Archaeology of the Waiat mysteries on Woeydhul Island in Western Torres Strait

Wright, Duncan, Samper Carro, Sofia C., Nejman, Ladislav, Van Der Kolk, Glenn, Litster, Mirani, Langley, Michelle C., Wood, Rachel, Claringbold, Iona, and Repu, Cygnet (2021) Archaeology of the Waiat mysteries on Woeydhul Island in Western Torres Strait. Antiquity: a quarterly review of archaeology, 95 (381). pp. 791-811.

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Secret societies, involving restricted and hierarchically organised initiation rituals, are conspicuous in the chronicles of many past and present societies. These rarely leave a substantial written record and yet archaeology can provide vivid insight into past perfor- mances, for example in relation to Roman ‘mystery cults’. Far less research, however, has focused on Aus- tralia and the Pacific Islands. This article presents archaeological evidence for ceremonies practised on Woeydhul Island in the Western Torres Strait, exploring initiation rituals at the cusp of contempor- ary memory. By doing so, it provides a detailed and long-term history for Torres Strait Islander secret societies and ritual activities involving dugong bone mounds, stone arrangements and worked stingray spines.

Item ID: 71063
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0003-598X
Keywords: Torres Strait; Waiat; Woeydhul; culture hero; secret societies
Copyright Information: Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Antiquity Publications Ltd.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC grant LP140100387
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2021 23:40
FoR Codes: 43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4301 Archaeology > 430101 Archaeological science @ 50%
45 INDIGENOUS STUDIES > 4501 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, language and history > 450101 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander archaeology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 13 CULTURE AND SOCIETY > 1307 Understanding past societies > 130703 Understanding Australia’s past @ 100%
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