental data. “These three chapters outline the logic and actual construction of intellectual models and frames of reference and are central to the tactical exploration of the procedures developed in subsequent chapters” (p. 4). Chapter 4 Setting the stage for the evolutionary play: The Earth’s climates, plants, and animals documents the variability in environments in which hunter-gatherers are known to have lived. Ecological variables that can be used to record specific, relevant properties of global environments are introduced and defined. These environmental data provide the ecological basis for the development of hypotheses regarding explanations for ethnographic variability. Chapter 5 Designing frames of reference and exploring projections integrates the ecological variables documented in Chapter 4 and the analytical tools (frames of reference and projections) as a means to assess various aspects of hunter-gatherer behaviour. For example, the distribution and population density of hunter-gatherer communities across the globe is related to net above-ground productivity of various plant communities in these regions. In Chapter 6 Building a baseline for analysing niche variability among ethnographically documented peoples Binford identifies the range of habitats or ‘energetic domains’ within which hunter-gatherers are known to have occupied. He then employs a case study which approximates the subsistence base, degree of mobility, and ethnic diversity that may have characterised hunter-gatherer populations in particular regions of Europe preceding agriculture.

Part III Recognising Patterns and Generalizing about What the World is Like consists of three chapters that employ cross-cultural ethnographic comparisons of diverse hunter-gatherer groups as a uniformitarian strategy to reconstruct past hunter-gatherer behaviours. Chapter 7 Twenty-one generalisations in search of a theory employs generalizations derived from pattern recognition studies to build a model of factors that might relate to variability in hunter-gatherer group size. In Chapter 8 A flat earth or a ‘thick rotundity’?, the ethnographic hunter-gatherer data set is employed to investigate how group size varies in a wide range of circumstances. Variables addressed include degree of mobility, social cooperation, food storage, changes in the organisation of labour, and various means of intensification in relation to food yields. Chapter 9 The play’s the thing in the scientific theater addresses how processes of intensification lead to increased sedentism and changes in the organisation of hunter-gatherer cultural systems.

Part IV Putting Ideas, Second-Order Derivative Patterning, and Generalizations Together: Explorations in Theory Building includes the final three chapters of the book. This section of the book focuses on analysis and integration in relation to the explanation of the observed variability in the hunter-gatherer ethnographic data base. Chapter 10 A disembodied observer looks at hunter-gatherer responses to packing discusses the interaction of density- dependent variables in relation to intensification processes. Binford defines intensification as “the process that impels hunter-gatherers to increase the amount of food they extract from smaller and smaller segments of the landscape” (p. 363). Intensification is linked to increases in population size or ‘demographic packing’. It is argued that habitat richness may condition the rate of demographic change and that demographic packing is the factor forcing major adaptive changes. Chapter 11 The evolution of system states examines social complexity that arises from the integration of previously independent systems. Ethnographic case studies are employed to examine the causes of internal social differentiation and ranking in hunter-gatherer societies. Binford contrasts internally ranked and socially stratified societies that were more dependent on aquatic resources with hunter-gatherers primarily dependent upon terrestrial plants who employed social differentiation based on an individual’s progress through a series of age-graded sodalities or ‘secret societies’. The former employed wealth-based distinctions, polygamous privileges for the elite, and council-based decision making. In Chapter 12 The last act crowns the play Binford considers the spatial and temporal patterning of different system state conditions in order to clarify the way in which archaeologists approach the archaeological record. Density-dependent thresholds that mark major interruptions in the character, complexity, and tactical behaviour of hunter-gatherer groups are discussed in an attempt to “build a theory about the self-organizing processes of intensification among hunter-gatherers” (p. 461).

In the Epilogue, Binford discusses some of the broader implications of major organisational changes that have occurred when hunter-gatherer groups have reached and exceeded the ‘packing threshold’. In addition, underlying principles in relation to “the development of a method for productively using ethnographic data in the service of archaeological goals” are reviewed (p. 471).

Although major advances have been made in the development of an anthropological archaeology, Binford argues that the discipline remains in a nascient stage of theory building. Constructing Frames of Reference makes a significant contribution to ongoing theory building in contemporary archaeology.   


Binford, L.R. 1962 Archaeology as anthropology. American Antiquity 28:217–225.

Binford, L.R. 1965 Archaeological systematics and the study of culture process. American Antiquity 31:203–210.

Binford, L.R. 1968 Some comments on historical versus processual archaeology. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 24:267–275.

Binford, L.R. 1972 An Archaeological Perspective. New York: Seminar Press.

Binford, L.R. 1978 Nunamiut Ethnoarchaeology. New York: Academic Press.

Binford, L.R. 1980 Willow smoke and dogs’ tails: Hunter-gatherer settlement systems and archaeology. American Antiquity 45:4–20.

Binford, L.R. 1981 Bones: Ancient Men and Modern Myths. New York: Academic Press.

Binford, L.R. 1983 In Pursuit of the Past: Decoding the Archaeological Record. London: Thames and Hudson.

Binford, L.R. 1989 Debating Archaeology. New York: Academic Press.

Binford, S.R. and L.R. Binford (eds) 1968 New Perspectives in Archaeology. Chicago: Aldine.

Review of ‘Hunter-Gatherers in History, Archaeology and Anthropology’

Hunter-Gatherers in history book cover‘Hunter-Gatherers in History, Archaeology and Anthropology’ edited by Alan Barnard, 2004, Berg, Oxford and New York, x+278 pp. ISBN 1-8597-3825-7 (pbk).

Reviewed by Ian McNiven

This volume is based on papers presented in the ‘Hunting and Gathering as a Theme in the History of Anthropology’ session at the Ninth International Conference on Hunting and Gathering Societies held at Edinburgh in September 2003. The editor Alan Barnard is well placed to assemble this collection following the success of his earlier book History and Theory in Anthropology (Cambridge University Press 2000). On the back cover, Tim Ingold writes ‘Alan Barnard has assembled some outstanding contributions, providing a benchmark assessment of the past achievements and future prospects of hunter-gatherer research’. The key word here is ‘some’, for as with most edited volumes, we are presented with an eclectic group of papers that vary in quality. Yet the thematic diversity of the papers mirrors nicely the multiplicity of directions hunter-gatherer studies have taken over the last 20 years. Whereas the landmark 1966 Man the Hunter conference at the University of Chicago attempted to bring about an Anglophone channeling of hunter-gatherer studies, the ensuing rise of 4th world peoples’ activism, globalization, postmodernism and post-colonialism have seen this authority challenged and fragment. Barnard has done well to capture some of the diversity and challenges confronting modern huntergatherer studies.

Barnard divided the 17 chapters into three parts: (1) Early visions of hunter-gatherer society and their influence, (2) Local traditions in hunter-gatherer research, and (3) Reinterpretations in archaeology, anthropology and the history of the disciplines. Part 1 presents four papers exploring the origins of the concept of ‘hunter-gatherers’ amongst various scholarly traditions. Pluciennik and Barnard provide comparative historical overviews of European and Asian approaches to classifying and ranking societies. While both papers are excellent, the opportunity was missed to explore in depth the colonial fabric of such constructions. The hypothetical concept of hunter-gatherers was developed within the broader theoretical framework of social evolutionism as a philosophy of colonialism. Hunter-gatherers were invented as a category of humanity to position many of the world’s Indigenous peoples as an anachronistic form of ‘primordial man’ (‘savages’) who beseeched conquest and extermination. It is no coincidence that the two key periods of Western scholarship on development of the hypothetical concept of hunter-gatherers – Ancient Greece and Rome, and 18th and 19th century western Europe, correspond to the two key periods of European intercontinental colonialism (for an extended discussion of this issue, see McNiven and Russell Appropriated Pasts: Indigenous Peoples and the Colonial Culture of Archaeology, AltaMira Press forthcoming). All hunter-gatherer specialists are aware of the basics of this complex and often sordid history. Perhaps this is why hunter-gatherer studies continue to be re-invented in an ever-ending attempt to shed the ghosts of social evolutionism. But for hunter-gatherer studies, social evolutionism it not so much a ghost but a shadow whose form can be changed but never eradicated.

Part 2 features six papers that discuss German, Russian, Japanese and Indian anthropological traditions of huntergatherer studies. Peter Schweitzer in his paper on Germanlanguage debates of the late 19th and early 20th centuries speaks for the entire group when he states that the aim of his paper is to ‘counter… English-language bias when discussing the history of hunter-gatherer studies’. Schweitzer brings to our attention Ernst Grosse who in the 1890s not only wrote major critiques of Herbert Spencer and Lewis Henry Morgan, but also distinguished ‘lower hunters’ from ‘higher hunters’ in a schema that ‘reappeared’ in the late 20th century with immediate/delayed return and simple/complex hunter-gatherers. Artemova and Sirina in their respective papers bring out the role of state politics and ideology in Russian/Soviet traditions of hunter-gatherer studies. Their papers bring home the need for similar reflexive appraisals of the political and ideological backdrops to the development of the hunter-gatherer concept by Enlightenment scholars of western Europe (including Great Britain). Papers by Ichikawa and Sugawara provide informative overviews of Japanese scholarship in central Africa (‘pygmies’) and southern Africa (San peoples). Pappu’s paper provides a detailed and at times critical overview of the use of ethnographic analogy in Indian hunter-gatherer archaeology.

Part 3 presents the most challenging and engaging papers in the volume. Lane and Schadla-Hall discuss the intriguing question of why during four decades of reexamination and reinterpretation of the famous Mesolithic site of Star Carr that the research questions have not moved on from issues of subsistence and settlement to embrace new approaches to hunter-gatherers provided by anthropologists. No book on hunter-gatherers can neglect optimal foraging theory and Sheehan broadens the discussion to consider issues of analogy and the empirical limitations of applying OFT to the past. Suzman and Widlok discuss issues of historicity and analogy respectively with regards to Kalahari peoples. Suzman’s essentialist argument for the ahistorical nature of some Kalahari peoples is somewhat naïve as it fails to engage with literature on the mnemonic role of landscape and places in the emic construction of Indigenous histories.

For me, papers by Yengoyan, Myers, and Pinkoski and Asch on the theoretical and legal legacies of Julian Steward’s research on the Great Basin Shoshone and Paiute are the highlights of the volume. Steward’s paradigm of cultural ecology transformed hunter-gatherer studies and was foundational to the New Archaeology of the 1960s and 70s. But as Myers notes, Steward’s ‘culture core’ concept dismissed religion, ritual and social structure as epiphenomenal and marginal to understanding the so-called core issue of subsistence and environmental adaptation. Such a view alienated Native Americans and, as Yengoyan states bluntly, ‘created a new discourse in which evolutionary and economic models have reduced human actors to disemboweled humans who no longer have cultural anchors’. Pinkoski and Asch document the insidious impact of Steward’s approach as the US Department of Justice used his theoretical approach to undermine Northern Paiute land claims in the 1940s. This case study is mandatory reading for all those interested in the link between anthropological constructs and native title. But these three papers are not the only reason I recommend this book to all those interested in hunter-gatherer studies. The volume contains a stimulating mix of papers that not only de-centre Anglophone academic traditions but also challenge us to think more broadly in our formulations of those peoples past, present and future who we categorise as hunter-gatherers.

Review of ‘Archaeology and Colonialism: Cultural Contact from 5000 BC to the Present’ by Chris Godsen and ‘The Archaeology of the Colonised’ by Michael Given

front.tif‘Archaeology and Colonialism: Cultural Contact from 5000 BC to the Present’ by Chris Godsen, 2004, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press), 200 pp. ISBN 0-521-78795-5 (pbk).
‘The Archaeology of the Colonised’ by Michael Given, 2004, Routledge, London and New York, 200 pp. ISBN 0-4153-6992-4 (pbk).

Reviewed by Rodney Harrison


Colonialism and culture contact have become hot topics in archaeology. These two new books demonstrate the breadth of the field, and distinguish themselves by dealing with issues of colonialism, as distinct from culture contact (see Silliman 2005), head-on. In doing so they set a series of agendas for both archaeology and broader studies of colonialism in the new Millennium.

Archaeology of the Colonised book coverGosden’s Archaeology and Colonialism is broad in scope, taking what is essentially a ‘top down’ approach to the topic of colonialism. Drawing on the work of World Systems theorists, in particular Wallerstein (1974, 1980) and Frank and Gills (2000), Gosden suggests that it is possible to see forms of colonialism in the archaeological record from as early as 5000 BC. His most significant contribution is the development of a model of colonialism which manifests itself in three different forms, each one then forming the basis for a global comparative discussion in subsequent chapters, with a concluding chapter focussing on ‘power’. ‘Colonialism within a shared cultural milieu’ is the term he uses to describe the earliest (and perhaps most controversial in terms of their acceptance as colonial contexts) colonial forms, such as those that existed from Mesopotamia to the Greeks, and amongst the Aztecs, Incas, Chinese and Tongans. This form of colonialism is characterised by colonial relations between state and nonstate polities, where power is manifest in forms that operate within norms of social behaviour and where the limits of colonisation are controlled not by military power, but by the area over which a particular culture is shared or spread. Colonial ‘middle grounds’ are exemplified by the peripheries of the Greek colonies and the Roman Empire, and early modern contacts with indigenous peoples in North America, Africa, India and the Pacific. These forms of colonialism are characterised by experimentation and creativity, and consist of accommodation on the part of both indigenes and colonists and the development of regularised social relations. ‘Terra nullius’ colonialism, as evidenced by the major settler societies of Australia, New Zealand, North America and Russia from the mid-Eighteenth century, but also by the Mongols and Spanish in Peru and Mexico, is characterised by extreme violence, mass appropriation of land, and the spread of disease which enables the destruction of existing forms of social relations. Active resistance to colonial forms which allow indigenous cultural continuity often exists in such circumstances. Terra nullius colonialism is differentiated from the other forms by the existence of relatively fixed categories of difference, whereas in middle ground colonialism new categories of difference are often created by cross-cultural encounters and in the case of colonialism in a shared cultural milieu, no such categories of difference may exist.

Gosden’s work is informed by a judicious reading of post-colonial theory, particularly in terms of understanding the intellectual traditions that underlie the concept of colonialism, and how nineteenth century views of colonialism influence strongly the way in which it has been studied by academics. He is, like other archaeologists currently working in the field of culture contact (e.g. papers in Torrence and Clarke 2000), strongly influenced by the work of Nicholas Thomas (1991, 1994), whose ideas about the way in which colonialism is mediated by way of material things echo in Gosden’s concluding statement that:

Colonialism is not many things, but just one. Colonialism is a process by which things shape people, rather than the reverse. Colonialism exists where material culture moves people, both culturally and physically, leading them to expand geographically, to accept new material forms and to set up power structures around a desire for material culture (2004:153).

As in his other recent book, Collecting Colonialism: Material Culture and Colonial Change (Gosden and Knowles 2001), by focusing on the material dimensions of colonialism, Gosden is authoring a specific role for archaeology and material culture studies in understanding the range of forms in which colonialism is manifest in both modern and ancient human societies. Gosden’s grasp of his topic is noteworthy, and the book is written in the sort of clear and engaging style that would make it equally accessible to both students and academics. This impressively broad look at the many and diverse forms of colonialism in the post 5000 BC world not only distinguishes itself by developing a convincing argument regarding the various forms of colonialism, but also sets a new agenda for global studies of colonialism, and archaeology’s place in such an endeavour.

In contrast with Archaeology and Colonialism, Given’s interest in The Archaeology of the Colonized is with the lived experience of colonialism for those on the receiving end of colonial regimes, a ‘bottom up’ approach to understanding the materiality of the colonial project. Given’s focus is narrower than Gosden, both geographically and in terms of the forms of colonialism with which he deals. Most examples are drawn from Turkey and Cyprus, although he also cites material from Old Kingdom Egypt, Nazi Germany and nineteenth century Scotland. He is most interested in those particular forms of colonialism which express themselves through taxation and the material manifestations of Empire. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and the material certainly acts in ways which are complimentary to Gosden’s book, by giving greater focus to a series of more detailed case studies, rather than Archaeology and Colonialism’s broad perspective.

Like Gosden (e.g. 2004: 5; see also Silliman 2005), Given sees colonialism as distinct from other forms of cultural contacts in terms of the unequal power relations that characterise colonial systems. Unlike Gosden, Given makes a fairly convincing stab at reviving the sort of ‘Resistance’ model outlined in the influential Domination and Resistance (Miller et al 1998), and other major works such as McGuire and Paynter’s edited volume The Archaeology of Inequality (1991). While Gosden, like other recent authors on the archaeology of culture-contact (eg papers in Torrence and Clarke 2000), is critical of the merits of this approach in a study of colonialism, suggesting it prejudices the terms of the encounter and may only be relevant to some models of colonialism (2004: 22), it seems appropriate to Given’s aim to focus on the ways in which archaeology can contribute to studies of colonialism by identifying specific instances of social impacts brought about by particular colonial regimes:

The most direct involvement of ordinary people with imperial rule is when their hard-won food is removed from in front of them and taken right out of their family, their community, and often their country… this is colonialism, as experienced by the great majority of people who live under it. Tribute begins at the threshing floor (2004:3).

Given’s study is framed in terms of landscape archaeology, drawing, amongst other studies, on the work undertaken as part of the Sydney Cyprus Survey Project (eg Given and Knapp 2003). He employs small vignettes and descriptive passages as narrative devices at various points throughout the text to address issues of gaps in the record, ‘to imagine a lost perspective, form new questions and stimulate new thought’ (2004: 23). This approach is effective in drawing out the agency of individuals in the colonial contexts discussed, where actions of resistance might otherwise be extremely difficult to read (see also Paterson’s (2003) discussion of the ‘texture of agency’ in a central Australian context).

The Archaeology of the Colonised’s chapters focus on the archaeology of taxation (Chapter 3), the role of census, survey and mapping in the colonial project (an issue which has recently been discussed in relation to the archaeology of colonialism in Australia by Byrne 2003)(Chapter 5), imperial landscapes (Chapter 4), forced labour (Chapter 6), the resistance of taxation (Chapter 7), and the ways in which resistance might be ‘read’ in the archaeological landscape (Chapter 8). This book connects with postcolonial theory through its focus on agency, and provides important insights into the ways in which local people engage with systems of centralised control, and how these relationships might be understood through the archaeological record. Its real strength is its engagement with landscape archaeology, and the thorough grounding of the book in a series of appealing (at times even surprising) and inventive case studies. Given’s writing style is innovative and engaging, and the topic one which is both interesting and important.

I think these two books would act in compliment as part of an undergraduate course on historical archaeology or the archaeology of colonialism and culture contact, as each offers a uniquely different perspective. While Gosden’s book is broad and comparative, and develops important insights on this basis of this perspective, Given’s addresses what could be read as a gap in Archaeology and Colonialism (but certainly not in Gosden’s other work such as Collecting Colonialism) in drawing out the experience of colonialism for ordinary people who exist within colonial regimes. Along with a suite of other recent books on the archaeology of colonialism (Lyons and Papadopoulos 2002), culture contact (Fagan 1998; Murray 2004; Torrence and Clarke 2000) or the historical archaeology of indigenous peoples (cf. Harrison and Williamson 2002; Murray 1996) with relevance to Australia, these volumes contribute to a renewed interest from within archaeology on issues of contemporary relevance to both indigenous and non-indigenous peoples in settler societies, and to the development of a truly global perspective on world history. As Gosden notes, ‘colonialism is the major cultural fact of the last 500 years, and to some extent of the last 5000 years, although it is said we now live in a postcolonial world… we are still wrestling with the economic, intellectual and social consequences… by looking at the varying forms power can take we can learn much about the past and unlearn much about the present’ (2004:6, original emphasis). These important books merit a place on the shelves of all scholars interested in the role of archaeology in developing research which has relevance to the experiences of ordinary people in both the modern and ancient worlds, and in teaching students the ways in which archaeology can contribute to contemporary debates regarding modernisation, postcolonial theory, globalization and the oppression of the modern nation-state.


Byrne, D. 2003 Nervous landscapes: Race and space in Australia. Journal of Social Archaeology 3(2):169–193.

Fagan, B. 1998 Clash of Cultures (2nd ed.) Walnut Creek: Alta Mira Press.

Frank, A.G. and B.K. Gills 2000 The five thousand year world system in theory and praxis. In R.A. Denemark, J. Friedman, B.K. Gills and G. Modelski (eds), World System History: The Social Science of Long-Term Change, pp.3–23. London: Routledge.

Given, M. and A.B. Knapp (eds) 2003 The Sydney Cyprus Survey Project: Social Approaches to Regional Archaeological Survey. Monumenta Archaeologica 21. Los Angeles: University of California Cotsen Institute of Archaeology.

Gosden, C. and C. Knowles 2001 Collecting Colonialism: Material Culture and Colonial Change. Oxford: Berg.

Harrison, R. and C. Williamson (eds) 2002 After Captain Cook: The Archaeology of the Recent Indigenous Past in Australia. Sydney University Archaeology Methods Series 8. Sydney: Archaeological Computing Laboratory, University of Sydney.

Lyons, C.L. and J.K. Papadopoulos (eds) 2002 The Archaeology of Colonialism. Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute.

McGuire, R.H. and R. Paynter (eds) 1991 The Archaeology of Inequality. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Blackwell.

Miller, D., M. Rowland and C. Tilley (eds) 1989 Domination and Resistance. London: Unwin Hyman.

Murray, T. 1996 Contact archaeology: Shared histories? Shared identities? In S. Hunt and J. Lydon (eds), SITES. Nailing the Debate: Interpretation in Museums, pp.199–213. Sydney: Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales.

Murray, T. (ed) 2004 The Archaeology of Contact in Settler Societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Paterson, A. 2003 The texture of Agency: an example of culture contact in central Australia. Archaeology in Oceania 38(2):52–65.

Silliman, S. W. 2005 (in press) Culture contact or colonialism? Challenges in the archaeology of native North America. American Antiquity 70(1).

Thomas, N. 1991 Entangled Objects: Exchange, Material Culture and Colonialism in the Pacific. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

Thomas, N. 1994 Colonialism’s Culture: Anthropology, Travel and Government. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Torrence, R. and A. Clarke (eds) 2000 The Archaeology of Difference: Negotiating Cross-Cultural Engagements in Oceania: London: Routledge.

Wallerstein, I. 1974 The Modern World System, I. New York: Academic Press.

Wallerstein, I. 1980 The Modern World System, II. New York: Academic Press.

Review of ‘A Pacific Odyssey: Archaeology and Anthropology in the Western Pacific. Papers in Honour of Jim Specht’

A Pacific Odyssey book coverReview of ‘A Pacific Odyssey: Archaeology and Anthropology in the Western Pacific. Papers in Honour of Jim Specht’ edited by Val Attenbrow and Richard Fullagar, Sydney: Australian Museum, 2004, Records of the Australian Museum Supplement 29, 186 pp. ISBN 0-9750-4763-9 (pbk).

Reviewed by Alison Crowther

The latest festschrift to honour the formal retirement of yet another of Australia’s pioneering archaeologists brings together 19 papers by 26 of Jim Specht’s friends and colleagues. The ‘Specht-schrift’ stems from a one-day conference organised by the Australian Museum in 2000 entitled, ‘A Pacific Odyssey: Recent Archaeological Discoveries, on the Occasion of Jim Specht’s Retirement‘, which aimed to present and discuss the results of important recent discoveries in Pacific archaeology (p.v). Although the lag between the conference and eventual publication of the volume suggests that many of these discoveries may no longer be so recent, the case studies highlight the range of archaeological and anthropological research underway in the Western Pacific.

Edited by Attenbrow and Fullagar, the volume appropriately begins with a tribute to Specht’s career (Taçon et al.) and a compilation showcasing his extensive publication history (Kahn). Both highlight the depth and breadth of Specht’s work in the Western Pacific and the pioneering nature of much of his research, particularly in the New Britain region – he is, after all, credited as being the first archaeologist of the Bismarck Archipelago. The remaining papers are organised alphabetically, by author, owing to the lack of thematic grouping according to geography, subject or object (p.v).

A strength of the volume lies in those papers that bring new data to bear on old sites or old problems. Athens and Ward, for example, tackle several issues associated with the settlement history of Guam via palaeoenvironmental analysis, while Denham evaluates the argument for agriculture during Phase 1 at Kuk Swamp from new lines of multi-disciplinary evidence. Phytoliths in sediments excavated some 20 years ago from the Reber-Rakival Lapita site provide Lentfer and Green with a means to reconstruct past vegetation change. These and other papers (e.g. Pavlides and Wilson) are a reminder that refining past models and revisiting old sites are as important as finding new ones.

Specht’s first assignment after joining the ANU in 1965 was to follow up the discovery of Lapita pottery on Watom Island (Taçon et al.). The scope of current Lapita research is indicated in papers by Torrence, who argues that a pre- Lapita stemmed tool found by Specht in West New Britain is evidence for the in situ development of a prestige economy in the Bismarck Archipelago; and Summerhayes, who presents recent data on sourcing obsidian from Lapita sites in Anir. In separate papers, Spriggs and Lilley address the issues of continuity and connection in the post-Lapita sequences. Spriggs’ review of the debate surrounding similarities in post-Lapita pottery is particularly useful after Bedford and Clark (2001) threw a spanner in the works at one of the last Lapita conferences. Although Spriggs somewhat conservatively agrees with their claims, arguing that ‘both Bedford and Clark are overstating their case, but perhaps not by much’ (p.142), he argues that better dated and described assemblages are the key to resolving this debate. The possibilities for post-Lapita cultural continuity discussed by Spriggs contrasts with those raised in Lilley’s paper on the Vitiaz Strait region. Here the archaeological sequences are characterised by periods of movement and abandonment associated with highly disruptive local volcanic activity, rather than continuous occupation and pottery production.

Another theme that emerges from the volume is that of repatriation. As Taçon et al. (p.5) note, the Australian Museum has been recognised as a world leader in the return of cultural property, and Specht has been at the forefront of this movement. Papers by Bonshek and Bolton build on Specht’s repatriation efforts by presenting case studies (both successful and failed) on attempts to return items to Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. On the flip-side of the coin, Knowles and Gosden review a century of collecting in New Britain, a place where Specht himself spent many years as an archaeological ‘collector’. Each of these papers examines the many complex relationships involved in the collection/repatriation process and the role of museums in mediating these social processes.

The rest of the papers vary in content from subsistence studies (Galipaud and Swadling), to the analysis of monuments (Smith), and the integration of oral tradition in archaeological research (Sheppard et al.). I found Sand’s paper on unravelling the ‘mystery’ of Walpole Island to be particularly valuable as it presents material not previously published in English. Sheppard et al. also present a highly informative and interesting review of the use of oral traditions in archaeology. They use their case study in Roviana Lagoon to demonstrate that, when applied critically and in tandem with archaeological research, oral histories can provide a powerful explanatory tool for understanding the past.

The value of ‘A Pacific Odyssey‘ lies not in lengthy reviews but in the presentation of succinct case studies that illustrate the innovative approaches of today’s Pacific researchers. Given the variety of themes, issues and methodologies presented, readers should have no difficulty finding something of interest in this volume, even if their own work lies outside the Pacific. That the editors have relied on the volume’s geographical focus and occasional links to Specht’s career to thread the papers together is probably its main fault, and only a minor one at that. I think a final summation to draw the papers together and position them within the current state of research would have been useful for demonstrating their value beyond just being a tribute. They do, after all, report some major contributions to our understanding of aspects of Pacific prehistory.

Published as part of the Records of the Australian Museum, Supplements series, the volume’s production is professional, typographical errors are minimal (although not absent, for example Torrence’s quote of Kirch on p.170) and its cost is comparable with similar archaeological series, such as Terra Australis. Those who have entered the digital age can even access a copy of each paper on the Australian Museum website in Portable Document Format (PDF), enhancing the volume’s accessibility and portability. Overall, an excellent resource, a must have for anyone keeping up with advances in Pacific archaeology, and an excellent tribute to Specht’s brilliant career.


Bedford, S. and G. Clark 2001 The rise and rise of the incised and applied relief tradition: A review and assessment. In G.R. Clark, A.J. Anderson and T. Vunidilo (eds), The Archaeology of Lapita Dispersal in Oceania: Papers from the Fourth Lapita Conference, June 2000, Canberra, Australia, pp.61–74. Terra Australia 17. Canberra: Pandanus Books.

Review of ‘Colouring the Past: The Significance of Colour in Archaeological Research’

Reviewed by Noelene Cole

Colouring the Past book cover‘Colouring the Past: The Significance of Colour in Archaeological Research’ edited by Andrew Jones and Gavin MacGregor, 2002, Berg, Oxford, xv+250 pp. ISBN 1-8597-3542-8 (hbk); ISBN 1-8597-3547-9 (pbk).

‘Why has it taken so long for archaeology to undertake a critical treatment of colour?’ The editors of Colouring the Past find the answer to this question in various (post-1980) developments in Anglo-American archaeology: a new emphasis on the experiential nature of material culture, increased awareness of the senses in archaeological inquiry and a heightened interest in representation and visual communication. This may bemuse a few rock art researchers who have long been interested in the archaeology of visual communication, but the premise is valid for mainstream archaeology.

The genesis of Colouring the Past was the 1999 European Archaeological Association conference. The book’s contents (12 chapters by 13 authors) deal with colour in funerary practice, stone monuments, stone and metal artefacts and wall paintings. The editors describe the temporal scope as ‘outside the traditional purview of art historical analysis’. However, as the focus is mainly European Neolithic and Bronze Age societies, it is surprising that rock art of these contexts is unrepresented. On the other hand, it is refreshing to find an emphasis on the subtle colour symbolism of soils, pebbles, rocks and building stones.

In the introduction, Jones and MacGregor aim to develop an approach to the ‘deep history’ of colour in the context of materiality. They introduce debates in cognitive psychology on the relativity or universality of colour, in particular relating to the Berlin and Kay model and its use of linguistics and the Munsell Colour Chart. Jones and MacGregor dispute the diachronic conclusions of Berlin and Kay and the narrow approach to colour classification in the Munsell scheme. However, they approve the latter’s use as a ‘site’ allowing researchers to discuss colour with the same terms of reference, its operating principle being that, physiologically speaking, ‘humans in different cultural settings perceive colour in similar ways’. I am puzzled therefore that Munsell values were not employed in various tables (e.g. Figs 1.2, 2.5, Table 9.1) to attempt to objectify colour terms such as ‘buff ’, ‘brown-black’, ‘brick red’ etc. In Chapter 2 Chapman provides a more detailed critique of the ‘falsely diachronic’ Berlin and Kay model, noting that colour pathways are not characterised by developing colour complexity. Chapman provides an overview of alternative approaches in anthropology and cognitive linguistics to the integration of colour meaning into colour studies.

Chapters 2 to 9 present case studies of foregrounded colours and their roles in communicating cultural messages in various social contexts. Most authors attempt to go beyond Western concepts and terminology to explore colour in its synchronic and diachronic contexts. Chapter 1 by Boric introduces the colourful Danube Gorges, where, he argues, selected colours and designs were associated with apotropaism or ‘enchantment’ in Mesolithic Neolithic times. Keates (Chapter 5) concludes that in North Italian society luminosity and colour of copper artefacts were potent carriers of symbolic information. MacGregor (Chapter 7) identifies colour and texture in the recumbent stone circle tradition of northeast Scotland as expressions of social identities.

Several papers (including the epilogue) demonstrate the value of researching the innate attributes of colour in the archaeological analysis of stone. The selective use of white quartz pebbles in Neolithic monuments on the Isle of Man is explained by Darville (Chapter 3) as a reflection of sacred geography—continuing white symbolism bridged the ideological gap between Christianity and earlier belief systems. Cooney (Chapter 4) examines symbolic associations of stone in axeheads of the Neolithic period as a manifestation of a long tradition of colour symbolism in Ireland.

Mortuary practice is a rich source of data on the archaeology of colour. In one of the more succinct accounts of the volume, Owoc (Chapter 6) demonstrates the metaphorical power of colour as expressed in the selection of soils in Bronze Age funerary practice. This is a model study of the contrived appearance of a feature in a context—the meaningful, deliberate and contextual construction of colour through site design and use. It shows how the addition of sequential embellishments and new mounds to a funerary site (and the meaningful incorporation of features induced by natural weathering) involve changes in colour, texture, location, depth and consistency, which are imbued with symbolic meaning. I am confident that this explanation of site design has wider application, as in the study of accumulated superimpositions in rock art. Andrew Jones (Chapter 8) explores complex colour biographies of funerary artefacts and produces an alternative explanation of their significance. Tairov and Bushmakin (Chapter 9) conduct a standard mineralogical analysis of cached powders from burial mounds of South Urals and North Kazakhstan. This provides useful data on paint use and exchange systems, but I suspect does not constitute a ‘deep’ study of colour.

I especially enjoyed Allison’s imaginative way of communicating the psychological impact of colourful wall paintings in a redecorated Pompeian house (Chapter 10). Allison shows that the selection of specific, well documented colours and their careful arrangement in light and architectural space point to a household of some wealth and prestige. Saunders (Chapter 11) explores the same attributes (light and colour) in Mesoamerican contexts. In a sense the synthesised approach of this paper (and the selective widening of the geographic scope to include America) interrupts the organisational flow of the book. At this point a study dealing with innate or consciously applied colour in rock art would have complemented the preceding chapter (wall paintings of Pompeii).

The final chapter (Epilogue by Scarre) provides a review of colour studies which could have led to a useful statement on the future direction of colour research instead of another discussion of the salient features of stone in prehistoric monuments. However Scarre’s conclusions provide important guiding principles for colour studies in archaeology, for example:

• the need to recognise the full materiality of the artefacts concerned;
• colour may not be the most salient feature of materials or artefacts.

In dealing with abstractions such as the creative imagination, it is a challenge for archaeology to balance what the editors describe as ‘the objective practice of data recording and the hermeneutics of interpretation’. Although I found a little too much emphasis on symbolic clichés (e.g. red symbolises blood), and too little on taphonomy (loss and/or changes in colour through various taphonomic processes), recurring issues are of global interest: colour as a temporal and spatial component of the natural environment; culturally specific colour terminology and selectivity as a source of insights into the processes of symbolisations and categorisations; the universality of the restricted colour palette; the introduction of novel materials as a source of new colour perceptions and selection; the importance of attributes (other than hue) such as texture, luminosity, hardness, brightness, darkness and light; colour perceptions in the use of stone (e.g. quartz) and metals (e.g. copper); the meaningful, deliberate and contextual construction of colour and other qualities, as in technical transformations to achieve lustre.

Overall, this volume makes an important contribution to archaeology. Hopefully it will stimulate others to explore the varied and complex ways in which past societies perceived, selected, transformed and used colours to transcend materiality. But the main contribution of Colouring the Past is methodological—it has much to offer archaeologists as an incentive to adopt integrated, cognitive approaches to the analysis of material culture. The work of Taçon (including his contribution to a series of short papers on colour in the Cambridge Archaeological Journal 1999) is widely cited in this volume, but it appears that Australian archaeological studies which focus on the deep, innate qualities of colour, texture, light etc. are few. Colouring the Past confirms that the study of colour, ‘this compelling attribute’ can be undertaken archaeologically, across a wide range of temporal, spatial and material contexts.

Review of ‘The Incas’ by Terence N. D’Altroy

The Incas book cover‘The Incas’ by Terence N. D’Altroy, 2003, Blackwell Publishing, Maiden/Oxford/Carlton, xv+391 pp. ISBN 1-4051-1676-5 (pbk).

Reviewed by David Bulbeck

The author Terence D’Altroy belongs to the Realpolitik school of anthropological archaeology, and this perspective comprehensively informs his representation of the Inca empire, through his selection of which historical events to relate and which socio-political aspects to emphasize. The result is a wide-ranging and sophisticated description of the Incas which is, however, readily accessible to the general reader and specialist alike through a neatly organized chapter structure and avoidance of unnecessary jargon. Still, the book would disappoint readers who had been hoping for a romanticised account. Carving out a vast empire in a matter of decades, and consolidating imperial rule over a geographically and ethnically diverse realm, were hardly pretty affairs, and D’Altroy’s work gives political intrigue and military might equal billing with the marvellous accomplishments of the Incas in record keeping, road works, and integrating the technological and agricultural skills previously developed by the Incas’ subject societies.

Chapter 1 introduces the available sources on the Incas, and discusses the author’s intention to combine the historical and archaeological evidence to a degree not hitherto achieved. Chapter 2 briefly describes the central Andean belt and its coastal and jungle fringes in terms of physiography, geography and society, including a few pages devoted to pre-Inca prehistory. The Killke antecedents of the Incas, in the Cuzco basin (Chapter 3), appear quite unremarkable in this context, and D’Altroy wisely avoids looking for root causes to explain the Inca expansion. The expansion of the empire is recounted in chapter four, and the political organization of the empire, both in its consolidated regions and in the borderlands where Inca armies continued their conquests at a retarded rate, is the concern of Chapter f. Chapter 6 covers Cuzco and the sacred Urubamba Valley, and the question of whether the imperial expansion was fuelled by the prerogative to accumulate further estates for deceased rulers with each passing emperor.

Chapter 7 describes the Cuzco-centred state ideology, with the ruler as the sun god’s living representative, as well as the belief systems of the subject societies and how they fitted uneasily with the Incaimposed religion. In Chapter 8 we learn how people made a living, and how the Incas controlled the central Andean surplus both to feed their armies and to host sumptuary feasts (associated with state construction works and Inca festivals). The following chapters provide a more detailed summary of the organisation of the empire in terms of its army, provincial rule, food production and storage of surplus, and the superlative accomplishments of Andean and coastal Peruvian societies in textile production, metal work, ceramics and masonry. The book finishes with a succinct account of the Spanish invasion at a time of civil war, the Inca resistance even after the Spanish had occupied Cuzco and established a new capital at Lima, the tragic depopulation (through disease and harsh Spanish rule) in the aftermath of the invasion, and the maintenance of pre-Spanish traditions amongst many Peruvian and Bolivian communities to this day.

Each chapter contains sufficient background information to allow a reader who wishes to learn about a particular topic to dip into the relevant pages. The book also works as an integrated whole with later chapters providing the detail on topics raised in earlier passages. D’Altroy, whose background is archaeology, combines history and archaeology as well as can be achieved. Even when the primary evidence is one or the other, it is set in the context of its complement; for instance, knowledge of the initial imperial expansion may rely on early colonial records, but archaeological evidence is the critical source on the size and organisation of the societies which were conquered. Technically, the writing style is informal to the point of seeming almost whimsical on occasions, but always crystal clear, and the illustrations are nicely prepared, even if they sometimes require good eyesight or spectacles to appreciate the detail. The final pages of the book include a useful glossary and a large bibliography which, it should be noted, gives more space to many of D’Altroy’s colleagues than to his own publications.

Overall, this is a very successful book on the Incas which is destined to replace standard academic overviews (e.g. Anne Kendall’s Life of the Incas). It is written in layers of meaning, so that first-year archaeology students, and other readers seeking a bird’s-eye view, can scan it for a quick appreciation, while more specialist readers can also extract useful nuggets for their purposes from the detail. That said, it may be inferred that D’Altroy’s book would also serve as an excellent later-year textbook, as well as a useful ‘Inca thesaurus’ to adorn the bookshelves of post-graduate students and academics.

Review of ‘Visions from the Past: The Archaeology of Australian Aboriginal Art’ by Mike J. Morwood


Reviewed by Meredith Wilson

Visions from the Past book cover‘Visions from the Past: The Archaeology of Australian Aboriginal Art’ by Mike J. Morwood, 2002, xii+347 pp. ISBN 1-86448-717-8 (pbk).

After Robert Layton’s (1992) Australian Rock Art: A New Synthesis, and Josephine Flood’s (1997) Rock Art of the Dreamtime, Morwood’s Visions from the Past is the latest major review of the rock-art of Australia. It is a carefully constructed, well-written and clearly illustrated volume providing valuable insights into the various strands of rock-art research. Its structure leads the reader from a summary of the range of theoretical approaches used within the discipline through to their application in three case-studies in Queensland. The volume is most appropriate for students of rock-art who wish to familiarise themselves with the subject, as well as ‘non-art archaeologists’ looking for a useful overview of the latest developments in Australian rock-art research. Practicing rock-art researchers should already have under their belt most of the information contained within the volume, but would certainly find Morwood’s approaches to large-scale regional rock-art projects (covered in the case studies) both inspiring and impressive.

Chapter 1 is a review of the grand sweep of Austral tan prehistory. Morwood provides an abridged version of current theories concerning the arrival and dispersal of people within Australia and an overview of some of the continent-wide changes identified by archaeologists in the material record. In Chapter 2 the reader is taken on a descriptive ‘tour’ of the rock-art of Australia, which provides a useful broad-brush picture of the spatiotemporal variations that exist across the continent. This chapter culminates in an assessment of the broad-scale regional and chronological sequences that have been devised for the rock-art of Australia, from the ‘early’ and widespread Panaramitee Style through to the ‘later’ more regionalised and heterogeneous Figurative styles. Chapter 3 situates the rock-art of Australia within an international context, contrasting the different ways in which research has progressed in Europe, North and South America, South Africa and India. The chapter then focuses specifically on developments in Australian rock-art in terms of the involvement of particular individuals, theoretical and technological advances, the foundation of the Australian Rock Art Research Association,  legislation and conservation, and Indigenous involvement. This is an extremely important chapter as it highlights the need for rock-art practitioners to remain vigilant about the transforming political landscapes associated with the sites they study.

Chapter 4 touches generally on the wide variety of approaches used to study rock-art in different parts of Australia, and Chapter 5 offers a detailed coverage of both the ‘relative’ and ‘absolute’ methods that have been used to date rock-art. In Chapters 6 and 7 Morwood hones in on two specific approaches to the study of rock-art: subject analysis, which is mainly concerned with the figurative component of rock-art assemblages, and structural analysis, which deals with both figurative and non-figurative elements and their patterning in time and space. These two chapters are important precursors to Morwood’s three case studies, presented in Chapters 8, 9 and 10. Together these case studies capture the breadth of Morwood’s experience in the field, from his employment of ethnographic research to explain some of the patterning in the rock-art of Central Queensland, to his multi-disciplinary explanations for the sequence of transformations in the rock-art of Southeast Cape York Peninsula. The final chapter of the book offers a concise summary of the physical and legal ways in which the rock-art of Australia is currently being protected, the range of impacts—cultural and natural—which affect rock-art preservation and the various choices of conservation available.

The only potential drawback of the volume, given that it will most likely serve as a textbook on Australian rock art studies, is the referencing system used. This is a criticism directed at the publishers rather than the author who was obviously following editorial instruction. The Harvard and Oxford systems have been abandoned in favour of a ‘popular’ form of referencing whereby the reader must first refer to the notes of each chapter to establish who Morwood has cited and then turn to the bibliography for full details of the publication cited. While the lack of in-text citations makes for easy reading, the virtual absence of page numbers for quotes and ideas anywhere in the book will hinder researchers in following up Morwood’s valuable arguments.

