Archaeology - Collected Works

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    New evidence of megafaunal bone damage indicates late colonization of Madagascar
    (Public Library of Science, 2018-10-10) Anderson, Atholl; Clark, Geoffrey; Haberle, Simon; Higham, Tom; Nowak-Kemp, Malgosia; Prendergast, Amy; Radimilahy, Chantal; Rakotozafy, Lucien M; Ramilisonina; Schwenninger, Jean-Luc; Virah-Sawmy, Malika; Camens, Aaron
    The estimated period in which human colonization of Madagascar began has expanded recently to 5000–1000 y B.P., six times its range in 1990, prompting revised thinking about early migration sources, routes, maritime capability and environmental changes. Cited evidence of colonization age includes anthropogenic palaeoecological data 2500–2000 y B.P., megafaunal butchery marks 4200–1900 y B.P. and OSL dating to 4400 y B.P. of the Lakaton’i Anja occupation site. Using large samples of newly-excavated bone from sites in which megafaunal butchery was earlier dated >2000 y B.P. we find no butchery marks until ~1200 y B.P., with associated sedimentary and palynological data of initial human impact about the same time. Close analysis of the Lakaton’i Anja chronology suggests the site dates <1500 y B.P. Diverse evidence from bone damage, palaeoecology, genomic and linguistic history, archaeology, introduced biota and seafaring capability indicate initial human colonization of Madagascar 1350–1100 y B.P.
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    Life goes on: Archaeobotanical investigations of diet and ritual at Angkor Thom, Cambodia (14th–15th centuries CE)
    (SAGE Publications, 2018-02-02) Castillo, Cristina Cobo; Polkinghorne, Martin; Vincent, Brice; Suy, Tan Boun; Fuller, Dorian Q
    This is the first time an archaeobotanical analysis based on macroremains, both charred and desiccated, from Cambodia is reported. The archaeobotanical samples are rich and provide evidence of rice processing, consumption of non-indigenous pulses, and the use of economic crops. The evidence is supported by data from inscriptions, texts and historical ethnography. This study demonstrates that the city of Angkor in the 14th and 15th centuries CE, despite its decline, was still occupied. Angkor’s inhabitants continued their everyday lives cultivating and consuming their staple food, rice, with a suite of pulses, and also used the harvests in the performance of rituals.
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    Evidence for the breakdown of an Angkorian hydraulic system, and its historical implications for understanding the Khmer Empire
    (Elsevier, 2017-11-10) Lustig, Terry; Klassen, Sarah; Evans, Damian; French, Robert; Moffat, Ian Alexander
    This paper examines the construction and design of a 7-km long embankment, probably built for King Jayavarman IV between 928 and 941 CE, as part of a new capital. We calculate that the capacities of the outlets were too small, and conclude that the embankment failed, probably within a decade of construction, so that the benefits of the reservoir stored by the embankment and the access road on top of it were lessened substantially. We explain how the design was sub-optimal for construction, and that while the layout had a high aesthetic impact, the processes for ensuring structural integrity were poor. Simple and inexpensive steps to secure the weir were not undertaken. We speculate that this early failure may have contributed to the decision to return the royal court and the capital of the Khmer Empire to the Angkor region, marking a critically important juncture in regional history.
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    GIS-based evaluation of diagnostic areas in landslide susceptibility analysis of Bahluieț River Basin (Moldavian Plateau, NE Romania). Are Neolithic sites in danger?
    (Elsevier, 2018-04-27) Nicu, Ionut Cristi; Asăndulesei, Andrei
    The aim of this study is to compare the predictive strenghtness of different diagnostic areas in determining landslide susceptibility using frequency ratio (FR), statistical index (SI), and analytic hierarchy process (AHP) models in a catchment from the northeastern part of Romania. Scarps (point), landslide areas (polygon), and middle of the landslide (point) have been tested and checked in regards to their performance. The three statistical models have been employed to assess the landslide susceptibility using eleven conditioning factors (slope angle, elevation, curvature, lithology, precipitations, land use, topographic wetness index (TWI), landforms, aspect, plan curvature and distance to river). The three models were validated using the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves and the seed cell area index (SCAI) methods. The predictive capability of each model was established from the area under the curve (AUC), for FR, SI and AHP; the values are 0.75, 0.81 and 0.78 (using polygon as diagnostic area), respectively. Among the three methods used, SI had a better predictability. When it comes to the predictability values regarding the diagnostic areas, the landslide area (polygon) proves to have the highest values. This results from the entire surface of the landslide being taken into account when validating the data. Approximately 70% of the Neolithic sites are located in areas with high and very high susceptibility to landslides, meaning that they are in danger of being destroyed in the future. The final susceptibility maps are useful in hazard mitigation, risk reduction, a sustainable land use planning, evaluation of cultural heritage integrity, and to highlight the most endangered sites that are likely to be destroyed in the future.
