The story is in the rocks: how stone artifact scatters can inform our understanding of ancient Aboriginal stone arrangement functions

Law, W. Boone, and Slack, Michael J. (2020) The story is in the rocks: how stone artifact scatters can inform our understanding of ancient Aboriginal stone arrangement functions. Journal of Field Archaeology, 45 (2). pp. 106-119.

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Abstract

The Aboriginal stone arrangements of Australia’s northwest Pilbara region are cultural features of considerable interest to Australian scholars. Despite decades of investigation, the function and purpose of the stone constructions remain largely enigmatic. In the absence of physical evidence, most researchers contend that stone arrangements served a ceremonial and ritualistic function. This viewpoint is based largely on ethnographic literature from elsewhere in Australia; however, we suggest that the pan-Australian applicability of ethnographic observations is inappropriate without supporting archaeological evidence. In this article, we characterize stone artifact scatters associated with stone arrangement sites near the Gurdadaguji Valley, in the east Hamersley Range of Western Australia, and argue that assemblage attributes can provide insight on the different kinds of activities that occurred in proximity to particular stone arrangement designs. We use this evidence-based information in conjunction with local ethnography to suggest that some types of stone arrangements functioned as symbolic cultural monuments rather than as places where ceremonial or ritualistic activities occurred.

Item ID: 61252
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2042-4582
Keywords: Australian archaeology, Aboriginal, Pilbara, stone arrangements, stone artifact scatters, prehistoric monuments
Funders: BHP Billiton Iron Ore
Date Deposited: 18 Dec 2019 03:37
FoR Codes: 21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2101 Archaeology > 210101 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Archaeology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australias Past @ 50%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9503 Heritage > 950302 Conserving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage @ 50%
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