Only a decade ago rock-art was a thriving discipline in Australia. In the last few years, however, it has suffered enormously from the retirement of two academics: John Clegg of the University of Sydney and Andree Rosenfeld of the Australian National University, both of whom dedicated much of their working lives to teaching rock-art. In this respect Morwood’s book is extremely timely as it provides an important source for educators to keep the subject alive for interested students. More generally, it also promotes the fact that rock-art is an essential line of evidence for archaeologists.


Flood. J. 1997 Rock Art of the Dreamtime: Images of Ancient Australia. Sydney: Angus and Robertson.

Layton, R. 1992 Australian Rock Art: A New Synthesis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Review of ‘Thinking from Things: Essays in the Philosophy of Archaeology’ by Alison Wylie

Thinking from Things book cover‘Thinking from Things: Essays in the Philosophy of Archaeology’ by Alison Wylie, 2002, University of California Press, Berkeley, xviii+339 pp. ISBN 0-520-22360-8 (hbk); 0-520-22361-6 (pbk).

Reviewed by Tim Murray

During the 1980s and the early 1990s Alison Wylie gained a deserved reputation as being the most archaeologically aware philosopher around. Having a philosopher with more than a passing interest in and understanding of archaeology was extremely useful at a time when processual archaeology was giving way to post-processual archaeology -if for no better reason than the worst excesses of both strategies could be subject to much-needed forensic analysis.

Wylie was never alone in this, with Merrilee Salmon, Jim Bell, Charles Morgan and others pushing a diversity of philosophical agendas from Bayesian probabilistic logic through to good old-fashioned positivism. There have also been archaeologists with more than a passing interest in, and knowledge of, philosophy such as Gibbon who have grappled with that wide variety of issues that have become the staples of the discourse of theoretical archaeology. Although all players have tended to focus their attention on epistemology (not surprising given all the heat about science, objectivity, relativism and authority) Wylie has branched out further than most into more explicit discussions about empowering the marginal (women, indigenes) in science, and issues more directly linked with traditional discussions of ethics in philosophy.

Very few philosophers (or indeed archaeologists who are well-versed in philosophical argument) have worked in the more esoteric (but foundational) fields of ontology and phenomenology -which has developed into a major problem for the future of archaeological theory. Notwithstanding this fact there should be little doubt that archaeology has derived much value from the limited philosophical discussions that have taken place. To this end we owe Wylie a debt of gratitude.

But is publishing a book of ‘greatest hits’ going a bit too far? True, there are some splendid papers here. Wylie’s analysis of the role of positivism in the foundations of the new archaeology is penetrating, especially if read in conjunction with the work of others (such as Meltzer) on the use by new archaeologists of ‘paradigm talk’. Equally acute is the work in Wylie’s doctoral dissertation mapping out the beginning of a love affair between archaeologists and philosophers in the 1960s. For example, archaeologists such as David Clarke finding profit in discussions with Hugh Mellor, and the impact of logical empiricist philosophy and Kuhnian concepts of paradigms and revolutions being widely utilized, if not particularly well understood. Then there were the ‘law and order’ archaeologists such as Patty Jo Watson and Charles Redman who (with Lewis Binford in his more dogmatic moments) sought to equate a scientific archaeology with one committed to hypothetico-deductive or deductive nomological epistemic strategies.

These discussions (comprising Part Two) focus on what might now be seen as historical matters, but this is an error. Given the truly parlous state of contemporary theoretical archaeology, exploring the intellectual boundaries of this period of explosive creativity can act to restore confidence in our capacity to achieve more than vapid posturing. Similarly the papers in Part Three that consider foundational epistemic issues raised by structural and symbolic archaeology, analogy, critical theory and relativism. Here we see Wylie at her best, examining claims made by archaeologists in the light of contemporary philosophical precepts. In these papers Wylie sought to assist archaeologists to find freedom from ill-understood philosophical dogmas, and outmoded understandings of the role of data and theory in science. In the 1990s Wylie’s targets shifted further away from a focus on archaeology to a broader consideration of the socio-politics of research. These issues are considered in Parts Four and Five, the latter part a discussion about archaeological ethics (especially with respect to the interests of indigenes and others).

Wylie’s philosophical journey over the past 22 years has mirrored (and in some senses helped to create) the landscape of contemporary archaeological philosophy. Certainly Wylie’s commitment to developing an ethical and inclusive archaeology, where discussions of research agendas such as feminism should not be ruled out by the application of empiricism, has done a great deal to support the work of archaeologists also committed to those agendas. However, by the same token Wylie’s philosophical interests by no means encompass all of the core preoccupations of the discipline, which have continued to puzzle, challenge and confuse.

Which brings me to a kind of answer to my earlier question. Many of these papers are to be found in mainstream venues—Wylie is no philosopher from the margins. Accordingly they are readily available outside this collection. What is new in this volume? There is an introductory essay that is a fine introduction to the essays, but it is by no means a balanced or extensive introduction to the philosophy of archaeology. Wylie has her favourite targets and examples that seem not have changed much over the years, and there is much archaeology out there that appears to have passed her by. Each of Parts Two, Three and Four have a very brief and useful introduction that situates the papers within Wylie’s broader philosophical agenda.

Thinking from Things is an interesting collection, but if it had been a book-length reflection by Wylie of her understanding of the great and important themes she explores, then there would be a more compelling reason for its existence. As it transpires I will still encourage students to read the essays as exemplars of clear and creative thinking.

Review of ‘Archaeologies of Memory’ edited by Ruth M. van Dyke and Susan E. Alcock

Reviewed by Rodney Harrison

Archaeologies of Memory book cover‘Archaeologies of Memory’ edited by Ruth M. van Dyke and Susan E. Alcock, 2003, Blackwell Publishing, Melbourne, xiv+240 pp., ISBN 0-631-23585-X (pbk).

Western societies is one of the key cultural and political phenomena of late twentieth century modernity (Huyssen 2000:57, see also 1995, 2003). Memory discourses first emerged in the West in the 1960s in response to the rise of new social movements, decolonisation and, after 1980, mobilised debates around the testimonial movement and ‘remembering’ the Holocaust. Richard Terdiman (1993) goes so far as to make note of modernity’s ‘memory crisis’. while Kammen (1995) situates the roots of the post 1945 heritage movement in the development of a modern sense of nostalgia and an obsession with preservation, the forcible act of not forgetting (or more accurately. remembering). This has produced a boom in memory writing in the social sciences. Relevant here is recent work on history and memory (e.g. Darian-Smith and Hamilton 1994; Le Goff 1996; Nora 1998), memory studies in anthropology (e.g. Casey 1987; Olick and Robbins 1995; Teski and Climo 1995; Climo and Cattell 2002), and the role of ‘remembering’ and ‘forgetting’ in the study of material culture (e.g. Forty and Kuchler 1999; Kwint et al 1999; Hallam and Hockey 2001; Klichler 2003). Much of the work on memory in the late twentieth century has focussed on the role of popular culture in shaping collective memory and representations of the past. Indeed, several historians have argued that in the post-war period, popular culture has become the principal site for the creation and contestation of memory and identity politics (e.g. Lipsitz 1990; see Hamilton 1994).

Despite the recent prominence of memory writing in the social sciences, Van Dyke and Alcock’s book arrives on what is almost a clean slate as far as archaeology is concerned. With the exception of contributors to Bradley and Williams edited volume of World Archaeology on the re-use of ancient monuments (1998), Richard Bradley’s work (Bradley 2000, 2002; see also Barrett et al. 1991), Chris Gosden’s Social Being and Time (1994; see also Gosden and Lock 1998), and recent work by authors represented in the volume (Lillios 1999; Joyce and Gillespie 2000; Alcock 2002; Meskell 2002; see also Rowlands 1993) this book charts relatively new territory for archaeology. The papers in the volume concern themselves almost exclusively with collective or social memory, and in particular the kind of social memory which Paul Connerton (1989) calls inscribed memory—those monuments, texts, or representations which materialise social memory, which he contrasts with embodied memory, the performative, bodily, behavioural contexts in which memory is (re)produced. The way in which the papers in this volume examine the role of the past in producing the national (or local) imaginary recall Seteney Shami’s (2000:234–235) call for ‘prehistory’ to ‘map erasures’ and examine the various manifestations of ‘strategies for territorialising identity’ that draw on the power of the past in the present. While for the most part the papers focus on monumental forms of commemoration of the past, they avoid the uncritical direct conflation of ‘monument’ with ‘memory’ which has recently come under question by authors in the edited volume by Forty and Kuchler (1999; see also Kuchler 2003).

The diverse interests of the editors, one a classical archaeologist who researches the archaeology of Roman Greece (Alcock) and the other an anthropological archaeologist who undertakes research at Chaco Canyon and in the Four Corners region of the American Southwest (Van Dyke), is reflected by the geographical spread of the case studies in the book. They bring together papers presented in the session ‘Archaeologies of memory: Case studies, comparative perspectives’ from the 2000 annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in Philadelphia, and papers presented in the session ‘Mediterranean Memories: Archaeologies of the Past in the Past’ at the 2001 annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America in San Diego. In addition to papers on the Mediterranean (Sinopoli, Papalexandrou, Prent, Lillios and Blake) and pre-Hispanic North America (Pauketat and Alt and Van Dyke), case studies are also drawn from the archaeology of New Kingdom and late Roman period Egypt (Meskell) and the classic Maya (Joyce). Richard Bradley provides a commentary on the volume as a whole.

In their introduction, the editors identify the intellectual roots of their writing on collective memory in the work of Maurice Halbwachs, and provide a short but useful introduction to relevant work on memory in the social sciences and phenomenological approaches to understanding the relationship between memory and place. The rest of the book is divided into three parts; ‘Memory Studies with access to texts’, ‘Memory studies without access to texts’, and ‘Caveats and Conclusions’. This provides a logical way of dividing the text, and as the editors note, the text aided (or historical) archaeological studies provide rich material with which to illuminate and question the (perhaps) less nuanced interpretations of the archaeology of non-literate societies produced in the prehistoric case studies.

Carla Sinopoli’s paper examines the way in which the rulers of the fourteenth century southern Indian empire Vijayanagara both made reference to the Hindu and south Indian past through the medium of courtly architecture, and in turn became an important source of memory and authority in nayaka sacred architecture after the middle of the sixteenth century. She demonstrates the way that landscape, urban design and architecture is used in the material construction and presentation of memory, and their role in invoking the authority and power of the past. Lynn Meskell follows with a sophisticated analysis of short-term commemorative practice and long-term memorialisation evidenced by two distinct time periods in Egypt’s past. Meskell’s is one of the few papers in the volume to examine the interplay between inscribed and embodied memory practices (an issue also discussed by Joyce), suggesting connections between the embodied, ritual experience of festivals and funerals for New Kingdom Egyptians. In her discussion of the use of Deir El Medina during the later Roman period as a burial place for elites who sought to link themselves with an unknown (yet monumental) past, she questions the degree to which social memory can be thought to have continuously operated over the very long-term.

Amy Papalexandrou shifts focus to Byzantine Greece, and the fragmented and shifting notions of memory and the past associated with use of architectural elements such as spoliated masonry. Here fragments of ancient masonry and tombstones incorporated onto decorative facades in medieval buildings speak of the association of Greek administrators with a dismantled and neutralised Greek past. Mieke Prent follows with an examination of the incorporation of Bronze Age monuments into Early Iron Age Cretan cult places, and their evocation of the ritual power associated with Bronze Age objects and monuments. He argues that an Iron Age warrior aristocracy associated themselves with a glorious Bronze Age past through ritual feasting at Bronze Age archaeological sites. Rosemary Joyce concludes the section on ‘Memory studies with access to texts’ with a thought provoking paper on the various contexts in which memory was induced by material things during the Classic Maya present-past. While many studies of the Classic Maya have focussed on monuments and historical inscriptions, here Joyce examines the transformation of personal objects into commemorative records through the inscription of body ornaments with texts, and their subsequent merging of personal with historical memory. Focussing on the example of Maya ear spools, which were ‘conserved, rediscovered, transformed and passed on over time’, she demonstrates a complex process of remembering and forgetting which links such objects with a series of mnemonic, embodied social practices.

Katina Lillios provides the first of three papers on ‘Memory studies without access to texts’, focusing on the role of engraved slate plaques found in collective burials in southern Portugal and Spain in the late Neolithic and Copper Age. She suggests that the engraved designs record genealogical histories and lineage affiliations, and should be viewed as mnemonic devices, which both created and enhanced social difference. Timothy Pauketat and Susan Alt continue this section with an analysis of mound building in eastern North America. They argue that the construction of earthen mounds across the Mississippi valley at temporally and geographically distant moments suggests dynamic traditions and the active creation and recreation of social memory, as symbols of both inclusion and hegemony. Ruth Van Dyke concludes the section with a thoughtful paper on social memory and the construction of Chacoan society. She focuses particularly on the connection between memory and place, and how memory was used in Chacoan society to naturalise authority and to actively consolidate collective identity. Monumental Kiva sites. In a form in which they were built many hundreds of years prior to the Chacoan period, were incorporated into Chacoan buildings, while a detailed chronostratigraphic perspective on the construction dates of Chacoan roads demonstrates the linking of ancient and contemporary places in the Chacoan period.

The final section of the book. ‘Caveats and Conclusions’, includes a cautionary tale by Emma Blake on the re-use and re-occupation during the Byzantine period of Bronze and Iron Age Sicilian rock cut tombs. While it might be ‘obvious’ to view this as an example of the appropriation of the symbolic power of the past, Blake shows instead that this is an example of ‘a sweeping new and cosmopolitan practice, troglyditism, that demonstrates Sicily’s participation in the Byzantine world’. Richard Bradley’s conclusion to the volume uses the various English translations of the title of Marcel Proust’s famous novel on memory, A la Recherche du Temps Perdu, as a starting point in thinking about the diverse examples of the remaking of the past in the present discussed in the book Bradley’s pioneering influence on the study of the past in the past is felt throughout the book, so his paper provides a fitting conclusion to this interesting collection. As Teski and Climo note in their introduction to The Labyrinth of Memory (1995), memory is not simply a matter of recalling past experiences, but a complex and continuing process of negotiation and struggle over what will be remembered and what forgotten. This tension between remembering and forgetting runs as a theme throughout the papers in Van Dyke and Alcock’s book, and re-emerges as an important point in Bradley’s conclusion to the volume.

The papers in the volume are of a consistently high standard, the design is modern and appealing, and the index is comprehensive and easy to use. People with an interest in the archaeology of the geographic areas covered will likely find particular papers of special note, however the volume as a whole provides rich material for thinking about the role of the material traces of the past-in-the-past, and the kinds of embodied remembering of palimpsest pasts that archaeological sites and commemorative monuments represent and (re)produce. While archaeologists will undoubtedly be interested in what this book has to say about past-pasts, the book could also be read as a series of case studies which provide material for thinking about long-term changes in the significance of monuments to collective identity (which we now call ‘heritage’) and the impact of globalisation on object-people relations and contemporary discourses on present-pasts. The book provides a rich and varied set of examples of the way in which the insistent materiality of objects produces a ‘thick autonomy of memory’ (after Casey 1987) in past and present societies.


Alcock, S.E. 2002 Archaeologist of the Greek Past: Landscape, Monuments and Memory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Barrett, J., R. Bradley and M. Green 1991 Landscape, Monuments and Society: The Prehistory of Cranborne Chase. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bradley,. R. 2000 An Archaeology of Natural Places. London and New York: Routledge.

Bradley, R. 2002 The Past in Prehistoric Societies. London and New York: Routledgc.

Bradley, R. and H. Williams (eds) 1998 The past in the past: The re-use of ancient monuments. World Archaeology 30(1).

Casey, E.S. 1987 Remembering: A Phenomenological Study. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.

Climo, J.J. and M.G. Cattell (eds) 2002 Social Memory and History: Anthropological Perspectives. Walnut Creek, Lanham, New York: AltaMira Press.

Connerton, P. 1989 How Societies Remember. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Darian-Smith, K. and P. Hamilton (eds) 1994 Memory and History in Twentieth Century Australia. Oxford. Auckland and New York: Oxford University Press.

Forty, A. and S. Kuchler (eds) 1999 The Art of Forgetting. Oxford and New York: Berg Publishers.

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

Gosden,. C. and G. Lock 1998 Prehistoric histories. World Archaeology 30(1):2–12.

Hallam, E. and J. Hockey 2001 Death, Memory and Material Culture. Oxford and New York: Berg Publisher.

Hamilton, P. 1994 The knife edge: Debates about memory and history. In K. Darian-Smith and P. Hamilton (eds), Memory and History in Twentieth Century Australia, pp.9–32. Oxford, Auckland and New York: Oxford University Press.

Huysenn, A. 1995 Twilight Memories: Marking Time in a Culture of Ammesia. London and New York: Roulledge.

Huyssen, A. 2000 Present pasts: Media, politics, amnesia. In A. Appadurai (ed.), Globalisation, pp.57–77. Durham: Duke University Press.

Huysenn. A. 2003 Present Past: Urban Palimpsests and the Politics of Memory (Cultural Memory in the Present). Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Joyce, R.A. and D.S. Gillespie (eds) 2000 Beyond Kinship: Social and Material Reproduction in House Societies. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Kammen, M.G. 1995 ‘Some pallerns and meanings of memory distortion in American history.  In D.L. Schacter (ed.), Memory Distortion: How Minds, Brains and Societies Reconstruct the Past, pp.329–345. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Kuchler, S. 2003 Malanggan: Art, Memory, Sacrifice. Oxford and New York: Berg Publishers.

Kwint, M., C. Breward. and J. Aynsley (eds) 1999 Material Memories: Design and Evocation. Oxford and New York: Berg Publishers.

Le Goff, J. 1996 History and Memory. Translated by Steven Rendall and Elizabeth Claman. New York: Columbia University Press.

Lillios, K. 1999 Objects of memory: The ethnography and archaeology of heirlooms. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 6:235–262

Lipsitz, G. 1990 Time Passages: Collective Memory and American Popular Culture. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.

Meskell, L. 2002 Private Life in New Kingdom Egypt. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Nora, P. 1998 Realms of Memory: The Construction of the French Past Volumes 13. English Language edition of Les Lieux de Memoire, edited by L.D. Kritzman. Translation by A. Goldhammer. New York: Columbia University Press.

Olick, G. and J. Robbins 1995 Social memory studies: From ‘Collective Memory’ to the historical sociology of mnemonic practices. American Review of Sociology 24:105–140.

Rowlands, M. 1993 The role of memory in the transmission of culture. World Archaeology 25(2):141–151.

Shami, S. 2000 Prehistories of globalisation: Circassian identity in motion. In A. Appadurai (ed.) Globalisation, pp.220–250. Durham: Duke University Press.

Terdiman. R. 1993 Presnt Past: Modernity and the Memory Crisis. New York: Cornell University Press.

Teski, M.C. and J.J. Climo (eds) 1995 The Labyrinth of Memory: Ethnographic Journeys. Westport, CT: Bergin and Garvey.

Review of ‘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

East of Wallaces Line book cover‘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, 2000, A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam/ Brookfield, xvi+624 pp. ISBN 90-5809-319-0 (hbk).

Reviewed by Sandra Bowdler

Conference proceedings are usually a mixed bag, but this volume is even more of a lucky dip than most, including overviews and case studies, short papers and long ones, some bursting with data and others undernourished. It also covers a wide range of subject matter, in the disciplines of archaeology, anthropology and geography, the only commonality being regional, as suggested by the title. While there is a quantity of new or new-ish data, there is quite a lot of raking over old ideas, perhaps inevitable given the number of review papers.

Atholl Anderson discusses the origins of seafaring in the Indo-Pacific region, essential in any consideration of the early settlement of the area but naturally fraught by a lack of hard evidence. He concludes that the seafaring techniques and capabilities for early voyaging need not be as sophisticated as is often posited. Matthew Spriggs provides a helpful review of the ‘spread of Pleistocene and Neolithic maritime cultures’ in the region, highlighting the rather curious usage of the concept of Neolithic as what comes after the Pleistocene in this area. Your reviewer cannot resist observing how shockingly she is misquoted on p.59, and trusts that other authors cited in this paper are better served.

The debate about ‘the oldest’ drags its weary bones across these pages, firstly in a paper by earth scientist John Chappell who considers technical aspects of relevant datings in fine-toothed scientific detail, while not paying much attention to archaeological context. He argues that of ‘a continuous maritime culture that stems from the earliest arrivals, not a trace has been found’ (p.92); this might surprise some archaeologists, but he is happy to argue that ‘coastal Australia was populated from the savannah’ (p.91). This argument is taken up by O’Connor and Veth, who deal with the irksome coastal evidence that exists in non-inundated Pleistocene sites by arguing it is all non-dietary. So we are back to the old Birdsellian notion that ‘the world’s first mariners’ (the title of O’Connor and Veth’s paper) were not coastal dwellers and acquired maritime technology for the sole purpose of moving themselves across oceans to burn their boats and rush inland as soon as possible.

Jim Allen, in a discussion of the development of marine economics in prehistoric Melanesia, subtly demurs from this, although his paper is concerned with longer historical trajectories of change than the nature of early settlement. Ian Lilley follows this with a discussion, what he calls a ‘roughing out’, of more recent matters, regarding the development of post-Lapita societies in northwest Melanesia. David Rhodes similarly addresses issues of socio-economic development in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, without coming to any clear conclusions, but it’s an interesting trip.

The most substantial contribution to the book is Anthony Barham’s paper on the Torres Strait Islands, which currently appear to support at least one archaeologist per island. This is a detailed overview of the biogeography, ethnohistory and archaeology of the region, not just as a parade of data, but harnessed to address the issue that ‘the emergence of maritime societies in Torres Strait is a late Holocene phenomenon’. While undoubtedly not the last word on the subject, this surely provides a baseline for continuing and future work.

Anne Clark provides another overview, this time of Macassan-Aboriginal interactions in northern Australia, but one curiously lacking in her own data. The two concluding papers also address the recent past, James Fox considering the activities of the so-called sea gypsies (Butonese, Bugis, Bajau and Macassans) in the Timor and Arafura regions both historically and contemporaneously, and Sandra Pannell focusing firmly on the present day with respect to the impact of western capitalism on the traditionally based maritime societies of eastern Indonesia.

This is a well-produced volume, but then it’s not exactly cheap. There are some editorial oddities (why are there quotation marks around indented quotations?) and minor mishaps, and Fox’s map could do with a few more place names for the uninitiated. O’Connor and Veth refer puzzlingly to the ‘apocryphal words’ of John Mulvaney (p.101: he did really write them, didn’t he?). On the whole however it is a useful collection which should be in all relevant institutional libraries, but is probably too expensive and not sufficiently focused for the average archaeologist.

Review of ‘After Caption Cook: The Archaeology of the Recent Indigenous Past in Australia’ edited by Rodney Harrison and Christine Williamso

After Captain Cook book cover‘After Caption Cook: The Archaeology of the Recent Indigenous Past in Australia’ edited by Rodney Harrison and Christine Williamson, 2002, Sydney University Archaeological Methods Series 8, Archaeology Computing Laboratory, University of Sydney, 228 pp. ISBN 1-86487507-0 (pbk).

Reviewed by Judy Birmingham

These papers contribute significantly to Australia’s archaeology and history. Our recent black-white past, here viewed as a single continuum of all inhabitants of the continent. is investigated by a battery of techniques loosely termed archaeological. Camp-sites once thought archaeologically adulterated by the presence of wire, corrugated iron or bottle glass. mythic and story sites without stone tools, roo bones or camp-fires, European paintings of Aborigines, an abandoned white out-station taken over by native Tasmanians all have their rightful place here. Building on the ground-breaking Aboriginal oral histories from the 1970s on, and fuelled by joint needs of native title legislation and heritage management, these exciting field projects demonstrate the need for extensive Aboriginal informant input in the field, mapping places embodying their own values, especially where surface indications are ephemeral or intangible. Several of the field projects (the Kimberley, north Cape York, Qld, NE NSW) concern the parts of Australia where the oral tradition survives: Byrne usefully tackles the time-gap situation in south-east Australia.

Case studies cover a huge spatial range. Harrison’s keynote paper concerns the Kimberley pastoral industry in WA and NSW. His theme is the integration of oral historical and spatial exploration of places valued by Aborigines after white contact, often incorporating its experiences. For Macintyre Tamwoy, writing of northern Cape York, the social significance of sites, the shared Aboriginal-white Australian heritage, and how white settlers benefited from inter-racial exchanges are major concerns. For Godwin and L’Oste-Brown, listing Aboriginal places in the Bowen Basin (Central Queensland) as an archaeological sites-only project grew into the comprehensive mapping of Aboriginal cultural places with a continuum of values. They discuss problems of post-contact sites: most of the places they documented have no or only a limited material culture dimension that could be investigated using standard archaeological methods. Like other contributors they stress that effective cultural heritage management of Indigenous post-contact sites must explore the interplay between archaeology, anthropology and history.

In south eastern Australia integrated post-contact archaeology and oral history presents a greater challenge. Byrne wants post-contact archaeology to repair the separation of Aborigines from their own past brought about in part by older-style Australian archaeology. Professional failure to list post-contact sites effectively has contributed to the public perception of an Aboriginal occupation hiatus after 1788. Byrne sees the problem as one caused not by history, rather by the imbalance of heritage site listing: he stresses the need to list intangible places and dynamic aspects of attachment to place.

The native title papers include Libby Riches clear outline of native title legislation, and case studies investigating boundaries, a key feature in native title claims by Peter Veth and Jo McDonald. The Mabo determination concerned a bounded island: in mainland Australia problems extend to the definition of groups, the boundaries of groups, and their systems of organisation. Veth examines specialised technology (variation in Kimberley points) to define language groups, McDonald Sydney Basin rock art styles.

Re-asserting values and identities in post-contact communities by non-invasive research is another priority. Lydon’s sensitive analysis of Charles Walters Coranderrk mission photographs needs extension to other photographic collections. Remote techniques were used to record the Ebenezer mission cemetery (Vic) so as to maintain its considerable social values (Brown-Avery-Goulding). Ground penetrating radar, a re-establishment survey from the 1904 plan, a ground magnetic survey and investigation of micro-topography and surface vegetation were added to the usual documentary and oral history. Further options not used included metal detection and archaeological excavation. All techniques other than GPR were considered effective.

Asa Ferrier used Swedish sources to discuss the Mjoberg ethnographic collections from North Queensland in a useful study. Williamson’s paper on the presumed Aboriginal presence at Burghley (Tasmania) presents distributions of faunal debris, recycled glass and musketry items over this small abandoned European outpost: similarities to distributions at Wybalenna on Flinders Island (1835–1847) appear striking, especially in the post-Robinson years during which evidence of European civilising activities was noticeably minimal. Proper assessment will have to await the missing Burghley data.

Problems? One or two, partly explained in the Introduction. Citations sometimes appear prepared in haste, detracting from the volume’s usefulness. The editorial style seems heavy-handed in 2004, few thinking Australians today question the multi-voice character of their archaeology, history and heritage. The ubiquitous plague of single quotation marks is remarkably irritating. Here it camouflages an urgent need to re-structure consistent definitions in these currently vigorous archaeological areas perhaps a topic for a future AA conference. The papers presented here range from more document-based archaeological studies of post-contact sites to those incorporating a much larger oral informant component. Both transform traditional archaeological near-anonymity in seeking to identify specific places, sites and events of the recent past, with oral information often critical in the recovery of individual identities, personal histories. myth, story and above all values. For a comparable shift in balance back in the 1970s the innovative Richard Gould used the term living archaeology, one that might usefully be considered for revival.

Thesis abstract ‘Knowledge, Power and Voice: An Investigation of Indigenous South Australian Perspectives of Archaeology’

Amy Roberts

PhD, Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, Adelaide, 2003

This thesis presents a qualitative investigation of sixteen Indigenous South Australian perspectives of archaeology. The study is based upon results obtained from in-depth interviews conducted over a two-year period. The research reveals that there are 15 supportive factors that are currently contributing to meaningful collaborative archaeological research between archaeologists and Indigenous South Australians. However, although it may be understood that these themes or ‘lived experiences’ are evidence that some or many of the relationships between Indigenous South Australians and archaeologists are improving and in some cases even producing real partnerships and sites for reconciliation, it must also be admitted that these experiences are tempered by or held in tension with the participants’ inhibitive feelings, opinions and ‘lived experiences’ (explored in 22 themes). Thus, it is argued that relationships between archaeologists and Indigenous peoples can be improved further by taking a highly educative approach to cross-cultural awareness issues in relation to archaeology, Indigenous peoples, the public, university students, government and commercial organisations.

The implications of these findings are that new and structured approaches to working with Indigenous peoples are required in order to overcome the taken-far-granted practices within the archaeological discipline and to make attempts to rectify these tensions in the future. As a result, it IS proposed that professional archaeological organisations and institutions need to work more closely with Indigenous groups in an ‘applied anthropological’ manner, in order to facilitate the areas for change outlined by the participants, so that self-determination for Indigenous communities can be achieved through the archaeological discipline. A number of areas have been identified for structured discussions in this regard including: 1) Training students to understand power differences: 2) Teaching contested histories; 3) Creating policies to facilitate Indigenist approaches; 4) Teaching applied approaches; 5) Changing government policies and legislation in relation to –Indigenous control over report writing and other aspects of the archaeological research process, Indigenous control over choosing researchers, Indigenous control over research designs and interpretation, and Indigenous control over intellectual and cultural property rights; 6) Funding; 7) Multi-disciplinary re-casting; 8) Public education; and 9) Designing innovative collaborative approaches to facilitate Indigenous self-determination.

Thesis abstract ‘The Raw and the Cooked: A Study of the Effects of Cooking on Three Aboriginal Plant Foods from Southeast Queensland’

Jenna Lamb

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

Cooking is an essentially human activity, embodying the transformation from the natural to the cultural and increasing the palatability and availability of food resources. Plants probably formed the major part of the hunter-gatherer Aboriginal Australian diet and plant residues on stone tools used for processing have been identified by Australian archaeologists. Ethnohistories also record the cooking and processing of plants by Aboriginal people, but very little direct archaeological evidence of plant food cooking has been confirmed.

In this vein, replicative cooking and stone tool processing of three ethnohistorically recorded starchy plant foods from southeast Queensland (Alocasia macrorrhiza [native taro], Blechnum indicum [fern-root] and Castanospermum australe [Moreton Bay chestnut]) was undertaken. The resulting residues were compared using microscopy and a biological stain, in order to test the effects of cooking on starch grains, which demonstrate irrefutable changes after being affected by heat. Results revealed that the main morphological effects of cooking on starch are swelling, and disruption of the extinction-cross; and that Congo Red dye stains gelatinised, and otherwise damaged, starch such that raw grains are distinguishable from cooked grains. Application of the Congo Red stain to the residues of three bevel-edged artefacts (functionally associated with B. indicum processing) produced consistently reliable results, allowing identification and differentiation of cooked, damaged and raw starch. Several grains seen on these artefacts were similar to those in cooked B. indicum reference samples.

This thesis reports the first successful archaeological use of Congo Red, and the first detailed evidence of the effects of cooking on starchy plants known to have been cooked and processed by past Aboriginal people. The results of this study may be used by archaeologists to infer archaeological residues deriving from cooked starchy foods and thus identify cooking as a specific form of activity in past subsistence behaviour.

Thesis abstract ‘Ngarranggani, Ngamungamu, Jalanijarra: ‘Lost Places’, Recursiveness and Hybridity at Old Lamboo Pastoral Station, Southeast Kimberley, WA’

Rodney Harrison

PhD, Discipline of Archaeology, School of Social and Cultural Studies, University of Western Australia, Crawley, 2002

People use the traces of the past to construct social and political identity in the present. Archaeology, as physical traces of the past that are experienced as part of the embodied engagement with landscape, is integral to this creative act of making history. The various ways in which people use the traces of the past in the present are examined in this thesis with reference to a case study in archaeological and ethnographic fieldwork undertaken in the southeast Kimberley with the ‘Lamboo mob’, a group of Jaru language speakers who are former pastoral workers from Old Lamboo Pastoral Station. The Lamboo mob directed the process of site survey, which focussed on identifying places with an archaeological component which they felt were important to the story of their ancestors’ past and to their sense of identity in the present. A sample of these places was then selected for more detailed archaeological study. Finally, the significance of this series of places to the story of the Jaru past and present is articulated both through archaeological analysis and through oral narrative and biography.

Central to the Lamboo mob’s understanding of the past are their locally mediated experiences of colonialism during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This has been principally associated with the intrusion of gold-miners and settler pastoralists, and eventually their almost wholesale inclusion as labourers in the pastoral industry, followed by a much more recent period of diaspora from these same pastoral properties to settle on the margins of towns throughout the study area. Of critical importance to understanding these events of the recent past are deeper historical structures that have continually re-emerged over the past 5,000 years, which have ultimately impacted on the way that the history of the pastoral industry in the southeast Kimberley has been experienced by both Aboriginal and settler pastoralists. While it was my intention to study the archaeology of encounters between Aboriginal and settler pastoralists in the southeast Kimberley, the project developed through collaboration between myself and the Lamboo mob to explore both the recent and deep pasts of the study area, and the role of the material remains which relate to these pasts in articulating contemporary attachments to place. Drawing on archaeological research. documentary research and oral history, the thesis makes a methodological contribution to the growing field of ‘contact archaeology’ in Australia, and to an understanding of the agency of Aboriginal people in developing hybrid social structures within the context of the pastoral industry in the Kimberley.

Archaeological mapping, surface collection and excavation focussed on a series of historic Aboriginal pastoral worker’s encampments associated with the Old Lamboo Homestead site. Aboriginal people provided detailed accounts of the history and importance of Old Lamboo and its material remains. A dialectic approach, involving the recording of particular archaeological remains and community dialogue regarding their significance and meaning, was employed. This allows me to analyse the ways in which both the spatial and the social order of the pastoral property was used in the past (and present) by Aboriginal ‘insiders’ to develop new, hybrid social identities as pastoral labourers. Further excavations at two pre-contact rockshelter sites detail long-term historical trajectories in the meaning of particular artefact forms and the perception of inside and outside space which give context to these ‘changes’ that occurred within the pastoral industry in the southeast Kimberley during the first part of the twentieth century.

Analysis of artefacts from a series of pre-and post-contact open artefact scatters is employed to develop a model of post-contact changes in stone tool manufacture in the study area. Within the study area, stone tools, in particular the finely pressure flaked biface ‘Kimberley’ point, continued to be manufactured throughout the twentieth century; however, the meaning of these objects changed such that they become aesthetic objects devoid of function. The ‘intensification’ in the manufacture of stone and glass spearheads after AD 1890 is linked to their role as collected objects and as symbols associated with changing notions of masculinity on the pastoral frontier.

I have coined the phrase vernacular archaeologies to refer to the ways in which non-archaeologists interrogate the traces of their past in the present, due to the similarities between this act of creative recursiveness and the archaeological project that is carried out by professional archaeologists in the modern world. What is different about these two approaches is the way in which vernacular archaeologies draw on embodied and profoundly local understandings of the landscape, which I term landscape biographies, to make meaning from these traces in the present.

Thesis abstract ‘The Early Mycenean Army: A Reconstruction of the Equipment, Tactics and Organisation of the Mycenean Army ca 1600–1400 BC’

Nic Grguric

BA(Hons), Centre for European Studies and General Linguistics, Adelaide, October 2002

Little attempt has been made in the past to comprehensively reconstruct the Mycenaean army. The aim of this research topic was to redress this.

The methodology used in this research project started with the premise that there are and always have been some universal rules which define a soldier’s likely tactical use (his troop type) based upon his weaponry and armour combination. Next a template of the different troop types generally used in the ancient world was created and placed over the known corpus of Mycenaean evidence of weapons and warfare in order to deduce their most likely troop type. Once a warrior’s troop type is determined this can suggest the most likely organisation and social status of this type of warrior.

Analysis of where various types of weapons and armour types first appear in the archaeological record showed that most of what later became characteristics of the early Mycenaean army originated in Minoan Crete. It is argued that Minoan military technology, like other aspects of Minoan culture, was introduced onto the mainland via the process of secondary diffusion where it was rapidly adopted by the Mycenaeans. However, it was also found that the Mycenaeans were also influenced by the military technology of the Near East in addition to indigenous innovations.

Using the methodology described above, many different early Mycenaean troop types were identified, showing that the various types of early Mycenaean warriors known from depictions all corresponded closely with the general characteristics of ancient troop types. This showed that in terms of tactics and organisation the early Mycenaean army was not that different from most other heavy infantry-based ancient armies.

It was shown that the early Mycenaean army was composed of several troop types organised into units and trained to use specific tactics depending on the particular troop type. This research project demonstrated that the early Mycenaean army was actually quite conventional, allowing for differences imposed by the landscape of Greece such as the difference in the use of chariots compared to Egypt and the Near East. These findings stand in contrast to the traditional Homeric view of Mycenaean warfare.

It was also shown that the early Mycenaean army was organised and supplied by a highly centralised, palace-based military bureaucracy. This was based on an analysis of both the troop types themselves and the Linear B tablets and artefacts from Knossos and Pylos.

Furthermore it was demonstrated that in order to field a heavy infantry-based army such as that of the early Mycenaeans, more men than the upper class of a Mycenaean palace-state would have been required. Thus it was argued that the Mycenaean army was composed of men drawn from all levels of society, with those from the lower classes most likely making up the majority of the soldiers.

Thesis abstract ‘Site Unseen: Archaeology, Cultural Resource Management, Planning and Predictive Modelling in the Melbourne Metropolitan Area’

Shaun Canning

PhD, Department of Archaeology, La Trobe University, Bundoora, 2003

This main aim of this thesis is the construction of predictive models of Aboriginal archaeological site location in the Melbourne metropolitan area. Existing information from Aboriginal Affairs Victoria sites database was the primary source of data for the predictive modelling exercise. Many problematic issues regarding the construction and collection of archaeological data are identified and discussed throughout the thesis. Particular areas of concern are the biases that exist in data generated from cultural resource management surveys, which are subsequently present in the AAV database. Methods are explored for utilising biased data in predictive modelling.

Methodological improvements are suggested in order to make future data collection more rigorous. The site concept, sampling, survey intensity, shovel test pit excavation, report formats; survey design and visibility constraints are analysed and discussed in depth. The predictive model developed utilises Dempster-Shafer Belief theory (a branch of Bayesian statistics) and the IDRISI32 GIS in order to make use of the vast corpus of biased data housed in the AAV database.

Thesis abstract ‘An Application of Use-Wear and Residue Analyses to Wooden Digging Sticks’


Suzanne J. Nugent

BA(Hons), School of Social Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, 2001

Use-wear and residue analyses techniques were implemented in a systematic integrated approach to ascertain whether a sample of 12 post-contact Australian wooden digging sticks from two museums retain traces of their use. Ethnographic literature and museum records provided relevant information for the analytical procedures selected and evidence with which to compare results. The procedures employed included macroscopic examination of the sample and replication of digging stick manufacture. Empirical data for an application of Facet Theory and statistical analyses were obtained during low-magnification microscopic examination of the artefacts. Statistical analyses included a multivariate analysis aimed to differentiate use-wear from blood residues manufacture marks. Hemastix tests for were undertaken and high-magnification microscopy was used to detect and identify extracted residues. No blood residues suggestive of animal procurement were detected. However, results suggest that ethnographic wooden digging sticks retain traces of residues and use-wear indicative of their use as plant food-procuring tools. Identified residues included starch granules, phytoliths and spherulites, and complex marks were identified as probable use-wear marks. Based on the correspondence between the presence of residues and marks indicative of use-wear, it is inferred that 10 digging sticks had been used to procure plant foods. The information obtained enhances the value of these implements within museum collections. The results also suggest that similar analytical methods could be used in future research on other ethnographic wooden implements, as well as archaeological wooden artefacts.

Thesis abstract ‘Ring-a-Ring-a-Rosy: Can DNA Analysis Identify the Presence of the Plague Bacillus in Archaeological Remains?’

Anthony McKeough

BA(Hons), School of Social Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, 2001

Plague bacillus (Yersinia pestis) is one of the most frequently documented diseases in modern history and has resulted in many suspected plague burials. However, the current lack of adequate methods in paleopathology prevents the cause of death being ascertained in plague victims, as Y. pestis leaves no visible manifestations on bone. Given the lack of methodology in identifying ancient plague (and ancient diseases as a whole), this thesis aimed to test the feasibility of DNA analysis in detecting plague in archaeological bone samples. The analysis utilised PCR in an attempt to detect Y. pestis (the causative agent of the plague) in six bone samples from a suspected plague burial in London, dating to 1348 during the Black Death epidemic. PCR allowed the identification of Y. pestis bacteria in one of the six bone samples, thus demonstrating this technique’s viability in plague detection. Furthermore, this detection method can potentially be applied to virtually all blood-borne disease in archaeological and forensic samples.

Thesis abstract ‘Pots, Plants and Pacific Prehistory: Residue Analysis of Plain Lapita Pottery from Anir, New Ireland, ca 3300 BP’

Alison Crowther

BA(Hons), School of Social Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, 2001

Identification of plant-processing in Pacific prehistory is problematic: because direct evidence in the form of macrobotanical remains is rare, particularly for roots and tubers. Hypotheses for the exploitation of roots and tubers by the Lapita peoples have been formulated on the basis of comparative ethnography and historical linguistics. Indirect evidence has come from putative plant-processing artefacts, domestic animal remains (arguably associated with a horticultural production system), land-use patterns and other evidence in the archaeological record. Residue analysis of undecorated potsherds and sediment samples from the Early Lapita site, Kamgot, New Ireland, dating to ca 3300 BP, revealed the presence of starch and raphides. Species identification indicated that these remains originated from taro (Colocasia esculenta). This represents direct evidence that Colocasia esculenta was processed by the Lapita peoples. This research demonstrated that the analysis of cooking residues on pottery is an alternative to traditional archaeobotanical recovery methods in the Pacific.

Thesis abstract ‘Australian Aboriginal Resource Selection: Reasons and Implications’

Sean McBride

BA(Hons), School of Social Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, 2000

This thesis presents a study of the reasons that may be involved in selecting certain food resources and the associated energy returns for a number of Australian Aboriginal plant food staples. Utilising optimal foraging theory and the idea that humans and other animals attempt to optimise their energy returns, energy is adopted as a currency, to test whether Aboriginal people were in fact operating optimally in the selection of plant staples.