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    3D Mapping of the Submerged Crowie Barge Using Electrical Resistivity Tomography
    (Hindawi, 2018-05-08) Simyrdanis, Kleanthis; Moffat, Ian Alexander; Papadopoulos, Nikos; Kowlessar, Jarrad; Bailey, Marian
    This study explores the applicability and effectiveness of electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) as a tool for the high-resolution mapping of submerged and buried shipwrecks in 3D. This approach was trialled through modelling and field studies of Crowie, a paddle steamer barge which sunk at anchor in the Murray River at Morgan, South Australia, in the late 1950s. The mainly metallic structure of the ship is easily recognisable in the ERT data and was mapped in 3D both subaqueously and beneath the sediment-water interface. The innovative and successful use of ERT in this case study demonstrates that 3D ERT can be used for the detailed mapping of submerged cultural material. It will be particularly useful where other geophysical and diver based mapping techniques may be inappropriate due to shallow water depths, poor visibility, or other constraints.
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    Mapping of bioavailable strontium isotope ratios in France for archaeological provenance studies
    (Elsevier, 2017-12-30) Willmes, Malte; Bataille, Clement P; James, Hannah F; Moffat, Ian Alexander; McMorrow, Linda; Kinsley, Leslie; Eggins, Stephen; Grun, Rainer
    Strontium isotope ratios (87Sr/86Sr) of archaeological samples (teeth and bones) can be used to track mobility and migration across geologically distinct landscapes. However, traditional interpolation algorithms and classification approaches used to generate Sr isoscapes are often limited in predicting multiscale 87Sr/86Sr patterning. Here we investigate the suitability of plant samples and soil leachates from the IRHUM database ( to create a bioavailable 87Sr/86Sr map using a novel geostatistical framework. First, we generated an 87Sr/86Sr map by classifying 87Sr/86Sr values into five geologically-representative isotope groups using cluster analysis. The isotope groups were then used as a covariate in kriging to integrate prior geological knowledge of Sr cycling with the information contained in the bioavailable dataset and enhance 87Sr/86Sr predictions. Our approach couples the strengths of classification and geostatistical methods to generate more accurate 87Sr/86Sr predictions (Root Mean Squared Error = 0.0029) with an estimate of spatial uncertainty based on lithology and sample density. This bioavailable Sr isoscape is applicable for provenance studies in France, and the method is transferable to other areas with high sampling density. While our method is a step forward in generating accurate 87Sr/86Sr isoscapes, the remaining uncertainty also demonstrates that fine-modelling of 87Sr/86Sr variability is challenging and requires more than geological maps for accurately predicting 87Sr/86Sr variations across the landscape. Future efforts should focus on increasing sampling density and developing predictive models to further quantify and predict the processes that lead to 87Sr/86Sr variability.
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    Temporal variability in shell mound formation at Albatross Bay, northern Australia
    (Public Library of Science, 2017-08-30) Holdaway, Simon J; Fanning, Patricia C; Petchey, Fiona; Allely, Kasey; Shiner, Justin I; Bailey, Geoffrey
    We report the results of 212 radiocarbon determinations from the archaeological excavation of 70 shell mound deposits in the Wathayn region of Albatross Bay, Australia. This is an intensive study of a closely co-located group of mounds within a geographically restricted area in a wider region where many more shell mounds have been reported. Valves from the bivalve Tegillarca granosa (Linnaeus, 1758) were dated. The dates obtained are used to calculate rates of accumulation for the shell mound deposits. These demonstrate highly variable rates of accumulation both within and between mounds. We assess these results in relation to likely mechanisms of shell deposition and show that rates of deposition are affected by time-dependent processes both during the accumulation of shell deposits and during their subsequent deformation. This complicates the interpretation of the rates at which shell mound deposits appear to have accumulated. At Wathayn, there is little temporal or spatial consistency in the rates at which mounds accumulated. Comparisons between the Wathayn results and those obtained from shell deposits elsewhere, both in the wider Albatross Bay region and worldwide, suggest the need for caution when deriving behavioural inferences from shell mound deposition rates, and the need for more comprehensive sampling of individual mounds and groups of mounds.
