Bundeena bling? Possible Aboriginal shell adornments from southern Sydney

01st June 2007

Paul Irish

Introduction

In the course of recent archaeological test excavations undertaken by Mary Dallas Consulting Archaeologists (MDCA) at a midden site (AHIMS# 52-3-1224) at Bundeena in southern Sydney (MDCA 2004a, 2004b), several perforated black periwinkle (Nerita atramentosa) shells were retrieved. They resemble other worked specimens found a few hundred metres away at Bundeena Beach Shelter (AHIMS#52-3-0222) over a century earlier (Harper 1899), but not documented anywhere else in the Sydney region in the intervening period (Figure 1).

This has led to a consideration of the evidence which may support the interpretation of these recently discovered shells as culturally modified, possibly used as personal adornments. In addition to a review of the archaeological context and relevant literature, this involved examining the shells originally excavated by Harper and conducting experiments with modern black periwinkle shells.

Image caption: Perforated shells (published in Australian Archaeology 64:47).
Paul Irish
Bundeena bling? Possible Aboriginal shell adornments from southern Sydney
June 2007
64
46-49
Short Report
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