The various physiological determinants of human food selection are discussed. Influenced, as they are, by cultural considerations and a proposed list of criteria as the basis of food selection is presented. It is demonstrated that energy returns are quite low for collecting and processing of Typha spp. based on a comparison of energy returns from a variety of Aboriginal plant food staples. The results of the analysis indicate that Typha spp. is a poor choice from an optimisation viewpoint. However, Typha spp. a staple food of the Aborigines of the central Murray region. How is this apparent contradiction resolved?

It is argued from the evidence that the people of the central Murray relied on Typha spp. because they were nutritionally stressed. Rather than optimising energy, they were optimising survival and Typha was necessary to fulfil physiological carbohydrate requirements in the absence of alternative sources. A generalised model of human food selection is presented that may be applicable in other areas and may provide some predictive capability for hunter-gatherer subsistence studies.

Thesis abstract ‘Heritage Archaeology in Australia: Analysing the Entangled Cultural Constructions of Aboriginal Heritage by Aboriginal People, Antiquarians and Archaeologists’

Daniel Leo

BA(Hons), School of Social Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, 2000

In this thesis I combine notions of archaeology and heritage when researching Aboriginal heritage in Australia. This is important as various people from different cultural backgrounds define and use the elements of ancient Aboriginal history in divergent ways. In particular, when archaeologists conduct research they must be aware of, and respond to, the knowledge and interpretations of Aboriginal heritage by two cultural groups. Firstly, archaeologists must consult and learn from the appropriate Aboriginal custodians of such heritage. Secondly, archaeologists must recognise that antiquarians of Australia’s settler society have amassed collections of ancient objects, and knowledge of ancient places, that are of significance to both archaeological research and to Aboriginal people. Indeed, some antiquarians own the land where such heritage is located, and are therefore crucial to its management.

Consequently, I propose that Aboriginal people, antiquarians and archaeologists form a triad central to the interpretation and management of Aboriginal heritage in Australia. Thus, this triad and its members’ divergent notions of heritage must be understood, and this is achieved in three phases. Firstly, how people culturally construct the historical meanings of an element of heritage. Secondly, how there has been an historical process in Australia where four cultural constructions of Aboriginal heritage have progressively overlaid themselves onto elements of Aboriginal heritage. Lastly, how these two processes are demonstrated by a case study of the knowledge and interpretations that Aboriginal people, antiquarians and archaeologists have of Aboriginal heritage from the Central Burnett Region in Queensland.

Thesis abstract ‘A Technological Analysis of the Lithic Assemblage from Hays Cave, Southeastern Cape York Peninsula: Considering Diachronic Variations in Patterns of Intensity of Site Use’

Angela D. Holden

BA(Hons), Department of Anthropology and Sociology, University of Queensland, St Lucia, 1999

This thesis explores chronological variations in patterns of site use at Hay Cave, southeast Cape York Peninsula. The site’s lithic assemblage is analysed with the aim of characterising variations in patterns of intensity of site use over time. It is argued that a technological analysis which aims to isolate trends in manufacturing behaviour, lithic resource manipulation, and taphonomic processes is a comprehensive means of detecting variations in intensities of site use. The relationship between patterns of site use and palaeoenvironmental trends is also addressed. Results suggest that levels of intensity of site use varied throughout the Pleistocene, and were greatest during the late Holocene. A level of responsiveness to palaeoenvironmental change is interpreted throughout the Pleistocene, although this trend is seen to alter significantly in the late Holocene. These findings contribute to the regional archaeological data set of SE Cape York Peninsula and can be incorporated into debates regarding the causes of diachronic variation in the region.

Thesis abstract ‘What a Dump: Use-Wear and Residue Analysis of Lithic Artefacts from Copan, Honduras’

Michael Haslam

BA(Hons), Department of Anthropology and Sociology, University of Queensland, St Lucia, 1999

Microscopic examination of a collection of 150 lithic artefacts from a Late Formative excavation at Copan, Honduras, was undertaken in an attempt to reconstruct the purpose of an hypothesised ‘lithic dump’ pit feature at the site. Ethnographic analogy suggested that such a dump could be the result of the disposal of hazardous lithic waste flakes. However, higher percentages of used artefacts than predicted by the hypothesis, along with differing sizes of flakes within the feature suggest a more complex development of the feature. More specifically, the contents of the pit are inferred to be the result of the sweeping of a household area. In addition, the use-wear and residue results reveal the use of obsidian artefacts to process maize 2000 years ago, a use for obsidian not previously discovered by archaeologists.

Thesis abstract ‘Bushrangers Cave: An Archaeofaunal Analysis and Palaeoenvironmental Study’

Amanda J. Kearney

BA(Hons), Department of Anthropology and Sociology, University of Queensland, St Lucia, 1998

In this thesis I present an archaeofaunal study of Bushrangers Cave, southeast Queensland. Concerned primarily with the palaeoenvironment, I argue that shifts in environmental controls and vegetation patterns have occurred in the subcoastal highlands of the Moreton Region, specifically in the local environment of Bushrangers Cave over the last 10,000 years. The sequence of palaeoenvironmental events proposed for the study area is derived from the pan-continental sequence of palaeoenvironmental events coupled with an analysis of terrestrial land snail material. The results of my analysis indicate an early Holocene rainforest phase during which rainforest vegetation reached a maximum extent in upland areas. This was followed by a mid-Holocene rainforest reduction phase which saw an expansion of moderate to open canopy forests linked closely with the introduction of Aboriginal fire regimes throughout the highlands. Climatic conditions of the late Holocene coupled with human induced firing maintained the re-emergence of open sclerophyll forests and the retraction of rainforest vegetation into small refuges in highland contexts as is visible today.

From the evidence it is my inference that there have been two major periods of site use at Bushrangers Cave. These periods correspond with the early and the late Holocene. I posit a general relationship between the patterns of site use and shifts in regional demography. I substantiate this relationship by exploring the implications of my research for models of Moreton Region human settlement. The models to come under consideration include Morwood’s (1987) ‘Social Complexity’ model and Hall’s (1987) ‘Alternative’ model. An assessment of the principle components of each model, in light of the fauna1 evidence, reveals greater support for the ‘Alternative’ model (Hall 1987).

Thesis abstract ‘Time, Symbolism and Archaeology in the Tain Bo Cuailnge’

Neil Davies

BA(Hons), Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, Adelaide, 1998

This thesis uses as its source material the ‘Tain Bo Cuiailnge’, the epic tale that recounts the story of the Ulster hero Cu Chulainn in his role as The Hound of Ulster. The Tain is part of the considerable volume of surviving manuscripts originating in Ireland, by far the largest corpus surviving from early historic Europe outside Classical Greece. The tales, probably written down in the early ninth century, are almost uniquely free of unduly heavy editing or ‘Christianising’ by monastic scribes. The Tain Bo Cuiailnge is reputed to reflect and describe the later pre-Christian Iron Age in Ireland; the time period being from the earliest identifiable La Tene influences of around 200 BC, until the establishment of Christianity by the fifth century AD.

The thesis proposes a wider definition of archaeology which takes into account theoretical approaches of mythology and histories, and treats chronologies and traditional literature as potential archaeological sources. These sources are integrated with material cultural remains to give a more complete impression of Irish Iron Age culture in particular, and protohistoric societies in general. The evaluation of this ‘triad’ involves the critical examination of certain assumptions that dictate and control accepted definitions of archaeology, directed almost exclusively as they are towards material remains, treating other communications from the past as ephemera. Central to the argument are reconciling modern and ancient viewpoints of myth, history and perceptions of the nature and measurement of time.

The traditional ‘Celtic’ broad sword together with the chariot and its attendant heroic warrior are very sparse in the Irish archaeological record. They are, however, items that figure heavily in traditional literature both as both as mundane weapons and as cultural symbols. Therefore, because such items are so apposite to my thesis they form the main subject of my research, the thesis attempts to explain why this situation exists and proposes possible solutions. The purpose of symbols or themes in archaeology, history and archaeology, particularly as they are pertinent to Irish tradition, are examined and evaluated.

The paper draws two main conclusions. First that without taking into account all available information from and about such periods it is impossible to fully understand the culture. Second, the evidence demonstrates that factors from the remote past continue to have power in the Ireland of the twentieth century. This Persistence of Tradition was seen, for example in the ideology of Patrick Pierce during the Easter Rising of 1916. In addition, several instances from a wider context are quoted. These demonstrate how ideologies and modern material culture have retained, or allude to, symbology from mythological themes. The evidence also suggests that the presentation of history, and the way the past is generally understood tends to follow mythical ‘storyboards’.

Thesis abstract ‘Database Design, Archaeological Classification and Geographic Information Systems: A Case Study from Southeast Queensland’

James R. Smith

PhD, School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, 2001

Critical examination of the classification system and database application employed to manage the archaeological record of Queensland, Australia, revealed serious problems that effectively nullify the system’s validity. Subsequent work revealed that Queensland is not an isolated case and that the problems identified exist throughout Australia and are cause for concern, particularly as a growing number of Australian archaeologists are beginning to employ Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as a research and management tool. If GIS are to be employed successfully then they must be underpinned by a well-designed database and this in turn must be based on an accurate classification system.

To redress the above situation a classification system is developed that explicitly ignores the site type concept by concentrating on what is actually on the ground and the polythetic nature of the archaeological record. Using a conceptual level database design technique known as Object Role Modelling the classification system is translated first into data model and then into a fully-functional relational database. To reduce the potential for error when employing this new approach an interpretive model is also developed to ensure that analysis is always undertaken in a logical and meaningful fashion. Using a data set from Bribie Island, southeast Queensland, Australia, a series of tests are undertaken in conjunction with a GIS to determine the overall success and potential of the approach. The results indicate that this information system enhances baseline comparative analysis by generating data and information not possible using current methods.

Thesis abstract ‘ ‘Intended Solely for their Greater Comfort and Happiness’: Historical Archaeology, Paternalism and the Peel Island Lazaret’

Jonathon Prangnell

 PhD, School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, November 1999

The research presented in the dissertation centres on an historical archaeological analysis of the Peel Island Lazaret. The Lazaret was located on Peel Island in Queensland’s Moreton Bay and operated between 1907 and 1959 as an isolated, paternalistically run institution for the treatment of Hansen’s Disease. In this study I use the historical archaeological investigation of the lives of the inmates and staff at the Lazaret to examine the role of paternalism as a governing force in the organisation of the place and in the lives of the people forced to live within its boundaries. From this analysis I generate information on the formal and disciplinary power relations that operated to develop and maintain the Lazaret.

To undertake this study I develop a methodology based on the work of Kosso that uses the distinct, epistemic entities of different written sources and the archaeological record to maintain the unique domain of each, yet determine their interrelatedness. This ensures the validity of the original basis for any interpretation of archaeological phenomena. The written records of the Lazaret are divided into those written during the operation of the place and those written after the closure of the Lazaret and that look back upon it. They differ contextually and both can offer different yet equally legitimate starting points for interpretation.

The methods employed are the analysis of archival and other documentary sources, archaeological survey and excavation. From the analysis a number of important developments occur. These include an understanding of the interrelated roles of formal and informal control and the use of space at the Lazaret, an understanding of the spatial and material aspects of paternalism and a demonstration that philosophies, such as paternalism, can be accessed archaeologically.

Thesis abstract ‘Past Aboriginal Hunter-Gatherer Economy and Territorial Organisation in Coastal Districts of Western Australia’s Lower SouthWest’

Charles E. Dortch

PhD, Centre for Archaeology, Anthropology Department, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, July 1999

Aboriginal hunter-gatherer economy and territorial organisation in Western Australia’s lower southwest is assessed through review of ethnohistoric and archaeological records, taking into account regional climatic and environmental evidence dating from late Pleistocene times to the modern era. The informally named ‘lower southwest’ study area encompasses coastal and adjacent inland districts running from King George Sound westward to Cape Leeuwin, and then northward to the Swan Region. Ethnohistoric accounts of socio-economic and territorial organisation of Nyungar-speaking groups at King George Sound and elsewhere in the lower southwest show close parallels to Stanner’s cultural ecological model of local group socioeconomic reciprocity within the arrangement of owned estates and interpenetrative foraging ranges. A territorial and socio-economic organisational model covering this study area is based on five ‘tribal’ or ‘dialect group’ territories, which are among the 13 synthesised by Tindale mainly from ethnohistoric accounts for the whole southwestern cultural bloc. In each of these five territories the proximity of archaeological sites to a similarly wide range of productive coastal and hinterland habitats is interpreted as evidence for broad-scale adaptive strategies. From this record it is proposed that under physical conditions similar to those of the present-day these five territories were sustainable living spaces for small, mobile, foraging populations. Organised as ‘middle-tier’ socioeconomic units, the populations occupying these territories were intermediate in size and structure between estate-owning local groups (i.e. affiliated families or clans) and the entire population of the southwestern cultural bloc. This territorial and socioeconomic modelling is defined by concepts of spatial, demographic and social behaviour as defined by Gamble for the European Palaeolithic. This provides the systemic framework for Aboriginal hunter-gatherer adaptation in the study area at the outset of British settlement and for an unknown, though probably lengthy period in the earlier past.

The study area archaeological record is dominated by relatively uninformative type 1 sites, essentially stone artefact scatters in heavily weathered dune soils or colluvial sediments. More informative sites, categorised type 2, are mostly cave or rock shelter floor deposits yielding artefacts, faunal1 remains and other material deriving from human economic activities. Most known type 2 sites are located in the Tamala Limestone of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Region, the longest occupied and most important being Devil’s Lair and Tunnel Cave. Also categorised type 2 are fish weirs and other sites providing direct evidence for past subsistence. The distribution of all sites of whatever age relative to exploitable habitats suggests adaptive strategies similar to those of historic hunter-gatherers. Many site locations give insight into the effects on past human populations of eustatic sea level rise and other late Quaternary environmental changes. Sites on offshore islands thus reflect large-scale occupation of now drowned landscapes on the continental shelf, as does the long-term usage of Eocene chert artefacts quarried from outcrops on the emergent shelf. Submerged sites on the floors of Broke Inlet and Lake Jasper also evince the effects of environmental change on occupation patterns. The formation regionally of 40 large estuaries, 6000–7000 bp, presumably altered fishing strategies, which must also have been adapted to marked changes in estuarine conditions ca 4000 bp. Late Holocene lake and wetland formation or expansion on the coastal plains probably also affected Aboriginal economy. Sites occupied when sea level was much lower and when other environmental conditions in other ways may have been significantly different from those of the present-day do not necessarily reflect different adaptive modes from late prehistoric and historic sites. Late Quaternary floral records in the Swan Region suggest lateral shifts in the mosaic of modern-type vegetative associations rather than alteration of regional landscapes. Abundantly present in the long cultural sequences in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Region cave sites of Devil’s Lair and Tunnel cave are vertebrate remains and charcoal samples identified as to tree species that are indicative of more open and varied forest and woodland habitats locally than those of the present day. These radiocarbon dated records imply that subsistence strategies were adapted to these habitats during the late Pleistocene. Problems in the archaeological reconstruction of hunter-gatherer adaptive systems are reviewed, as are regional palaeodemographic models, and the idea of socio-economic ‘intensification’. Coastal hunter-gatherer adaptation to changing sea levels and other changes in physical conditions here is compared with that from elsewhere in southern, temperate Australia. Discussed is regional archaeological evidence reflecting territorial and socioeconomic organisation. Local group socioeconomic reciprocity is seen as a key factor in the adaptive strategies developed in regional foraging systems.

Review of ‘Excavating Women: A History of Women in European Archaeology’ edited by Margarite Diaz-Andreu and Marie Louise Stig Serensen

Diaz Andreu and Stig Sorenson 1998 book coverExcavating Women: A History of Women in European Archaeology‘ edited by Margarite Diaz-Andreu and Marie Louise Stig Serensen, 1998, Routledge, London, xv + 320 pages. ISBN 0-415-15760-9 (hbk).

Reviewed by Katrina Stankowski

Excavating Women: A History of Women in European Archaeology, is a collection of articles aiming to answer the question, ‘what happened to the achievements of female archaeologists in Europe?’ This edited volume does just that. Each contributor has focused on their area of expertise and interest, and the result is a broad account of women archaeologists from nine countries in Europe. The editors emphasise that their study is not ‘an exhaustive account’ (p.2) of women in European archaeology. However, it begins to explore a subject that has been vastly overlooked in the histories of archaeology in Europe. This volume attempts to balance the lack of research into female archaeologists throughout the world. While publications exist about women in archaeology from both America and Australia, other countries are woefully underrepresented. This book springing from the session ‘Women in European Archaeology’ held at the Theoretical Archaeology Annual meeting in 1993 can be seen to remedy this deficiency.

The tone of the volume is set by the evocative picture of four, early twentieth century female employees at the Stockholm National Historical Museum, sitting on the elaborately carved Kungdh Bench. This eleventh century bench, carved in the Viking age style was considered an exceptional find for the museum, and the photo was obviously intended to show off its uniqueness. However, as Arwill-Nordbladh ( states ‘the picture might also be said to express other things. It shows us something about the place of women: seated within a restricted area, with clear boundaries that should not be exceeded’. This picture can be seen to be representative of a women’s place in archaeology at that time.

The book is separated into two sections. The first deals with general overviews of different countries and the place of female archaeologists in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, such as France (Coudart), Poland (Janik and Zawadzka), Norway (Dornrnasnes, Kleppe, Mandt and Ness), Spain (Diaz-Andreu) and Germany (Struwe). The second section deals with personal experiences of different European female archaeologists, and is very interesting reading, especially for the personal histories of some of the archaeologists, such as Hanna Ryde (Chapter 8) and Lis Jacobsen (Chapter 11). This section covers the careers and lives of both famous and obscure female archaeologists from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in Sweden (Arwill-Nordbladh), Britain (Champion), Greece (Picazo; Nikolaidou and Koklanidou), Denmark (Jsrgensen), Gennany (Kbtner, Maier and Schiilke) and Lithuania (Chapman). It is papers such as these that put a human face on the subject of gender in archaeology. Furthermore, in-depth studies of individuals demonstrate how motherhood and/or marriage affected their careers. This collection of papers also allows us to easily compare the lives and experiences of female archaeologists in different countries. We see that despite the differing histories of the individual countries, these women have clear parallels in their lives.

Chapter 1 provides a general overview of the book’s themes and how they are manifested in each chapter. This chapter also covers the differing time periods encompassed in this study: from the nineteenth century to 1918, the inter-war years and from post-World War I1 until the 1970s. Finally, it highlights the many historical influences that helped or hindered women in Europe in their desire to gain not only an education, but also a career.

The second chapter discusses why this book needed to be written. This chapter not only shows that women in European archaeology did exist and were respected, as well as extremely prolific in their work and publishing, but also corrects the misinterpretations that surround them. It also highlights how female archaeologists integrated themselves into the discipline, and how women who chose to make a career for themselves had an impact on the traditional social gender structure of the times.

In Chapter 3, the experiences of women in the particular countries represented in the book are discussed. This chapter deals with the history and experiences of French women who chose to become archaeologists. It also outlines the current situation in regards to gender in French archaeology where despite the fact that one out of two research positions are given to women, 60% of people hired for fieldwork are men.

Chapter 4 is the ‘first attempt to consider the contribution of women to Polish archaeology’ (p.86). It details how female archaeologists in Poland’s history have been affected by social and political events. It then goes on to mention the many women who worked in archaeology, their achievements, and finally the status of women in Polish archaeology today. Unfortunately, despite the fact that women have gained more responsibility since the end of WWII, the social expectations of becoming a wife and mother in Poland have not changed at all.

The gender status of archaeology in Norway is the subject of Chapter 5. The first female archaeologist entered the field in the 1930s in Norway. Today, the present ratio of male to female archaeologists is 1:1. This chapter analyses how this rapid rise to equality in the discipline occurred, especially in relation to the history and social expectations of the country.

Chapter 6 addresses the invisibility of Spanish women in the general history of archaeology in that country, despite their relatively high numbers in relation to men. It examines Spain’s social and political nature and its history in relation to the differing generations of women in archaeology up until the present.

The final chapter in the first section examines East German women archaeologists prior to and after the fall of the Berlin Wall. It pays particular attention to the differences the fall of the wall has created in the archaeological discipline and how this has affected women in this field in the former East Germany.

The first chapter (Chapter 8) of section two, looks at the life and career of Hanna Ryde (1891–1904). Ryde was one of the foremost female archaeologists in Sweden. Arwill-Nordbladh has also looked at how Ryde’s work reflected gender ideology.

The experiences of women in Britain are discussed in Chapter 9. In particular, the work of Amelia Edwards, Margaret Muny, Gertrude Caton Thompson, Dorothy Garrod and Kathleen Kenyon is discussed. This chapter also analyses why their work seems almost invisible in the present, and the state of gender archaeology in Britain.

In the main, Chapter 10 reconsiders the works and findings of Haniet Boyd, an American archaeologist who worked at the Minoan site of Gournia in Greece. An analysis of her work in relation to gender and a discussion of her recurrent argument of the existence of matriarchy in history are also included.

Chapter 11 is an overview of the life and forgotten work of Lis Jacobsen, a Danish archaeologist in the first half of the twentieth century. Jacobson’s work on the archaeology of Runes, the history of the Danish language and the many societies she founded in Denmark made her name extremely well known. Yet, she began life as a school teacher and she advocated that a woman’s place was in the home. The chapter contains a number of tables detailing the names of all the women to graduate from various Universities in Denmark with a degree in prehistoric archaeology.

The role of both past and present Greek female archaeologists is analysed in Chapter 12. This is done by highlighting the activities of several famous Greek women, including Anna Apostolaki and Semni Karouzou. The current gender situation in Greek archaeology is also discussed, but perhaps the more important section of this chapter deals with why women and their work has been overlooked in the histories of archaeology in Greece.

Chapter 13 discusses female PhD students from the Department of Prehistory at the University of Tiibigen in Germany. The department’s history is summarised and the careers of three female archaeologists who graduated from there are highlighted (Senta Rafalski-Gierling, Marija Gimbutas and Eva Marie Bossert). This chapter demonstrates how the use of oral evidence can be invaluable in archaeological research, without it this chapter would not have the depth it has, as the researchers interviewed the above three archaeologists and their former male colleagues to gain a greater understanding of the subject.

Chapter 14, the final chapter in the book, is a profile of the one of the archaeologists mentioned the previous chapter—Marija Gimbutas. Yet, if some material is repeated, it is not to the detriment of the chapter as it is very interesting to compare how two different authors analyse the same subject. Chapman, the only male to contribute to this collection, has chosen not only to do an overview of Gimbutas’s life, but also to focus on the dominant themes that run through her work.

The presentation of this volume is extremely well done. All the photos in the book are black and white, and are of an exceptional standard. The tables are laid out in a clear and precise manner and are consequently easy to read and understand. Overall, this book is recommended for its contribution, not only to gender studies of female archaeologists in Europe, but also as a part of the bigger picture of the history of gender in archaeology throughout the world. For those interested in this subject, this volume will make a valuable addition to the reference collection. However, this book is not only a source of valuable information, it is also a very good read.

Review of ‘On the Road of the Winds: An Archaeological History of the Pacific Islands before European Contact’ by Patrick V. Kirch

Reviewed by Stuart Bedford

Kirch 2000 book coverOn the Road of the Winds: An Archaeological History of the Pacific Islands before European Contact‘ by Patrick V. Kirch, 2000, University of California Press, Berkeley, 446 pp. ISBN 0-520-22347-0 (hbk).
Department of Archaeology and Natural History, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University, Canberra ACT 0200, Australia

This publication is the long awaited and much-welcomed successor to Bellwood’s classic of the time, Man’s Conquest of the Pacific (1978) published over 20 years ago. Its seems remarkable —that it has taken that length of time for the appearance of such a publication, particularly considering the extraordinary advances that have been made over that period in Pacific archaeology. But such an undertaking as an archaeological history of the Pacific Islands before European contact is no mean feat and it is perhaps because of the tsunami-like flow of information which continues to require modification of earlier perceptions and theories the task is made all that more challenging. There is no question that Kirch has the credentials for such a task.

The book is written in a style that is easily read, both accessible to more general audiences as well as undergraduates and graduates in archaeology. From the start Kirch outlines, in a somewhat lengthy caveat lector, the parameters and limitations that this study encompasses. The resulting publication is modestly referred to as one of many constructions that could be made from a considerable array of evidence from many fields—a contribution in the construction of multiple rather than single historical plots (xix). That the book is a personal view of what Kirch sees as the most interesting aspects of Oceanic prehistory, which in many cases are associated with direct personal involvement, is emphasised through the text. The structure and detail of the book is governed both by the current state of knowledge of the entire region and Kirch’s familiarity with a particular region or site.

The book comprises a total of nine chapters along with extensive footnotes, over 150 figures and 13 tables. The detailed footnotes provide a guide to further discussion and detailed references. From the Introduction through to Chapter 2, Kirch outlines the parameters of the book and establishes a platform from which to embark on the detailed archaeological component. Chapter 1 is a fluid and entertaining chapter which covers over one hundred years of Pacific research focusing on the personalities, methodologies and institutions which have made significant and lasting contributions. Chapter 2 characterises the biogeography of the region and the complex and ever-changing symbiotic relationship which has developed since the time of human arrival in the region some 35–40,000 years ago. Emphasised at the close of this chapter is the mounting evidence from across the region of the dramatic human-induced changes which have been wrought on the Island ecosystems.

Chapter 3 concentrates on the prehistory of ‘Old Melanesia’, effectively Green’s Near Oceania (1991) prior to Austronesian expansion. This chapter demonstrates clearly the extraordinary progress that has been made in research in this region over the last 20 years, principally deriving from the Lapita Homeland Project. Pleistocene settlement has now been confirmed across much of this part of the Pacific and with it the realisation that an extraordinarily complex archaeological record has only just begun to be investigated. Kirch summarises both the Pleistocene and early Holocene record emphasising that the evidence from the region at this stage is both thin and in some cases not fully analysed or reported. This leads to Kirch’s treatment of claimed 5000 year old ceramics in New Guinea (Gorecki 1992: Swadling et al. 1989) which I thought was somewhat generous. Although detailed site reports and ceramic analyses have yet to appear this issue has been addressed at length by Spriggs (1996), who would seem to have convincingly argued that the pottery is intrusive in the Holocene levels of the excavated sites. Moreover, Swadling et al. (1991) have reassessed their own claims for the Akari site. If as these excavators claim, that the ceramics demonstrate stylistic homogeneity over thousands of years, it would be one of the few, if not the only occurrence of such a phenomena anywhere in the world.

Lapita and the Austronesian expansion is the focus of Chapter 4 and this is when Kirch really hits his stride having previously finely tuned the format and arguments in his Lapita Peoples (Kirch 1997) and other publications. Combining archaeological, linguistic and biological sources Kirch uses his well-established formula to outline and explain this extraordinary episode of cultural change. Dating in Pacific archaeology is often contentious but its finer definition is all the more crucial as we try to pinpoint significant change over relatively short time periods. Kirch generally favours early dates for initial Lapita arrival in the Bismarcks and its expansion across to Tonga and Samoa and this is reflected through the text. However, much focus and reassessment of dates for this event tend to suggest slightly later dates than ‘those favoured by Kirch (see Anderson and Clark 1999; Bedford et al. 1998; Burley et al. 1999; Dickinson and Green 1998; Galipaud 1998; Sand 1997; Specht and Gosden 1997). This more recent focus has also highlighted the very short-term nature of dentate stamping at nearly all of the same sites. While dentate stamping may have continued for a longer period at some sites in the Bismarcks region, in remote Oceania several hundred years on any island is looking like a maximum (see references above). Both of the tables in this chapter (4.1 and 4.2) appear to be compilations of all dates from a number of selected Lapita and related ceramic sites. Many of the dates listed have since shown to be questionable and have been subject to revision (again see references above).

In a section on exchange amongst Lapita communities Kirch details those items which have been identified as exotic to various Lapita sites. Included amongst these are obsidian, chert, adzes, oven stones and pottery. Shell objects are also argued as having functioned as exchange valuables. Brief comment only is made here regarding contestable aspects of the exchange argument involving pottery and shell. While Talepakemalai might prove to be an exception to the rule there is increasing evidence that the vast majority of Lapita ceramics from other sites were locally manufactured (cf. Dickinson et al. 1996; Summerhayes 1996) rather than imported. The argument for the exchange of shell valuables was developed by Kirch some ten years ago (Kirch 1988) on the basis that while finished artefacts were widespread amongst Lapita sites evidence for manufacturing debris was rare. This may yet prove to be a reflection of the recorded sample up to 1988. Certainly there is no shortage of shell manufacturing debris that has been reported in sites throughout Remote Oceania (Bedford 2000; Poulsen 1987; Sand 2000).

In Chapter 5 Kirch moves on to ‘New Melanesia’, a geographical region spanning island Melanesia across to Fiji and restricted to a period post-dating the emergence and expansion of Lapita. The format is a region-by-region approach, from the west to the east. Summaries of these various regions vary greatly in relation to the detail of research making it all the more difficult to develop coherent arguments. Kirch, however, manages to hurdle these difficulties with some ease. Changes in ceramic sequences, (i.e. what happens after Lapita and more specifically the dentate stamped ceramics) is one of the major issues that Kirch focuses on in this chapter. Two aspects of this debate are particularly pertinent. One is the question of continuity from Lapita through to the later traditions and the other is the validity of a post-Lapita incised and applied relief tradition which through the mechanism of continued inter-archipelago contact demonstrated some level of synchronous change (Spriggs 1997; Wahome 1999). On the first, Kirch and most others, following increasing evidence, now favour the continuity argument. On the second issue there has also been a general acceptance of this entity known variously as an Incised and Applied Relief or Mangaasi-like tradition. Kirch is wisely cautious on this second aspect. He argues that changing ceramic decoration and form might have as much to do with independent development where decreasing frequency of contact encouraged localised adaptation to the changing social and economic roles of ceramics. This is a position that has recently been more firmly argued (Bedford and Clark 2001) using the increasingly refined sequences from Vanuatu and Fiji. It is a research question which Kirch highlighted many years ago (Kirch and Yen 1982) and one which is as yet far from resolved. As Kirch argues in this current book, it will be only through increased basic field and laboratory work, specifically focusing on the ceramic sequences of Melanesia, that these issues will be further addressed. But please let’s leave out the Mangaasioid!

Also included in this chapter is the familiar outline of Tikopian prehistory (cf. Kirch and Yen 1982). This outline and associated conclusions, some aspects of which have remained controversial, are largely unchanged since their first detailed publication. Some modification now appears warranted. Ward (1979) questioned both the proposed termination date of the Sinapupu ware (2100–750 BP) on Tikopia and whether it had been imported from northern Vanuatu. Certainly more recent research tends to further question a Vanuatu source for the Sinapupu wares. The Santo source which was originally suggested has now been ruled out (Dickinson 1997; Dickinson and Shutler 2000) and the redating of the central Vanuatu sequence now puts its termination date at no later than 1200 BP (see Bedford 2000 for a more detailed critique).

Kirch’s familiarity with agricultural production systems across the region is also brought to bear throughout this chapter. Detailing the parallelled, relatively late development of agricultural intensification in a number of areas, he argues that these were likely to be independent but convergent responses to common sets of pressures or challenges (164). While this may well have been the scenario in some regions, in the case of Aneityum and New Caledonia, interarchipelago communication is likely to have played some part. Both oral and artefactual evidence indicates that contact occurred during this period in at least that part of the Pacific.

The archaeology of Micronesia and Polynesia are outlined in Chapters 6 and 7. Establishing the chronology and form of initial colonisation and early settlement in both regions is outlined in some detail. Kirch favours earlier dates for the initial arrival of humans into both areas. In a number of cases he relies solely on palaeoenvironmental data rather than archaeological evidence, an approach which does have its dissenters (Spriggs and Anderson 1993). This issue continues to be vigorously debated and at this stage of research remains unresolved. Certainly both in Micronesia and areas of Polynesia archaeological sites associated with extinct fauna1 remains have proved difficult to locate. Much of the rest of the Micronesian chapter focuses, not surprisingly, on the spectacular megalithic architecture of the region and the associated complex sociopolitical formations. Other aspects of the Polynesian story (Origins and Dispersals) detailed by Kirch include linguistics, cultural sequences in the West, colonisation and settlement of the East and voyaging more generally.

Chapter 8 outlines explanations for the development of Polynesian chiefdoms and more specifically what archaeology has to contribute to the debate. Kirch again draws on lengthy experience involving both archaeological and theoretical aspects of this debate (Kirch 1984). He begins with examples of the less stratified ‘Open Societies’ (Mangaia, the Marquesas, Rapa Nui and Aotearoa) and progresses to the ‘Stratified Chiefdoms’ (Tahiti and the Society Islands and Hawaii). In all cases Kirch provides a general overview of the archaeology of these islands and archipelagoes which then leads into detail on sociopolitical transformation.

In the closing chapter, Big Structures and Large Processes, Kirch tackles the big picture. Specifics covered include voyaging, linguistics and biology, demographics including case studies outlining the cataclysmic results of European contact, human induced landscape change and finally the transformation of economic and social systems. This might seem somewhat of a daunting array of subjects but I found it one of the most coherent and well presented of all the chapters.

Patrick Kirch is a genuine rara avis in the field of Pacific archaeology. He has worked on a whole host of Pacific islands stretching from Mussau to Rapa Nui and more importantly has managed to publish in detail most of the research in which he has been involved. In 2001 alone we can expect to see two further Kirch inspired publications (Kirch 2001; Kirch and Green 2001). One of the goals of this publication was further elucidation of the Pacific’s longue duree. This would seem to have been admirably achieved. Let’s hope that we don’t have to wait another 20 years for a similar publication. With a solid platform now firmly established one would hope that further editions, in a Fagan-like vein, might well be achievable.


Anderson, A. and G. Clark 1999 The age of Lapita settlement in Fiji. Archaeology in Oceania 34:31–39.

Bedford, S. 2000 Pieces of the Vanuatu Puzzle: Archaeology of the North, South and Centre. Unpublished PhD thesis, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University, Canberra.

Bedford, S., M. Spriggs, M. Wilson and R. Regenvanu 1998 The Australian National University-National Museum of Vanuatu Archaeological Project 1994–1997: A preliminary report on the establishment of cultural sequences and rock art research. Asian Perspectives 37(2):165–193.

Bedford, S. and G. Clark 2001 The rise and rise of the incised and applied relief tradition: A review and reassessment. In G. Clark, A. Anderson and T. Sorovi-Vunidilo (eds), Islands in Time: Papers from the Fourth Lapita Conference. Canberra: Centre for Archaeological Research and Department of Archaeology and Natural History, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University.

Bellwood, P. 1978 Man’s Conquest of the Pacific. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Burley, D., D.E. Nelson and R. Shutler Jr 1999 A radiocarbon chronology for the eastern Lapita frontier in Tonga. Archaeology in Oceania 34:59–70.

Dickinson, W.R. 1997 Petrographic Report WRD 137. Sand Tempers in Sherds from the Banks Islands, Northern Vanuatu. Unpublished report.

Dickinson, W.R. and R.C. Green 1998 Geoarchaeological context of Holocene subsidence at the Ferry Berth Lapita site, Mulifanua, Upolo, Samoa. Geoarchaeology 13:239–263.

Dickinson, W. R. and R. Shutler Jr 2000 Implications of petrographic temper analysis for Oceanic prehistory. Journal of World Prehistory 14(3):203–266.

Dickinson, W.R., R. Shutler Jr, R. Shortland, D. Burley and T.S. Dye 1996 Sand tempers in indigenous Lapita and Lapitoid Plainware and imported protohistoric Fijian pottery of Ha’apai (Tonga) and the question of Lapita tradeware. Archaeology in Oceania 31:87–98.

Galipaud, J-C. 1998 The Lapita site of Atanoasao Malo, Vanuatu. Field Report 8. Port Vila: ORSTOM.

Gorecki, P. 1992 A Lapita smoke screen? In J-C. Galipaud (ed.), Poterie Lapita et Peuplement. Actes du Colloque Lapita, NoumCa, Janvier, pp.27–47. NoumCa: ORSTOM.

Green, R.C. 1991. Near and remote Oceania—Disestablishing ‘Melanesia’ in culture history. In A. Pawley (ed.), Man and a Half: Essays in Honour of Ralph Bulmer, pp.491–502. Auckland: Polynesian Society.

Kirch, P.V. 1984 The Evolution of Polynesian Chiefdoms. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kirch, P.V. 1988 Long-distance exchange and island colonisation: The Lapita case. Norwegian Archaeological Review 21(2):103–117.

Kirch, P.V. 1997 The Lapita Peoples. Ancestors of the Oceanic World. Oxford: Blackwell.

Kirch, P.V. (ed.) 2001 Lapita and Its Transformations in Near Oceania: Archaeological Investigations in the Mussau Islands, Papua New Guinea, 1985–88. Berkeley: University of California Archaeological Research Facility Contribution.

Kirch, P.V. and R.C. Green 2001 Hawaiki, Ancestral Polynesia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kirch, P.V. and D. Yen 1982 Tikopia: The Prehistory and Ecology of a Polynesian Outlier. Bernice P. Bishop Museum Bulletin 238. Honolulu: Bernice P. Bishop Museum.

Poulsen, J. 1987 Early Tongan Prehistory. Terra Australis 12. Canberra: Department of Prehistory, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University.

Sand, C. 1997 The chronology of Lapita ware in New Caledonia. Antiquity 71:539–547.

Sand, C. 2000 The specificities of the ‘Southern Lapita Province’: The New Caledonian case. Archaeology in Oceania 35(1):20–33.

Specht, J. and C. Gosden 1997 Dating Lapita pottery in the Bismarck Archipelago, Papua New Guinea. Asian Perspectives 36:175–189.

Spriggs, M. 1996 Chronology and colonisation in Island Southeast Asia and the Pacific: New data and an evaluation. In J. Davidson, G. Irwin, F. Leach, A. Pawley and D. Brown (eds), Oceanic Culture History. Essays in Honour of Roger Green, pp.33–50. New Zealand Journal of Archaeology Special Publication.

Spriggs, M. 1997 The Island Melanesians. Oxford: Blackwell.

Spriggs, M. and A. Anderson 1993 Late colonisation of East Polynesia. Antiquity 67:200–217.

Summerhayes, G. 1996. Interaction in Pacific Prehistory: An Approach Based on the Production, Distribution and Use of Pottery. Unpublished PhD thesis, Department of Archaeology, La Trobe University, Bundoora.

Swadling, P., N. Araho and B. Ivuyo 1991 Settlements associated with the inland Sepik-Ramu Sea. In P.S. Bellwood (ed.), Indo-Pacifc Prehistory 1990, Vol. 2, pp. 92–112. Bulletin of the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association 11. Canberra and Jakarta: IPPA and Asosiasi Prehistorisi Indonesia.

Swadling, P., J. Chappell, G. Francis, N. Araho. and B. Ivuyo 1989 A late Quaternary inland sea and early pottery in Papua New Guinea. Archaeology in Oceania 24(3):106–109.

Wahome, E. 1999 Ceramics and Prehistoric Exchange in the Admiralty Islands, Papua New Guinea Unpublished PhD thesis, The Australian National University, Canberra.

Ward, G.K. 1979 Prehistoric Settlement and Economy of a Tropical Small Island Environment: The Banks Islands, Insular Melanesia. Unpublished PhD thesis, The Australian National University, Canberra.

Review of ‘Aboriginal Archaeological Investigations in the Barwon Drainage Basin’ by Thomas Richards and Joanne Jordan

Aboriginal Archaeological Investigations in the Barwon Drainage Basin‘ by Thomas Richards and Joanne Jordan. Occasional Report 50, Aboriginal Affairs Victoria, Victorian Government Department of Human Services, 1999, xi + 221pp. ISBN 0-730-65120-7 (pbk).

Reviewed by Mark Rawson

This monograph presents the results of an archaeological survey undertaken in the Barwon River Drainage Basin of south-western Victoria in 1995 by Aboriginal Affairs Victoria as part of its State-wide Survey Program. Its aims were to record the nature and preservation of the Aboriginal archaeological resource with a view to develop predictive models.

The volume consists of ten chapters and three appendices. Each chapter begins with a convenient plain English summary. Chapter 1 is an introduction to the 3680 km2 catchment, which covers a range of environmental zones from the southern coast to mountain foothills and inland plains. Most of the book (Chapters 2–6), reports on original fieldwork on the plains around Inverleigh township. Chapter 2 introduces the Inverleigh study area. Other chapters describe survey strategy and methods (Chapter 3), survey results, including site descriptions (Chapter 4), stone artefact analysis (Chapter S), survey analysis, discussion, and predictive model development (Chapter 6), and review of previous archaeological research in the Bellarine Peninsula (Chapter 7) and Upper Barwon study areas (Chapter 8). Chapter 9 is a summary of our knowledge of the Aboriginal archaeology of the Barwon Drainage Basin, while Chapter 10 examines cultural heritage management and Aboriginal community involvement.

The authors present background information to set the scene with sections on geomorphology, geology, pre- European flora and fauna, ethnography, ethnohistory, European history and previous archaeological research including descriptions of seven previously recorded burial and artefact scatter sites (Chapter 2). Amateur artefact collecting in the Inverleigh area is reviewed, an activity which has clearly depleted the surface archaeological record.

Due to the large area of the basin, three study areas were chosen as representative of the range of environmental zones found in the upper, middle and lower reaches of the Barwon. Two of these, the Bellarine Peninsula (coastal/estuarine) and the Upper Barwon (foothills/mountains of Otway Range) had previously been the subject of extensive archaeological investigation and were not surveyed. The third study area at Inverleigh, in the middle Barwon, was chosen for intensive investigation using a random sampling strategy which included surface survey and sub-surface shovel testing. Other non-randomly selected areas with good surface visibility were also examined. This 56 square kilometre study area was selected to include major and minor watercourses, e.g. Barwon and Leigh Rivers and Native Hut Creek. It is part of the traditional territory of the Borogundidj (Leigh River) people, of the Wada Wurrung linguistic group (p. 11).

Fifty-seven new sites were recorded, mostly surface artefact scatters. Not one of the 466 x 50 cm2 shovel test pits, dug at 10 m intervals in the randomly selected quadrats, yielded artefacts. These results lead the authors to evaluate and discuss the effectiveness of their sampling strategy which has implications for future large scale survey projects in Victoria. They found that while a random approach is usually suitable for large area survey, it was of limited use in Victoria due to problems of poor ground surface visibility and denial of access by landowners. They suggest a strategy of dividing the study area into environmental zones, and investigating locations of good ground surface visibility within each (p. 147).

