New interpretations for the stone artefact assemblage from Ngaut Ngaut (Devon Downs), South Australia

Catherine Bland, Amy Roberts, Isobelle Campbell

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    This paper presents the results of a technological analysis of the stone artefacts from the Ngaut Ngaut (Devon Downs) rockshelter, South Australia. In particular, this article presents new information and interpretations, via re-analysis of the stone tool assemblage, relating to the following areas: 1) Artefact numbers; 2) Raw materials; and 3) Manufacturing processes. These interpretations are also considered in relation to prior hypotheses about stone tools from Ngaut Ngaut and nearby sites, largely through comparison with the works of Tindale, Mulvaney and Smith. The results show that discrepancies exist between researchers in relation to the identification of stone tools for the Ngaut Ngaut assemblage. It is argued that the predominant discrepancy between researcher artefact counts arises due the typological biases of past researchers with more minimal differences relating to the discovery of stone artefacts in other parts of the collection. A re-analysis of the raw materials in the stone assemblage also identified previously unrecorded materials including silcrete, mica schist and compressed limestone. Further, it is argued that there are changes in raw material use over time with some raw materials only present in certain stratigraphic layers. Similarly the re-analysis undertaken in this research more adequately defined the range of core types present in the assemblage in comparison to previous studies. Aspects of the analysis, such as flake terminations, show that feathered terminations (which arguably reveal the greater control of force variables by knappers) may have increased through time thereby potentially conflicting with Mulvaney's 'degeneration' theory. Similarly, the research also shows that retouch increases over time. If one considers retouch to be either the intensity of resharpening or as a result of deliberate manufacture, either scenario could be interpreted as an increase in stoneworking rather than a general decline as suggested in Mulvaney's broader hypothesis. From the results of the research it can also be argued that neither of the latter aspects of the analysis show any observable dramatic changes in manufacturing processes over time which may be expected if one were to adhere to Tindale's 'cultural succession' theory. Thus, whilst certain changes can be demonstrated through this research and reveal the dynamism and skills of people who occupied the site the interpretations stemming from these results differ from previous hypotheses.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)46-65
    Number of pages20
    JournalJournal of the Anthropological Society of South Australia
    Volume36
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012

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