Thesis abstract ‘Chronological Changes in Stone Artefact Resource Utilisation at Magnificent Gallery: Southeast Cape York Peninsula, Northern Queensland’

23rd May 2014

Silvano Jung

Master of Letters thesis, Department of Archaeology and Palaeoanthropology, University of New England, November 1990

This Master of Letters thesis presents a technological analysis of stone artefacts from Magnificent Gallery, a Pleistocene rockshelter in southeast Cape York Peninsula. Changes in artefact technology were linked to changes in Aboriginal stone working behaviour. It is concluded that people were implementing more efficient knapping techniques in the past 1000 years BP probably in response to significant population increases.

The site was excavated in 1989 by Morwood (1989a, 1989b). The deposits contain archaeological material consisting of charcoal, grindstones, stone artefacts, bone, ochre, xanthorrhoea and items of worked wood. Art is also present at the site.

‘Cultural Layers’ were used as the primary unit of the analysis. Three technological artefact classes were examined within those cultural layers: cores, flakes and flaked pieces which established that:

1. People increased their use of fine-grained materials (e.g. chert).

2. More efficient flaking techniques were applied in knapping stone.

3. The sequence in which those knapping techniques were applied became more sophisticated. For the first time, retouch flaking was introduced.

Indexes of site use were also applied to the stone artefact assemblage. A comparative index of trampling intensity was devised so as to take into account the inter-related processes of flake breakage and sedimentation. This demonstrated that a decrease in the proportions of broken flakes, especially in the uppermost layer, largely reflected associated increases in sedimentation rates, rather than decreased occupational intensity. It is therefore concluded that not only did artefact discard rate increase late in the sequence, but also that people may have visited the site more frequently and/or for longer periods.

References

Morwood, M.J. 1989a The archaeology of Aboriginal art in SE Cape York: A research proposal. Rock Art Research 6(1):71–72.

Morwood, M.J. 1989b The archaeology of Aboriginal art In SE Cape York: Preliminary report on the 1989 fieldwork. Rock Art Research 6(2): 155–156.

Jung, S.
Thesis abstract ‘Chronological Changes in Stone Artefact Resource Utilisation at Magnificent Gallery: Southeast Cape York Peninsula, Northern Queensland’
December 1991
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Thesis Abstracts
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