A large number (1264) of flaked stone artefacts recorded in the field are analysed and compared with 224 from the Hammet Collection, a private collection from surface sites in the Inverleigh area (Appendices A and B). There are drawings of selected artefacts, e.g. cores and retouched artefacts. In addition, pecked and ground stone tools in the Hammet Collection are described, and shown with a couple of excellent drawings. Both assemblages had a similar range of technological classes, retouched artefact types, and raw materials (p.83). Quartz and silcrete dominate. A range of site activities from tool production to maintenance are represented. Most of the field recorded assemblage was unretouched debitage with lesser numbers of cores and retouched artefacts. Study of the private collection revealed definite collector bias in favour of cores, retouched artefacts and ground or pecked items (p.108). This is a good example of how the study of earlier amateur collections can fill in some of the gaps in the surface archaeological record.

Artefacts typical of the Australian Small Tool Tradition were found across the study area, leading the authors to postulate that the majority of sites probably date to between 5000–150 years BP. However, no dates (or artefacts!) were obtained from the excavations. The authors attempt to estimate site age by looking at the landforms they exist on of known geological age (pp.114–116), inferring that those that lack evidence of the ASTT may be of late Pleistocene or Holocene ages. This is not very convincing, as they themselves admit, and needs to be backed up with more technological analyses and/or excavation.

A statistical analysis of site density and environmental data (Chapter 6) resulted in a predictive model which divides the study area into two zones of archaeological sensitivity. Zone 1 includes land within 300 m of permanent freshwater which is of highest sensitivity. The authors found that archaeological sites tended to be located close to freshwater sources, especially permanent sources in the river valleys, where plant and animal foods were more varied and plentiful (p.124). A tentative model of seasonal occupation is offered, with dispersed occupation in wet/dry months and dry/warm months spent near permanent water, but this is not backed up with any evidence.

The other study areas (Bellarine Peninsula, Upper Barwon) are examined in Chapters 7 and 8. The Upper Barwon had already been studied by one of the authors (Richards) who produced a predictive model of site distribution and density for the Otway Range. Bellarine Peninsula had been subject to years of amateur and professional archaeological studies. This work is well reviewed and presented in text, maps and tables. After reviewing all the data for the Barwon River Drainage Basin the authors conclude that areas of highest sensitivity are the coast, the vicinity of freshwater sources, and the foothills of the Otway Range (p.147). They project a figure of more than 33,000 potential sites in the whole catchment, with 9 sites per square kilometre.

Overall, the study is a commendable attempt at a systematic approach to regional archaeological survey. It provides a large body of new data, much of it in concise table form, along with analyses and discussion which will be of use to future researchers and cultural heritage managers. GIS maps are shown throughout the book which accurately locate the study areas, sample quadrats, and sites recorded. These are mostly very good although some get a bit crowded (Fig. 6, p.12; Fig. 9, p.34). It is a pity that there are no photographs (except for a rather unclear photo on the cover). Such visual aids would help the reader gain an impression of the study area, work undertaken, and artefacts recorded. Perhaps future AAV occasional reports could address this? Editorial errors are minimal (I counted only 13), but include some misspelt species names (e.g. p.16). There could have been some evaluation of the archaeological training for local Aboriginal communities, an aim that was mentioned in the introduction but not addressed later.

All in all, this book may be of interest to future researchers and land managers in the region, archaeologists working in cultural heritage management or those planning to undertake regional archaeological surveys. It has much new data and represents a lot of work by many people, with a price that is not outrageous.

Thesis abstract ‘Stone Axe Trade and Exchange on an Inland Sea: An Archaeological and Petrological Analysis of Stone Axe Exchange Networks in the Lake Eyre Basin’

Kevin Tibbett

BSocSc (Hons), School of Anthropology, Archaeology and Sociology, James Cook University, Townsville, October 2000

The primary aim of this thesis is to examine archaeological and petrological evidence to address the question of whether the post contact exchange of edge ground axes from the Cloncurry and Mt Isa districts south to Lake Eyre actually occurred before European contact. The thesis provides empirical evidence on axe morphology and reduction from which risk-minimisation and trade and exchange theories are developed.

The impact of European settlement on ‘traditional’ Aboriginal behaviour is sometimes acknowledged by the ethnographer, but seldom assessed comprehensively. Based on the ethnographic record different researchers have proposed quite distinct exchange networks for the stone axes. The aim of this thesis is to focus on previous demarcations of stone axe exchange routes in the Lake Eyre Basin and to compare these against the archaeological and petrological evidence. This methodology provides a test for those ethnographic and historical records which have been the usual (and essentially untested) foundation for mapping stone axe trade routes in the Lake Eyre Basin.

The metrical analysis of the stone axes is plotted onto AUSLIG 1:250,000 map grids and the changing morphology of the stone axes clearly illustrates the direction of exchange. The variables analysed were length, width, thickness (all maximum measurements), weight, edge angle, hammer dressing, rejuvenation and petrology. With increasing distance from the source stone axes lengths decreased and the level of curation increased. The latter is particularly noticeable in the form of hammer dressing which decreases the edge angles.

Based on comparative metrical and geological analysis the stone axes from the northwest of New South Wales seem incompatible with those from the Lake Eyre basin. It is suggested that the exchange routes for stone axes from western New South Wales might be a post-contact transformation in Aboriginal behaviour. The proposed exchange route from the Mt Isa region seems to be a combination of McBryde’s (1997) cultural landscape south to Glenormiston and McCarthy’s (1939) Red Ochre Route from Glenormiston to Kopperamanna. In the northern regions of the Lake Eyre basin this route differs markedly from previous archaeological, historical and ethnographic demarcations.


In the concluding stages of the thesis different exchange theories and behavioural models are examined to assess which best accommodate the archaeological and petrological record of edge-ground stone axes in the Lake Eyre Basin as documented in this study. It is suggested that trade and reciprocity were operating simultaneously as risk minimisation strategies in the harsh environment of the region.


McBryde, I. 1997 The cultural landscapes of Aboriginal long distance exchange systems: Can they be confined within our heritage registers? Historic Environment 13 (3&4).

McCarthy, F.D. 1939 Trade in Aboriginal Australia and trade relationships with Torres Strait, New Guinea and Malaya. Oceania 9:405–438; 10:80–104; 10:171–195.

Thesis abstract ‘Station Camps: The Ethnoarchaeology of Cultural Change in the Post-Contact Period in the Southeast Kimberley Region of Western Australia’

Pamela A. Smith

PhD, Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, Adelaide, May 2000

This ethnoarchaeological study seeks to understand the socioeconomic contexts in which cultural change, adaptation and the maintenance of cultural continuity occurred in one Aboriginal community during the transition from a mobile hunting and gathering lifestyle to a less mobile lifestyle in station camps. An objective of the study is to identify a methodology through which elements of cultural continuity and adaptation are able to be identified and located in time, an important issue for archaeologists working with Native Title claimants. The study area is in the southeast Kimberley region of Western Australia. In that region most of the Aboriginal population were incorporated into the hierarchical structure of the pastoral industry during the first eighty years following European colonisation in the 1980s.

The methodology is based on middle-range theory. This approach to the analysis allows for a defined range of inputs from each of the four periods identified between the 1880s and the 1960s. These periods represent stages of European colonisation. The four data sets are then compared in order to derive information about the nature and extent of cultural change and adaptation. The data sets are based on: (i) the archaeological records of camp sites dated to each period; (ii) interpretations of the cultural landscape and changing land uses; and (iii) nutritional data derived from the records of three diets. Archival, historical and ethnographic records are used to locate the data within appropriate socioeconomic contexts and to reconstruct a model of cultural change for each of the four periods.

This study provides a methodology for demonstrating changes in the use of technology and material culture through time and provides information about how and when those changes occurred. From the analysis of diet and of changing patterns in land use and it was concluded that the nature of stock work provided most Traditional Owners with continuous access to their traditional country and to bush foods throughout the station times. Stock work also ensured that hunting and gathering skills continued to be maintained. The analysis of material culture across the four periods demonstrates the extent to which metal and glass manufactured artefacts were recycled and utilised, particularly for the manufacture of traditional type points and scapers. The number of traditional-type artefacts (including glass and metal) associated with food functions decreased across the four periods some remained in the archaeological record until the 1970s, the end of the ‘station times’. Artefacts believed to be associated with ceremonial activities also decreased, although the decrease was less sharp than for those associated with food, and demonstrates that cultural activities associated with ceremony and ritual also continued until the end of the ‘station times’.

Thesis abstract ‘Mobile Traders or Impoverished Harvesters: A Re-Evaluation Earthenwares from ‘Macassan’ Trepanging Sites in Northern Australia’

Brad Smith

BA(Hons), Division of Archaeology and Palaeoanthropology, School of Human and Environmental Sciences, University of New England, Armidale, November 1999

The trepanging visits to the northern Australian coastline by island Southeast Asian maritime voyagers have been the focus of several archaeological and historical investigations in recent decades. The primary archaeological markers of annual trepanging visits to the northern Australian coastline are the processing sites and a significant component of the material culture represented at these sites is discarded earthenware pottery shards. Ethnohistorical evidence suggested that trepanging was an integral part of the rich and diverse inter-archipelago trade system and that from the 17th century the voyages to northern Australia were an expansion of a later trading network. Previous scientific analyses of the earthenwares from along the northern Australian coastline, however, suggested that any involvement by the “Macassan” trepangers within these cyclical trade networks was considerably more constrained than would be expected from the ethnohistorical data. This thesis re-evaluates prior analyses of island Southeast Asian earthenwares. Utilising an ethnoarchaeological framework and introducing new earthenware data, it presents alternative perspectives on the role played by trepangers within the wider historical context of island Southeast Asian trade in a turbulent but little understood period of regional de

Thesis abstract ‘Sea Change? Marxism, Ecological Theory and the Weipa Shell Mounds’

Michael Morrison

BA(Hons), School of Anthropology, Archaeology and Sociology, James Cook University, Townsville, 2000

This thesis considers whether the models Geoff Bailey developed to explain the formation and use of the Weipa shell mounds (Bailey 1977, 1993, 1994, 1999) are sufficient. In assessing this, theoretical debates, as well as archaeological, environmental, and ethnographic data is reviewed and discussed.

Bailey’s models were based on an ecological theoretical framework, however in this thesis a Marxist-oriented cultural landscapes approach is advocated. Based on this perspective it is argued that a cultural ecological framework, and thus Bailey’s models, are flawed. The widespread popularity of ecological approaches in north Australian shell mound studies is also noted.

Archaeological and environmental data are reviewed, and in both cases it is argued that more detailed work is required. Following this a general ethnographic model is developed based on a review of extensive anthropological and ethnographic data from the central west coast of Cape York Peninsula These data provide insights into the operation of past social systems, and highlights the fact that a cultural landscapes perspective is crucial to an understanding of human-environment relationships.

Overall it is demonstrated that the current models for mound formation and use at Weipa are insufficient largely because the theoretical approach on which they are based is flawed and their use of ethnographic data is highly selective and simplistic. This paves the way for the development of several alternative scenarios for mound formation and use at Weipa.


Bailey, G.N. 1977 Shell mounds, shell middens and raised beaches in the Cape York Peninsula. Mankind 11(2):132–143.

Bailey, G.N. 1993 Shell mounds in 1972 and 1992: Reflections on recent controversies at Ballina and Weipa. Australian Archaeology 37:1–17.

Bailey, G.N. 1994 The Weipa shell mounds: Natural or cultural? In M. Sullivan, S. Brockwell and A. Webb (eds), Archaeology in the North: Proceedings of the 1993 Australian Archaeological Association Conference, pp.107–129 Darwin: North Australia Research Unit, The Australian National University.

Bailey, G.N. 1999 Shell mounds and coastal archaeology in northern Queensland. In J. Hall and I. McNiven (eds), Australian Coastal Archaeology, pp.105–112. Canberra: The Australian National University.

Thesis abstract ‘Continuity and Change: A Late Holocene and Post-Contact History of Aboriginal Environmental Interaction and Vegetation Process from the Keep River Region, Northern Territory’

Jenny Atchison

 PhD, School of Geosciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, 2000

Australian Aboriginal and hunter-gatherer impacts on the environment have been widely debated in anthropological and scientific circles. At one extreme hunter-gatherer impacts have been viewed as non-existent or unintentional, at the other they have been viewed as significant agents of extensive change. Wherever Aboriginal people are considered as agents of change, fire is considered to be the primary and most important method. The way in which vegetation responds to fire and other factors influences our perception of the nature and degree to which Aboriginal people live within, impact upon, manage or construct their environment. Non-equilibrium ecology provides a useful framework for examining vegetation change by identifying disturbance regimes and individual species response.

Ecological processes and Aboriginal environmental interactions from the Keep River region of the Northern Territory are examined in this thesis using three methods: biogeographic, archaeobotanical and ethnoecological analysis. The results cover two main time periods, the late Holocene and the recent post contact period. Rock outcrops are a visual, cultural and ecological focus in the predominantly savanna environment of the Keep region. They provide key habitats for mixed savanna assemblages and for monsoon rainforest assemblages and were important traditional and post European camping places for local Aboriginal people.

Analysis of tree demographics and spatial pattern of savanna plants around rock outcrops identifies significant differences in spatial distribution and plant density. Many of the differences in seedling regeneration, sapling recruitment and tree survival are associated with regional differences in fire regime. Significantly, edible fruit species, in particular Persoonia falcata, are identified as marginal under current conditions at all of the sites considered, except one re-occupied and managed by the Marralam Aboriginal community since the late 1980s.

Archaeobotanical material from archaeological excavations indicates Persoonia falcata and Buchanania obovata seeds were processed and eaten at various times across the Keep River region from about 3500 BP up until the post contact period. The chronology is derived by directly dating seed remains using AMS 14C and suggests both spatial and temporal variation in deposition. Fruit seed use and sustained rock shelter occupation in the Keep Region is associated with dry climatic phases in the late Holocene identified from other evidence elsewhere in northern Australia. Significantly, cultural deposition of hit seeds declines to total absence in the post European levels. The decline in cultural fruit seed deposition and the contemporary disparity in fruit species viability across the region can be explained by a significant shift in fire regimes and Aboriginal occupation since European arrival.

Monsoon rainforest patches and yam species are examined through the memory of traditional Aboriginal custodians. Keep River rainforest patches are small and isolated on dolomite outcrops. Yams are gathered by removing significant quantities of dirt and rock, resulting in large holes and depressions across the forest floor. Dioscorea transversa has disappeared from at least one site within the living memory of local custodians. Contemporary yams are severely degraded by cattle trampling. Isolated rainforest trees in the surrounding savanna suggest that the contemporary patches have been more extensive than present. The recent change in distribution and abundance of important traditional food plants has significant consequences for Aboriginal attachments to country.

In this thesis I illustrate a complex picture of continuity and change in Aboriginal interaction with the environment of the Keep region over the past 3500 years. I argue that Aboriginal people have in the past, and where possible, continue today to creatively manage the vegetated landscape.

Obituary: Graeme Pretty (1940–2000)

F. Donald Pate and Anthony L. Crawford

Graeme Lloyd Pretty

(b. 25 June 1940, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; d. 6 November 2000, Adelaide, South Australia)

Graeme Pretty (with  megaphone) at Roonka (published in Australian Archaeology 52:61).

Graeme Pretty (with megaphone) at Roonka (published in Australian Archaeology 52:61).

Graeme Pretty was one of the principal figures associated with the development of professional archaeology in the state of South Australia. Graeme served in various curatorial capacities at the South Australian Museum, Adelaide from 1962–1994. These included Assistant Curator of Anthropology (1962–1965), Curator of Archaeology (1965–1973), Senior Curator, Human Science Collections (1973–1985) and Senior Curator of Archaeology (1985–1994). From 1994 until his death, he continued archaeological research as a Research Associate at the South Australian Museum and a Visiting Fellow in the Department of Anatomical Sciences, University of Adelaide.

Graeme completed a BA(Hons) majoring in History and Archaeology in 1960 and a postgraduate Diploma in Education in 1961. Both degrees were awarded by the University of Sydney. Early archaeological fieldwork (1960–1961) involved the mapping and excavation of Pleistocene limestone cave deposits in the coastal Nullarbor Plain region of southwestern South Australia. This research involved an investigation of the Koonalda Cave deposits under the supervision of Sandor (Alexander) Gallus (Gallus and Pretty 1967; Wright 1971).

From 1962–1965, Pretty trained as an Assistant Curator of Anthropology at the South Australian Museum under the supervision of Norman B. Tindale. During this period, he worked with archaeological and ethnographic collections from Australia, the Pacific, Africa and the Americas. In addition, he continued archaeological field training at a range of sites including Fromm’s Landing (Mulvaney et al. 1964) and Durras North Rockshelter (Lampert 1966) and conducted rescue excavations throughout South Australia and in Arnhem Land. Tindale’s close association with local South Australian Indigenous communities had a major impact on the archaeology practiced by Pretty. Graeme involved Aboriginal Elders and community members in all stages of research projects addressing past Indigenous cultures and lifeways.

As Curator of Archaeology at the South Australian Museum, Pretty visited museums in southeast Asia, the United Kingdom and Europe during 1966–1967 in order to become familiar with overseas collections, museum practice and research trends. In addition, he supervised the excavation of Anglo-Saxon town levels at Wallingford Castle, Berkshire, England (Pretty 1967) in association with Dr N. Thomas of the University of St Andrews.

Graeme had a passion for Melanesia, in particular Papua New Guinea. His key research interest was the transition of agriculture and evolution of cultural geography in Melanesia, whereby he studied the finds and uses of prehistoric stone mortars and pestles, found throughout the Highlands of PNG (Pretty 1971a). He served as a commissioner to review the function of the Papua New Guinea Museum and National Gallery in 1968, and during that visit he prepared a report and inventory of cave paintings and associated archaeological sites known to exist at that time. The same year he was a consultant for the Department of District Administration, Territory of Papua New Guinea, to review the Territory of PNG National Property Ordinance of 1965. In 1969 he led the first South Australian Museum collecting expedition to PNG, financed by a grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and private funding (Pretty 1969). This was an ethnographic salvage program where over 1000 artefacts were collected from two regions in the Southern Highlands. This was the largest single collection at the time to be deposited at the PNG Museum. A similar expedition was carried out in 1970, with visits to the New Hebrides (Vanuatu), Solomon Islands and PNG.

Between 1969 and 1973 Graeme also served as Specialist Adviser in Ethnic Art of the Pacific Basin, Commonwealth Art Advisory Board, a Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (Pretty 1970a). In 1971 this work developed into an independent field collecting program based upon the dispatch of professional indigenous art researchers to key indigenous art provinces of the Pacific. Their primary goal was to work with surviving indigenous artists of ethnic authenticity in order to revive their work for the purpose of circulating specimens to cultural institutions in Australia and local Pacific Islands. Between 1971 and 1973, indigenous art tradition decline was arrested and reversed in at least five provinces of PNG and Island Melanesia.

One of Graeme’s most significant contributions to Australian Archaeology was his research at the Aboriginal site of Roonka on the lower Murray River of southeastern South Australia. His excavations at Roonka between 1968 and 1977 produced one of the largest well provenanced prehistoric Aboriginal skeletal populations in Australia (Pretty 1970b, 1971b, 1975a, 1977, 1986). The mortuary ‘ variability and elaborate grave goods observed at this huntergatherer site suggested the possibility of a non-egalitarian social organisation. During this time period, hunter-gatherer diversity and social complexity were a focus of archaeological and anthropological research (cf. Lee and DeVore 1968;  Struever 1968; Bettinger and King 1971; King 1976, 1978). Consequently, the Roonka site received a great deal of attention from archaeologists in Australia and abroad.

Pretty’s acute research administration skills were demonstrated in relation to the coordination of large multi- disciplinary research teams associated with the post-excavation analysis of archaeological and physical anthropological evidence recovered from the Roonka site. These research projects required significant long-term funding and resulted in a large number of publications. Specialists from South Australia, interstate and overseas were employed to address a range of research areas including chronology (Prescott 1983; Prescott et al. 1983; Pretty 1977, 1986, 1988; Pate et al. 1998), mortuary practices (Pate 1984; Pardoe 1988; Pretty 1977;), demography (Prokopec 1979), population biology (Brown 1989; Pardoe 1994, 1995; Pietrusewsky 1979, 1984; Pretty et al. 1998), palaeopathology (Campbell and Prokopec 1984; Pretty and Kricun 1989; Prokopec and Pretty 1990, 1991; Simpson et al. 1984;), dental anthropology (Smith et al. 1988, 1989), forensic science (Pounder et al. 1983; Pretty 1975b), palaeodiet (Pate, 1984, 1990, 1995, 1997, 2000; Pate et al. 1991), palaeoecology (Parker 1989; Paton 1983), palaeobotany (Boyd and Pretty 1989), soil chemistry (Pate and Hutton 1988; Pate et al. 1989) and earth sciences (Firman 1984; Rogers 1990). At the time of his death, Graeme was working on several manuscripts summarising archaeological research at Roonka. These manuscripts will be edited by his colleagues and published at a later date.

In relation to the development of tertiary education, Pretty assisted Vincent Megaw (Visual Arts, Flinders University) and Frank Sear (Classics, University of Adelaide) with the foundation of the archaeology teaching program in South Australia. Collaborative teaching arrangements involving a range of archaeologists living in the Adelaide area resulted in the introduction of the following university topics: Archaeology: An Introduction to its History, Techniques and Method-ology (Flinders University 1983), Archaeology 1H (University of Adelaide 1985), Australian Archaeology I (Flinders University 1987) and Australian Archaeology II (Flinders University 1988). The great student interest generated by these topics resulted in the first Archaeology lecturing appointments in South Australia in 1990 (Donald Pate at Flinders University) and 1991 (Margaret O’Hea at the University of Adelaide). In addition, Graeme assisted with the supervision of research students at Honours and higher degree levels and acted as a host to numerous interstate and overseas research scholars. As a result of these efforts, today South Australia has well established archaeological teaching, research, and public education programs involving cooperative relations between staff at Flinders University, Adelaide University, the University of South Australia, the South Australian Museum, CSIRO Land and Water, and a range of other institutions.

Graeme’s long-term dedication to an interdisciplinary and inclusive archaeology had a major impact on the development of the discipline in South Australia and abroad.


Bettinger, R.L. and T.F. King 1971 Interaction and Political Organisation: A theoretical Framework for Archaeology in Owen Valley, California. Archaeological Survey Annual Report 13. Los Angeles: University of California.

Boyd, W.E. and G.L. Pretty, 1989 Some prospects for archaeological palaeobotany in Australia: An example from South Australia. Australian Archaeology 28:40–52.

Brown, P. 1989 Coobool Creek. Terra Australis 13. Canberra: Department of Prehistory, Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian National University.

Campbell, A.H. and M. Prokopec 1984 Antiquity of tooth avulsion in Australia. The Artefact 8:3–9.

Firman, J.B. 1984 Evolution of Australian landscapes and the physical environment of Aboriginal man. In J.C. Vogel (ed.), Late Cainozoic Palaeoclimates of the Southern Hemisphere, pp.209–220. Rotterdam: Balkema.

Gallus, S.A. and G.L. Pretty 1967 The anthropology and archaeology of the Nullarbor Plain, South Australia. In J.R. Dunkley and T.M.L. Wigley (eds), Caves of the Nullarbor, pp.47–49. Sydney: Speleological Research Council.

King, T.F. 1976 Political Differentiation among Hunter-Gatherers: An Archaeological Test. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of California, Riverside.

King, T.F. 1978 Don’t that beat the band? Non-egalitarian political organisation in prehistoric central California. In C. Redman et al. (eds), Social Archaeology: Beyond Subsistence and Dating, pp.225–248. New York: Academic Press.

Lampert, R.J. 1966 An excavation at Durras North, NSW. Archaeology and Physical Anthropology in Oceania 1:83–118.

Lee, R.B. and I. DeVore (eds) 1968 Man the Hunter. Chicago: Aldine.

Mulvaney, D.J., G.H. Lawton and C.R. Twidale 1964 Archaeological excavation of rockshelter No. 6, Fromm’s Landing, South Australia. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria 77:479–516.

Pardoe, C. 1988 The cemetery as symbol. The distribution of Aboriginal burial grounds in southeastern Australia. Archaeology in Oceania 23:1–16.

Pardoe, C. 1994 Bioscapes: The evolutionary landscape of Australia. Archaeology in Oceania 29:182–190.

Pardoe, C. 1995 Riverine, biological and cultural evolution in southeastern Australia. Antiquity 69:696–713.

Parker, S. 1989 The Potential of Aboriginal Shell Middens as Indicators of the River Murray’s Pre-Impoundment Ecology. Unpublished BSc(Hons) thesis, University of Adelaide, Adelaide.

Pate, F.D. 1984 Mortuary Practices and Paleodiet as Archaeological Signatures of Social Organisation and Status at Roonka on the lower Murray River of South Australia. Unpublished MA thesis, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island.

Pate, F.D. 1990 Postmortem Chemical Changes in Buried Bone: An Investigation of Environmental Formation Processes at the Roonka Archaeological Site, South Australia. Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International.

Pate, F.D. 1995 Stable carbon isotope assessment of hunter-gatherer mobility in prehistoric South Australia. Journal of Archaeological Science 22:81–87.

Pate, F.D. 1997 Bone chemistry and paleodiet: Reconstructing prehistoric subsistence-settlement systems in Australia. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 16:103–120.

Pate, F.D. 2000 Bone chemistry and palaeodiet: Bioarchaeological research at Roonka Flat, lower Murray River, South Australia 1983–1999. Australian Archaeology 50:67–74.

Pate, F.D. and J.T. Hutton 1988 The use of soil chemistry data to address post-mortem diagenesis in bone mineral. Journal of Archaeological Science 15:729–739.

Pate, F.D.,  J.T. Hutton and K. Norrish 1989 Ionic exchange between soil solution and bone: Toward a predictive model. Applied Geochemistry 4:303–316.

Pate, F.D., J.T. Hutton, R.A. Gould and G.L. Pretty 1991 Alterations of in vivo elemental dietary signatures in archaeological bone: Evidence from the Roonka Flat dune, South Australia. Archaeology in Oceania 26:58–69.

Pate, F.D., G.L. Pretty, R. Hunter, C. Tuniz and E.M. Lawson 1998 New radiocarbon dates for the Roonka Flat Aboriginal burial ground, South Australia. Australian Archaeology 46:36–37.

Paton, R.C. 1983 Analysis of Aboriginal Subsistence in the Lower Murray District of South Australia. Unpublished BA(Hons) thesis, The Faculties, The Australian National University, Canberra.

Pietrusewsky, M. 1979 Craniometric Variation in Pleistocene Australian and More Recent Australian and New Guinea Populations Studied by Multivariate Procedures. Occasional Papers in Human Biology 2. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.

Pietrusewsky, M. 1984 Metric and Non-Metric Cranial Variation in Australian Aboriginal Populations Compared with Populations >on the Pacific and Asia. Occasional Papers in Human Biology 3. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.

Pounder, D.J., M. Prokopec and G.L. Pretty 1983 A probable case of euthanasia amongst prehistoric Aborigines at Roonka, South Australia. Forensic Science International 23:99–108.

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

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

Pretty, G.L. 1967 Excavations at the Anglo-Saxon site of Wallingford, Berkshire, England. Journal of the Anthropological Society of South Australia 5(2):3–5.

Pretty, G.L. 1969 Salvage Ethnography in New Guinea: The South Australian Museum Expedition to the Southern Highlands District, Papa, 19681969. New York: Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.

Pretty, G.L. 1970a Report on the Commonwealth Collection of Primitive Art from New Guinea and the Pacific Islands. Canberra: Commonwealth Art Advisory Board.

Pretty, G.L. 1970b Excavation of an Aboriginal cemetery on Roonka Station, River Murray. Kalori, Journal of the Museums Association of Australia 38:17.

Pretty, G.L. 1971a Further investigations into Melanesian culture-history: South Australian Museum Field Research in Island Melanesia, 1971. Kalori, Journal of the Museums Association of Australia 42:89–95.

Pretty, G.L. 1971b Excavations at Roonka Station, Lower River Murray, South Australia. Journal of the Anthropological Society of South Australia 19(9):6–15.

Pretty, G.L. 1975a Archaeology in South Australia: A report on recent work. Australian Archaeology 3:32–39.

Pretty, G.L. 1975b The recovery of human remains for forensic purposes. Proceedings of the Australian Forensic Science Society 1(3):68–74.

Pretty, G.L. 1977 The cultural chronology of the Roonka Flat. In R.V.S. Wright (ed.), Stone Tools as Cultural Markers, pp.288–331. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.

Pretty, G.L. 1986 Australian history at Roonka. Journal of the Historical Society of South Australia 14:107–122.

Pretty, G.L. 1988 Radiometric chronology and significance of the fossil hominid sequence from Roonka, South Australia. In J.R. Prescott (ed.), Early Man in the Southern Hemisphere. Supplement to Archaeometry: Australasian Studies 1988, pp.S32–S52. Adelaide: University of Adelaide.

Pretty, G.L. and M.E. Kricun 1989 Prehistoric health status of the Roonka population. World Archaeology 21:198–224.

Pretty, G.L., M. Henneberg, K.M. Lambert and M. Prokopec, 1998 Trends in stature in the South Australian Aboriginal Murraylands. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 106:505–514.

Prokopec, M. 1979 Demographical and morphological aspects of the Roonka population. Archaeology and Physical Anthropology in Oceania 14:11–26.

Prokopec, M. and G.L. Pretty. 1990 Skeletal aging: Rate of tooth attrition in hunter-gatherer populations, prehistoric Roonka, South Australia. Colloqiae Anthropologicae 14(2):331–334.

Prokopec, M. and G.L. Pretty 1991 Observations on health, genetics and culture from analysis of skeletal remains from Roonka, South Australia. In D.J. Ortner and A.C. Aufderheide (eds), Human Paleopathology: Current Syntheses and Future Options, pp.151–158. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Rogers, P.A. 1990 Late Quaternary stratigraphy of the Roonka archaeological sites. Geological Survey of South Australia Quarterly Geological Notes 113:6–14.

Simpson, D., M. Prokopec, L. Morris. and G.L. Pretty. 1984 Prehistoric craniosynostosis: A case report. Records of the Adelaide Children’s Hospital 3(2):163–168.

Smith, P., M. Prokopec and G. Pretty 1988 Dentition of a prehistoric population from Roonka Flat, South Australia. Archaeology in Oceania 23:31–36.

Smith, P., Y. Wax and F. Adler. 1989 Population variation in tooth, jaw and root size: A radiographic study of two populations in a high-attrition environment. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 79:197–206.

Struever, S. 1968 Woodland subsistence systems in the lower Illinois Valley. In S.R. Binford and L.R. Binford (eds), New Perspectives in Archaeology, pp.285–312. Chicago: Aldine.

Wright, R.V.S. (ed.) 1971 Archaeology of the Gallus Site, Koonalda Cave. Australian Aboriginal Studies 26, Prehistory Series 5. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.

Future eaters in Australia, future eaters in the Pacific? Early human environmental impacts

Matthew SpriggsMatthews Spriggs

Professorial Address: Australian Future Eaters?*

Tim Flannery’s 1994 book The Future Eaters: An Ecological History of the Australasian Lands and People got into the national best-seller lists and was recommended as Christmas reading by public figures such as then New South Wales Opposition leader, Bob Carr: Its view of Australia as a fragile and largely barren continent in need of tender nurturing but largely ruined by previous land use practices caught the public imagination. It created a nice ‘conte morale’, a moral tale to digest with the Christmas turkey. Exactly what the arresting title means however is never explained in any detail, except perhaps on the dust jacket, where it is said:

“Since the first person left the great Afro-Asian homeland to cross the first island on the long chain to Australia, human beings have consumed the resources that they would need in future. The first Australasians were the world’s first future eaters. Today, future eating is a universal occupation.”  

You will recognise the story, it is of course an antipodean version of the Fall with Aborigines as Adam and Eve.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

New evidence for the earliest human occupation in Torres Strait, northeastern Australia

Location of excavation sites on Mer, Dauer and Waier Islands in the eastern Torres Strait (published in Australian Archaeology 52:51).

Location of excavation sites on Mer, Dauer and Waier Islands in the eastern Torres Strait (published in Australian Archaeology 52:51).

Melissa Carter


This paper reports the results of radiocarbon determinations on marine shell and charcoal excavated from archaeological sites on Mer and Dauar Islands in the eastern Torres Strait, Queensland. Commonly known as the Murray Islands, the group consists of the three small volcanic islands of Mer (Murray), Dauar and Waier (Fig. 1).

The Murray Islands Archaeological Project (MIAP) was initiated in 1998 and is being undertaken in collaboration with the Mer Island Community Council and traditional Meriam landowners. MIAP forms the basis of the author’s doctoral research, with a major focus on determining the antiquity of human occupation of the islands, and the identification and timing of the development of the prehistoric horticultural economy (Carter et al. in press a, b). The dates reported here are the first to be recorded for the eastern Torres Strait region, and represent the first, reliable archaeological sequence of this antiquity in the wider Torres Strait (see Table l). Dates are reported and discussed using uncalibrated radiocarbon ages.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

What to do while you’re waiting to do archaeology? Processes of decay in the 21st century

Rhondda Harris


While trying to get work as an archaeologist I do some casual work in estate management. This involves sorting out the belongings of people who have died or who have moved to a nursing home. Work is usually at the request of Trustee Companies or a Funeral Assistance Program and mostly involves sorting out the houses of people with no relatives or where the condition of the house is such that relatives seek help to sort it out. Sometimes a house will look like anybody’s house who lives in a way you expect people to live, cluttered but reasonably clean, with some vague sort of order such as kitchen things in the kitchen and bedroom things in the bedroom, but often enough they are much more interesting. In fact, often enough they resemble the houses from hell which current affairs programs frequently put to air, the ones where the tenants have fled and the Council comes in and fills up three rubbish trucks just to get in the door.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Stone artefacts from the Beltana region, South Australia

Places mentioned in the text (published in Australian Archaeology 52:47).

Places mentioned in the text (published in Australian Archaeology 52:47).

Bianca Di Fazio and Amy Roberts


This paper will present some aspects of a lithic analysis that was conducted at Beltana, South Australia, as part of a larger research project investigating Indigenous fringe occupation sites (Di Fazio 2000). The town of Beltana is located south of Leigh Creek in the Flinders Ranges (Fig. 1). This predominantly arid area is characterised by cliffs, boulder slopes and gorges (Fox 1991:16). Beltana was established in 1870, taking its name from the Adnyamathanha word for running water (Beverley Patterson 2000, pers. corn.). Today Beltana is predominantly known as a ghost town, however, in its heyday it offered a number of services including a telegraph repeater station, a railway station, and a mining exchange. The Adnyamathanha people were in continuous occupation of the Beltana area from the pre- to post-invasion periods, however during the post-invasion period they were primarily confined to the fringe camps on the outskirts of the town.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Rockshelter taphonomy: A monitor program in Darling Mills Creek, Sydney

Tessa Corkill


What are the impacts of periodic freshwater flooding on archaeological sites in rockshelters? If there are impacts that are likely to damage such sites, what mitigative measures can be taken to minimise the damage? These questions were the basis of a program designed in 1996 to monitor three such sites in Sydney’s Darling Mills Creek Valley.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Prehistoric and World War II use of shell mounds in Darwin Harbour, Northern Territory, Australia

Peter Hiscock and Philip Hughes


Middle arm in Darwin Harbour, showing the location of the Haycock Reach study area (published in Australian Archaeology 52:41).

Middle arm in Darwin Harbour, showing the location of the Haycock Reach study area (published in Australian Archaeology 52:41).

Darwin Harbour is one of the largest bays along the Northern Territory coastline. Some shell mounds around the Harbour are renowned as the creations of the scrub-fowl Megapodius reimwardt (Stone 1989). However, the abundant archaeological middens that exist within the region have received little attention. While this failure to explore the archaeology of Darwin Harbour is being remedied in the regional study by Bums (1999), there is still a need for specific studies of site patterning within the region. In particular investigations of chronological and morphological variation in anthropogenic shell deposits and their environmental contexts will assist the evaluation of land-use models. Shell structures in Darwin Harbour exist within a geomorphic context underrepresented in studies of archaeological mounds in the “Top End”. Shell mounds studied elsewhere in northern Australia by archaeologists are generally on near-flat depositional surfaces produced by coastal progradation and composed entirely of alluvium or coastal sediments, and the interpretation of these sites is tied to the growth of coastal plains (e.g. Bailey 1975; Baker 1981; Beaton 1985; Woodroffe et al. 1988). In contrast, Darwin Harbour consists of a flooded valley that has had relatively little sediment infilling, leaving a coastline that consists of bedrock and steep colluvial slopes that terminate below the high tide limit. Middens in Darwin Harbour, located on these steep rocky surfaces, are subject to different geomorphic conditions and reflect an environmental history different from mounds in regions such as Kakadu or Princess Charlotte Bay.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

The past and future of Indigenous archaeology: Global challenges, North American perspectives, Australian prospects

Learning site mapping as part of a training program for First Nations community members and displaced forestry workers (published in Australian Archaeology 52:30).

Learning site mapping as part of a training program for First Nations community members and displaced forestry workers (published in Australian Archaeology 52:30).

George Nicholas


Since childhood, I’ve been drawn to distant times and diverse cultures. This interest provided the impetus, and my parents the encouragement, to pursue a career as an archaeologist. It was a decision that I have never regretted, even though what anthropology is today, and how it is practiced, is very different from that which I was first exposed to just a few decades ago. As will become apparent, I view archaeology as an inseparable dimension of anthropology (and vice versa), reflecting the Boasian four-field model that is prevalent in North America. One mandate of anthropology, regardless of where it is practiced, is to document and interpret cultural diversity to obtain a deep understanding of what it is to be human-a slightly more sophisticated endeavour than my adolescent forays into National Geographic magazine. In this, we seek not only the ‘Other’, which has come to represent non-Western peoples whose lives and worldviews fall outside the realm of familiar experience, but also ourselves. As archaeologists, we are also required to seek representativeness, to ensure that our work encompasses, both methodologically and theoretically, the range of past human endeavour.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.


Aboriginal fish hooks in southern Australia: Evidence, arguments and implications

Rupert Gerritsen


Gippsland bone hook (published in Australian Archaeology 52:20).

Gippsland bone hook (published in Australian Archaeology 52:20).

From time to time, in the wanderings of my imagination, I mull over the question of what should be my first course of action if I were the proverbial Martian archaeologist (Jones and Bowler 1980:26), just arrived on Earth to investigate its peoples, cultures and history. And in this imaginary quest, I ask myself, would my time be more productively spent observing and interrogating the ‘natives’, or simply heading for the nearest rubbish dump to begin immediate excavations, a la Rathje (1974)? But, having chosen the latter, what then would I make of such things, in my putative excavations, as discarded ‘lava lamps’, ‘fluffy dice’ or garden gnomes? Phallic symbols perhaps, ear-muffs for protection from ‘rap’ music, maybe cult figurines!

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.


Kaalpi: The archaeology of an outlying range in the dunefields of the Western Desert, Australia

Engravings of large infilled anthropomorphs at Kaalpi (published in Australian Archaeology 52:11).

Engravings of large infilled anthropomorphs at Kaalpi (published in Australian Archaeology 52:11).

Peter Veth, Mike Smith and Michael Haley


Following a decade of debate about the timing and nature of occupation of desert dunefields (e.g. Smith 1993, 1996; Smith et al. 1998; Veth 1993, 1995, 2000b) and the increasing evidence for Pleistocene occupation of sites which lie at the margins of the Western Desert (O’Connor and Veth 1996; O’Connor et al. 1998; Smith 1989; Smith et al. 1997; Thorley 1998a, 1998b) a systematic program of excavation of sites within core areas of these dunefields is clearly warranted. This paper reports on one such excavation at the site of Kaalpi located within the Calvert Ranges of the Little Sandy Desert, south of Lake Disappointment, WA. These ranges contain numerous rockshelters with evidence for occupation and very abundant suites of rock paintings and engravings. The Calvert Ranges are a small isolated outlier of uplands, containing apparently permanent water, in a vast field of red siliceous dunes.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.


Preliminary investigation of Indigenous campsites in late Quaternary dunes, Port Augusta, South Australia

Keryn Walshe, John Prescott, Frances Williams and Martin Williams


A series of late Quaternary dunes are located in the vicinity of Port Augusta in the mid-north of South Australia. Observations of deflating archaeological material were first
recorded by Norman B. Tindale during the 1939 Harvard-Adelaide University Anthropological Expedition (Tindale 1939:827).

A mile & 314 beyond the Port Augusta Bridge on the side of the road to Iron Knob, we hunted over a site where we had on a previous occasion found several old Kangaroo Island type implements. Found an old earthy layer fiom which series of large crude quartzite flakes were eroding also a few large and much altered shells. Much of the implements was already dropped onto a hard pan and the rest was on the surface of the weathering earth layer, so that absolute results not obtainable but it seemed likely that most if not all the
material weathering out belonged to a single period. (see collection of specimens). 

Records of similar material at nearby Dempsey’s Lake were made by Cooper (1953) and Lampert (1976). Dempsey’s Lake was the focus of palaeontological investigations during the 1950’s from which time a certain amount of Diprotodon skeletal material was  recovered. Stone tools described as consistent with ‘Kartan’ industries have also been recovered and are generally characteristic of the core tool and scraper tradition (Lampert 1976). Lampert (1976) also noted the absence of small tools ‘such as pirris and tulas’. The fossil bone and stone tools were exposed on an “eroded red sand dune running in a straight line from north west to south east” (Lampert 1976:12).

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Stable isotopic analysis of prehistoric human diet in the Mariana Islands, western Pacific

Map showing location of Rota and Saipan, Mariana Islands (published in Australian Archaeology 52:1).

Map showing location of Rota and Saipan, Mariana Islands (published in Australian Archaeology 52:1).

F. Donald Pate, John Craib and Gary M. Heathcote


Stable isotopic analyses of human and faunal bones provide a valuable means to differentiate marine and terrestrial food use in prehistoric tropical island environments
(Keegan and DeNiro 1988; McGovern-Wilson and Quinn 1996; Ambrose et al. 1997). Because stable carbon (bi3C) and nitrogen (WN) isotope values in bone collagen are
quantitatively related to the isotopic composition of ingested foods (Schoeninger and Moore 1992; Pate 1994), isotopic analyses of archaeological human bone may provide quantitative information about past diet that enhances qualitative data derived from artefacts and floral and faunal remains.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

New ABOX AMS-14c ages remove dating anomalies at Puritjarra Rock Shelter


M.A. Smith, M.I. Bird, C.S.M. Turney, L.K. Fifield, G.M. Santos, P.A. Hausladen and M L. di Tada


Age-depth curve for radiocarbon determinations from Puritjarra rockshelter (published in Australian Archaeology 53:46).

Age-depth curve for radiocarbon determinations from Puritjarra rockshelter (published in Australian Archaeology 53:46).

