A preliminary redating of the Holocene Roonka burials, south-eastern Australia

Judith Littleton, Fiona Petchey, Keryn Walshe, Frank Pate

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    11 Citations (Scopus)


    Roonka is one of the most complete excavations of an Aboriginal burial ground in south-eastern Australia. The chronology of the site and the nature of its use have proven difficult to interpret. Previous dating and chronological interpretations of the site have emphasised a chronology of changing use and burial practices, but the nature of the site and the dates obtained do not clearly support these interpretations. We report on the direct dating of human bone from a further ten burials from the main excavation. In order to further investigate the cultural chronology set out by Pretty (1977), samples were selected to cover a range of burial types and preservation states. Comparison of these dates with the previous conventional dates and early AMS dates not only shows the impact of improving technology but demonstrates that multiple burial styles were in use contemporaneously. Moreover, the results suggest that use of the site may have been discontinuous. Consequently, interpretations that assume a chronological sequence for Roonka based on burial practice are not supported, while analyses based on a synchronic interpretation may ignore significant temporal change.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)98-107
    Number of pages10
    Issue number2
    Early online date2017
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


    • Aboriginal burials
    • chronology
    • dating
    • Holocene
    • Roonka
    • south-eastern Australia


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