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    Scientific evidence for the identification of an Aboriginal massacre at the Sturt Creek sites on the Kimberley frontier of north-western Australia
    (Elsevier, 2017-08-31) Smith, Pamela Alethea; Raven, Mark; Walshe, Keryn Anne; Fitzpatrick, Robert; Pate, Frank Donald
    Archival research into episodes of frontier violence in the Kimberley region of Western Australia indicate that the bodies of Aboriginal victims of massacres were frequently incinerated following the event. This paper presents the results of a scientific investigation of a reported massacre at Sturt Creek where burnt bone fragments were identified in two adjacent sites and documents the archaeological signatures associated with the sites. The methodology used to undertake the project brought together three systems of knowledge: the oral testimonies of the descent group originating from a sole adult survivor of the massacre; archival, historical and scientific research. An archaeological survey defined the two distinct sites containing hundreds of fragile bone fragments; a third site was found to be highly disturbed. Scientific investigations included macroscopic and microscopic examination of selected bone fragments by an anatomical pathologist and a zooarchaeologist and X-ray diffraction analysis of sixteen bone fragments. The anatomical pathologist and zooarchaeologist undertook macroscopic and microscopic examinations of selected bone samples to identify morphological evidence for human origin. It was concluded that three bone fragments examined may have been human, and two of the fragments may have been from the vault of a skull. It was concluded that the likelihood of them being human would be strengthened if it was found that the three samples had been subjected to high temperatures. X-ray diffraction analysis of 16 bone fragments provided this evidence. All fragments showed sharp hydroxylapatite peaks (crystallite sizes 9882 nm and 597 nm respectively) and all had been subjected to extreme temperatures of either 600 °C for more than 80 h, 650 °C for more than 20 h, 700 °C for more than 4 h or 800 °C for more than 1 h. XRD analyses were also done on bone samples collected from three cooking hearths at three different archaeological sites. It was found that two of the three samples had been exposed to substantially lower temperatures for a short time period. It was concluded that there was strong pathological and archaeological evidence that the bone fragments were human in origin, but that the evidence was not conclusive. This research also identified archaeological signatures for the identification of massacre sites in similar Australian environments and circumstances.
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    Work-integrated learning in maritime archaeology: an Australian approach
    (Common Ground Publishing, 2009) Staniforth, Mark
    In recent years the Maritime Archaeology Program (MAP) at Flinders University has developed an innovative work-integrated learning program, in association with industry partners that includes fieldwork opportunities and internships (work-placements). This is largely in response to suggestions from consultancy companies and government agencies about the lack of job-ready skills among maritime archaeology graduate students. This is a very flexible program that aims to provide students with opportunities of at least two weeks and up to 3 months to develop both fieldwork skills and more general work practices. This paper will argue that work-integrated learning assists the graduates to get a position and then helps them to do well in that job. Participating in daily work practices and experiencing fieldwork are seen as keys in producing work-ready graduates.
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    AMS dates and phytolith data from mud wasp and bird nests at Carpenter's Gap, Northern Australia
    (Australian Archaeological Association Inc., 2002) Wallis, Lynley Anne
    This paper reports a small suite of AMS radiocarbon dates and phytolith data derived from mud nests collected at the Carpenter's Gap 1 rockshelter in the southwest Kimberley, a site which has a 40,000 year old human occupation sequence. Examination of mud nests was undertaken to supplement the palaeoecological database of the site and help develop a better understanding of issues of phytolith movement, taphonomy and site deposit formation processes in relation to the accumulation of phytoliths in archaeological rockshelter deposits; however, logistical constraints and the novelty of the approach meant this research was designed to be exploratory in nature, rather than exhaustive.
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    Decolonising the Museum: The National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC
    (2005) Smith, Claire Edwina
    The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), the Smithsonian Institution’s new facility on the National Mall inWashington DC, challenges the very notion of what constitutes a museum. Probably the most theoretically informed museum in North America, this is no shrine to the past: it is a museum that claims both past and present to shape a decolonised future for Indigenous populations.
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    Annales-Informed Approaches to the Archaeology of Colonial Australia
    (2003) Staniforth, Mark
    Archaeologists have generally been slow to recognize the value of 'Annales' approaches to their discipline, and maritime archaeologists, in particular, have been even slower. The analytical framework used in this paper draws on applications of Annales approaches to archaeology in what is termed the "archaeology of the event". The resulting holistic approach places the specificity of the event within the wider cultural context. Furthermore, terrestrial historical archaeology has largely ignored the potential that cargo material, derived from maritime archaeological excavations, has to contribute to understandings of colonial settlement. This paper moves beyond the usual functional approaches to the analysis of the meanings of material culture. A major part of the archaeological data used here is drawn from the cargo assemblages of four post-settlement shipwrecks excavated in Australian waters during the past 30 years: Sydney Cove, James Matthews, William Salthouse, and Eglinton. This paper 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.