A robust site chronology generally requires a large series of age determinations, preferably using a range of dating methods and with sufficient dated samples to allow internal
corroboration of the age of individual layers. One of the handful of Australian archaeological sites to meet these criteria is Puritjarra rock shelter in Central Australia. The chronology for this site rests on a published series of 31 radiocarbon assays on charcoal and nine luminescence dates on sediments (Smith et a1 1997) together with ten radiocarbon dates that have become available subsequently

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

A web site for the Bowen Basin Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Project: Towards a strategic regional approach to research and management

Scott L’Oste Brown and Luke Godwin


The Bowen Basin Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Project is a multi-disciplinary and integrated approach to regional cultural heritage management in the Bowen Basin, central Queensland. Although initiated in 1995 (as Stage l , see L’Oste-Brown et al. 1998a), the current stage (Stage 2, see Godwin et al. 1999) commenced in mid-1998 and was funded for three years under the Australian Research Council and Department of Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affair’s SPIRT collaborative grants scheme. The project is being undertaken by the School of Human and Environmental Studies at the University of New England and is a joint initiative of industry, Aboriginal groups, educational institutions and Government.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.


Evidence for Early Holocene change in the Whitsunday Islands: A new radiocarbon determination, Nara Inlet 1

Discard rates (number per 1000 years) of stone artefacts in Squares G50 and H50 combined, Nara Inlet 1 (published in Australian Archaeology 53:42).

Discard rates (number per 1000 years) of stone artefacts in Squares G50 and H50 combined, Nara Inlet 1 (published in Australian Archaeology 53:42).

Lara Lamb and Bryce Barker


This report describes a recently obtained radiocarbon determination from the Nara Inlet 1 rockshelter site on Hook Island, off the central Queensland coast. The new date was obtained in order to more clearly refine changes in stone artefact discard densities within the site as part of a wider technological study, centring on the South Molle Island quarry (see Lamb 1996 and  in prep.).

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Digging Stick site, Namadgi National Park, ACT

Debbie Argue, Geoff Hope and Patricia Saunders


Further fieldwork has been undertaken at the Digging Stick Site, Namadgi National Park, Australian Capital Territory, earlier reported by Argue (1995:38–39).

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Obituary ‘Rhys Maengwyn Jones (26 February 1941–19 September 2001)

Tim Flannery

Further calculations and considerations of north Australian rock art statistics reported in David et al. (1999)

John Clegg, Julie Drew, Matthew Kelleher and George J. Susino


In 1999, David et al. published some exploratory statistical analyses of a small sample of data fiom rock-art sites in Wardaman country, Northern Territory. They refer to the
ethnography of the area, and to possible dates of the rock-art. Their data describes the incidence of some Wardaman rock-art in relation to motif forms and specific media, and the area and nature of the rock surface. The analysis discovers strong relationships between motif form and both medium and rock surface. They conclude that variations in motif form may relate to medium and support, but not necessarily to date. The question of date comes in because of a possibility that a particular set of motif forms (tracks) made by a particular
technique (pecking) may be significantly old.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.


Station camps: Identifying the archaeological evidence for continuity and change in post-contact Aboriginal sites in the south Kimberley, Western Australia

A child's pull along toy made from tobacco tins and golden syrup tins ca 1959 (published in Australian Archaeology 53:28).

A child’s pull along toy made from tobacco tins and golden syrup tins ca 1959 (published in Australian Archaeology 53:28).

Pam A. Smith


Since the passing of the Native Title Act 1993 requiring Native Title claimants to provide  evidence of cultural continuity throughout the post-contact period, Australian archaeologists have been seeking new ways in which archaeological models can be most effectively applied when working with Native Title claimants (Lilley 2000). One outcome of this revision is that earlier models of post-contact, or frontier archaeology which focused on the processes of colonisation and dispossession are being revised to provide evidence that meets the requirements of the Native Title Act 1993 and, in particular, a clause in the l998 amendment of that Act requiring Native Title applicants to (i) be identifiable with’ the Aboriginal people of the claim area at sovereignty and (ii) be able to demonstrate whether ‘the community has maintained connection with the land by observing, as far as practicable, traditional customs, laws and practices of its predecessors’.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Megafauna at Keilor and the timing of their extinction

Megafauna metatarsals from various sites (published in Australian Archaeology 53:20).

Megafauna metatarsals from various sites (published in Australian Archaeology 53:20).

Jacqui Duncan


The Keilor archaeological area is located approximately 16 km northwest of Melbourne near the confluence of Dry Creek and the Maribymong River (Figure 1). In 1940 a human cranium was discovered in the locality and later the area was excavated by Alexander Gallus and teams from the Victoria Archaeological Survey and La Trobe University (Bosler 1975; Mulvaney 1998). This paper details the results of a faunal analysis conducted on materials recovered from the later excavation (Duncan 1998). Its focus is the lower stratigraphic layers known as the D-Clay and the underlying Older Dry Creek Alluvium (ODCA).

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

What are the right words for rock-art in Australia?

Christopher Chippindale

From ‘rock-art’ to ‘rock-pictures’ to ‘rock-markings’* 

The prompt to the present note is the difficulty being seen in the phrase ‘rock-art’, evident in the recent publication of the papers from the 1996 Lucas Heights dating workshop (Ward and Tuniz 2000a). The organisers of the workshop itself, avoiding the word ‘art’, called their meeting the ‘First Australian Rock-Picture Dating Workshop’. For its publication, they used neither the word ‘art’ nor ‘picture’ but a different one again, ‘marking’, in the title of their book, Advances in Dating Australian Rockmarkings. These concerns, and the doubt about which words are right, echo those about other terms such as ‘prehistory’ in Australia; see Mulvaney and Kamminga (1999:xvvi–xviii) for why they retain the title Prehistory of Australia for the new edition of Mulvaney’s classic (1969). I here defend the use of the term ‘rock-art’ (and of related terms like ‘rock-engraving’ and ‘rock-painting’), and caution whether well-intentioned changes to standard terms in our vocabulary are always to the good. (I explain the hyphens below.)

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Documentation and integration of spatial information for historical sites archaeology in the Northern Territory: A Pine Creek pilot study

Frederickson 2001 Figure 2Clayton Frederickson, Amanda Horner and Chris Devonport


In the 1960s the Northern Territory became the setting for some of the first historical archaeology in Australia (Allen 1969; Macknight 1976) A focus in the last decade on contact archaeology (Clarke 1994; Mitchell 1994; Wilson 1997; Paterson 2000) has seen the region again drawing the interest of researchers. While the intervening decades witnessed something of a hiatus in historical archaeological (but not historical) research, they also experienced an upsurge in management archaeology, including the management of historical sites. This momentum began in the late 1980s, when the Temtory saw the first government-initiated focus on prehistoric and historical archaeological site management (Sullivan and Carment 1992:3). The strength of the Temtory’s economy in the 1980s and early 1990s spurred economic development, which in turn heralded a rapid growth in management and site documentation.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Figure caption: Areas of historic mining evidence in the Pine Creek Heritage Zone (published in Australian Archaeology 53:8).


Residue analysis and palaeodiet in arid Australia

Jane Balme, Glenn Garbin and Richard A. Gould


A study of residues and usewear on 49 provenanced and dated whole or fragmentary groundstone implements excavated from Puntutjarpa Rockshelter in Australia’s
Western Desert suggest that plant processing and seed grinding were important components of Aboriginal diet well before the mid- to late Holocene. The analysis revealed the presence of starch grains in varying concentrations on the surfaces of all but four of the 49 artefacts dating back to approximately 10,000 years ago. Eight of the specimens
also contained traces of blood residue and five contained ochre, indicating multiple use of some grindstones for processing either both plant and animal products or both plant products and pigment. Three of the four specimens on which no traces of starch were recorded were too large to fit under the metallurgical microscope and it is likely that
starch residues are also present on them. Ochre was macroscopically visible on one of the three specimens. Ochre was the only residue on the remaining artefact.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Undervalued Animals: The Small Faunal Taphonomy and Zooarchaeology of Cape de Couedic Rockshelter, Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Chris Langeluddecke

BA(Hons), Department  of Archaeology, Flinders University, Adelaide, 2001

This thesis describes a study of the remains of small fauna excavated from an archaeological site on Kangaroo Island, South Australia. It aims to identify the small faunal component of the assemblage, and to examine that fauna in its cultural context. The taphonomic history of the assemblage is investigated, the agents responsible for its accumulation are identified, and wider applications for this type of study are suggested.

The study of small fauna from Australian archaeological sites has been neglected throughout most of the discipline’s history in this country. Research into the hunting and butchery of larger fauna and an ongoing fascination with questions regarding megafaunal extinctions has overshadowed the potential information offered by the analysis of smaller fauna. In spite of the acknowledged importance of small fauna in to patterns of subsistence used by past Indigenous Australians, both archaeology and ethnography have, for the most part, failed to explore that importance in any significant detail.

This analysis shows that although the small fauna form a small proportion of the total assemblage excavated from the site, they are a comparatively rich source of information. Palaeoecological examination of the species represented shows more open vegetation prevailed during the site’s occupation than that present on the island currently. This concurs with information from other sites on the island, which have suggested that the island’s environment was in a state of flux at that time. Human taphonomic influences are visible within the assemblage, resulting from secondary disturbance of both cultural and non-cultural material, possibly indicating from site clean-up practices. Owl deposition is also detected in part of the site, although it is obscured by secondary taphonomic influences.

Information gained from this research, though limited by the small amount of bone available for analysis, is still capable of generating information relevant outside of archaeology itself. Palaeoenvironmental reconstructions and palaeontological insights generated by the research could not be generated by an examination of the large fauna alone. Small faunal analysis is invaluable to the understanding of the wider implications of the site.

Stones from the South-Side: An Analysis of Lithics from the Onkaparinga River, South Australia

Phil Czerwinski

BA(Hons), Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, Adelaide, November 1997

This research defines the role of raw materials at sites within the Onkaparinga River estuary, South Australia. With an emphasis toward stone artefact technology and industry, a picture of raw material selectivity and conservation is gauged, with reduction sequences determining the role of individual rock types in a continual flaking system. People reduced different rock types to flakes and cores by different means of percussion because of differences in raw material fracture features and availability. Conservation of rare, imported and fine-grained raw materials is also highlighted, as is the expedient use of locally sourced raw materials and the transportation of flakes away from the sites.

Use-wear analysis of edges with secondary modification then determines the function of a sub-set of the stone implements. People used different rock types for different and often special use tasks because of edge durability, sharpness and also bluntness. These use-wear results are next compared with used glass implements from the same sites; exploring postcolonial use of a new raw material and the similarities/differences between the two industries.

By further study of the stone and glass assemblages, the spatial relationships between sites are examined to understand environmental disturbance, task specific areas, and a slightly altered demography after contact. The ethnographic recording of seasonal shifts between coastal dune sites in the summer and wooded inland sites in the winter, explored through locally available raw materials, ascertains the season of occupation at the estuary floodplain sites. Ethnography is then incorporated to assess subsistence and tool manufacture activities.

By using this stone artefact analysis and ethnographic analogy of tool use, manufacture and maintenance in the region, the role of rock types in a cultural system’s material culture is found. The use of quartz as the main stone component in composite barbed spears and clubs, and the use of quartzite as the hammerstones and anvils to reduce quartz by bipolar and microblade techniques, is symbiotic. Gender specific implements also record the community-based living plan of the sites. People knew their rock’s limits then flaked and used them accordingly, implying a greater knowledge of stone artefact technology will improve our understanding of hunter-gatherer activities and their relationship with the landscape.


Squatting Landscapes in South-Eastern Australia (1820–1895)

Iain Stuart

PhD, Prehistory and Historical Archaeology, University of Sydney, Sydney, January 2000

This thesis applies the cultural landscape concept to the history of squatting (sheep and cattle farming on Crown Land outside the limits of location) in south eastern Australia to revisit the question of squatting and the land question in Australia. Using the techniques of historical archaeology as applied to cultural landscapes the thesis aims to examine the engagement between squatters and the landscape.

After reviewing the history of the cultural landscape concept, the thesis proceeds along two lines of inquiry. Firstly, it discusses the history of squatting at the broad level seeking to understand the overall processes that created squatting landscapes. Secondly, it develops landscape studies on two squatting runs, Lanyon and Cuppacumbalong (located near Australia’s capital city Canberra that was not constructed until 1911). Lanyon is studied as an example of pioneering and establishing squatting runs. Cuppacumbalong is studies as an example of maintaining the squatting run over a period of time against broad processes such as economic fluctuations and the mid to late 1800s selection movement.

The overview of the history of squatting argues that while the main driving force of squatting was the economics of the wool industry which, in collision with the Colonial Government’s land policy produced the phenomena of wholesale illegal occupation of Crown Land across much of south eastern Australia. The settlement pattern created was driven by the occupation of grassy plains suitable for sheep farming. However, despite their insecure hold on the land the squatters strove to create buildings structures and landscapes that were expressions of their respectability. This respectability aided them in their struggle for security and conversion of squatting runs into secure leasehold. This security was challenged by the selection movement that aimed to create small farms for respectable and hard-working ‘yeoman’ farmers. The methods chosen by Government to promote selection varied over time and from State to State but shared a general idealistic view of the economies of small farming and ignorance of the environment.

Selection pitted the squatter and selector in a conflict to attain the same ideals of respectability and domesticity often on the same piece of land. This explains the often-ambiguous attitude of the squatter at times bitterly opposing selection but also often seeking accommodation with selectors. The nature of the conflict between squatter and selector was mediated through Crown Land statutes and regulations and this gives rise to the form of the cultural landscape in many areas.

Research into Lanyon resulted in a substantial review of the established view of Lanyon as a landscape of ‘captive labour’ to one where evidence of coercion in the landscape does not exist. The owner of Lanyon at the time James Wright is shown to have initially attempted to coerce his convicts but later seems to have come to another (unknown) arrangement to ensure their productive work. Wright was caught in the 1840s depression and became insolvent but was able to husband his estate sufficiently to establish himself on his squatting run at Cuppacumbalong (part of the Lanyon estate).

Cuppacumbalong was sold by Wright to the de Salis family in 1855. Detailed analysis of the squatter/selector conflict is undertaken using the Conditional purchase records, the diary of George de Salis and the landscape itself. This shows how the patriarch of the family, the Hon. Leopold Fane de Salis (MLC), husbanded his estate to create a freehold estate out of the squatting run. This was done by a mixture of using family and dummies to select important areas of the estate (the flats) that gave the family control of the most economically valuable parts of the land. From this base, de Salis was able to ‘quarantine’ hostile selectors and accommodate ‘friendly selectors’.

As Leopold de Salis operated through the provisions of the various Crown Land Acts (which he as an MP was able to shape), he along with the selectors was forced to ‘improve’ the land. This involved erections of residences (huts), fencing and clearing. From the conditional purchase records, it is clear that the bulk of the improvements went into ring barking and clearing the land. Thus the creation of squatting landscape in this case was a complex interaction of the desires of the de Salis’ to maintain their estate, the desires of selectors to create small farms, the Lands Acts and their regulations and the environment. Overall the thesis concludes that in understand squatting and squatting landscapes both the broad process that shaped the development of squatting and the individual responses to the process need to be understood in order to break free from historical cliches and to paint a rich picture of Australian history.

Late Holocene Indigenous Economies of the Tropical Australian Coast: An Archaeological Study of the Darwin Region

Patricia Bourke

PhD, Department of Archaeology, Northern Territory University, Darwin, January 2001

This thesis presents an archaeological study of Indigenous occupation in the Darwin region during the late Holocene. The research period precedes by some 500 years the European settlement of Palmerston, or Darwin as it is now called, in the country of a group of non-Pama-Nyungan language speakers, the Larrakia. In this thesis I put forward a portrayal of the late Holocene subsistence and settlement patterns of the Indigenous inhabitants of the Darwin region. The research is based on three years of fieldwork, carried out over three dry seasons in 1995, 1996 and 1997, through surveys followed by excavations and reports on the results of test-excavations of eight open archaeological sites.

In this thesis I explore the ways that changes in settlement patterns and resource procurement can be identified in the archaeological record. This is achieved through an investigation of the environmental context and taphonomic processes that shaped the remains left behind by the local people to their present day form. I draw attention to the way that these natural processes impinge on the archaeological record and on interpretation. Since the patterns observed from the archaeological data in this study appear to fit criteria supporting the currently topical hypothesis of Late Holocene intensification, they are compared with other explanations for similar patterns as indices of intensity of occupation. Through analogy with historic and ethnographic information, I explore the question of why people built mounds of shell and why they stopped. I suggest that the answer lies with the intimate, human/environment interaction, played out according to the particular historical cultural behaviour and to perceptions of the cumulative environmental and social changes occurring in the period prior to and following Macassan contact on the north Australian coast.

Towards an Archaeobotanical Reference Bank: A Pilot Study for the Construction of an Identification Tool for Macroscopic Plant Remains from Archaeological Deposits

Jennifer Barker

BA(Hons), Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, Adelaide, June 2000

In Australia, and much of the world, tools for the identification of macroscopic plant remains recovered from archaeological sites are lacking. The research conducted in this pilot study aimed to develop an interactive archaeobotanical identification tool based on plant disseminules (seeds and fruits) that are most likely to be recovered from archaeological deposits in northern Australia.

The archaeobotanical tool uses an innovative new computer software program, LucID Professional, just one example of a more user-friendly, interactive approach to the identification of organisms and objects[1].  The identification tool developed in this study has the potential to be expanded to include macroscopic plant remains for all geographic regions of Australia. I n addition, the use of the LucID program and the methods conducted in this study may be extended to create analytical identification tools for other archaeological material, including microscopic plant remains, lithics, glass and bone.

The archaeobotanical tool developed in this study was tested against plant disseminule specimens recovered during an excavation organised by Claire Smith, of the Droopney rockshelter in the Barunga region of the Northern Territory. The tool was also tested against a more traditional dichotomous key version of the tool, as well as against contemporary botanical specimens.

This research also involved the development of a second interactive ethnobotanical tool based on the same plant species that comprise the archaeobotanical tool. The ethnobotanical tool was designed to aid in the location of the plants in the field, and may also be used for the development of archaeobotanical reference collections.

This work was conducted as part of the Barunga-Wugularr Community Archaeology Project.

[1] Further information regarding LucID Professional can be found at
Information  and  links  to  other  interactive  identification  programs are located at


Palaeo-Environmental Change and the Persistence of Human Occupation in South-Western Australian Forests

Joe Dortch

 PhD, Centre for Archaeology, Department of Anthropology, University of Western Australia, Crawley, 2000

This thesis investigates hunter-gatherer responses to environmental changes in south-western Australian forests. Specifically, it examines how hunter-gatherers reacted to terminal Pleistocene and early Holocene expansions of karri (Eucalytpus diversicolor) tall open-forest, a forest type identified as difficult to occupy. The thesis presents archaeological evidence for hunter-gatherer occupation of sites in different forest types within south-western Australia which show that hunter-gatherers persisted in occupying the whole forested region throughout the vegetational changes. They did this by following small geographical shifts in favourable habitats and controlling the extent of unfavourable habitats by firing.

My approach is to compare environmental histories from archaeological sites with records of site occupation extending from the last few millennia to 47,000 BP. The study area, the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Region, south-western Australia, is chosen for its deep limestone cave deposits providing long records of human occupation and environmental change, and for its intricate mosaic of forest communities. In this region, Devil’s Lair, Tunnel Cave, Witchcliffe Rock Shelter and Rainbow Cave have stratified sandy floor deposits containing hearths, stone artefacts, and biotic remains. The middle two sites of this series were excavated in my own systematic survey for cave sites. Devil’s Lair and Tunnel Cave are located in present-day karri forest, Witchcliffe Rock Shelter and Rainbow Cave in coastal wood land and scrub.

Radiocarbon assays and stratigraphy indicate that at Devil’s Lair, episodes of human occupation extended from 47,000 BP until the entrance collapsed, sometime after 12,000 BP. At Tunnel Cave, there are six hearth complexes built between 20,000 and 12,000 BP, traces of occupation up to 8000 BP, and a hearth at 1400 BP. Witchcliffe Rock Shelter and Rainbow Cave were each occupied by hearth­ building people, 800–400 BP.

Analysis of trends towards conserving raw material in stone artefact manufacture and use suggest no changes in occupation intensity at any site, except at Tunnel Cave during the height of the last glacial, when a thick hearth layer was built up. Cold and wind at this time perhaps encouraged more frequent cave occupation, but no climatic change could have required people to abandon Tunnel Cave as a campsite from 8000 to 1400 BP. A more likely factor in cave occupation/abandonment in the Holocene was change in the vegetation surrounding cave sites.

A change in vegetation structure or habitat is indicated by the proportions of mammal species in bone fragments (excluding hunter-gatherer prey animals deposited out of proportion to their natural representation). Identified charcoal fragments indicate changes in the floristic composition of canopy dominants. These analyses show that rainfall increased and habitat became more closed from 13,000 BP, as the Pleistocene jarrah forest or woodland gave way to karri forest. At Tunnel Cave, the latter formation had encroached totally by 8000 BP, the same time that people abandoned the site.

These results show primarily that hunter-gatherer site occupation altered in response to vegetational change. However, previous research cited in the thesis shows that people did not abandon the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Region when karri forest encroached over some parts and people did return to some sites in karri forest. As in historical time, forest occupation probably involved flexible, short-term site occupations, and therefore the slight vegetational shifts had little impact on regional occupation patterns. The wider implications are that hunter-gatherers prioritised their use of different vegetation communities, and in all regions where vegetation communities form a mosaic, hunter-gatherers can maintain the same occupation pattern by following geographic shifts of those communities.



Editorial, Volume 77


Heather Burke and Lynley A. Wallis

Radiocarbon dates for coastal midden sites at Long Point in the Coorong, South Australia

LR St George et al Figure 2Claire St George, Lynley A. Wallis, Benjamin Keys, Christopher Wilson, Duncan Wright, Stewart Fallon, Major (Moogie) Sumner, Steve Hemming and the Ngarrindjeri Heritage Committee

This paper presents 29 radiocarbon dates from eight surface concentrations of shell and 10 test-pits across four shell middens at Long Point in the Coorong, South Australia. Results indicate that occupation of these sites was confined to the late Holocene period, post-2500 cal. BP. With the exception of one midden, which appears not to have been used after 500–300 cal. BP, all other sites suggest continued use until the recent past. This pattern fits with a proposed period of population expansion and intensification of resource use inthe Coorong, along with more general changes known to have occurred in parts of coastal Australia during the mid- to late Holocene.

Figure caption: Location of dated sites at Long Point (published in Australian Archaeology 77:144).

Ventrally thinned flakes from south central Queensland: Are they related to bifacial points?

LR Manuscript 2013029 Figure 2Grant W.G. Cochrane and Trudy Doelman

The process of ventral thinning in Australian lithic technology is usually limited to (i) the preparation of bifacial points or (ii) reduction of the bulbar surface to facilitate hafting. In this paper we describe a number of flakes from south central Queensland (Qld) that exhibit ventral thinning beyond the bulbar region, yet do not fulfil the traditional typological criteria of Australian bifacial points. We then consider how similar artefacts from other parts of the world have been interpreted. Our provisional conclusion is that there may not be a universal explanation for the process of ventral thinning, but at least some of the south central Qld artefacts appear to be formal tools that bear some relationship to bifacial points. We also suggest that similar tools may be present in early Holocene and late Pleistocene deposits at Kenniff Cave. In sum, this evidence lends qualified support to  McNiven’s (1993) hypothesis that bifacial point technology was diffused across parts of Qld through large ceremonial gatherings in the central highlands at least 3000 years ago.

Figure caption: Ventrally thinned flakes from Springwood (published in Australian Archaeology 77:136).

Keeping Country: A web-based approach to Indigenous outreach in cultural heritage management

LR Fairbairn et al Fig 2Andrew Fairbairn, Annie Ross, Sean Ulm, Stephen Nichols and Patrick Faulkner

Cultural heritage management (CHM) of Indigenous places is the dominant area of professional practice in Australian archaeology, yet relatively few Indigenous Australians take up a career in the sector. The internet is providing new and effective avenues for Indigenous outreach programmes. This paper describes a self-contained, web-enabled, freeto- user cultural heritage training programme designed in consultation with, and for the use of, Indigenous Australians. It includes a consideration of the potential and design requirements of web-delivered courses for more effectively introducing Indigenous communities to the professional CHM sector and thus achieving the long-term goal of increasing the participation of those communities in professional work.

You can link to the Keeping Country homepage by clicking here.

Figure caption: Course webpage which acts as the central navigation menu (published in Australian Archaeology 77:132).

Capturing archaeological performance on digital video: Implications for teaching and learning archaeology

LR Figure 2Sarah Colley and Martin Gibbs

In 2009 we produced a series of edited video clips to demonstrate practical methods to archaeology students at the University of Sydney. The videos were made publicly
accessible on the internet via YouTube and incorporated into teaching of an undergraduate archaeological field methods unit in 2010 and 2011. This paper outlines the authors’ experiences of making and using the videos for teaching and discusses results of student questionnaire feedback about the videos and the unit. The results provide insight into the effectiveness of different ways of teaching practical archaeology in the context of large class sizes and limited resources, and the potential of using digital video technologies to communicate archaeology to students and other audiences.

Figure caption: Comparison of 2010 (n=46) and 2011 (n=26) responses (published in Australian Archaeology 77:122).

Creating eResearch tools for archaeologists: The Federated Archaeological Information Management Systems project

Shawn Ross, Adela Sobotkova, Brian Ballsun-Stanton and Penny Crook

In this article, the Federated Archaeological Information Management Systems (FAIMS) project presents its stocktaking activities and software development towards the creation of a comprehensive digital infrastructure for archaeologists. A National eResearch Collaboration Tools and Resources (NeCTAR)-funded initiative, the FAIMS project aims to develop tools to facilitate the creation, sharing, reuse and dissemination of high-quality digital datasets for research and cultural heritage management. FAIMS has engaged in an extensive stocktaking and liaison programme with archaeologists and related professionals, the results of which have shaped the development plans. Project development is focusing on highly customisable mobile applications for data collection, a web application for data
processing, and an online repository for archiving and disseminating data, with provisions for creating semantically and technically compatible datasets embedded throughout. Data exchange using standard formats and approaches ensures that components work well together, and that new, externally developed tools can be added later. Our goal is
to create a digital system that respects the current workflow of archaeological practice, improves the availability of compatible archaeological data, and delivers features that
archaeologists want to use.

Figure caption: The frequency of media used by archaeologists for primary data collection (published in Australian Archaeology 77:113).

Charcoals as indicators of ancient tree and fuel strategies: An application of anthracology in the Australian Midwest

LR Figure 3Chae Byrne (nee Taylor), Emilie Dotte-Sarout and Vicky Winton

Anthracology (charcoal analysis) can inform about palaeoenvironments and human choices concerning the use of wood resources. While charcoal is commonly recovered during excavations, anthracology is poorly developed in Australian archaeology. This paper presents the first application of anthracology in the Midwest of Western Australia, at the Weld-RS-0731 (WA Department of Aboriginal Affairs Site ID 28793) site in the Weld Range. It uses methodological approaches developed by European anthracologists but not previously applied to Australian charcoal assemblages. The diversity and frequency of taxa identified in the late Holocene Weld-RS-0731 charcoal assemblages correspond to known vegetation communities, similar to those found in the area today. Nevertheless, the assemblages’ compositions demonstrate the targeting of specific habitats, as well as the purposeful selection and avoidance of certain taxa. Our results confirm that wood gathering was not a separate specialist activity, but likely occurred alongside other  subsistence tasks.

Figure caption: East section of the Weld-RS-0731 excavation (published in Australian Archaeology 77:97).

Morphometric reconstructions and size variability analysis of the surf clam, Atactodea (=Paphies) striata, from Muralag 8, southwestern Torres Strait, northern Australia


LR Figure 2Jeremy Ash, Patrick Faulkner, Liam M. Brady and Cassandra Rowe

This paper describes (a) the methods and results of a morphometric reconstruction and (b) a size variability study of a heavily fragmented Atactodea (=Paphies) striata (surf clam) assemblage recovered from a small midden on the island of Muralag in the southwest Torres Strait, Queensland. Two intense but discrete pulses of late Holocene cultural activity at the site have been determined. Phase 1 is centred around 622 cal. BP (544–674 cal. BP) and Phase 2 is centred around 485 cal. BP (426–532 cal. BP). The results from our morphometric reconstruction reveal a statistically significant change (reduction) in the mean valve size of A. striata between occupational phases. Mean size and range of valve sizes are used as measures to determine when people were potentially exploiting the surf clam in Phases 1 and 2. While more data is required to determine an exact season of death, our findings reveal a relative signal of the seasonal exploitation of A. striata between these two phases.

Figure caption: East section of Square A, Muralag 8 (published in Australian Archaeology 77:84).

Rock art in arid landscapes: Pilbara and Western Desert petroglyphs

LR Figure 2Jo McDonald and Peter Veth

This paper develops a testable model for understanding rock art within archaeological phases of the arid northwest Pilbara and Western Desert bioregions. It also presents the first multivariate analysis of foundational recording work undertaken almost 50 years ago, and deploys more recently recorded assemblages from the Burrup Peninsula (Murujuga) and the Western Desert. It establishes a framework for testable hypotheses about how art production in these adjacent bioregions through deep-time reflects information systems, emergent territoriality, group identity and signalling behaviour against a backdrop of climatic oscillations, including the LGM (23–18 ka), Antarctic Cold Reversal (14.5–12.5 ka) and intensification of ENSO (3.8–2 ka). The Pilbara piedmont has clearly defined gorges with major water sources; the Western Desert has uncoordinated drainage punctuated by well-watered but subdued ranges. We argue that rock art has been used to negotiate social identity in both contexts since each was first colonised. The role that art may have played in the formation of social networks in these different landscapes through time is the key focus of this paper. We hypothesise that the episodic use of art as signalling behaviour in the Australian arid zone can abe linked to behavioural correlates and major archaeological phases with discrete signatures that can be tested from myriad sites.

Figure caption: Map of the Natatjara group’s storage wells, pools and sand soaks, also showing tracks made between the various water sources. Drawn by Katabulka, an old Natatjara man (from Tindale 1974:Figure 23) (published in Australian Archaeology 77:67).

Hoaxes and folklore: Inscriptions associated with the Vergulde Draak (1656) and Zuiddorp (1712) shipwrecking events

Wendy van Duivenvoorde,  Mark E. Polzer and Peter J. Downes

This article discusses two inscriptions thought to be associated with wrecks of the Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie) ships Vergulde Draak and Zuiddorp, off the Western Australian coastline. We evaluate their authenticity using comparative studies with similar contemporaneous Dutch inscriptions, placing them within the broader context of pseudoarchaeology and the public preoccupation surrounding shipwrecks. The morphology and manufacture of the lettering argues against a 17th or 18th century provenance. Further, photographic records of the Zuiddorp site indicate that its associated inscription is modern. We argue these inscriptions were likely attempts by
enthusiasts to ‘participate’ in the shipwrecking stories, or to claim some recognition with regards to the wrecks. Whatever the reasons, they have been used as evidence to support
unorthodox hypotheses about the shipwrecks’ survivors, and serve to keep these theories alive in the public imagination.

Figure caption: Inscription left by crew of VOC ship Wapen van Rotterdam in 1626, Nosy Mangabé, Madagascar (published in Australian Archaeology 77:58).

Burials and time at Gillman Mound, northern Adelaide, South Australia

Judith Littleton, Keryn Walshe and John Hodges

Gillman Mound, on the Adelaide Plains, South Australia, was excavated in 1970 after human remains were discovered during redevelopment. Twenty-two individuals were
recovered, along with a further 16 from the Wingfield area. In collaboration with the Kaurna Nation Cultural Heritage Association, these remains were recently analysed and dated. This paper analyses the burial practices in order to identify temporal and spatial continuities and discontinuities, both within the site, and in a more regional context. One of the major issues with burial sites is their interpretation in terms of a temporal scale. The burials at Gillman date to between 1100 and 600 BP. Given that on at least two occasions a
single grave was used for the burial of two people, the time frame suggests approximately one burial per generation (or potentially a more episodic use of the site). This points to the existence of multiple places in use for burial at the same time and raises the question of which people were buried at particular places. While some of the burial practices in the mound are congruent with ethnohistoric accounts of Kaurna burials, others point to discontinuities in time or space.

Figure caption: Map of Gillman Mound in relation to the Adelaide Plains (published in Australian Archaeology 77:39).

Astronomical orientations of bora ceremonial grounds in southeast Australia

LR Manuscript 2013016 Figure 1Robert F. Fuller, Duane W. Hamacher and Ray P. Norris

Ethnographic evidence indicates that bora (initiation) ceremonial sites in southeast Australia, which typically comprise a pair of circles connected by a pathway, are
symbolically reflected in the Milky Way as the ‘Sky Bora’. This evidence also indicates that the position of the Sky Bora signifies the time of year when initiation ceremonies are held. We use archaeological data to test the hypothesis that southeast Australian bora grounds have a preferred orientation to the position of the Milky Way in the night sky in August, when the plane of the galaxy from Crux to Sagittarius is roughly vertical in the evening sky to the south-southwest. We accomplish this by measuring the orientations of 68 bora grounds using a combination of data from the archaeological literature, and site cards in the New South Wales Aboriginal Heritage Information Management System database. We find that bora grounds have a preferred orientation to the south and southwest, consistent with the Sky Bora hypothesis. Monte Carlo statistics show that these preferences were not the result of chance alignments, but were deliberate.

Figure caption: The ‘Emu in the Sky’ visible over an emu engraving at Elvina Track in Kuringai Chase National Park north of Sydney, which may represent her celestial counterpart (published in Australian Archaeology 77:32).

Large burin blade cores from south central Queensland

LR Figure 5Grant W.G. Cochrane, Trudy Doelman and Mark W. Moore

This paper reviews burin blade core reduction methods in Australia, demonstrating that they were used to produce small blades during the mid- to late Holocene, but tended
to be limited to a few discrete geographical regions. We present new evidence from two surface sites in south central Queensland that extend this view. At one of these sites the
burin blade cores have a very broad size range, and include many specimens that are much larger than the norm. Size difference had little bearing on the techniques employed to reduce the cores, but the larger specimens tend to be more weathered. We suggest that this may reflect a technological sequence in the region whereby the use of burin blade core
methods to produce small tools typical of the mid- to late Holocene period was preceded by an earlier application of this technology to produce larger blades.

Figure caption: Burin blade cores from Bapton Paddock 1 (published in Australian Archaeology 77:24).

Can use-wear be used to identify tuber processing on siliceous stone? An experimental study from Australia

figure 10Laressa Berehowyj

Although use-wear and residue analysis on flaked stone tools has shed some light on plant processing, it has been argued that specific patterns of use-wear are difficult to identify on the coarse grained raw materials typically used for stone artefact production in Australia.
This experimental study evaluates whether processing raw tubers creates an identifiable, characteristic wear on silcrete, chert, chalcedony and indurated mudstone. The results indicate that use-wear is indeed formed after prolonged tool use, though further studies are required to determine if such wear is diagnostic and, in turn, whether it can be identified archaeologically. These preliminary findings have important implications for studies of tuber use, landscape management and subsistence in prehistoric Australia and elsewhere.

Figure caption:  Starch grains and plant fibres characteristic of tuber processing under polarised light: (a) sweet potato; (b) taro; and (c) brushed potato (published in Australian Archaeology 77:17).


Meaningful stones: Obsidian stemmed tools from Barema, New Britain, Papua New Guinea

LR Manuscript 2012098 Figure 2

Barema 1 stemmed tool recovered intact from the bulldozed
terrace at FADP (published in Australian Archaeology 77:2).

Robin Torrence, J. Peter White and Nina Kononenko

The technology, typology, context and probable mid-Holocene date of a newly discovered group of exceptional obsidian stemmed tools at Barema, New Britain, Papua New Guinea,
opens a rare window on social life and ideology during a poorly known period in Melanesia. We argue that, because of their size, fragility and the skill required for their manufacture,
these artefacts were valuables, conferring status on their owners. Their deliberately constructed silhouette of a phallus implies that stemmed tools played a meaningful role in social and/or ritual practices.

Obituary: Mike Morwood (1950–2013)

LR Mike M ObituaryLuke Godwin and Scott L’Oste-Brown

Professor Michael John Morwood (Mike) passed away on 23 July 2013 at the age of just 62. The international interest in this sad event is, we think, probably unprecedented for an archaeologist and a reflection that one aspect of his extraordinary career truly captured the world’s attention. How often is it that a new species of hominin is discovered: one so amazing and different from us, and yet living when we, Homo sapiens, were around as well? Many would be happy to hang their whole career on such a discovery, and fair enough. But to define Mike’s life just in these terms alone would be to miss the whole—not just the archaeologist, but also the person we knew as a friend. As we look back we can, of course, see the profound impact of his discoveries and innovative approaches; however, we also like to remember just sitting and chewing the fat with him, as he would listen, muse and then offer a different way of looking at the matter. This was not always related to archaeology—Mike’s interests were not circumscribed by his profession. In his younger days, for instance, he was a more-than-handy rugby player in Auckland and in later years studied aikido. But first, Mike, the archaeologist.

After an outstanding record as an undergraduate at the University of Auckland, taking the Anthropology Prize in 1972, Mike cast his eyes further afield. He jumped across the ditch to Australia and took a job in Queensland (Qld) with the (then) Department of Aboriginal and Islander Affairs as the State Archaeologist. He travelled tirelessly, resulting in there being very few places in Qld an archaeologist can go today where Mike had not already documented sites of all descriptions. In this he had a chance that will probably not be available again in the public service. Mike did not waste it: he was looking for particular opportunities and logging places for future research reference.

In 1976 he enrolled in a PhD at The Australian National University (ANU), with Professor John Mulvaney as one of his supervisors. No doubt influenced by Mulvaney, he chose to explore the relationship between rock art and other aspects of the archaeological record in the central Qld highlands, the scene of Mulvaney’s own seminal Pleistocene research a decade or so before. Even in the mid-1970s, the highlands were not an easy area in which to work: remote, bad roads, poor communications. But this did not deter Mike, and his willingness to work in logistically challenging areas remained a hallmark of his career. He pursued his objective with zeal and dedication. His research, involving the recording of more than 90 rock art sites, the excavation of several of these, and the analysis of all the finds, along with one of the first multivariate analyses in Australia (in a period when computers were far from user-friendly), was completed in just three years. Mike’s PhD thesis, entitled ‘Art and Stone: Towards a Prehistory of Central Western Queensland’, was one of the first undertaken in Australia that established an absolute chronology for the art in this, or any, region; he also integrated his results with the other archaeological data he analysed. This led him to argue convincingly that there were three distinct phases in the art dating from the terminal Pleistocene, and that the development of stencilled art in the region coincided with the introduction of what he referred to as the ‘Small Tool Industry’ in the mid-Holocene. Mike’s work with the dating of art, its correlation to other archaeological materials, and the linking of changes in art styles to changes in ritual behaviour and the development of regionalism, became standard fare in discussions of intensification that were just then coming to the fore in Australian archaeology.

His examiners described his thesis as a fine and innovative piece of work. On the basis of this he secured a position at the University of New England (UNE) in 1981, where he remained for over 26 years. As a first step, he prepared a series of papers summarising the results of his work in the highlands. These were highly regarded and are still regularly cited. Following this he initiated a programme of regional projects around Qld, undertaken through the 1980s, with Maidenwell rockshelter and the Gatton rock art site his particular focus. After this he turned his attention to the White Mountains near Hughenden, an area he had tagged as being of interest from his earlier public service career. Here, too, he was meticulous: all his work was published in appropriate detail and his material was catalogued such that others who wanted to consider aspects of his work again could do so—surely the mark of a quality researcher.

It may not always have been obvious, but Mike was focused, determined and suitably ambitious. One paper relating to his southeast Qld research was rejected by an Australian journal. Mike’s response: he offered it unchanged to Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, where it was immediately accepted for publication. Sometimes he betrayed a thin skin to the work of others when it challenged or critiqued his own findings or interpretations. He missed that this was really something of a back-handed compliment: as Oscar Wilde observed, there is only one thing worse than being talked about. He was also yet to learn that a big tree can take a few chops without too much damage. And Mike was becoming a big tree.

After wrapping up the north Qld project he looked towards the Quinkan rock art region in southeast Cape York Peninsula. Here, the multidisciplinary work that was becoming a dominant feature of his research came to the fore. Eschewing the view that a site once dug had probably yielded whatever it had to tell, he re-excavated Mushroom Rock, first dug by Richard Wright in the early 1960s. His instincts that there was more to it were right, and this too became a feature of Mike’s approach, ultimately leading to his career-defining discoveries in Indonesia. He also saw the value of novel dating techniques, such as thermoluminescence (TL) and optically stimulated luminescence (OSL), which were then in their early stages of application in Australia. The results were noteworthy, with dates now amongst the earliest for the occupation of Australia. The Quinkan project resulted in the publication in 1995 of Quinkan Prehistory, a fine monograph documenting the results of the programme in immaculate detail. This would have been a fitting coat hanger for many a career, but not for Mike.

In the early 1990s Mike’s eye was turning elsewhere and to other issues which, at this time, involved questions of the initial colonisation of Australia. To examine this, he turned first to the Kimberley region in Western Australia. This work would also continue his pursuit of the relationship of rock art, his great love, to other aspects of the archaeological record. Again, we find him working in challenging circumstances while maintaining the highest standards of practice. And again, we see his research results suitably captured and catalogued. At the same time he was also preparing for publication in 2002 the results of all his work on rock art in the much admired volume, Visions from the Past, a text that represented the distillation of an aspect of his career which had spanned more than 20 years.

Mike felt, however, that it was time to follow the trail of colonisation back a geographical step and so he looked to eastern Indonesia, and Flores in particular. The demands of this project have been touched on in his writings. He accepted these, political, social and cultural challenges, and developed a close relationship with outstanding Indonesian scholars to advance the project—a mark of the sophistication and sensitivity he possessed.

He immersed himself in the older literature. Sure, various Dutch archaeologists had been active way back when, but it was time to bring a new eye to things. And what did the team he led find? They uncovered sensational evidence that placed Homo erectus east of the Wallace Line. With sites dating back to 1 MYA, he fundamentally challenged our understanding of models of colonisation and the capacities of our early ancestors in terms of water crossings and their general intellectual development. All of this was undertaken with the strong multidisciplinary approach that was now standard in Mike’s research programmes.

