New approaches to the archaeological investigation of culturally modified trees: A case study from Western Cape York Peninsula

Michael Morrison, Emily Shepard, Darlene McNaughton, Kathryn Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

There is a wealth of ethno-ecological knowledge and ethnographic material on the use and creation of tree products in contemporary and classical Aboriginal societies, including western Cape York Peninsula. However, culturally modified trees (CMTs) associated with the collection of tree products in the past have been subject to relatively little research in Australia despite being often highly valued by Aboriginal communities. In western Cape York Peninsula, CMTs are a very common element of the archaeological record and are routinely identified in cultural heritage management work undertaken ahead of extensive strip mining operations occurring in the region.This paper reviews the methods and results of work harnessing both well-established and emerging technologies relevant to the archaeological investigation of culturally modified trees, including statistical analysis, spatial analysis, dendrochronology and dendroecology. We argue that techniques such as these can provide valuable insights into Aboriginal lifeways in the pre- and post-contact eras and generate results that are of value to community groups concerned about the ongoing destruction or removal of these features, as well as other parties involved in heritage assessments and management of CMTs in the region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-51
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of the Anthropological Society of South Australia
Volume35
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2012

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