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    The abandoned ships' project: an overview of the archaeology of deliberate watercraft discard in Australia
    (2006) Richards, Nathan; Staniforth, Mark
    The Abandoned Ships Project (ASP) was a research initiative of the Department of Archaeology at Flinders University, South Australia, and carried out in conjunction with the doctoral research of one of the authors. The project involved the compilation of a database of more than 1,500 discarded and partly dismantled watercraft sites, including information from the archaeological inspection of more than 120 deliberately discarded ships. Researchers used this data to assess the degree of correlation between discard activities and economic, social and technological issues. The logistics of discard were also examined as reflected in commentaries describing discard processes and as seen in the archaeological signatures of these events. This information illustrated the causal relationships among processes (landscapes, economic trends, regulatory frameworks, and cultural site formation) associated with harm minimisation, placement assurance, salvage, and discard activities.
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    Glass Ceilings, Glass Parasols and Australian Academic Archaeology
    (2006) Smith, Claire Edwina; Burke, Heather Daphne
    Within the discipline of archaeology an interest in the status of women in the workplace was a core facet of an emergent archaeology of gender. Much has been accomplished since then, and in the early twenty-first century women are a fundamental part of the archaeological social landscape. But, despite this, have women really achieved equity in the workplace?
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    The Adelaide Hills Face Zone as a Cultural Landscape. [abstract].
    (2005) Smith, Pamela Alethea; Piddock, Susan; Pate, Frank Donald
    Landscape archaeology is a recent approach employed in historical and indigenous archaeology that addresses the interaction of cultural and environmental variables associated with human landscape use (Yamin and Bescherer 1996; David and Lourandos 1999). This theoretical paradigm was derived from earlier systems-based approaches to human landscape use developed in relation to settlement pattern and human ecology studies (Clark 1952; Willey 1953, 1956; Steward 1955). Whereas many earlier approaches to human landscape use emphasised the natural environment as a prime mover, landscape archaeology focuses on the strong interactions between culture (i.e. learned behaviour, norms) and natural environments. In relation to historical archaeology, the cultural “baggage” that colonists bring with them has a major impact on how they view, interpret, and use new territories. After three years of archaeological and historical studies it is argued that Adelaide’s Hills Face Zone is one of the best preserved relict landscapes representing the era of European/English expansion and colonisation during the eighteen and nineteenth centuries.
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    Determination of geographic origin of unprovenanced Aboriginal skeletal remains in South Australia employing stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis.
    (Australian Archaeological Association, 2002-12) Pate, Frank Donald; Brodie, Rebecca; Owen, Timothy D
    Bone collagen stable carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis of prehistoric human remains recovered from various known localities in southeastern South Australia provide isotopic signatures that distinguish the following geographic regions: the coastal Coorong, the coastal Murray River Mouth, Swanport (Lower Murray River), and Roonka (Upper Murray River). These regional isotopic signatures are employed to determine geographic origin of unprovenanced Aboriginal skeletal remains curated by the South Australian Museum. Nearly 85% of the unprovenanced sample (77/91) could be assigned to a particular geographic zone on the basis of isotopic values, and a further 13% (12/91) were assigned to areas intermediate between two geographic zones. Only two of the 91 individuals possessed anomalous isotopic values in relation to the standard values derived from known geographic localities. Isotopic analysis provides an independent means to address geographic origin of skeletal remains that can supplement other methods, e.g. metric, non-metric, and DNA analysis.
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    AMS radiocarbon dating of bone collagen: Establishing a chronology for the Swanport Aboriginal burial ground, South Australia
    (Australian Archaeological Association, 2003-06) Pate, Frank Donald; Owen, Timothy D; Lawson, E M
    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 radio carbon 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.
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    Last recorded evidence for megafauna at Wet Cave, Naracoorte, South Australia 45,000 years ago
    (Australian Archaeological Association, 2002-06) Pate, Frank Donald; McDowell, Matthew Charles; Wells, Roderick Tucker; Smith, Andrew M
    The large number of stratified fossil bearing karst caves in the Naracoorte region of southeastern South Australia provide a natural laboratory to address the timing of megafaunal extinctions in southern temperate Australia. Uranium thorium dates on speleothems, luminescence dates on quartz, and electron spin resonance (ESR) dates on megafaunal tooth enamel indicate sedimentary accumulation in the Naracoorte caves over the past 500 ka (Ayliffe et al. 1998; Moriarty et al. 2000).
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    Stable isotopic analysis of prehistoric human diet in the Mariana Islands, western Pacific
    (Australian Archaeological Association, 2001-06) Pate, Frank Donald; Craib, John L.; Heathcote, Gary M.
    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 and nitrogen 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.
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    Bone chemistry and palaeodiet: Bioarchaeological research at Roonka Flat, lower Murray River, South Australia 1983 - 1999
    (Australian Archaeological Association, 2000-06) Pate, Frank Donald
    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).