Then to the excavations at Liang Bua and the discovery that changed everything for Mike: the ‘Hobbit’ (H. floresiensis). Mike’s team were excavating there because, with that intuition borne of deep knowledge and experience, Mike sensed that there was more to the site than earlier excavations had revealed. The discovery of the Hobbit’s remains, leading to the identification of a new species, sparked massive interest world-wide, as it should have. Highly cited papers were published in Nature in 2004 describing the remains and their context, and numerous other publications followed. The discovery also provoked a backlash, intellectually and politically. As Professor Iain Davidson has observed elsewhere, it opened something of a Pandora’s box in physical anthropology, exposing certain weaknesses in the discipline. The sillier suggestions regarding the Hobbit have now been disposed of and there is general agreement that we are dealing with something new and exciting in human evolution, perhaps the ‘scientific discovery of the century’, as some have called it.

All of this Mike described in some detail in his award winning book, co-authored with Penny van Oosterzee, The Discovery of the Hobbit. With lovely irony, AAA chose in 2007 to award this the Mulvaney book prize, named after Mike’s old mentor and doyen of Australian archaeology. The fame attendant on the discovery of the Hobbit and the demands this placed on him affected Mike little: he faced all this with equanimity and resolve and that same down-to-earth attitude that characterised him as a person. He was finally—belatedly in the opinion of some— accorded professorial status. While all swirled around him, Mike chose not to rise to the bait of either fame or intellectual attack, but continued on, with his team and co-researchers, pursuing the objectives of the larger Indonesian research programme. The data that have been collected and published by Mike and his colleagues is voluminous and impressive. Some has been captured in the edited volume, Faunal and Floral Migration and Evolution in SE Asia-Australia.

In the last phase of his career, Mike moved from UNE to the University of Wollongong in 2007. We are confident that the motives and tides surrounding this break with his home of 26 years were complicated. Mike continued with his Indonesian work, but, characteristically of him (and at a time in life when many field researchers would be hanging up their boots), he also looked to a new project to run in tandem with that in Indonesia. He returned to the Kimberley to follow through on what, for him, was unfinished business, working with new colleagues, some of whom had been his students or been mentored by him early in their careers. Despite knowing he was terminally ill he remained determined, and right to the end was planning his next campaign of fieldwork.

A strong feature of Mike’s approach was ensuring that students had the chance to participate in fieldwork, learning all manner of lessons and techniques that would stand them in good stead when they undertook work of their own. He was enormously approachable and generous with his time and would readily lend materials and share data to assist others whenever he could. At the same time, through his teaching he stirred the imagination of a body of young and enthusiastic students interested in a more scientific, archaeologically-informed approach to the study of rock art. Many of these people have now gone on in their own right to establish substantial professional reputations in this area.

He engaged with Aboriginal groups throughout his career, even in the earliest stages when it was not common practice. His notes of interviews with Aboriginal elders from early work in the central Qld highlands are still of great value. His Indonesian programme had a heavy emphasis on engagement with the local residents and he, and his team, made strong friends with the communities within which they were operating.

In 2012 AAA awarded Mike its highest prize, the Rhys Jones Medal, in recognition of the massive contribution he had made in so many areas of the discipline. When we were drafting the nomination Professor Bert Roberts pointed out that the conditions of the nomination called for it to be a single page. We duly complied but also included the rather lengthy original statement that we had written as ‘background information’: it was easy to write more, rather than less, about what Mike had achieved.

Mike published over 130 papers and four monographs, and had four edited monographs to his name. In 2003 he was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. He was the convener and chairman of the ‘Pleistocene Colonisations Symposium’ at the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association Conference in Hanoi in November 2009. He also stepped up to support professional associations, being elected President of the Australian Rock Art Research Association from 1992 to 2000. Mike was a Professorial Fellow (Archaeology) in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong. He held Adjunct Professorial Fellowships at the University of Western Australia, UNE, Charles Darwin University and Padjadrang University, Bandung.

But none of this sums up Mike. Like everyone, Mike’s personal life had its complications, his perhaps more so than others. Mike was married twice. He had two children, one of whom pre-deceased him, and two grandchildren. To all his family, our deepest sympathies.

We, his friends and colleagues, all have many stories of Mike and his endearing lack of attention to things that others might see as important. We recall Professor Mike Smith telling of pushing past Mrs Davidson, a squatter’s wife in the central Qld highlands, and rushing in to wolf down tea and freshly baked fruit cake after having endured eating only porridge for a week. He and Mike had been trapped by rain at a site and rations had run perilously low. One of us (LG) remembers feeling in need of a blood transfusion after being nearly carted off by mosquitos while sleeping in the open on the Dawson River, all because Mike refused to allow a 10 kg tent to be packed in a two tonne 4WD. For the remainder of the trip we slept with Mike’s six foot plus frame coiled across the front seat, while the other team member occupied the back—Mike accepted this with good grace—our singlets taped over the windows to keep the mozzies at bay. Logistics were not Mike’s strong suit, as we are sure his long-time field collaborator, Doug Hobbs, could attest. He knew his limitations in this regard and made sure others, usually Doug, had these things under control. Who can forget his quirky take on the food groups and what should be combined with what to ensure a balanced and nutritious diet? Or that it was perfectly natural to eat both main course and dessert concurrently? What about the office with its chaos of boxes, books, papers and collected tid-bits? Mike seemed to know just where to lay his hands on anything that was being sought. How about chain smoking 50 cigarettes to finish the packet quickly? He wanted to give up, but was equally determined not to throw them out. A newspaper was never the same once Mike had his way with it.

We also remember him in contemplation at the end of a field day, looking about and seeing who was putting in. This would result in an invitation to participate in the next year’s field season. And sometimes there was a little unexpected gift that lifted morale just when it was needed—a bottle of rum, perhaps, for a few quiet drinks by the fire when others had gone to bed, one of the small pleasures of fieldwork. The company and chat were as much a reward as the drink.

Most of all we remember him sitting back, letting the conversation waft around him, taking it in, not saying too much. Then there would be that little twinkle in his eye, a light grin and chuckle as he amused himself, and out would come some sly witticism or a story to be shared about work in some interesting location and the insights he had drawn from that.

Mate, you were a great archaeologist. Not many were stamped from your mould, more’s the pity. It is unfortunate we did not have more time to tell you this and for you to sit back and enjoy the plaudits you earned.

Mike Morwood’s achievements will stand tall for a long time. Mike deserved his widespread academic acclaim. He is justly known throughout the world for his important discoveries and he has a well-earned reputation in Australia for the quality of his work. Mike had a clear vision, boundless energy to pursue a goal, enthusiasm for the subject, intellectual capacity and rigour, an ability to inspire, a well-informed and well-directed curiosity, and a desire to add to our knowledge and understanding of the discipline. The fruits of his work will continue to ripen as those scholars he nurtured and encouraged make their own contributions. He assumes a place at the pinnacle of Australian and world archaeology.

Investigating subsistence strategies in Ngarrindjeri ruwe through a study of mid- to late Holocene aged shell middens, Long Point, South Australia

LR TA St George 2013050 - image - LP11 A site photo facing SClaire St George

BArch (Hons), Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, October 2009

The Coorong has been the traditional ruwe of the Ngarrindjeri people for thousands of years and is uniquely situated in close proximity to a range of coastal, estuarine and freshwater ecosystems. This ecological biodiversity has resulted in an archaeologically rich and diverse coastal landscape, yet surprisingly little is known about Ngarrindjeri occupation and subsistence in this region prior to the arrival of Europeans. Emerging out of a culturally aware and reflexive approach to archaeology, this research was initiated as an integral component of a larger natural heritage management programme undertaken in collaboration with, and at the request of, the Ngarrindjeri Heritage Committee and the Dapung Talkinjeri Aboriginal Corporation. This thesis explores how shell midden sites at Long Point can contribute to an understanding of Ngarrindjeri occupation and subsistence in the region during the mid- to late Holocene, and hence within the Coorong region as a whole.

Using quantitative methodological approaches to shell midden analysis, this thesis presents the results of field surveys and excavations carried out at Long Point in 2007 and 2008. Occupation was shown to be largely confined to the late Holocene period, post-2500 BP, and comprised predominantly short-term, ephemeral visitation during summer months, with a targeted focus on marine resources. This pattern fits with a proposed period of population expansion and intensification of resource use in the Coorong (Luebbers 1978), as well as more general changes known to have occurred across Australia during the mid to late Holocene. As there had been no systematic archaeological investigations within the Coorong since Luebbers’ work, this thesis builds upon his preliminary investigations. This thesis also contributes to a regional and broader continental narrative on coastal archaeology during the Holocene, including wider academic archaeological debates surrounding intensification.


Luebbers, R.A. 1978 Meals and Menus: A Study of Change in Prehistoric Coastal Settlement in South Australia. Unpublished PhD thesis, Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, The Faculties, The Australian National University, Canberra.

Reduced to Tools: A technological study of two stone artefact assemblages from Lake Mungo, Australia

LR TA Roy 201361 - image - lunetteLouisa Roy

 BArch(Hons), Archaeology Program, La Trobe University, June 2013

An analysis of two stone artefact assemblages from the Willandra Lakes Region World Heritage Area provides the basis for a study of technological organisation at Lake Mungo. The two assemblages were originally collected and analysed by Allen (1972) for his PhD thesis. One assemblage originates from the southern end of the Mungo lunette, whilst the other originates from the western shoreline. Allen used a typological and culture historical framework, current at the time he undertook his research, to analyse and interpret the assemblages. He identified recurring artefact forms at both sites from which continuities in technology and tool-kits were inferred. This contributed to the formal definition of the ‘Australian Core Tool and Scraper Tradition’, which was considered to be typical of many Pleistocene Australian assemblages. Since this time, researchers have built a more complete picture of Pleistocene stone technologies, and Hiscock and Allen’s (2000) reassessment of Allen’s original data suggested that there were in fact differences in the assemblages that could be interpreted as differences in stoneworking activities at the two locations.

This study re-analysed the artefacts from the Walls of China and Mungo Backshore assemblages to investigate technological   organisation at Lake Mungo. The results suggest that a large part of the reduction sequence occurred on the western shoreline. Suitable large cores and specifically shaped flakes were then selected, and possibly transported to the lunette. Once cores were on the lunette, they were reduced to a greater extent compared to those in the western shoreline assemblage. Some measures of tool resharpening showed that tools on the lunette were rejuvenated more than the western shoreline, although other measures showed no difference between the two locations.


Allen, H. 1972 Where the Crow Flies Backwards: Man and Land in the Darling Basin. Unpublished PhD thesis, Department of Prehistory, Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian National University, Canberra.

Hiscock, P. and H. Allen 2000 Assemblage variability in the Willandra Lakes. Archaeology in Oceania 35:97–103.

Diverse and Constantly Changing: A Study of Technological Organisation at Nawarla Gabarnmang

LR TA Matthews 2013055 - image - Nawarla Gabarnmang 2012Jacqueline M. Matthews

BA(Hons), School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, May 2013

This thesis examines the lithic technology of Nawarla Gabarnmang, a rockshelter in Jawoyn Country, Arnhem Land, with evidence for human occupation spanning ~45,000 years ago through to the present. The colonisation of Sahul was an important event in the story of anatomically and behaviourally modern humans. Despite the demonstrated behavioural and symbolic complexity of the earliest occupants, traditional approaches to Australian archaeology have emphasised the static and simplistic nature of Pleistocene technology, contrasting it with an inventive Holocene period.

This project provides new evidence on this issue by examining the lithic assemblage from Nawarla Gabarnmang to investigate technological complexity and change in Australian prehistory. This project utilised debitage attribute analysis, coupled with the theoretical framework of technological organisation, to explain the nature of variation in the lithic assemblage through time. Results indicate that the sequence from Nawarla Gabarnmang demonstrates a flexible and adaptive approach to technology across time, with changing technological strategies emerging partially in response to variation in environmental contexts.

Overall, this thesis demonstrates that Pleistocene technology in Australia was part of a flexible land-use strategy that addressed the challenges of making a living in a landscape of changing resource structure. The findings of this thesis emphasise the value of continuing to test previous assumptions about the nature of Pleistocene Aboriginal societies, and has provided new evidence that further challenges the notion of a simple twostage sequence and a unilinear trajectory towards complexity in Australian lithic technology.

Indigenous Nation-Building and Landscape Archaeology on Ngadjuri Country

LR TA Lower 2013060 - image - Ngadjuri IMG_6589Kylie Lower

 M. Archaeology, Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, November 2009

The European diaspora had devastating effects for Indigenous populations around the globe. Many groups faced forced assimilation, dispossession of traditional lands, policies aimed at halting cultural transmission between generations, death by disease and outright massacre. In many parts of the world, the effects of colonisation were massive in scale and still impact the lives of groups and individuals today. One such group, the Ngadjuri of South Australia, were largely removed from their Country by the late 1800s through the European colonisation of their traditional lands. The community is now in the process of returning to Country and building a modern Ngadjuri Nation. This project is a facet of this nation-building process.

This research includes a basic landscape study, conducted with site information for Ngadjuri Country obtained from the Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Division (AARD), and community-based field trips. With this information, a GIS database was created which the author has managed on behalf on the community since 2008. The landscape analysis has highlighted the location of documented sites in relation to several variables, including general environment, access to water, vegetation and ground slope, as well as identifying site distribution based on site type. This work adds to the bodies of literature regarding landscape archaeology and Indigenous nation-building, as well as contributing to studies of Indigenous land-use on the Australian continent. The research has found that assisting a community to acquire control of information regarding archaeological sites and past landscape use on their Country can aid in several facets of Indigenous nation building which include, but are not limited to, the transmission of cultural knowledge, heritage management, self-determination, and the assertion and authentication of cultural identity within broader society.

Review of ‘Archaeologies of Mobility and Movement’ edited by Mary C. Beaudry and Travis G. Parno

LR-Beaudry-and-Parno-Arch-of-Mobilty-300dpiArchaeologies of Mobility and Movement
, edited by Mary C. Beaudry and Travis G. Parno, 2013,  Contributions to Global Historical Archaeology series, Springer, New York 265 pp. ISBN 978-1-4614-6211-8.

Reviewed by Thomas G. Whitley

Archaeology/Centre for Rock Art Research and Management, School of Social Sciences, University of Western Australia, Crawley WA 6009, Australia

I should start this review by first acknowledging that my approach to archaeology is very much spatial. My analytical and interpretive tool of preference is geographical information systems (GIS), typically in the form of complex spatial models and cognitive landscapes. Therefore, my understanding of mobility and movement is usually expressed within actual physical, modelled or even conceptual environments, with an emphasis on interpretation in a mapped visual form. This volume edited by Mary C. Beaudry and Travis G. Parno takes an explicitly non-spatial approach to mobility and movement, which seems on the face of it, to be a contradiction. But perhaps there is more to the story.

My immediate thoughts on first reading through each of the chapters was to think of ways in which the analysis being presented could be visualised within an interpretive, yet immersive, spatial environment. There are clearly ways in which this could be achieved for each of the subjects involved—some chapters more easily than others. I thought each of the authors could benefit from taking their analysis to the next step, so to speak, and generate some interesting visualisations for exactly the kinds of interpretations they were making. Specifically, introducing network analysis and an immersive understanding of dynamical attractors would be appropriate for several of them; however, this was me naturally placing other people’s research within the narrow confines of my own understanding. I think we all do that, and in such a way that we reactively imagine that we could improve upon it, or might take a different approach. My instinct then was to place these interpretations in a different framework—one where spatial depictions are much more prominent.

But is that necessarily the most appropriate means of making the salient points? As I delved further into each of the contributions it became clear that there is an emphasis on the psycho-social elements related to mobility and movement, not the act/action of moving itself, which perhaps opens up an entirely different window on the subject. By taking the focus away from the act of moving (and its spatial depiction), each analysis is able to examine and interpret the psychological importance of distance, displacement and social identity. For that contribution especially, this volume is both stimulating and noteworthy. I certainly do not believe that it is somehow limiting to present idiosyncratic, or one-off, cognitive spatial dynamics in a mapped depiction (I have done that very thing on several occasions—maybe not always successfully). But it is true that we tend to interpret visual displays of cognitive spatial dynamics (even idiosyncratic ones) as normative generalisations or group actions, not the contextual expression of individuals. Although interpretations of agency and the individual can be portrayed spatially, they do come off as simplifications of complex social or cognitive issues. This is very much the case when one considers the concepts of nostalgia, longing, loss, disconnection and powerlessness that are among the primary foci of this volume of papers. Despite the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words, it is still very difficult to get a map (or series of them) to represent some of these very complex ideas. So perhaps my knee-jerk reaction to want more visual analysis was both unwarranted and short-sighted.

In a chapter by chapter review, rather than summarising the entirety of each paper (which is admirably done in Chapter 1 by the Editors, Beaudry and Parno), and providing my own judgment on its success, I would like to emphasise one or more concepts that I felt were particularly interesting from each, and which stimulated thoughts on how I might incorporate such ideas into my own research.

In Chapter 2, Visa Immonen introduces the idea of desire for connection to a distanced, or lost, identity for members of a social or cultural diaspora as represented by certain material objects. These objects at home have little of the same power to represent an ethnic or group identity. This is contrasted with the shifting social and currency value of these items within the Indigenous community at the time. The chapter is an excellent example of how the meaning, and power, of objects may vary dramatically with respect to their context and distance.

Scott Joseph Allen, in Chapter 3, provides an analysis of the difficulty of interpreting the complexity and diversity of material culture and its social meaning. Rather than an absolutist approach to defining the ‘ethnicity’ of artefacts, we need to consider the context of their manufacture, use and discard, to understand the fuzzy interface between cultures during the process of contact and colonisation.

Chapter 4, by Oscar Aldred, uses a fairly recent (mid-nineteenth to early twentieth century) case study to illustrate connectedness, organisation, expressions of ownership and the movement of both people and commercial property as an operational mechanism. This chapter is one of the most spatially explicit in its approach, though it is clear that the interpretation is meant to be viewed from the perspective of flexibility and the dynamic adaptability of Icelandic sheep farmers.

In Chapter 5, Ronald Salzer builds inferences from the remains of a specific scientific instrument, and its context, to understand the larger concepts and importance of both measuring time and the travel to, and interaction with, distant places. The results not only have meaning for the movement of people and goods for commercial or political purposes, but also for the increasing materiality of the landed gentry and their place within the evolution of science and the Enlightenment.

Chieh-fu Jeff Cheng and Ellen Hsieh tackle a series of interesting topics in Chapter 6. These include the concept of political displacement, the eventual loss of identity, the manifestation of its memory and implementation of new ways to preserve or interpret its remnants. As a much more recent application of archaeology to the highly urbanised environment of modern Taiwan, it specifically takes the perspective that there are several approaches to preserving the memory, or social life, of lost communities.

Chapter 7, by Mats Burström, looks at a specific activity, or the actions of individuals, that occurred in the face of war-time displacement. Over time, and with disconnection, the burial of objects to protect them for later use transformed from a practical opportunity, to one where the items held mostly nostalgic associations. In a sense, this is a reiteration of the notion presented in Chapter 2 that the power and social meaning of objects changes with context and distance. But in this case, the objects themselves never moved. Instead, it was the memories attached to those objects that were carried by the original owners and that changed over time.

Craig N. Cipolla, in Chapter 8, approaches the concept of ethnogenesis by examining the breakdown of traditional communities and their movement to new locales. This is followed by the realignment of ethnic identities, the creation of new communities and the development of novel behavioural and material practices. As someone who has specifically worked in the area of North American Contact Period migrations and native community dissolution, this chapter was quite enlightening as to the process of ‘becoming’ for the Brothertown Indians, and especially their spatial expression of it. Like Chapter 4, this paper was somewhat more spatially oriented than most of the other chapters.

In Chapter 9, Sean Winter addresses the issues of scale in the archaeological interpretation of, and the contrast between, global and local expressions of confinement; and more specifically the system of, and motivations for, convict transportation. This also includes the management of a removed population, and within the context of British colonial objectives. Of prime importance in this chapter, and an important lesson for the reader to take away, is that we, as archaeologists, are sometimes not aware of the ways in which both sites and material objects may differ quite distinctly in their meaning or significance with regard to their local versus regional or global contexts. Importantly, those scales of reference can change dramatically even over short time periods or distances.

Chapter 10, by Karen A. Hutchins, addresses the action of creating cultural marginality or the movement of people to the edges of their community. This creates a disconnected identity for those people, whatever their reason for liminality from the original group. Hutchins examines this life at the edges, and highlights an archaeological case study where the marginalised were forced to define a new identity which they could embrace. This chapter is a strong reminder that we should not paint archaeological pictures that always treat communities as monolithic or necessarily uniform.

Magdalena Naum undertakes to examine homesickness in Chapter 11. This is a more explicit analysis of the concept of nostalgia that was already highlighted or touched upon in several of the other chapters. By addressing the nostalgic value of specific personal items, she illustrates how material objects often have more than a functional or monetary value, and once again, how the power of nostalgia can be amplified both by distance and the specific context within which it operates.

In Chapter 12, authors John F. Cherry, Krysta Ryzewski and Luke J. Pecoraro provide a fascinating discussion of AIR Studios, Montserrat, as a node of movement for the modern day music industry. Whereas the previous chapters in this volume focus on the movements of objects or people from one place to another, this and the following chapters,look at the location itself as a conduit through which the movements of both people and objects took place. Naturally, the emphasis in this chapter is eventually placed upon the significance of the site as a means to evoke a sense of ‘sacredness’ and nostalgia through a cultural association with the music that was created there.

Chapter 13, by Travis G. Parno, presents several case studies looking at how modern day visitors move through, and experience, historical house museums. Using both surveys and demographic data, Parno contrasts the authenticity of historical reconstruction with the visitor’s perception of it. This provides an interesting discussion on the nature of historical narratives and the development of interpretive plans. This is another reminder that perception and reality may be very different, for people today as well as in the past.

Christina J. Hodge, in Chapter 14, looks at interaction and daily activities within the setting of the Harvard Indian College. Structured movement according to schedule and agenda was a means by which external control was manifest. Hodge goes on to place the college in the cultural landscape of the time as an example of an ‘individually and collectively created’ place situated within the larger context of Harvard Yard.

In Chapter 15, Alexander Keim addresses the urban landscape and the movement of individuals through it as an example of practice theory. By looking specifically at personal adornment and presentation, Keim suggests that dandies in nineteenth century Boston were engaged in ‘practice’ by not just their exaggerated adornments, but also the ways in which they moved through the urban landscape. This effort to be seen and to express a specific identity can be linked to the material objects they left behind; providing a more complete understanding, and interpretation, of particularly commercial goods in archaeological settings.

The afterword (Chapter 16) by Shannon Lee Dawdy, although short, is an excellent summary of the major trajectories of the papers in this volume. It was, in fact, upon reading this chapter for the first time that I began to recognise the overall impact that these contributions could make to my own understanding of mobility and movement. When you can say that a thematic collection of research papers has made you think about something you deal with every day in new and interesting ways, then you would have to conclude it is a very worthwhile read.


Review of ‘Heritage: Critical Approaches’ by Rodney Harrison and ‘The Nature of Heritage: The New South Africa’ by Lynn Meskell

LR Harrison critical approaches - CopyHeritage: Critical Approaches, by Rodney Harrison, 2013, Routledge, Abingdon, 268 pp. ISBN 978-0-415-59197-3.
The Nature of Heritage: The New South Africa, Lynn Meskell, 2012, Wiley-Blackwell,  Chichester, 257 pp. ISBN 978-0-470-67072-9.

LR Meskell Nature of Heritage Wiley version 100dpReview by Keir Reeves

Federation University, PO Box 663, Ballarat Vic. 3350, Australia

Rodney Harrison’s Heritage: Critical Approaches is an important and timely addition to heritage studies. Drawing on his background as an academic, field-based practitioner and heritage expert in America, the United Kingdom and Australia, Harrison sets out to provide an overview for understanding the polymorphous nature of heritage in the opening decades of the twenty-first century. The critical theoretical and political turn in heritage studies is currently a topical one that Harrison describes as the discourse of heritage and refers to as the ‘discursive turn’ (p.9). In many respects, the discursive turn constitutes a reformulation of the discipline, as well as an overdue attempt to theorise the field. Harrison’s book stands above many other similar publications because it quite overtly uses case studies to explain complex conceptual positions about heritage and doesn’t eschew the importance of material culture, despite recent trends to embrace intangible heritage.

There are many ‘straw men’ in the still nascent field of heritage studies (like many emergent and recent disciplines), for instance criticism of the World Heritage Convention and the role of UNESCO agencies such as ICOMOS, yet Harrison resists them all, instead opting to provide a sustained analysis of critical heritage. Whereas some researchers invoke the need for theory as part of a hermeneutic discussion without contextualising the need for it, Harrison actually theorises and historicises Western epistemologies of heritage studies. In this respect, the approach of this book sits comfortably alongside Laurajane Smith and Emma Waterton’s recent work, as well as Smith and Logan’s edited series, Key Issues in Cultural Heritage.

Highlights of the book include the emphasis upon, and analysis of, crises in heritage that have occurred in recent decades, discussion of the antecedents of the World Heritage movement and the implications of the two World Heritage Conventions. In his chapter titled ‘Heritage and the Problem of Memory’, Harrison persuasively argues the need to open ‘the canonical status of heritage registers and lists to debate, in the hope that this will promote a more informed engagement’. A subtle criticism of the book, and this is more by way of an observation, is that some of the work regarding heritage and memory has already occurred in other academic conversations. Harrison’s discussion of commemoration would have benefited from an engagement with the memory work undertaken in historical studies and other allied disciplines.

This is a comprehensive book, thoughtfully structured into sections and clearly delineated conceptual chapters. It will be of great benefit for cultural heritage academics, archaeologists, historians, museologists, government heritage agencies, and both undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as those with a specialised lay interest in heritage strategies at grass roots and local government levels. Perhaps the wide audience reveals the underlying strength of this book, which is that it successfully seeks to connect seemingly disparate groupings within heritage studies with a view to bringing new meaning and critical appraisals to the field. Clearly Harrison has written an engaging and thoughtful book that raises many issues, including heritage and sustainability, human rights and also the democratised processes of heritage management that are best understood as problems in the present day. Pleasingly the book has been given a paperback edition, making it accessible for the wide range of audiences that it addresses. Too often the ubiquitous blue covers of many Routledge offerings seem destined (understandably for technical research-oriented books) for university library shelves, but in this instance the Press is to be commended for such a contemporary cover design.

Whereas Harrison’s Heritage: Critical Approaches is an overview of heritage and its present day manifestations, Stanford-based archaeologist Lynn Meskell’s Nature of Heritage, The New South Africa is, as its title and cover (of Karin Miller’s African Princess artwork) suggests, rooted in a close reading of South Africa. The book is also a meditation on the often difficult relationship between cultural and natural heritage, and the application of these values to present-day heritage policy and practice. This approach is understandable given that the premise of much of Meskell’s previous work has been on the importance of conceptualising contemporary archaeological practice as a kind of social practice, for example the contemporary cultural stance of Indigenous peoples.

The chapter titled ‘Thulamela: The Donors, the Archaeologist, his Gold and the Flood’ neatly encapsulates the three key themes of the book in an engaging field-based case study of the Iron Age archaeological site of Thulamela, situated in Kruger National Park. In this chapter Meskell deftly takes the reader through the redemptive possibility and ultimate failings of heritage as a reconciliation policy, and the triumph of natural values over cultural ones (a familiar theme observed internationally and often grounded in the institutional logic of bureaucratic policy regimes), as well as the commercial and socio-economic imperatives of the site.

Particularly moving is Meskell’s lament that the decline of the site is ‘the material evidence of disregard for a decade-old project of rehabilitation and reconciliation: that too seems strangled by weeds’ (p.174). The author’s questioning of her role, and that of others, in the field during the process of excavating, conserving, interpreting and sustaining Thulamela as an archaeological cultural heritage site is important and sobering reading for cultural heritage practitioners and field-based researchers of all disciplinary persuasions. Moreover, Meskell’s insightful book ultimately paints a bleak picture of the current state of natural and cultural heritage in South Africa. This is an outlook that seems to reflect her own observation that the mid-1990s political potential of Rainbow Nation enthusiasm for a reconstituted nation has faded and, in turn, has been replaced by the rhetoric of making heritage pay and the ‘real discovery in South Africa, that natural ecologies supplanted peopled histories and contemporary social urgencies despite the widespread calls for historical justice, education and African pride, and the benefit sharing that Mandela inspired South Africans to forge’ (p.204).

There are two paradoxes that interweave these two books. The first is that Harrison’s broad overview that develops ‘three interlinked themes—connection, materiality and dialogue—as ways of thinking about what heritage is and does in contemporary societies’, actually provides a conceptual touchstone for site specific heritage practice and policy in the present day (p.227). Conversely, Meskell’s book examines the relationship between nature and heritage by explicitly focusing on South Africa, particularly Kruger National Park, yet in the process offers a much wider assessment of cultural heritage and the raison d’etre of field-based research in contested sites in the early decades of the twenty-first century. Fittingly, both authors conclude their respective books with potential pathways to deal with future crises in heritage.

Review of ‘Entangled’ by Ian Hodder and ‘Archaeological Theory in Practice’ by Patricia Urban and Edward Schortmann

BC Hodder Entangled Wiley version 100dpiEntangled: An Archaeology of the Relationships between Humans and Things, Ian Hodder, 2012,Wiley-Blackwell, Malden. ISBN-10 0470672129; ISBN-13 978-0470672129.
Archaeological Theory in Practice, by Patricia Urban and Edward Schortmann, 2012  Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek. ISBN 9781598746280 (hbk); ISBN 9781598746297 (pbk).

Reviewed by Martin Porr

BC Urban Arch Theory in Practice 100 dpiArchaeology/Centre for Rock Art Research and Management, School of Social Sciences, University of Western Australia, Crawley WA 6009, Australia

Theoretical archaeology is dead. We do not require theoretical archaeology as a separate field anymore. Everyone in the discipline today accepts that it is impossible only to deal with theoretical and abstract concepts without engaging with material evidence. Everyone equally accepts that it is impossible to engage with material evidence, objects, landscape and so on in direct and unmediated form without reference to concepts, classifications, notions or explanations. Archaeology is in a phase of epistemological pragmatism (Preucel and Mrozowski 2010). The days of the heated and antagonistic debates within archaeology appear to be over. It seems to me that virtually everybody in the archaeological community finds the opposition between processual and post-processual archaeologies and approaches deeply counter-productive. Perhaps as a consequence of increasing pragmatism in other areas of our globalised world, the field appears more fragmented and less driven by overarching paradigms. The aforementioned volume does not approach today’s theoretical landscape in archaeology from the perspective of epistemological perspective, but along fields of inquiry and practice. Ideas and theories seem to be regarded as a collection of tools that can be applied to different problems and in different contexts rather than as reflections of exclusive world views. It is not the place here to discuss this shift in greater detail, but I tend to regard this development largely as a good thing. It considerably opens up archaeological inquiry to explore interpretative and methodological opportunities beyond ideological limitations. We can concentrate on the themes that archaeologists are best equipped to deal with: peoples’ engagements with materials, things, evidence, concepts and ideas and so on through time.

The first book in this review, Entangled: An Archaeology of the Relationships between Humans and Things by Ian Hodder (2012a), has exactly those entanglements as its central theme. It is also aimed at approaching these beyond old ideological frontiers. Hodder is one of the most influential archaeologists of our era, and he has been so for several decades now. Since his seminal influence on the establishment of the so-called ‘post-processual archaeology’ (Hodder 1985), he has overall stayed away from more radical developments that have especially characterised the earlier phase of post-processualism (Bapty and Yates 1990; Shanks and Tilley 1992a, 1992b). In the more recent past he has mostly operated as a commentator and facilitator within the realm of ‘theoretical archaeology’ (Hodder 2012b), whilst continuing to direct the Çatalhöyük project as a scientific, as well as collaborative and reflective, exercise. Apart from all the other significant contributions generated, this is probably the most prominent, large-scale archaeological project that explicitly integrates central claims that have been put forward since the inception of the post-processual movement, with an emphasis on reflexivity and its continuing integration into ongoing archaeological project work (see <>).

His book Entangled continues in this spirit. It is not a radicalisation, but quite the opposite. At the centre of this project is the aim to integrate approaches that traditionally (and clearly unfortunately) have been divided into processual and post-processual. As the full title suggests, the notion of entanglement serves as an integrating concept to describe and analyse the dynamic ‘relationships between humans and things’. It also serves to bring into the framework approaches that usually have had a strained relationship with the post-processual project, such as human behavioural ecology or evolutionary ecology. The term appeared in Darwin’s concluding paragraphs of The Origins of Species, in which he famously referred to ‘an entangled bank’ to emphasise the notion that all organisms are ‘dependent on each other in so complex a manner’ (Hodder 2012a:89). Traditionally, authors in evolutionary biology have concentrated on the second aspect of Darwin’s conclusion, the assertion that life’s diverse forms ‘have all been produced by laws acting around us’ [citation, emphasis added], an orientation that has consequently dominated the integration of evolutionary approaches into archaeology (Binford 2001; Shennan 2008, 2012). More recently, attempts have gained momentum to question the narrow paradigm of Neo-Darwinism, and Jablonka (2011) has used the image of Darwin’s entangled bank to stress the dynamic interrelationships between organic and inorganic entities, organisms and their environments in the context of an exploration of niche construction in human evolution. It is no accident that the latter idea is also explored in Hodder’s book in discussing ‘evolution and the persistence of things’ (Chapter 7). They serve to question the idea of essential categories and are aimed at replacing them with fluid, dynamic and ongoing interactions between humans and things and their mutual constitution.

The extensive use of the term ‘thing’ (as opposed to material culture, artefacts and objects) follows a similar logic. Hodder (2012a:8–10) mentions Heidegger’s observation that ‘thing’ meant ‘gathering place’ in Old High German, a place where members of the community came together to deliberate and make decisions. In this sense, a thing is a product of the confluence of dynamic life-lines that constitute its existence relationally, and not as a reflection of an internal essence. These dynamisms are at the centre of Hodder’s book and are illustrated with a wide range of examples, always returning to the complex record of Çatalhöyük.

The influences on Hodder’s work are certainly too numerous to discuss appropriately here. A few of those explicitly mentioned in the book are Martin Heidegger, Pierre Lemonnier, Marilyn Strathern, Nicholas Thomas and particularly Bruno Latour’s (2005) Actor-Network-Theory (Hodder 2012a:88–94). The latter is discussed in greater detail in the volume, because it provides probably the most important inspiration due to the ‘focus on relationality rather than on apparent fixed and essential dualisms such as truth and falsehood, agency and structure, human and non-human, before and after, knowledge and power, context and content, materiality and sociality, activity and passivity’ (Hodder 2012a:90). Hodder (2012a:94) himself does not argue for a full symmetry between all those elements mentioned above and a ‘total mixing of humans and things in networks and meshes’. He rather prefers a less radical perspective that assumes contingent material properties that present affordances for human engagements. As these affordances are related to the physical properties of materials and objects, they can be analysed and linked to processes of production, use and discard over time and in space. In this way, they provide numerous possibilities for archaeological inference. Given this orientation, it appears slightly surprising that the work of Tim Ingold is not given greater room in Hodder’s book, as he has developed a comparable project over the last decades with a similar emphasis on the notions of relationality and affordances (Ingold 1998, 2000, 2011). He also presented a comparable critique of the Actor-Network-Theory (Ingold 2008).

Nevertheless, I do have a lot of sympathies for Hodder’s approach and I found it inspiring and interesting. It is almost impossible, though, to do justice to such a complex and dense piece of work in a few words. Hodder attempts to question the implicit essentialism that infuses most archaeological thinking, simply through the existence of classificatory schemes. Neither humans nor objects are stable entities, ‘there are only flows of matter, energy and information’ (Hodder 2012a:4). Naturally, this leads to methodological challenges, which are clearly underdeveloped and not addressed in great detail in this book. As this is not its main aim, I can accept it foremost as a conceptual and theoretical exploration that naturally lacks in detail and is in constant danger of becoming superficial. For others, this might be a weakness; I tend to see it as a strength.

The second book reviewed here is very different in scope and character, even though it also deals with archaeological theory. Archaeological Theory in Practice by Urban and Schortmann (2012) is very much a standard introductory text book in the field and does not make any apologies for it. The authors state in their introduction that the book is aimed at conveying to undergraduate students ‘the nature, goals, and uses of archaeological theory’ (p.9). It is written as a reaction to the observation that theory is regarded by students generally as ‘something akin to taking medicine: important but nothing to look forward to’. Consequently, the authors have made a very considered attempt to make their introduction into theory as easily digestible as possible.

The book is very well structured and presented. The chapters are organised around themes and progress from more general concepts, such as ‘theory, perception and explanation’ in relation to world views in general and in the social sciences in particular, to case studies that serve to illustrate how theoretical concepts have impacted archaeological (field) projects. These case studies are aimed to show the relationships between theory, research design, methods, data and results. As both authors are based and work in the US there is a focus among the latter on North American examples, a situation which is, however, balanced by the inclusion of an extensive section on Stonehenge. There are annotated sections with the most relevant literature and boxes with concise summaries about important personalities (e.g. Ian Hodder, of course).

The overall theme of ‘theory in practice’ is convincingly presented. The book is strong in presenting and discussing the links between practical and theoretical aspects of archaeology in an accessible, and sometimes entertaining, way. My own experience with teaching theoretical concepts in archaeology to undergraduate students shows that it can be particularly challenging having to learn the epistemological foundations of theoretical approaches in archaeology at the same time as their applications (and specific materials involved). This book succeeds in bringing these aspects together. I can recommend this book to any student or archaeologist who is looking for an accessible introduction to theoretical concepts in archaeological practice. Will this help in understanding the basics of archaeological theory? Probably. Will you be inspired? Probably not. The authors themselves do not present a clear and innovative vision for the field, which makes the book a solid teaching and introductory resource—nothing more, nothing less.

I personally enjoyed Hodder’s book much more, because of its vision and breadth of engagement with different explanatory frameworks and disciplines, but in the end, comparing these two books in such a way is a bit unfair, because they have been written with very different aims in mind. If you have very little experience with archaeological theory, starting with Archaeological Theory in Practice is a good choice. If you have been following the relevant discussions of the last decades and want to know where the present discussion is heading, read Entangled. While we do not need theoretical archaeology as a separate field of inquiry, we cannot stop reflecting on our understanding of the causes of human behaviour or practices in our (re)constructions of the past. We need to continue to engage with the ways we conceptualise human beings and their actions in the past as well as the present. It does not matter if we call this theoretical archaeology or not. It is really that simple.


Bapty, I. and T. Yates (eds) 1990 Archaeology after Structuralism: Post-Structuralism and the Practice of Archaeology. London: Routledge.

Binford, L.R. 2001 Constructing Frames of Reference: An Analytical Method for Archaeological Theory Building Using Hunter-Gatherer and Environmental Data Sets. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Hodder, I. 1985 Post-processual archaeology. Advances in Archaeological Method and Theory 8:1–26.

Hodder, I. 2012a Entangled. An Archaeology of the Relationships between Humans and Things. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

Hodder, I. (ed.) 2012b Archaeological Theory Today. Cambridge: Polity.

Ingold, T. 1998 From complementarity to obviation: On dissolving the boundaries between social and biological anthropology, archaeology and psychology. Zeitschrift für Ethnologie 123:21–52.

Ingold, T. 2000 The Perception of the Environment. Essays in Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill. London and New York: Routledge.

Ingold, T. 2008 When ANT meets SPIDER: Social theory for arthopods. In C. Knappett and L. Malafouris (eds), Material Agency: Towards a Non-Anthropogenic Approach, pp.209–216. New York: Springer.

Ingold, T. 2011 Being Alive. Essays on Movement, Knowledge and Description. London and New York: Routledge.

Jablonka, E. 2011 The entangled (and constructed) human bank. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 366:784.

Latour, B. 2005 Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Preucel, R.W. and S.A. Mrozowski (eds) 2010 Contemporary Archaeology in Theory. The New Pragmatism. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell.

Shanks, M. and C. Tilley 1992a Re-Constructing Archaeology: Theory and Practice. London: Routledge.

Shanks, M. and C. Tilley 1992b Social Theory and Archaeology. London: Routledge.

Shennan, S.J. 2008 Evolution in archaeology. Annual Review of Anthropology 37:75–91.

Shennan, S.J. 2012 Darwinian cultural evolution. In I. Hodder (ed.), Archaeological Theory Today, pp.15–36. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Urban, P. and E. Schortmann 2012 Archaeological Theory in Practice. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press.

Review of ‘Interpreting Ground-Penetrating Radar for Archaeology’ by Lawrence B. Conyers

GPR-for-Archaeology-cover-LRInterpreting Ground-Penetrating Radar for Archaeology 
by Lawrence B. Conyers, 2011, Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, 220 pp. ISBN 978-1-61132-216-3 (hbk).

Review by Ian Moffat

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

This guide to ground-penetrating radar (GPR) interpretation for archaeology by the foremost practitioner in this field, Professor Larry Conyers from the University of Denver, is a lavishly illustrated, engaging written essential addition to any budding or practising archaeological geophysicist’s bookshelf. Conyers writes in a lively and easy-to-read style that eschews jargon and will facilitate any reader learning more about how GPR surveys are (or should be) interpreted, regardless of their level of geophysical experience.

In the interests of full disclosure, I should confess that my decision to give this book a positive review was made while reading the preface, where Conyers (2012:15) states:

Some of the new recruits to GPR research are under the erroneous impression that once they have access to the acquisition equipment, they can go out and collect some data, process it, using software that leads them through a number of processing steps, and–presto!–useful images can be magically produced.

In this statement Conyers punctures the greatest popular misconception about the use of GPR, before going on, throughout the course of this book, to provide readers with a detailed critical insight into the methodology behind, and the results from, a large number of his own GPR surveys. As a result, this is an intensely personal book, almost a GPR autobiography, in which Conyers discusses these surveys in terms of the development of his own intellectual approach to geophysics, particularly (and honestly) highlighted by his mistakes along the way. As Conyers was one of the first operators to apply GPR to archaeological questions, this book also serves as a history of the development of this approach, driven often by the availability of new acquisition and processing methodologies or technology.

The greatest strength of this book is the superbly presented images, which showcase a wide range of GPR data, as well as many images of the sites from which it was collected. This provides a practical introduction to the GPR response in profile and amplitude maps from a variety of archaeological and geological features which will be an invaluable guide to any interpreter of geophysical data. This is particularly highlighted in the chapter titled ‘Graves and Cemeteries’ (pp.129–152), which includes a wide range of GPR profiles showing possible burials including coffins, an arched casket, a crypt, a concrete-lined crypt, a metal casket, a decomposed burial, soil slumping in a grave, homogenised grave-fill, bones, a mass grave and a direct comparison between caskets with and without a void space. Such a treasure trove of comparative data demonstrates the diversity of GPR responses from graves, hopefully broadening the mind of an interpreter beyond a simple ‘anomaly picking’ methodology.

