Objectives: This study examines long bone diaphyseal rigidity and shape of hunter-gatherers at Roonka to make inferences about subsistence strategies and mobility of inhabitants of semi-arid southeastern Australia. Roonka is a cemetery site adjacent to the Lower Murray River, which contains over 200 individuals buried throughout the Holocene. Archaeological evidence indicates that populations living near this river corridor employed mobile, risk averse foraging strategies. Methods: This prediction of lifestyle was tested by comparing the cross-sectional geometric properties of the humerus, radius, ulna, femur, tibia, and fibula of individuals from Roonka to samples of varying subsistence strategies. Bilateral asymmetry of the upper limb bones was also examined. Results: Roonka males and females have moderately high lower limb diaphyseal rigidity and shape. In the upper limb, females have low rigidity and bilateral asymmetry while males have moderately high rigidity and bilateral asymmetry. This pattern is similar to other foraging groups from Australia and southern Africa that have behaviorally adapted to arid and semi-arid environments. Discussion: Lower limb results suggest that populations in the Lower Murray River Valley had relatively elevated foraging mobility. Upper limb rigidity and bilateral asymmetry indicate a sexual division of labor at Roonka. Females resemble other samples that had mixed subsistence strategies that involved hunting, gathering, and processing tasks. Males display a pattern similar to groups that preferentially hunted large game, but that supplemented this source with smaller game and riverine resources.
- bilateral asymmetry
- subsistence strategies