Aboriginal uses for introduced glass, ceramic and flint from the former Schofields Aerodrome, Western Sydney (Darug Country), New South Wales

Simon Munt, Tim Owen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Since permanent colonial incursion in 1788, Aboriginal groups around Australia incorporated introduced materials for a variety of tasks. However, relatively little is known about Aboriginal uses of bottle glass and ceramic flakes because there have only been two published use-wear analyses concerning bottle glass and none for ceramic. Excavations at the historical site of the former Schofields Aerodrome in New South Wales yielded flakes of both materials as well as introduced flint. We draw on actualistic experiments to inform interpretations of use-wear among the 279 archaeological specimens. Results demonstrate that glass, ceramic and flint were indeed used at the former Schofields Aerodrome site, for tools to work other materials. This is the first evidence for such use of ceramic flakes, which had previously only been known to have been used as end-products, such as spear tips. Use-wear also indicates that, contrary to common assumptions, thicker parts of glass bottles were not always preferred for tools and that across each raw material, tools were predominantly shards rather than intentionally knapped flakes. We infer that while ascribing motives to past behaviours is complex, the use of the introduced materials represents agency in Aboriginal people’s engagement with the incoming colonial culture.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalAustralian Archaeology
Early online date10 Aug 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Aug 2021

Keywords

  • Aboriginal technology
  • bottle glass artefacts
  • ceramic artefacts
  • colonial
  • flint artefacts
  • microscopy
  • Use-wear analysis

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Aboriginal uses for introduced glass, ceramic and flint from the former Schofields Aerodrome, Western Sydney (Darug Country), New South Wales'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this