It is difficult to find fault with this excellent volume, but it is important to recognise this as a personal introduction to GPR interpretation, rather than a comprehensive overview of the technique and its archaeological application. It draws very extensively on Conyers’ own publications, rather than summarising the relevant literature overall. In my opinion, this enhances rather than detracts from the book; readers seeking a more general overview to the topic can find it elsewhere, including in Conyers’ own earlier book (Conyers 2004).

This book will be an essential reference for anyone actively applying GPR techniques in archaeology but reaches beyond this (very limited) demographic to become an essential resource for anyone collaborating with geophysicists or, most importantly, trying to gain an understanding of what GPR might contribute to their archaeological investigation.


Conyers, L.B. 2004 Ground-Penetrating Radar for Archaeology. Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press

Review of Structured Worlds: The Archaeology of Hunter-Gatherer Thought and Action by Aubrey Cannon (ed.)


Structured Worlds coverStructured Worlds: The Archaeology of Hunter-Gatherer Thought and Action by Aubrey Cannon (ed.)Equinox Publishing, Sheffield England, 2011, ISBN 9781845530808, 212 pp.

Reviewed by Colin Pardoe

Visiting Fellow, The Australian National University, Canberra ACT 0200, Australia

The volume aims to examine ‘integrated relationships among people, landscapes, places, animals and ancestors’ (p.4). The editor speaks of ‘the sense of identity, purpose, values and well-being that comes from knowing one’s place in relation to others and to a continuum of existence in space and time’ (p.5). I’m starting to get worried. There is an unvoiced stress on holism rather than reductionism. I’m thinking ‘what’s wrong with reductionism?’ On the first page we come perilously close to the investigation of what people were thinking—‘patterns of thought’. I don’t want to get bogged down in the details of these peoples’ lives; truth to say, I don’t actually care what they were thinking. But actions speak louder than words in the archaeological record and so we come to a book decoding the murmurs of hunters (hunter-gatherers, gatherer-hunters, forager-gatherer-hunters) of the northern latitudes.

Some parts of the various introductory sections illustrate the agony of academia, or perhaps the ecstasy of the social theorist. We have constructed oppositional frameworks as a means of learning and discourse—environment vs culture, technology vs arts, thought vs action—all well-known to the old Marxists, of course. Such methods have served us well in politics, law and science. So is this a volume redressing supposed excesses of environmental determinism and technological constraint, or should one give oppositional perspectives the flick as annoying affectations that detract from the main event?

The focus of most of the authors is particularistic: the histories of single groups of people. The universal humanism of processualism becomes a backdrop against which these histories are played out. And yet there are universalist themes lurking. Mobility is addressed, but in a rather apologetic manner, where people choose to move around, rather than being required to in the effort of making a living and a future for their group. So we learn the following …

In the introduction Cannon is of the view that out of evolutionary and ecological underpinnings we will produce ‘diverse, nuanced and insightful’ histories of hunter-gatherer groups. Pleasingly, he also guides us through his conception of the volume, its themes and structure.

Jordan describes how Siberians conceive of parts of their economy through religious understanding that links them to their ecology and each other. There would appear to be material evidence amenable to the study of people who are no longer with us, although the ethnoarchaeological enterprise engaged here by Jordan does not show that. These Siberians have an integrated cosmology of religion and economy. Straw men and women abound here, but the intent is to use economic activity (‘mobility patterns and resource exploitation’) as a jumping off point for the examination of ‘hunting ethics, expressions of northern ideology and evidence for sacred landscape geography’ (p.29).

The model set out by Fuglestvedt has the Norwegians becoming ‘enclosed’ or ‘encircled’ by landscape and society. So far, so good. Population perspectives are paramount and the individual will conform. As a colonising organism, they have a settling-in period (‘pioneer time’), after which they are confined by the two constraining structures of landscape and society. This is interpreted using those wonderful concepts of animism and totemism married to the powerful thinking-cap rubric of territoriality. Inclusion-Exclusion models of territoriality would seem appropriate here. The author avoids the ‘Australian Model’ of totemism, although is happy enough to embrace structuralist understanding (and post-structuralist pre-understanding).

On the northwest coast of North America, Cannon shows that the classic anomalous population of forager-gathererhunters apparently chose to maintain low population numbers and density—contra all of biology, as noted by the author. So it appears that living standards needed to be maintained, they lived in the best address and that their place was ordained by their ancestors/gods. Again, so far, so good. And then comes the fall, ca 500 BC. Now I didn’t raise the Garden of Eden metaphor but, since the author did, we might quibble over our world views. I find the world of then to be difficult, often uncomfortable, stability hard-won and success parlous. Every bumper crop is a time to thank the powers-that-be, eat well and party hard. Every drought is a time to be endured. It seems to me that one should examine residence, population and territory against environmental reconstructions before averring that perception and belief are essential. Such approaches are becoming increasingly common with greater use of long-term climate trends (in Australia, for example, see Williams et al. 2010 and Veth et al. 2011), analysis of radiocarbon dates based on probability distributions rather than point estimates (Williams 2012), and larger data sets resulting from decades of archaeological investigation.

Personally engrossing, the chapter by Oetelaar and Oetelaar on landscape and territory on the high plains of northern North America brought a sharp nostalgia. Added to this was a strangespatial confusion where I felt that I was reading a landscape interpretation eerily Australian, perhaps brought about by halfremembered recollections of my youth. In 1971 I was working on an excavation of a bison jump kill site, then later studying the skeletal biology of a group buried along the banks of the South Saskatchewan River (Adams 1976; Millar 1981). These memories were mashed up with various themes in the chapter that had informed my own path—distribution of people across the land, territoriality and, for me, gene flow. The intense nostalgia of reading about the landscape where I was learning my archaeology and biological anthropology was something to wallow in, but not to bore the reader with.

The detailed mapping of tribal territory from historical and archaeological information is used in this chapter to show how making a living requires some distillation of historical experience (the victors—those groups which continue down the ages—distil and re-tell history, perhaps in a shape that the cultural ecologist in me would now gloss as the Dreaming). It also requires a good map of the territory as a basis on which to make decisions that will determine the success of your group.

Mobility of the Marginal among Eskimos is another lesson in the importance of education for when the going gets really tough. Milne sets stone tool use within the low density landscape, but the emphasis is very much on the latter, with the former making only a short appearance near the end of the chapter. The compression of lithic data and analysis into one table left me hungry for further landscape-based description. The author interprets the distribution of lithic items and their density. The continuity of some particular places can only be determined by many extrinsic factors that must be learned and either relearned or passed along. The seasonal landscape is seen to be as important as the geographic one.

Give me a map of distributions in the archaeological or biological record and I’m happy. The chapter on Mesolithic Wiltshire in southern England by McFayden should have been a high point for me. Call me an anti-social archaeologist and you will understand my need to skip pp.118–122. If I were to put on a post-structural hat, then I would make two points:

i) Social connections of the archaeologists cited may be elucidated by first name usage—friendly, but clubbish. If we want to examine academic bloodlines, perhaps we should start our own Debrett’s.

ii) As in Australia, the data being examined are not flint scatters; they are flint concentrations. The author shouldn’t feel bad about this one. I have been putting our membership on notice about the embarrassingly sloppy terminology that pervades our discipline. Concentrations of lithic items, otherwise known as ‘artefact scatters’ or ‘open sites’, are not the result of scattering of objects, except in the very local sense of being scattered by the plough. These objects were brought together into a concentration at a location that we may now think of as a site. They are mainly the result of individual actions over millennia, providing information on the ubiquity of occupation. They have not been scattered in the wilful sense of the term.

In Janik’s chapter of ethnographic analogies based around the forager-gatherer-hunters of northern Europe, we have an analysis of nut eating and dog burial. This one I understand and I expected that it would have one of my favourite topics—the ranking of peoples and societies based on the differentiation between those who bury dogs and those who eat them. Although these two data sets are interpreted as examples of cultural choice, by the end of the chapter it appears to me that similarity and difference have become entangled with scale effects. Regional patterns break down when comparing sites within regions or individuals. So why critique large scale analogies?

Instead of cultural choice driving the archaeological record, here we have those same northern European forager-gatherer-hunters used in the battle against unilinearity. Once more, so far so good. If I read the author, H. Knutsson, correctly, we are both universal humanists. We seem to share interests in the twin themes of the distribution of people (here examined as the distinction between sedentism and mobility) and burial customs. And then we appear to become mired in problems with ethnographic analogy. In taking issue with the analogies and discussion of burial and territoriality, I kept coming back to a concept that for a long time has been rattling around in my head: mobility.

Who would have picked figurines and settlement structures in an essay on the Jomon of Japan by Matsumoto? This feels more like a restaurant review—there is a pleasant tang to the presentation of seemingly disparate sets of data. Each analysis on its own offers up a depth of interpretation with a disarming clarity of prose. So far this is my favourite description of a structured world.

Still with the Jomon, the final contribution by Kaner examines the lifespan of built structures. Based on an ecological background, this study of the building and abandonment of settlements rejects what appears to be a straw-man unilinealism that is nowhere to be encountered in evolutionary theory. The occupational histories of specific structures and their settlements—construction, use and abandonment—became enthralling (nerd alert: I also read medieval economic history for fun). I wanted to examine the distributional features of the two detailed tables and set these against long-term climate patterns, but I suspect the author has done this already.

If you were interested in hunter-gatherer archaeology in the northern latitudes, you would probably buy this book. The contributors are generally like-minded and, for the most part, illustrate their pieces with relevant data. Having sport with specialist lithic studies is shallow and immature, of course, but the position of stone tools as minor components of the total archaeological record is underscored by the variety of data examined throughout the volume. The ethnoarchaeological flavour will be well-known to Australian archaeologists, with the long history of such studies here.

As a population biologist, I apply a similar analytical approach to my archaeology; hence my interest in the relations between populations mediated through gene flow, the nature of territoriality as a natural concomitant of gene flow, and the nature and distribution of the archaeological record across the land. So no surprises that I am a purely processual dinosaur and universal humanist.

This is not to discount a phenomenological approach, which I might coarsely define as culture as lived experience. We need all kinds of investigations to get a more rounded view of the past. The fact that these are often dichotomised (naturwissenschaften vs geisteswissenschaften, culture historical vs processual, generalising vs particularising) should be of no account except to identify fellow travellers and the direction of research. The success of universal humanism, which highlights the consistent features of our species, is balanced by investigation of the unique nature of each culture—similarity and difference or diversity and unity.

Based on the title, I originally thought the volume would be right up my alley. On closer inspection I started selfishly to think that there might be little of direct use for my own investigations. Then, wandering by the theoretical window through which the contributors were observing the hunter-gatherer life and having a look over their collective shoulder, I thought, who knows, I might learn a thing or two. Having then read the book in some detail, I did, with the authors providing much food for thought. For my own selfish interest, the volume set me to think some more about some of my favourite topics: similarity and difference, territoriality, the distribution of people. It also set me to thinking that some of our analytical concepts, such as mobility, need attention. So I found this volume to be a welcome addition to the study of hunter-gatherers.


Adams, G.F. 1976 The Estuary Bison Pound Site in Southwest Saskatchewan. National Museum of Man Mercury Series, Archaeological Survey of Canada 68. Ottawa: National Museum of Canada.

Millar, J.F.V. 1981 Mortuary practices of the Oxbow Complex. Canadian Journal of Archaeology 5:103–107.

Veth, P., P. Hiscock and A.N. Williams 2011 Are tulas and ENSO linked In Australia? Australian Archaeology 72:7–14.

Williams, A.N. 2012 The use of summed radiocarbon probability distributions in archaeology: A review of methods. Journal of Archaeological Science 39:578– 589.

Williams, A.N., S. Ulm, I.D. Goodwin and M. Smith 2010 Hunter-gatherer response to late Holocene climatic variability in northern and central Australia. Journal of Quaternary Science 25:831–838.

Review of A Millennium of Culture Contact by Alistair Paterson

Millenium of culture contact coverA Millennium of Culture Contact by Alistair Paterson. Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek, California, 2011, 328 pp. ISBN 9781598744927 (hbk), 9781598744934 (pbk), 9781611325560 (ebook).

Reviewed by Angela Middleton

Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Paterson’s book is an ambitious work, covering a complex and diverse field: that of culture contact between Europeans and indigenous groups ‘living outside Europe’ (p.9). The author takes as his starting point ‘the Norse settlement of the Americas and Greenland, around 1000 AD.’ The choice of ‘Culture Contact’ for the title is interesting, given the discussion in recent times over the use of a diverse range of terms, such as ‘cultural engagement’ or ‘entanglement’; perhaps simplest is best in this broad context. The cover illustration—Governor Davey’s 1816 Proclamation to the Aborigines—provides an intriguing, and chilling, look at the encounter in an Australian context and makes the reader want to know more.

Chapter One sets the scene, discussing the framework of the millennium covered in the book. Paterson posits the sun rising over the world of ‘1 January AD 1000’ as it travels from east to west and the different world views its populations may have held. This was a world still to be affected by the events of 1492, when North and South America would become the ‘New World’. Paterson’s summary of human perceptions of the world at this beginning point are useful and thought provoking: how successfully can we ever put ourselves into the past in this way? This trope is helpful.

Chapter Two assesses ‘What is Contact?’ and discusses the literature of the field—an essential starting point with this addition. Key twentieth century concepts such as acculturation theory are addressed and summarised in a table, a useful tool for students (and others). Table 2.2, ‘Variables of culture contact,’ is somewhat problematic—it covers a range of different concepts that, in the broader sense, may or may not be associated with ‘contact’, and it seems a rather nebulous inclusion. More helpful though is Figure 2.1, a timeline of key events that provides an overview of Paterson’s framework. I have to say I was rather puzzled by the ‘Dutch arrive New Zealand’—given that there was no Dutch footfall made on land—while Paterson then makes no mention of the far more consequential Cook landing in 1769 (and later). I would have liked to see more references to the literature of ‘culture contact’ in this chapter. While important players such as Deagan, Lightfoot and Silliman are named, a more complete inclusion of direct references would be useful for those wanting to explore further, or even a ‘useful sources’ section, such as is provided for all the subsequent chapters. I will come back to this lack of clear references.

The following chapters provide case studies from around the world, starting with the Northwest Atlantic and shifting through time and geography. Much of this makes a valuable contribution to the literature. For example, the short chapter on Sub-Saharan Africa brings together a range of sources summarising the millennium of history in this part of the continent; the ‘useful sources’ section here is indeed useful, with a large number of further works to consult. Equally useful are the subsequent chapters on different geographical locations, including the ‘Spanish in the Americas’ and ‘North America.’ But there again, more direct references would be appreciated, for example, in discussing particular topics, such as colonoware. Paterson’s familiarity with the Australian context is demonstrated in Chapter Nine, with sections on different geographical locations, as well as thematic discussions.

Of course I looked with interest for the section on New Zealand. This appears in ‘East Asia and Oceania’, a chapter that includes not only my homeland but also Siberia and the area surrounding the Indian Ocean and the China Sea. Perhaps Paterson’s energy and interest was lagging by this point. A map of Oceania gives the Pacific context, but rather puzzlingly, New Zealand is truncated somewhere north of the middle of the North Island. Really? We are given less than a quarter of the country. Both the far south, including Foveaux Strait and Codfish Island/Whenua Hou (as its bilingual name denotes) and the far north, were important locales for earliest culture contact in this country. Neither location is mentioned in the text, although this more recent work is readily accessible. Instead we have an overused refrain from work undertaken in the early 1990s. This is disappointing. Once again, in this short section direct references would be useful, such as the source for the discussion on ‘Pakeha’.

From my intimate knowledge of this local field, Paterson’s ‘useful sources’ section is rather lacking. This inside knowledge also provides me with a more critical eye that I haven’t brought to material in other chapters. But it does suggest that, while this book covers an expansive geographical and chronological field, some of the depth of detail may be lacking. Perhaps this is understandable given the task of synthesising such a wealth of information.

A Millennium of Culture Contact is written in language that is very accessible for students and the general reader; it will be a useful teaching tool. Paterson’s overall coverage of this field makes a valuable addition to the literature on this subject.

Review of ‘Altered Ecologies: Fire, Climate and Human Influence’ and ‘The Biggest Estate on Earth’

Altered Ecologies coverAltered Ecologies: Fire, Climate and Human Influence on Terrestrial Landscapes by Simon Haberle, Janelle Stevenson and Matthew Prebble (eds). Terra Australis 32, ANU E Press, Canberra, 2010. ISBN: 9781921666803 (pbk) 9781921666810 (ebook).

The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia by Bill Gammage. Allen and Unwin, Melbourne, 2011. ISBN 9781742377483 (hbk) 384 pp.

Reviewed by Bruno David

Biggest Estate on Earth coverSchool of Geography and Environmental Science, Monash University, Clayton Vic. 3800, Australia

The Australian archaeological and palaeobiogeographic communities have long been joined at the hip, as well signalled by the close relationship of what used to be called the Department of Prehistory and the Department of Biogeography and Geomorphology—now combined and renamed Archaeology and Natural History—at the ANU, which was for decades Australia’s foremost institution of archaeological research. Two recent books, Haberle, Stevenson and Prebble’s edited volume Altered Ecologies in honour of Geoff Hope, and Bill Gammage’s The Biggest Estate on Earth, testify to this rich pairing of people and environment into a more united notion of landscape or ‘country’.

What principally emerges is a discussion not so much of the environment, or of social history, as of engagements and human emplacement. While both books are in many ways concerned with this broad theme—the nature and history of relationships between people and the world in which they dwell—Altered Ecologies and The Biggest Estate on Earth are also very much a contrast of style and content.

Altered Ecologies tackles a broad range of topics divided into four core themes: ‘Ecosystem responses to long- and short-term climate change’; ‘Human colonisation and ecological impacts’; ‘Fire and its role in transforming our environment’; and ‘Methodological advances and applications in environmental change and research’. With a total of 59 authors and 27 chapters, covering topics ranging from archaeology to megafaunal extinctions, marsupial translocation, vegetation history, flying fox habitat change, altitudinal limits on crop species, glacier histories, landscape conservation and restoration, and radiocarbon dating (mostly, but not exclusively, concerned with Australia and Melanesia), Altered Ecologies is very much a festschrift, a celebration of writing befitting the broad scope of Geoff Hope’s intellectual interests and influence.

Arguably of greatest interest to archaeologists will be the section on ‘Human colonisation and ecological impacts’, which contains chapters by Richard Corlett on megafaunal extinctions in the Indo-Pacific region; Tom Heinsohn on the anthropogenic introduction of species across regions; Sandra Bowdler on late Pleistocene occupation along the Australian coastline; Ken Aplin, Fred Ford and Peter Hiscock on early Holocene human occupation of the Australian Alps; Matthew Prebble, Jean Kennedy and Wendy Southern on Holocene landscape change in Manus Province; Matthew Spriggs on environmental impacts of human arrivals in the Pacific; Patricia Fall on plant introductions in Tonga; William Boyd and Nigel Chang on socio-environmental change in Thailand; and also Susan Frawley and Sue O’Connor on the identification of wood charcoal from Carpenter’s Gap. Many other chapters also have archaeological themes which are likely to be of regional or broader archaeological interest; however, these are generally specialised regional studies.

In contrast, Bill Gammage’s book, The Biggest Estate on Earth, is highly focused on a single general hypothesis: that the Australian environment at the time of early European contact was purposefully engineered by Aboriginal manipulation of the vegetation through skilled burning and co-ordinated strategies of settlement and use. An impressive array of quotations by early European explorers make up a significant part of the book, and Gammage is successful in evoking Aboriginal agency in the active creation of Country. What is new here is not so much the notion that Aboriginal people knowingly manipulated their landscapes, so much so that pretty much everywhere was more akin to a maintained ‘estate’ than to ‘wilderness’, as the richness of quotations by which the point is made, and the degree to which relict landscape features—the species, size and shape of individual long-lived trees, for example—can be read today (or in historical photographs and paintings) with this history in mind. Less convincing and more problematic, however, is the notion that virtually every ‘good’, useful or useable outcome was intentional. There are also major problems with characterisations of Country (which significantly downplay the nature and significance of ancestral connections) and ‘Dreaming’, as there are also with the way that social and landscape relations are considered, as evident, for instance, in a tendency to reduce all forms of kinship and landscape recognition to ‘totems’ at the expense of ‘skins’ and other myriad forms of social constructs and relationships. ‘All these totems must survive, and be in balance’ (p.130) is the general message. What we are left with is a homogenised ‘universal theology’ on one continental ‘estate’, where land ownership and management are collapsed into what may be a range of Aboriginal (and Torres Strait Islander) cultures, but which are nevertheless presented as a singular, essentially unchanging culture in balance with their intentionally planned surroundings. There is little (or no) sense here of a normal human world of success and failure, of unpredicted outcomes, or of impacts on the environment beyond successful planning. This is unfortunate because Gammage shows us well how deep readings of local environmental histories can be made from present landscape features, and his mustering of the historical literature is extensive.

Altered Ecologies and The Biggest Estate on Earth are likely to appeal to largely different readerships, the first more to academics, the latter more to the broader public. Both books are very well presented in styles that respectively speak to those audiences. However, and despite the types of significant flaws briefly listed above, Gammage’s book should especially be read by environmental scientists who are interested in the role of people in the creation of Australia’s historical and modern landscapes, a role that cannot be airbrushed away when considering Australia’s landscape history of the past 50,000 years or so. As for Altered Ecologies, we can only be forever grateful that this wonderful Terra Australis series can be freely downloaded from the web whenever it is needed or bought as a high quality paperback.

AustArch3: A database of 14C and luminescence ages from archaeological sites in southern Australia


Alan W. Williams and Mike A. Smith

AustArch3 is a MicrosoftR ExcelR database listing radiocarbon and luminescence ages from archaeological sites across southern Australia, including Tasmania. It was originally compiled to support analysis of time-series trends in Williams (2013), and is now available online at and the AAA website. AustArch3 forms the third and final of a series of datasets being compiled as part of the lead author’s PhD research to document all radiocarbon data across Australia. This dataset fills in the gap between AustArch1 (Williams et al. 2008), AustArch 2 (Williams and Smith 2012) and the Index of Dates from Archaeological Sites in Queensland (Ulm and Reid 2000), and allows complete coverage (within the limits of existing archaeological investigation) for the entire continent. Following the release of this dataset, we will be attempting to consolidate all of the datasets in the near future for inclusion on the Australian Archaeological Association Inc. and Australian Association of Consulting Archaeologists Inc. websites.

The database is intended as a resource for archaeologists working primarily in southeastern Australia, where the data is most comprehensive, but also includes data in South Australia (SA) and southwest Western Australia (WA). It provides a ready checklist of dated sites, as well as a comprehensive listing of radiocarbon and luminescence age determinations, and, in conjunction with calibration programs such as OxCal or Calib, can be used to generate radiocarbon density plots for analysis of trends in occupation. Research in the southeast has been extensive over the last 50 years in both academic and consulting fields, making this central listing of chronometric data particularly useful, and we expect that AustArch3 will become a useful tool for both consultant and academic archaeologists alike. It further allows simple citation of the dataset removing ambiguity of the source data used in time-series analyses.


AustArch3 is a Microsoft Excel file, listing ages (rows) by site, location and biogeographic region. The latter are based on the Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation of Australia (IBRA) 6.1 divisions (see Thackway and Cresswell 1995). Longitude and latitude are compiled from published sources, or estimated from locality maps. All 14C ages are given as  conventional (uncalibrated) ages. A brief description of the background and results of each site is presented. The file ncludes a bibliography of published and unpublished sources for 14C and TL/OSL data.

 Geographic Scope

AustArch3 covers the majority of New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria (Vic.), parts of SA and southwest WA, including the following IBRA regions: – AA, AW, BEL, BHC, COO, CP, ESP, JF, KAN, KIN, MAL, MDD, NAN, NCP, NET, NNC, NSS, RW, SB, SCP, SEC, SEN, SWA, TCH, TNM, TNS, TSE, TSR, TWE, VM, VVP, and WAR (<>). Note the dataset has some duplication with AustArch 1, with both datasets including the Murray Darling Depression bioregion; such duplication has been identified in the Austarch 3 dataset. The dataset is well represented along in the NSW and Vic. coastlines, along the Murray River corridor, and the Margaret River/Albany region, but does have extensive gaps in the central parts of NSW, the Australian Alps, the Eyre and Yorke Peninsulas, and large parts of southwest WA.


AustArch3 is currently the most comprehensive listing of radiocarbon ages for southern Australia. It includes 1898 ages from some 696 sites, derived from published and unpublished research over the past 55 years. In addition to radiocarbon data, there are 165 TL/OSL ages available.

Updates and Errors

We intend to maintain and periodically update the database and would appreciate hearing of new 14C, TL/OSL or U/Th results as they become available. Users can notify the lead author of any errors via email at <>.


AustArch3 incorporates material from published or private databases by Sean Ulm, Lynley Wallis and Gary Vines. I thank colleagues who have supplied unpublished data.


Thackway, R. and I.D. Cresswell (eds) 1995  An Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia: A Framework for Establishing the National System of Reserves. Canberra: Australian Nature Conservation Agency.

Ulm, S. and J. Reid 2000 Index of dates from archaeological sites in Queensland.  Queensland Archaeological Research 12:1–129.

Williams, A.N. 2013 A new population curve for prehistoric Australia. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 280(1761): doi 10.1098/rspb.d013.0486.

Williams, A.N. and M.A. Smith 2012 AustArch2: A database of 14C and luminescence ages from archaeological sites in the Top End. Australian Archaeology 74:146.

Williams, A.N., M.A. Smith, C.S.M. Turney and M. Cupper 2008 AustArch1: A database of 14C and luminescence ages from archaeological sites in the Australian arid zone. Australian Archaeology 66:99.

AustArch1: A database of 14C and luminescence ages from archaeological sites in the Australian arid zone


Alan N. Williams, Mike S. Smith, Chris S.M. Turney and Matt L. Cupper

AustArch1 is a Microsoft® Excel® database listing radiocarbon, luminescence and uranium series ages from archaeological sites in the Australian arid zone. It was originally compiled to support analysis of time-series trends by the authors (Smith et al. 2008; Williams et al. 2008) and is now available online at The database is intended as a resource for archaeologists working in the arid zone. It provides a ready checklist of dated sites as well as a comprehensive listing of radiocarbon, luminescence and uranium series age determinations, and in conjunction with calibration programs such as OxCal or Calib, can be used to generate radiocarbon density plots for analysis of trends in occupation. Research in the arid zone has grown over the past decade, making this central listing of chronometric data particularly relevant, and we expect that AustArch1 will become a useful tool for both consultant and academic archaeologists.

Format: AustArch1 is a Microsoft® Excel® file, listing ages (rows) by site, location and biogeographic region. The latter are based on the Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation of Australia (IBRA) 6.1 divisions (Thackway and Cresswell 1995). Longitude and latitude are compiled from published sources, or estimated from locality maps. All 14C ages are given as conventional (uncalibrated) ages. The file includes a bibliography of published and unpublished sources for 14C, TL/OSL and U/Th data.

Geographic Scope: AustArch1 covers the entire arid zone, including the following IBRA regions: BHC, BRT, CAR, CHC, COO, CR, DMR, FIN, FLB (northern section only), GAS, GAW, GD, GS (Shark Bay area only), GSD, GVD, HAM, LSD, MAC, MGD, ML, MUR, NUL, PIL, SSD, STP, TAN, YAL ( The Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) is included for comparison.

Coverage: AustArch1 is currently the most comprehensive listing of radiocarbon ages for the Australian arid zone. We estimate that the database includes >97 % of available 14C ages – totalling 971 ages from 286 sites – derived from published and unpublished research over the past 40 years. In addition to radiocarbon data, there are 115 TL/OSL or U/Th ages available for arid zone sites (97 dating occupation sediments or hearths). Major gaps in coverage are the Great Victoria Desert, Nullarbor Plain, TanamiDesert and the northern (sub-tropical) margins of the arid zone, reflecting the paucity of archaeological work in these areas. We have not attempted to audit the database for technical and archaeological validity of the ages, preferring to leave this to users.

Updates and Errors: We intend to maintain and periodically update the database and would appreciate hearing of new 14C, TL/OSL or U/Th results as they become available. We also ask users to notify us of any errors (on either or

Acknowledgements: AustArch1 incorporates material from published or private databases by Matt Cupper, Fiona Hook, Mike Smith, Sean Ulm and Peter Veth. We thank colleagues who have supplied unpublished data: Neale Draper, Giles Hamm, Fiona Hook, Roger Luebbers, June Ross and Esmee Webb.

Click to download a copy of AustArch1.


Smith, M.A., A.N. Williams, C.S.M. Turney and M.L. M.L. Cupper 2008 Human-environment interactions in Australian drylands: Exploratory time-series analysis of archaeological records. The Holocene 18(3):397-409.

Thackway, R. and I.D. Cresswell (eds) 1995 An Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia: A Framework for Establishing the National System of Reserves. Canberra: Australian Nature Conservation Agency.

Williams, A.N., C.M. Santoro, M.A. Smith and C. Latorre in press The impact of ENSO in the Atacama Desert and Australian arid zone: Exploratory time-series analysis of archaeological records. Chungara: Revista de Antropología Chilena 40.

Lester Richard Hiatt (1931–2008)

Les_HiattHarry Allen

In the final years of his retirement, Les Hiatt returned to Stroud, Gloucestershire, the county from which his grandfather had migrated to Australia. It was there that Les Hiatt’s remarkable life came to an end. Les started out in Gilgandra, western New South Wales. He attended boarding school in Sydney and graduated in dentistry at the University of Sydney. Between graduating and setting up his dentistry practice in Bourke, in 1957, Les sat additional courses in anthropology. He was a keen golfer, an accomplished boxer and he moved competently around the dance floor of the Bourke Golf Club. It was there he met and married Betty Meehan, a local school teacher from a prominent unionist and communist family. Betty and Les left Bourke for Sydney, where Les returned to his studies in anthropology. He graduated in 1958 and received a research scholarship at the newly-formed Department of Anthropology at the Australian National University. It was there he worked with prominent anthropologists John Barnes and Bill Stanner. For his PhD research, he and Betty set off to Maningrida, central Arnhem Land, to study Anbarra/Gidjingarli society. Les gained a teaching position at the University of Sydney in 1965, and remained there as Reader and Professor until his retirement. During his undergraduate and subsequent years in Sydney, Les and Betty were members of the Sydney Push, an anarchist, libertarian grouping at the centre of intellectual life during the late 1950s and 1960s.

Until the early 1990s, archaeology was integrated within the teaching of anthropology at the University of Sydney. Archaeology during the 1960s was enlivened by classical archaeologists, such as Vincent Megaw and Judy Birmingham, working in prehistoric and historical archaeology respectively and Rhys Jones, Richard Wright and John Clegg in the Anthropology Department, all actively involved in Australian research. Jim Allen, Ian Glover and Betty Meehan were graduate students. In terms of intellectual influences, there were many areas of common interest between the newly-arrived ecological anthropologist, Nic Peterson, and the Cambridge-trained archaeologists, influenced by the Higgs-Jarman approach to palaeoecology. This led to what has been termed the ‘Sydney School’ of ethnographic archaeology. The influence of Les Hiatt, and the other social anthropologists at Sydney, was less direct, but pervasive, both in terms of critical intellectual debates and the creation of a libertarian ethos, socially and academically.

Although he himself did not return to Arnhem Land for any extensive periods, Les Hiatt was instrumental in assisting other fieldworkers, such as Annette Hamilton, to work there. The relationships Les and Betty Meehan had formed with individual Aboriginal people, together with Nic Peterson’s demonstration that Aboriginal communities in Arnhem Land still followed many aspects of the hunting and gathering life, led directly to Rhys Jones’ and Betty Meehan’s decision to spend two years on the Blyth River at an Anbarra outstation, where they conducted ethnoarchaeological fieldwork. These connections continued through Les Hiatt’s Chairmanship of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, working closely with Peter Ucko and other Principals, a time when the Institute shifted its focus from research about, to research for and with, Aboriginal communities. This came to the fore in 1982, when Frank Gurrmanamana and other community members from central Arnhem Land brought a Marrajirri ceremony to Canberra, where the Rom Poles which stand at the Institute remain a symbol of continuing relationships between Anbarra and the wider community. Frank and Les were also central characters in Kim McKenzie’s film Waiting for Harry (note: not the author). Les Hiatt’s tribute to Frank Gurrmanamana found its greatest expression in the translation of interviews recorded in 1960, published as People of the River Mouth: The Joborr Texts of Frank Gurrmanamana (Hiatt et al. 2002) and used by the National Museum of Australia in their First Australians Gallery.

Les Hiatt was at his best in philosophical and moral explorations of Australian anthropology, exemplified in Arguments about Aborigines: Australia and the Evolution of Social Anthropology (Hiatt 1996). These explorations continued one of Les’ central interests, the fluidity and flexibility of Aboriginal social and territorial arrangements, a topic which is of direct relevance to archaeologists. Les could be a difficult man, he was equally impatient with the imperatives of the moral left and the moral right and he refused the kinds of departmental administrative roles most of us complain about. He was a star performer at the annual cricket match between Sydney and Canberra anthropologists and archaeologists, and also at the after match functions, where he earned a degree of notoriety.

Consistent with his libertarian principles and in true Anbarra fashion, Les Hiatt was a polygynist. Also, in line with Anbarra concepts of generosity (Hiatt 2004), he achieved the status of having more than one wife at a time on rare occasions only, and, he was generous in distributing his wives amongst his classificatory brothers well before his death. Les’ passing reminds us that our mourning for Rhys Jones and Peter Ucko continues. Wherever they are, I hope the wine is up to scratch, I know the conversations will be.

On behalf of the Australian Archaeological Association Inc., I would like to extend sympathy to Betty Meehan, to all the members of Les’ extended family, and to his extensive network of friends in Arnhem Land and elsewhere.


Gurrmanamana, F., L. Hiatt, K. McKenzie, B. Ngurrabangurraba, B. Meehan, and R. Jones 2002 People of the Rivermouth: The Joborr Texts of Frank Gurrmanamana. Canberra: National Museum of Australia and Aboriginal Studies Press.

Hiatt, L.R. 1996 Arguments about Aborigines: Australia and the Evolution of Social Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hiatt, L.R. 2004 Edward Westermarck and the origin of moral ideas. In A. Barnard (ed.), Hunter-Gatherers in History, Archaeology and Anthropology, pp.45-56. Oxford: Berg.

McKenzie, K. (Director) and L. Hiatt (Narrator) 1980 Waiting for Harry [motion picture]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.

Image caption: Frank Gurrmanamana and Les Hiatt in Maningrida in 1975 (published in Australian Archaeology 66:86).

Trialing geophysical techniques in the identification of open Indigenous sites in Australia: A case study from inland northwest Queensland

Ian Moffat, Lynley A. Wallis, Alice Beale and Darren Kynuna


The use of geophysical techniques as an aid to archaeological investigations has become common-place, however these methods have only occasionally been applied in Indigenous Australian archaeology. This is despite recognition (and recommendations) since the 1970s that such approaches have the potential to yield positive results in such contexts (e.g. Connah et al. 1976; Stanley 1983; Stanley and Green 1976). Australian archaeologists have perhaps been reluctant to embrace these techniques because of their perceived high cost (both of equipment and specialist staff) and the subtle nature of subsurface Indigenous sites as geophysical targets. Nevertheless, there have been a number of recent applications of these techniques in Australia, particularly in relation to burial and hearth sites. In this paper we report the results of a pilot study conducted in northwest Queensland. This study aimed to test the applicability of geophysical methods being routinely employed to locate a variety of open site features (particularly hearths and middens) as part of reconnaissance surveys. While not being entirely successful, this study demonstrated that certain archaeological features can be readily identified using geophysical techniques, though further research and trial should be carried out to refine the uses of these techniques to allow their more widespread applicability.

Image caption: Ant Timms carrying out EM survey at Bora Station (photograph courtesy of Lynley Wallis).

Glen Thirsty: The history and archaeology of a desert well

Smith&Ross_AA66 Figure3Mike A. Smith and June Ross

The archaeology of Glen Thirsty, a desert well in the Amadeus Basin, Central Australia, illustrates the changing relationship between the ranges and desert lowlands during the last 1500 years. Historical records and Aboriginal accounts of the site document the regional importance of Glen Thirsty as one of the few wells in this part of the desert. Archaeological excavations and rock art research show that despite its proximity to Puritjarra with its long, late Pleistocene record of occupation, Glen Thirsty only became an important focus of occupation after 1500 BP. Several lines of evidence independently suggest the establishment and consolidation of a new cultural and economic landscape in the Glen Thirsty area around this time. Growing population pressure and shifts in patterns of land-use and economy in the Central Australian ranges may have provided the impetus for more intensive use of the Glen Thirsty area, although the timing of this was constrained by climatic factors. As a rain-fed well in the lower part of the Amadeus Basin, Glen Thirsty is sensitive to shifts in palaeoclimate and its history reflects changes in regional rainfall patterns during the late Holocene.

Image caption: Excavations at Glen Thirsty 1 (published in Australian Archaeology 66:48).

Dating of Bush Turkey Rockshelter 3 in the Calvert Ranges establishes early Holocene occupation of the Little Sandy Desert, Western Australi

Veth_etal_AA66 Figure2Peter Veth, Jo McDonald and Beth White

Systematic excavation of occupied rockshelters that occur in ranges along the Canning Stock Route of the Western Desert has seen the establishment of both a Pleistocene signal (ca 24 ka BP) as well as the fleshing out of a Holocene sequence. Recent dating of a perched rockshelter in the Calvert Ranges, east of the Durba Hills, has provided a Holocene record filling in previous occupational gaps from the Calvert Ranges. The extrapolated basal date of the site is in the order of 12,000 BP. Assemblages from this site illustrate repeated occupation through the Holocene with a notable shift in raw materials procured for artefact production and their technology of manufacture in the last 1000 years. Engraved and pigment art is thought to span the length of occupation of the shelter. The site illustrates a significant increase in the discard of cultural materials during the last 800 years, a trend observed at other desert sites. Much of the pigment art in this shelter seems likely to date to this most recent period.

Image caption: Bush Turkey Rockshelter 3 at the completion of excavation (published in Australian Archaeology 66:33).

Tigershark Rockshelter (Baidamau Mudh): Seascape and settlement reconfigurations on the sacred islet of Pulu, western Zenadh Kes (Torres Strait)

McNiven_etal_AA66 Figure2Ian J. McNiven, Joe Crouch, Marshall Weisler, Noel Kemp, Lucía Clayton Martínez, John Stanisic, Meredith Orr, Liam Brady, Scott Hocknull and Walter Boles

Tigershark Rockshelter, a small midden site on the sacred islet of Pulu in central western Zenadh Kes (Torres Strait), was visited intermittently by small groups of marine specialists between 500 and 1300 years ago. The diverse faunal assemblage demonstrates procurement of turtle, dugong, shellfish, fish, shark and ray from mangrove, reef and open water environments. Apart from a characteristic flaked quartz technology, the site contains shell body adornments. Establishment of Tigershark Rockshelter reveals increasing preference for shoreline settlements possibly for enhanced intervisibility, intimacy and liminality between newly-conceptualised territorial land- and seascapes. Intensified occupation 500–700 years ago matches concomitant demographic expansions across the region. As local settlement patterns focused on large open village sites 500 years ago, Tigershark Rockshelter became obsolete and was abandoned. These settlement reconfigurations were part of broader social transformations that eventually saw the status of Pulu change from a residential to a ceremonial and sacred place.

Image caption: Excavation of Square A by Iona Mooka with John Bani reading Volume 5 of the Haddon reports at Tigershark Rockshelter (published in Australian Archaeology 66:16).

The Upihoi find: Wrecked wooden bevaia (lagatoi) hulls of Epemeavo village, Gulf Province, Papua New Guinea

David_etal_AA66 Figure6Bruno David, Nick Araho, Alois Kuaso, Ian Moffat and Nigel Tapper

On 20 August 2007, Epemeavo and Kea Kea villagers from the eastern end of the Gulf Province of Papua New Guinea (PNG) reported finding two lagatoi hulls deeply buried in beach sands at Upihoi, near Epemeavo village, parts of a trading vessel associated with the renowned Motu hiri trade of former times. This paper presents results of an emergency investigation of these finds by staff of the Prehistory section of the PNG National Museum and Art Gallery and Monash University, describing the find, its environmental, cultural and social settings and contexts of discovery, radiocarbon dating, historical assessments and significance.

Image caption: The two Upihoi hulls after they were taken to the Epemeavo village (published in Australian Archaeology 66:6).

Australian marine reservoir effects: A guide to ΔR values


Ulm Figure 1 AA63Sean Ulm


Radiocarbon ages obtained on contemporaneous terrestrial and marine samples are not directly comparable. Samples grown in marine environments exhibit older apparent radiocarbon ages caused by the uptake of carbon which has already undergone radioactive decay through long residence times in the deep ocean. Variation in 14C activity in marine environments, although related to changes in atmospheric activity, depends greatly on local and regional factors, such as hinterland geology, tidal flushing and terrestrial water input. Such factors are highly variable and can introduce uncertainties of up to several hundred years into dates obtained on marine samples in some parts of the world.

Image caption: Map of Australia showing rounded regional and subregional delta-R values (published in Australian Archaeology 63:58).

The Willandra Fossil Trackway: Assessment of ground penetrating radar survey results and additional OSL dating at a unique Australian site


Westaway et al AA76 Figure 1

Map of the study area (published in Australian Archaeology 76:86).

Michael C. Westaway, Matthew L. Cupper, Harvey Johnston and Ian Graham

This paper presents some results of a ground penetrating radar survey conducted to establish the extent of the Willlandra Fossil Trackway, and further mapping of the footprints and intermingled tracks. In addition, it includes a refinement of the age range of the trackway, through further OSL dating, to between 19,000 and 20,000 years ago.  Finally, it also provides a discussion of the geochemical composition of the trackway.

Further radiocarbon dates from Dabangay, a mid- to late Holocene settlement site in western Torres Strait


Stratigraphic drawing of Square C at Dabangay on Mabuyag Island (published in Australian Archaeology 76:82).

Duncan Wright and Geraldine Jacobsen

Dabangay , on the island of Mabuyag, is one of only two known mid-Holocene sites in Torres Strait. Eleven new radiocarbon dates, combined with nine previous determinations, clarify its site formation processes and settlement history. The sequence shows two sustained settlement periods between 7239–3211 cal. BP and 1815 cal. BP–present, with little evidence for use during the intervening period. This differs from Badu 15,  approximately 15 km south of Mabuyag, where human activity became sporadic after
6500 cal. BP. There is no evidence for a settlement expansion at 2500 BP as observed at other sites in the western Torres Strait. These differences suggest varied human responses to post-glacial marine transgression and the subsequent sea-level high stand in western Torres Strait.

Birriwilk rockshelter: A mid- to late Holocene site in Manilikarr Country, southwest Arnhem Land, Northern Territory

Shine et al AA76 Figure 3

Birriwilk rockshelter in the Mikinj Valley, southwest Arnhem Land (published in Australian Archaeology 76:72).

Denis Shine, Duncan Wright, Tim Denham, Ken Aplin, Peter Hiscock, Kim Parker and Ronni Walton

Recent excavations at the Birriwilk rockshelter in Mikinj Valley, southwest Arnhem Land, have revealed evidence for mid- to late Holocene settlement, including a major period of site use in the last millennium. The site is important to the traditional owners, with a rich oral tradition associated with ‘Birriwilk’, an ancestor of the Urningangk tribe, who is depicted in rock art at the site. Oral traditions link Birriwilk with an adjacent lagoon, as well as a number of other rock art sites and features in the landscape, including the renowned Ubirr complex. The Birriwilk site and vicinity are significant places to the Nayinggul family, traditional owners for the Manilikarr estate. This post-fieldwork report  summarises key archaeological findings at Birriwilk, using frequencies of stone artefacts and faunal remains as proxies of occupation from ca 5000 years ago. The most intense occupation occurred within the last 700 years, a period characterised by foraging and hunting in adjacent wetland habitats, changing technological emphasis to the manufacture of bifacial quartzite points, increased artefact discard rates and increased ochre grinding. The site has little archaeological evidence of use during the last 200 years, although oral histories indicate it was visited regularly until the mid-twentieth century. The rockshelter remains an important story site today.

Gummingurru—A community archaeology knowledge journey

Ross et al AA76 Figure 6

An educational board game designed to teach school children about journeys to the Gummingurru stone arrangement site in precontact times (published in Australian Archaeology 76:65).

Anne Ross, Sean Ulm and Brian Tobane

The Gummingurru stone arrangement site complex on the Darling Downs of Queensland (Qld), Australia, was originally an initiation site attended by Aboriginal people from many  arts of southeast Qld and northeast New South Wales en route to the triennial intergroup gatherings in the nearby Bunya Mountains. The activities at Gummingurru and the Bunya Mountains included knowledge sharing, alliance making trade and exchange. In recent times the journeys to and from Gummingurru have changed. Although knowledge sharing and alliance-making continue, there are new aspects to the journeys. In this paper we outline the contemporary social framework within which Gummingurru is situated, emphasising the community/researcher/
student networks and educational outputs that have evolved over the life of this community-based collaborative research project and review the positive lessons learned by all participants in the knowledge journeys associated with the site and its cultural landscape.

The opportunities and challenges of graduate level teaching in cultural heritage management

Lynley A. Wallis, Alice C. Gorman and Heather Burke

In recent years there has been greater examination and discussion of teaching and learning in archaeology, and exploration of how best to reconcile the sometimes competing requirements of students, industry, teachers and university administrators. A key response by the academy in Australia has been the emergence of graduate level programmes. Drawing on the experiences of staff, students and industry partners of the Flinders  University Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Management graduate programmes, we reflect on the opportunities such programmes afford to effect positive change in the training of graduates, the challenges they pose and the contrast they offer to the standard and long accepted Honours degree. We demonstrate that carefully crafted graduate level teaching programmes, with strong involvement of industry stakeholders, offer practical solutions to the issue of providing students with a well-rounded degree, whilst also meeting the particular needs of the cultural heritage sector to produce work-ready graduates.

From the moat to the Murray: Teaching practical archaeology at La Trobe University, Australia

Cosgrove et al AA76 Figure 5

The Bronze Age Cypriot house level in the TARDIS (published in Australian Archaeology 76:46).

Richard Cosgrove, David Frankel and David Thomas

This paper presents two current approaches to teaching practical aspects of archaeology at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. One makes use of a simulated site constructed on the university campus where senior undergraduates are introduced to the complexities of excavation and project management from planning through to publication in a ‘safe’, artificial environment. The second is a field school for fourth year Honours students where the focus is on survey and documentation of Indigenous sites in a ‘real world’ situation, where the data gathered over several years will eventually be used to develop a cultural heritage management plan for the study area. These initiatives are considered in the context of current concerns regarding the training of students as professionals.

A working profile: The changing face of professional archaeology in Australia

Sean Ulm, Geraldine Mate, Cameo Dalley and Stephen Nichols

Results from comprehensive surveys of Australian professional archaeologists undertaken in 2005 and 2010 are considered in the context of disciplinary trends, focusing on changes in access and participation, archaeological workplaces, qualifications and skill gaps. Strong growth is demonstrated in the professional archaeology sector between 2005 and 2010, showing substantial restructuring in the last five years, with an increase in Indigenous archaeology and a corresponding decrease in other subfields, especially historical  archaeology. An analysis of self-assessed skill sets and skill gaps shows that the training of many professionals continues to leave significant gaps in core skill and knowledge areas which are consistent across industry subfields.

Late Holocene climate change and human behavioural variability in the coastal wet-dry tropics of northern Australia

Brockwell-et-al-AA76-Figure-1Sally Brockwell, Ben Marwick, Patricia Bourke, Patrick Faulkner and Richard Willan

Previously it has been argued that midden analysis from three geographically distinct coastal regions of tropical northern Australia (Hope Inlet, Blyth River, Blue Mud Bay) demonstrates that changes through time in Aboriginal mollusc exploitation reflect broader coastal environmental transformations associated with late Holocene climatic variability (Bourke et al. 2007). It was suggested that, while a direct link between environmental change and significant cultural change in the archaeological record has yet to be demonstrated unambiguously, midden analysis has the potential to provide the as-yet missing link between changes in climate, environment and human responses over past millennia. We test this hypothesis with a preliminary sclerochronological analysis (i.e. of sequential stable isotopes of oxygen) of archaeological shell samples from all three regions. Our findings suggest the existence of variations in temperature and rainfall indicative of an increasing trend to aridity from 2000 to 500 cal. BP, consistent with previous palaeoenvironmental work across northern Australia.

A 3000 year old dog burial in Timor-Leste

Gonzelez et al AA76 Figure 5Antonio Gonzalez, Geoff Clark, Sue O’Connor and Lisa Matisoo-Smith

The domestic dog (Canis familiaris) is considered to be the oldest domesticated animal in the world. It arrived in Island Southeast Asia and Australia-New Guinea relatively late in the Holocene, though the timing and means of its dispersal remain unclear. We report a dog burial from Timor-Leste dated to ~3000 cal. BP. Morphometric analysis demonstrates strong affinities between this dog and contemporary domestic dog groups, and particularly with the ‘village dog’ type, indicating it was indeed domesticated, rather than feral-wild. Isotope values which indicate a diet dominated by terrestrial plant foods rather than hunted foods suggest an association between the Timor dog and agriculturalists. Results suggest that the range expansion of C. familiaris in the Indo-Pacific is associated with the dispersal of farming groups in prehistory.

Australia’s industrious convicts: A reappraisal of archaeological approaches to convict labour


Richard Tuffin AA76

Maps of three convict coal mines in Tasmania (published in Australian Archaeology 76:6).

Richard Tuffin

Over the last three decades the convict as worker has become an increasingly studied aspect of the Australian transportation experience. With their insight into the landscapes and material culture of the convict experience, historical archaeologists have had—and continue to have—an important role to play in such research. This paper draws upon previously published studies of the archaeology and history of convict labour, considering the use of such labour in the colonies which received convicts between 1788–1868: primarily Van Diemen’s Land, New South Wales and Western Australia. Focusing on the use of convicts by the government, it finds that there is a distinct group of settings within which convict labour was deployed. In addition, the paper discusses the key determinants that resulted in the formation and evolution of the places of convict labour. Whilst not intended as a restrictive model, this synthesis of convict labour settings and their formative factors provides a contextual framework and classificatory system for future research.

The shell mounds of Albatross Bay: An archaeological investigation of late Holocene production strategies near Weipa, north eastern Australia


Michael J. Morrison

PhD, Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, April 2010

This thesis presents the results of an archaeological investigation of shell matrix sites, and in particular, shell mounds sites that occur around the shores of Albatross Bay, near Weipa on northwest Cape York Peninsula, northern Australia. Earlier approaches to the investigation of shell mound sites in northern Australia have tended to place too much emphasis on developing long-term explanatory models that gloss over explanations for the specific roles of these unique sites in past economic systems. While long-term explanations represent important contributions, it is argued here that short-term decadal-scale modelling of the production systems associated with shell mound formation and use are required to fully understand the significance of the mid-to-late Holocene emergence of these types of sites. A focus on production – defined in a substantive economic sense – is a suitable avenue through which archaeologists can expand our understanding of the role of these features in past gatherer-hunter societies, and their broader importance on longer-term time scales.

A detailed model of the production strategies associated with the formation of shell mound sites around Albatross Bay is developed, while also considering the broader significance of this model, particularly within the context of Cape York Peninsula. It presents the results of field surveys and excavations carried out around Albatross Bay by the author, as well as a detailed review and analysis of work carried out by others. It is argued that shell mounds are the result of relatively specialised production activities focussing on a very specific resource base: mudflat shellfish species. Shell mounds offered a range of unique benefits for people engaged in these specialised activities, including as camp sites and as specialised activity areas. These events were inherently flexible in size and in terms of timing, reflecting the dynamic nature of the resource base itself; yet the flexible nature of this production strategy also enabled more regular small-scale social gatherings, along with a range of social and economic benefits to participants, than would have been otherwise possible. It is proposed that these types of strategies may represent an important characteristic of the production systems employed by gatherer-hunter peoples in late Holocene Cape York.

Overall, this thesis makes a significant contribution to both our understanding of late Holocene lifeways at Albatross Bay as well as to our understanding of the broader significance of the emergence of shell mound sites in Cape York. Furthermore, it highlights the range of insights that can come from a focus on short-term modelling of gatherer-hunter lifeways alongside approaches oriented toward longer-term explanations of economic, social and environmental change.

The section drawing and Australian archaeological practice

Jonathan Marshallsay

BArchaeology(Hons), Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, October 2008

Archaeology is centred on the visual. The archaeologist’s research is intrinsically bound to analysis of the visual evidence of past cultures. Therefore it is not surprising that great stress has been placed on the use of the visual as a means of recording archaeology, and of presenting the findings of archaeological research, creating in the process objects of knowledge. These objects are themselves artefacts that can be used to study the material culture of archaeology.

Through the study of section drawings of Australian Indigenous sites, this thesis does just that. It firstly considers the development of stratigraphy from its beginnings as an element of geology to its inclusion as a mainstream practice within archaeology, and secondly, in its application to the context of Australian archaeological practice. Analysis of the components of the drawing is undertaken to identify the encoding and highlighting practices embedded in the production of the illustration. In addition, the relationship between the text and the image is evaluated to discover how information is provided by the two media.

Results not only provide an insight into the ways in which the section drawing is used, but also provide an insight into the way that the construction of knowledge is developed in the context of Indigenous Australian archaeology. Significant to the construction of knowledge is the devaluation of the section drawing over time, especially since 1990. There has been a marked movement to textual presentation of information and as a result the section drawing has become a symbolic entity in the context of the archaeological report. The results suggest that this may be due to changing priorities in Australian research. When research focused on establishing the time depth of Indigenous occupation of Australia the section was of value in visualising this, consequently the illustration carried more information and coding. As research interests have changed, so too has the value of the section drawing.

Bones of contention: An analysis of jawbones of extinct macropods from Lancefield Swamp, Victoria

Kerrie Lee

BA(Hons), Department of Archaeology, University of Sydney, October 2009

This thesis presents research carried out on a collection of jawbones of extinct megafaunal macropods, Macropus titan, excavated in 2004-2005 at Lancefield Swamp, Victoria. Dating of the Pleistocene site remains uncertain, but the most recent estimate is ca 50,000 BP. The aim of this study was to ascertain the ages at which the animals died, and thereby test ideas about the circumstances of their death. This, in turn, would contribute to the long-running debate regarding the cause of megafaunal extinction. Two main hypotheses dominate the debate – anthropogenic factors and environmental stress – and age profiling could help determine which, if either, was the chief cause of the deaths at this site and clarify the processes affecting regional megafauna at this time. Analysis of the jawbones was based on standard, non-invasive assessment methods: molar eruption and molar progression, with tooth wear as an adjunct. The results were compared with those of earlier researchers, notably from major excavations in the 1970s. As well, jawbones held at Museum Victoria from other twentieth century Lancefield excavations were analysed. The outcome from the primary research showed that the vast bulk of animals died in their prime. There were very few juveniles and even fewer old animals. This parallelled the results from the 1970s, as well as more recent studies. The findings are consistent with a waterhole death assemblage. Considering the age profiles, along with taphonomic and hydrological data, it appears that the animals died of drought-induced stress. This finding suggests that drought would have been one of the major impacts on southeastern Australian megafauna at the time of deposition.

Stone tool production-distribution systems during the Early Bronze Age at Huizui, China

Anne Ford

MA, Archaeology Program, La Trobe University, October 2007

The Erlitou culture (1900-1500 BC) has been postulated as the earliest state-level society in China, with evidence for social stratification, palatial/temple remains, craft specialisation and elite good production. Recent research into the political economy of the Erlitou culture has identified a complex system of resource procurement and elite good production. Several high status items, including bronze and turquoise, were produced in circumscribed areas associated with the palace areas of the Erlitou urban centre. These restricted production areas, and the lack of these items within Erlitou regional areas, has been argued as evidence for tight control by the Erlitou elite over both the production and use of these items, thus maintaining their dominance of symbolic elite items. Other subsistence and elite items may also have been acquired by the Erlitou urban centre from its hinterland, including white pottery, salt and copper and tin for producing bronze. Although the source of white pottery is not yet known, the procurement of copper, tin and salt appears to have involved the establishment of regional centres close to the raw material sources, which has been argued as a method of controlling the access to these particular goods through monopolising the acquisition of the raw material. Based on the presence of these regional centres, it has been argued that the Erlitou culture developed into a centralised society, which expanded primarily to acquire vital resources needed by the Erlitou urban centre.

As a contrast to the elite goods, this thesis examines the production and distribution of utilitarian items; grounds stone tools produced at the site of Huizui, located in the Yiluo River Basin, central China, during the Erlitou period. The study of stone tool production-distribution systems involves examining the lifecycle of a stone tool through exploring raw material procurement, manufacture, use and discard, and the locations of these activities. As all these steps involve a choice made by the tool producer or user, the mapping of these systems can provide insights into what factors motivated these choices, including social, economic, political or technological factors.

The current study used an economic approach to identify if differences could be observed between the systems. Efficiency was selected as the parameter for comparison as it provides an economic baseline, removed from culturally specific issues, against which to compare archaeological examples, and is also a flexible measure which can be used to understand all aspects of the systems.

Two different aspects of stone tool production at Huizui were explored; raw material procurement and on-site production. Raw material procurement was shown to be efficient for all of the tool types studied, with particular focus on distance to source and the functional and extractive properties of the raw materials. Efficiency in production was less clear, with scale of production instead the distinguishing factor.

Two different stone tool production-distribution systems were identified; the mass produced oolitic dolomite spades which appear to be distributed regionally, including to the Erlitou urban centre, and the locally produced and consumed adzes, axes, chisels, knifes and grinding slabs. Both of these systems appeared to be retained within the household context and may have operated independently of Erlitou elite control, which is a direct contrast to the heavily circumscribed production and distribution of elite items. This study also showed that whilst efficiency is a useful tool to elicit detailed information from the stone tool production-distribution systems, further parameters need to be included to provide a more accurate contrast between systems.

Using archaeological otoliths to determine palaeoenvironmental change and Ngarrindjeri resource use in the Coorong and Lower Murray, South Australia

Morgan Disspain

BArchaeology(Hons), Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, October 2009

Increasing collaborations between archaeologists, marine ecologists and other scientists are developing new methods for recognising and measuring the impacts that Indigenous people had on coastal environments. One particularly promising avenue of research for achieving this is through the study of otoliths (fish ear bones). Otoliths can be identified to species level, record the age and growth of a fish from the date of hatching to the time of death, and, through trace element analysis, allow the reconstruction of palaeoenvironmental conditions including water temperature and salinity. Otoliths recovered from the archaeological record can provide valuable archives of ecological patterns, climate change and by inference, associated human responses. However, most analyses of archaeological otoliths in Australia to date have focussed on identifying only the species and sometimes the age of the fish, with more detailed geochemical studies not pursued.

This thesis presents results from a pilot study of archaeological otoliths from middens along the Coorong (n=23), and Lower Murray River (n=14), dating from the mid-to-late Holocene. Results demonstrate that the majority of the fish (identified as Argyrosomus japonicus and Acanthopagrus butcheri in the Coorong, and Maccullochella peelii peelii and Macquaria ambigua in the Lower Murray) were caught in freshwater environments during the warm season, and had grown to an age and size indicative of sexual maturity. These observations accord with Ngarrindjeri oral tradition concerning sustainable management strategies. However, despite the implementation of such strategies, human predation had an impact on the population dynamics of the dominant species. It is tentatively suggested that A. japonicus experienced a decrease in fish size and an increase in fish age over time, and Maccullochella peelii peelii experienced a decrease in both fish age and size through time, with the larger of the two species struggling to recover from population decline.

This study provides data supporting the argument that people have significantly altered the waterways of the Coorong and Lower Murray. Trace element data of otoliths associated with dates from ca 6500 BP to ca 200 BP revealed fluctuating levels of salinity in the river and the estuary significantly lower than the hypersaline conditions experienced in some areas today. The data also provide information about subsistence strategies of the Indigenous population, and their adaptations to the changing climate and resource availability. Ultimately, this project provides a foundation for further development of geochemical analyses of otoliths within archaeological investigations.

The long and short of it: Leg length, aggression and the evolution of the human mind

Marianne Clarkson

BA(Hons), School of Anthropology, Archaeology and Sociology, James Cook University, October 2008

The well-developed and greatly expanded human mind is one thing that sets us apart from other organisms. Although there are varying theories as to when and how the mind evolved, many of them focus on the concept of modules or domains, which may have arisen in order to cope with or provide solutions to problems faced by our ancestors in the Plio/Pleistocene. Violence and aggression can be seen in our closest living relative, the chimpanzee, and can also be demonstrated in the fossil record as far back as the early Pleistocene. This allows for the premise that aggression was important in our ancestors’ lives, even before the panin-hominin split 6-7 million years ago. Using a Darwinian framework, this thesis focuses on how aggression may have helped to shape the cognitive changes that are assumed to have occurred with the demonstrable increase in brain size of Homo erectus.

Australopithecus and H. habilis both retained ape-like limp proportions, with longer arms and shorter legs. As well as allowing for a semi-arboreal lifestyle, these adaptations potentially increased balance and forearm strength, both important fighting attributes in species where there was intense male-male competition for females. These anatomical features, which would have allowed for bipedalism, but made it relatively inefficient due to the retention of shorter legs, remained stable for over 2 million years. This would seem to imply that aggressive ability exerted a strong positive sexual selection pressure for a prolonged period of time.

It is now well recognised that hominin evolution was not a simple linear affair and that for most of this time two or more different hominin species existed at the same time and in the same areas. About 2.5-2 mya the climate and environment appear to have changed from C3 woodlands to widespread C4 grasslands. This timeframe fits in with the appearance around 1.9 mya of a longer-legged habitual biped, H. erectus. Thus it seems that natural selection now favoured new adaptations that were suited to the new savannah environment, but that may have been detrimental to fighting ability. However, continuing body weight sexual dimorphism in H. erectus would still seem to imply that male-male competition for choosy females persisted in likely polygynous groups. Increased cognition could, therefore, have been the sexually selected random trait that provided another, more potent way of showing aggression and domination over rivals using stone tools. Cognitive changes in our ancestors occurred because they effectively provided solutions to problems, ecological changes and challenges from other hominins during the Pleistocene. This increasing cognition can be seen archaeologically in the increasingly modified and symmetrical Acheulean stone handaxes. Wynn has demonstrated that stone tools can be used to determine how cognitive ability changed over time; many of the other proposed uses for handaxes do not adequately explain all of their attributes. Aggression, however, can explain their over-modified appearance, their change over time, the fact that many are unused and why they may appear in huge numbers in some sites.

Getting to the Point: A Regional Comparison of Stone Point Technology across Northern Australia


Cherylyn Wong

BA(Hons), School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, October 2012

Northern Australia is an area of remarkable cultural diversity evident through ethnographic studies, linguistics, and archaeological investigations. This thesis addresses the question of regional variation in point production across northern Australia. Various explanatory models for the causes of inter-regional variation in point technology are also explored and tested, including cultural transmission, origins and dispersal, and adaptation. Through the analysis and comparison of the reduction sequences of the stone point assemblages from Ngarradj Warde Djobkeng situated in western Arnhem Land, Nimji within Wardaman Country, Jinmium and Punipunil in the Keep River region, Widgingarri Shelters 1 and 2 and Carpenters Gap in the western Kimberley, and Yarar in the Daly River region, this study provides a detailed synthesis of technological data that complements existing understandings of cultural diversity across northern Australia. The results demonstrate significant differences in point production between the different regions, with cultural transmission and adaptation impacting upon regional variation in point technology. The results of this thesis have implications for similar studies of regional variation in point technology as well as other technologies, and reinforce the notion of a culturally dynamic and diverse Aboriginal Australia.

Sucking the Shell Beds Dry? The Morphometric Analysis of Oyster (Saccostrea glomerata), Cockle (Anadara trapezia) and Whelk (Pyrazus ebeninus) to Interpret the Intensity of Human Exploitation of Molluscs at the Sandstone Point Shell Midden Complex, Southeast Queensland

Ronni Christine Walton

BA(Hons), School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, October 2012

Analysis of shell size throughout archaeological midden deposits has provided robust data for interpreting the intensity of human exploitation of a variety of molluscan species. Demonstrative of recent archaeological literature worldwide, there has been a significant emphasis on the analysis of environmental changes to decipher natural versus anthropogenic impacts on extant molluscan populations. In the case of shell size analysis, this focus endeavours to refine interpretations that emphasise human impact, resource depression and depletion as the sole causal agent of size changes on mollusc populations. This research presents the analysis of shell size and morphology for three common temperate mollusc species Anadara trapezia (cockle), Pyrazus ebeninus (whelk) and Saccostrea glomerata (oyster), from the midden site of Sandstone Point, southeast Queensland. Metric analyses of these taxa were assessed in conjunction with the known late Holocene environmental patterns for Moreton Bay to investigate human exploitation of coastal resources at the site. Owing to considerable fragmentation of the assemblage, morphometric methods were utilised to avoid differential size bias of shells commonly affected by poor preservation. Based on these analyses, certain anatomical features of A. trapezia, S. glomerata and P. ebeninus demonstrate high predictive power for size reconstruction. More broadly, the results presented here suggest that variability in shell size and shape are a consequence of both human harvesting and ecological adaptation to environmental variability of the late Holocene.

Testing the Viability of Low-Magnification Use-Wear Analysis at Two Case Study Sites in the Midwest Region, Western Australia

Jamie Twaddle

BA(Hons), School of Social Sciences, University of Western Australia, November 2012

Surface lithic artefact scatter sites are abundant features of the Indigenous archaeological landscape of the Midwest region of Western Australia (WA), yet reamin under-utilised as a resource for understanding past Aboriginal subsistence. These sites are typically affected by more extreme post-depositional effects than sub-surface archaeological material, and represent palimpsests that lack fine-grained behavioural resolution. In this context, the application of lithic use-wear and residue analyses to recovered assemblages holds potential for the reconstruction of past activities and site formation processes. Archaeological consultancies in WA frequently recommend these analyses are understaken as a component of recording these Indigenous site types but, as yet, the suitability of these techniques remains unclear. This dissertation directly addresses these issues through a comparative low-magnification use-wear analysis of lithic assemblages recovered from two case study sites in the Midwest region of WA: the open surface lithic artefact scatter site Wyinga-AS-100, and rockshelter Weld-RS-0731. Through a comparison of use-wear and organic residue preservation this dissertation discusses the relative suitability of both site types for the application of functional analysis, and assesses their potential behavioural contribution. The results highlight the influence of post-depositional processes on the preservation of functionally related traces on lithics at open surface site and emphasises the challenges that Ausralian raw materials pose for the application of use-wear analysis, from which are drawn suggestions for future research.

The Yoke of Colonialism: An Exploration of the Research Relationship between Tarby Mason and Norman Tindale

Trevor Tisdall

BArch(Hons), Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, November 2012

This thesis is concerned with the deconstruction of a research relationship between an Aboriginal man (Tarby Mason) and a Western researcher (Norman Barnett Tindale), to whom the former provided significant cultural knowledge over half a century ago. Along with many positives that may be identified in the outcomes from this interaction, there were also significant problems that have not been satisfactorily dealt with to date. These issues have been brought to a head by Indigenous disquiet about the practices of archaeology and anthropology that have had the effect of appropriating Indigenous cultural heritage. Indeed, for the last 30 years researchers and research institutions have had to deal with questions of the removal and appropriation of tangible cultural heritage and human remains. This disquiet has also extended into serious concerns about the way archaeologists and anthropologists have participated in the appropriation of the intangible cultural heritage of Aboriginal communities. Such issues are at play when considering the work of Tindale, which took place in an early disciplinary phase.

A decolonising theoretical framework was selected as being the most instructive approach to deconstruct such a relationship. Colonial aspirations have their roots in European imperialism and the control and acquisition of land. There has been a tendency to describe Australia as post-colonial, however we may discern colonialism in Tarby Mason’s and Norman Tindale’s relationship through the appropriation of tangible and intangible culture. The definition of colonialism is thus broadened to encompass those practices that deprive Aboriginal people of their cultural heritage.

A ‘participatory action research’ methodology was employed to investigate these issues as, in part, it has the potential to empower Indigenous communities. Consequently, this thesis has identified problematic practices in the field, in scholarly forums and in popular writings.  These practices have provided significant support for colonialism, both within archaeological forums and in the broader community. Rather than purely documenting disappearing Indigenous cultures, there are aspects of the practice of archaeology during this historical period that are identified as supporting colonialism.

Charcoals as Indicators of Ancient Trees and Fuel Strategies: An Application of Anthracology in the Australian Midwest

Chae Kelli-Anne Taylor

Grad. Dip. Arts (Advanced), School of Social Sciences, University of Western Australia, November 2012

Wood charcoal has a greater archaeological worth than simply being a tool for radiocarbon dating. The carbonised material preserves beautifully and is prevalent in archaeological deposits throughout Australia. Anthracology (the analysis of wood charcoal macro-remains) is often an outlying focus within Australian archaeology—which is unfortunate, considering the information it can reveal about past ecosystems and human plant exploitation. Consequently, this thesis seeks to test the feasibility and methods of anthracology within a Western Australian arid environment whilst creating a set of references for future research.

In 2011, Eureka Archaeological Research and Consulting excavated a test pit at a rockshelter in Weld Range. The site (located not far from the nationally listed Aboriginal ochre mine, Wilgie Mia) revealed an abundance of charcoal including two clearly stratified hearth features. The older hearth dates to 4155–3920 cal. BP and the younger to 470–310 cal. BP. In wood, the cellular and anatomical characteristics of each taxon are unique, acting as a ‘fingerprint’—a unique indicator for identification. Through creating a regional reference collection and anatomical database, identification and analysis of the archaeological charcoal assemblages was possible. The anthracological assemblages from the two clearly stratified hearth features is compared in terms of taxa frequency, diversity and composition and used to infer palaeoethnobotanical and environmental information. This thesis investigates which taxa were chosen for fire fuel by past Aboriginal occupants of the Weld Range site and determines the composition of the past woody vegetation represented.

The way it changes like the shoreline and the sea: The archaeology of the Sandalwood River, Mornington Island, southeast Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia

Site 41 Munburlda SQADaniel Rosendahl

PhD, School of Architecture, The University of Queensland, June 2012

Defining and understanding change as observed in the mid- to late Holocene Australian archaeological record is the primary focus of this research. For this thesis I conducted a detailed local archaeological survey of a mid- to late Holocene landscape to examine aspects of continuity and change in the coastal environments of the Sandalwood River in the Yiinkan Embayment, Mornington Island, southeast Gulf of Carpentaria. Focus is given to the theoretical and methodological problems emerging in coastal and island archaeology such as the importance of constructing reliable chronologies, interpreting the archaeological data in the context of local landscape and environmental development, and assessing the integrity of open tropical archaeological coastal sites.

The Yiinkan Embayment is an ideal region to address these issues as it contains datasets that enable the development of refined local chronologies of land formation processes and palaeoenvironmental conditions. These datasets included numerous fixed biological indicators in the form of black-lipped oyster (Striostrea mytiloides) bioherms (death assembages) that are used to construct local sea-level models and infer palaeoenvironmental conditions. In addition, a series of transgressive parallel beach ridges that have a deposition chronology mirroring that documented on the adjacent mainland have been used to reconstruct palaeocoastlines and further refine the timing of local mid- to late Holocene landform evolution.

Extensive archaeological surveys were taken across ca 27 km2 at the Sandalwood River catchment. The study area was stratified into six survey zones based on broad geomorphological characteristics (e.g. stranded beach ridge of saltpan). Surveys recorded 164 cultural sites and 12 natural bioherms.

Results of the survey and excavation of three shell mounds are presented. Differences in site structure, composition and chronology are interpreted to present a temporal and spatial pattern of variability in the use of a range of local environmental zones throughout the late Holocene.

Reanalysis of excavation materials from the site of Wurdukanhan excavated in 1996 coupled with an extensive survey and dating program undertaken here demonstrate that there is no evidence for a mid-Holocene occupation of Mornington Island (Memmott et al. 2006). These claims are significant, as evidence for mid-Holocene occupation of islands in northern Australia has been refuted (Sim and Wallis 2008). Results clearly demonstrate that Wurdukanhan is a natural black-lipped oyster (S. mytiloides) bioherm.

A local marine reservoir effect was established for the southern Gulf through a study of known-age shell specimens from the Australian Museum. Results indicate that the determined ∆R value for the Gulf of Carpentaria of 55±98 requires slight revision to -49±102 for the southern Gulf, but that the routinely used ∆R value of 12±7 is inappropriate.

Radiocarbon determinations, stratigraphy, particle size anaysis, foraminiferal analysis, magnetic susceptibility and conjoin analysis are used to evaluate the integrity of the shell mound deposits excavated for this project. Magnetic susceptibility is tested for the first time on an Australian open coastal shell matrix site to establish patterns of site use and stratigraphic integrity. All analyses combined demonstrate a high level of vertical and horizontal integrity.

Using data from the shell mound excavations and the terminal chronology from 18 other cultural deposits, along with seven dated natural features, including black-lipped oyster bioherms, this research demonstrates that human occupation of the Sandalwood River catchment commenced in the late Holocene after almost a millennia of large-scale landscape development closely linked to the final stages of the marine transgression. A model of local landscape development and human-environment interaction is presented.


Memmott, P., N. Evans, R. Robins and I. Lilley 2006 Understanding isolation and change in island human populations through a study of Indigenous cultural patterns in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 130(1):29–47.

Sim, R. and L.A. Wallis 2008 Northern Australian offshore island use during the Holocene: The archaeology of Vanderlin Island, Sir Edward Pellew Group, Gulf of Carpentaria. Australian Archaeology 67:95–106.

Understanding Choice: Aboriginal Law and Decision-Making in the Selection of Rocks for a Stone Arrangement

Elena Piotto TA AA76Elena Piotto

BA(Hons), School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, October 2012

This thesis examines the decision-making processes used in the creation of stone arrangement sites through an investigation of the archaeological record at the Gummingurru Aboriginal Stone Arrangement site, southeast Queensland. The hypothesis of this research is that the creators of stone arrangements deliberately selected certain rocks based on size and shape for the production of motifs. The aim is to determine the decision-making processes that may have occurred during the creation of the motifs that make up stone arrangement sites. To test my hypothesis I conducted a preliminary analysis on four of the motifs at Gummingurru.

The thesis is set in a social constructivist methodology. As Gummingurru is an Aboriginal site, the theoretical literature that frames my research concerns Aboriginal cultural law and Aboriginal worldviews. However, because my data are archaeological measurements, I have also used quantitative methods in the form of the computer program ‘Statistical Package for the Social Sciences’ (SPSS) version 20. Using this combined methodology of a constructivist paradigm and quantitative methods, I investigate whether the case study motifs at Gummingurru were created from rocks deliberately selected for size and shape.

My results demonstrate that there are indeed signs of deliberate rock selection having been made in the construction of the case study motifs at Gummingurru. Consequently, I conclude that there are archaeological signatures of human behaviour and law with respect to the choice of raw materials, at least in stone arrangement sites.

Zooarchaeological Evidence for Projectile Technology in the African Middle Stone Age

CODriscoll TA AA76Corey O’Driscoll

BA(Hons), School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, November 2012

The ability of Homo sapiens to kill prey at a distance is arguably one of the catalysts for our current ecological dominance. Despite the importance of projectile technology in human hunting strategies, there is still no consensus on when it first emerged. Many researchers have suggested its origins lie in the African Middle Stone Age (MSA) or Middle Palaeolithic (from ca 285–30 thousand years ago). Currently the largest body of evidence for the origins of projectiles is from the analysis of MSA stone points. There is a growing body of research focusing on zooarchaeological projectile impact marks in European assemblages; however, comparable investigations are currently lacking for the MSA. The criteria for identifying projectile impact marks on bone is not standardised, and no large experimental studies exist that examine marks left by MSA points specifically. Therefore, a clear analytical framework must be created through experimental samples of such points. Using replica MSA prepared core points and Howiesons Poort segments—both of which were present during the southern African MSA—this paper defines the various forms of marks on bone caused by stone artefacts commonly considered to have been used as projectiles at this time. When applied to the archaeological record itself, these results suggest that the earliest direct evidence for hunting practices in southern African MSA deposits dates to around 160–90 ka.

Image caption: Puncture wound with stone embedded in rib caused by experimental lithic projectile (image courtesy of Tammy Purssell).

Information for the Future: An Analysis of Shipwreck Artefact Records in South Australia

Cassandra Morris

M. Maritime Archaeology, Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, July 2012

South Australia (SA) has numerous shipwrecks, material from which is currently displayed across the state in many different museums. Analysing the register entries for these artefacts, this thesis studies the quality and quantity of information recorded. Across 23 museums data was collected in person, via email and mail and resulted in 645 artefacts recorded and discussed. The records of these  artefacts were loaded into a specially designed database system, developed from  the museum registers themselves. Records were compared against each other, in  addition to collection management policies, and archaeological standards. This  comparison illustrated a distinct need for improvement within museum register  recording. Main areas of improvement include the need to record further details  within registers, the necessity to document the artefact’s story as opposed to  just the ship’s history, the computerisation of registers across SA, and the implementation of standardisation throughout Australia.  These results demonstrate that SA is a step behind other museums, both within Australia and globally, in terms of implementing new technology and  standardisation.

Inmate Coping Strategies in Fremantle Prison, Western Australia

Erin Mein

BA (Hons), School of Humanities, University of Western Australia, November 2012

This thesis investigates inmate coping strategies in Fremantle Prison, Western Australia, via an examination of the archaeological evidence excavated from two cells in the Main Cell Block. It is argued that previous studies of total institutions which have aimed to uncover the lived experiences of inmates, focused too heavily on finding evidence of inmate resistance, to the point that resistance has become synonymous with agency. The theoretical framework set out in this study moves away from dichotomous concepts of resistance versus domination in total institutions and instead uses an interpretive framework based on psychological concepts of coping strategies to examine the archaeological record of prison cells. Historical documents and psychological research are used to model the types of problems faced by inmates and the strategies they employ to cope with prison life. This study also aimed to test the potential of using ‘between-floor’ archaeological deposits, which are suspended between floors and ceilings in the upper storeys of standing structures, in future archaeological research. A comparison between site formation processes of a subterranean underfloor deposit versus a between-floor deposit is undertaken in order to understand the future research potential and limitations of the latter.

‘An Ear to the Ground’: Fish Otolith Geochemistry, Environmental Conditions and Human Eccupation at Lake Mungo

Kelsie E. Long

BA(Hons), School of Archaeology and Anthropology in conjunction with the Research School of Earth Sciences, The Australian National University, October 2012

Fish otoliths are calcium carbonate structures that form within the inner ear of teleost fish. They are usually employed in archaeological studies as indicators of human diet and resource use. Recently, however, they have been investigated for their geochemical properties and how these can be used for dating and as palaeoenvironmental indicators. This study analyses the geochemical composition of otoliths collected from a series of hearth sites at Lake Mungo in the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area of New South Wales. Radiocarbon and amino acid racemisation were tested as methods of dating the otoliths. Oxygen isotope, strontium isotope and elemental abundance ratios were measured across the banded growth lines in order to assess the use of otoliths as high resolution recorders of past environmental conditions and to identify fish migration. Fish otoliths from the same hearth site are assumed to have been killed and eaten at the same time, a theory which is backed up by radiocarbon dating and the similarities of geochemical assays. Difficulties in identifying age lines and associating each with the sampled areas caused slight offsets in the dataset. Nevertheless, evaporative trends experienced by fish were able to be identified as were potential points of migration and seasonal temperature fluctuations. Otoliths are an ideal tool for multidisciplinary research providing links between their internal geochemical records, the archaeology of the hearth sites and the geology of the surrounding sediment layer.

Landscape, Art, Artists and Audience: A spatial Analysis of the Rock Art at Wanmanna, Pilbara, Western Australia

Martha Jaworski

BSc(Hons), School of Social Sciences, University of Western Australia, November 2012

Located 75 km from Newman in Western Australia, just off the Port Hedland Road, is a rock art assemblage site known as Wanmanna. Prior to this study the site had not been surveyed and recorded despite the fact that it is situated within the Pilbara, a region that is famous as being home to one of the richest petroglyph areas in Australia. There is large and diverse assemblage of rock art present at this site. A comprehensive recording of this site took place in early 2012, and this thesis is focused on the analysis of the rock art recorded with regards to a number of factors which may have influenced the placement and distribution of rock art within the site. Throughout the analysis a number of patterns were identified regarding a number of landscape features of the site. These patterns are examined and the potential meanings are explored.

Life in a Shell. Using Archaeological Shell Assemblages for Palaeoenvironmental Reconstruction: Preliminary Isotope Analysis of Polymesoda (Geloina) coaxans (Gmelin, 1791) from Bentinck Island, Gulf of Carpentaria

Jane Hinton TA AA76Jane Hinton

BA(Hons), School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, November 2012

Archaeological interpretations in Australia and the Pacific have increasingly emphasised past climate change as a key driver of Holocene cultural change. Many studies, however, have relied on palaeoclimate data sets from locations geographically removed from the archaeological materials under investigation. Local high-resolution proxy climate data correlated with high-resolution archaeological data at similar spatial and temporal scales are essential to build cogent models of past human-environment interactions. Given the scarcity of local proxy palaeoclimate archives for north Australia, this study explores the potential for using archaeological shell assemblages for palaeoenvironmental reconstruction using the estuarine bivalve, Polymesoda (Geloina) coaxans from Bentinck Island, Gulf of Carpentaria.

Throughout their lifetimes, bivalves record information in shell structures about the ambient environment in which they grew. Precipitated into shell carbonates, stable isotope profiles can be used to determine periodicities and amplitudes of past climate conditions. Although many successful shell stable isotope studies have been conducted internationally, few have been attempted in Australia. This research applies high-resolution sampling and high-precision spectrometry methods not previously employed in Australian archaeological contexts. Results demonstrate that high-resolution stable oxygen and carbon isotope profiles of modern and archaeological specimens of P. coaxans track broad seasonal variability of wet and dry seasons owing to variations of rainfall and tidal systems in the estuary. The methods and findings provide the basis for using archaeological shellfish assemblages to build an understanding of past climate variability beyond instrumental records using sclerochemical techniques.

Image caption: In May 2009, Site 46A Mosquito Story, a dense 1 m2 surface scatter of P. coaxans was excavated under the auspices of the Wellesley Region Ancient Cultural History Project (photograph courtesy of Daniel Rosendahl).

Speaking Stones: The Archaeological Study of Churches in Colonial NSW, Australia

Charlotte Gardner

BArchPrac(Hons), School of Archaeology and Anthropology, The Australian National University, October 2012

The architecture of nineteenth century churches was affected by the interrelationship between the congregation, theology, legislation (both governmental and ecclesiastical), society and economy. For example, in England, the Oxford and Cambridge movements argued the outward and visible form of Gothic Revival ecclesiastical architecture signified something inward and spiritual. Essentially, these intellectual movements gave the ‘material fabric’ of the church the significance of the liturgy, rather than something that was dictated by it.

In this thesis, historical churches in southern New South Wales (NSW) are examined using Renfrew and Bahn’s (2008) archaeology of cult in order to investigate three issues: if the people of colonial NSW really did strive to replicate the cultural landscape and social life of England; if the religious function of the church remained the same; and if the socio-political environment of the colony changed social perspectives and influenced the architecture and spatial divisions in the church and the movement of people through the building. The methodology was designed to enable detailed recording of the external architecture of 25 churches and their surroundings in order to answer these questions. The interior structure and features were also detailed for some of them.

By comparing southern NSW churches with Gothic Revival regulations, it was concluded that the greatest influence on nineteenth century churches in NSW was a blend of tradition and adaption. Even congregations with limited resources were able to construct churches in the Gothic Revivalist style, surrounded by a boundary fence with a main gate, entrance porch and the basic internal nave-chancel division. Each feature was designed to control the movement and line of sight of the congregation and to transform their experience of the building into a mark of the holy mountain.

An Investigation of Lithic Utilisation in the ‘Dry Country’ Region of Far Northeast Queensland

Alistair Carr

BA(Hons), Department of Archaeology, La Trobe University, June 2012

This thesis has aimed to gain an understanding of lithic utilisation in the ‘dry country’ region of far northeast Queensland. It has sought to investigate a previously unexplored area for archaeological purposes, and draw a range of conclusions regarding relationships between Indigenous inhabitants from the mid- to late Holocene with available stone resources. A range of sites within the study area are investigated to determine lithic utilisation practises, including two rockshelters and their associated raw material sources. A thorough investigation of each rockshelter assemblage and surveyed artefacts at associated raw material sources is provided to allow site specific analysis, as well as a greater understanding of potential site interconnectedness. This research is conducted through the application of theoretical and methodological frameworks that enable the interpretation of human behaviour as it is connected to the investigated lithic material. Specifically, ethnoarchaeological approaches are combined with statistical investigations that identify ‘source to discard’ behavioural relationships. Primarily, the aim of this thesis has been to gain an initial understanding of lithic utilisation in a new study area. However, insight has also been achieved for comparative purposes with the previously investigated neighbouring rainforest region. This research has also enabled the study area to be placed in an Austral