Dauan 4 and the emergence of ethnographically-known social arrangement across Torres Strait during the last 600–800 years

01st June 2006

McNiven Figure 4 AA62Ian J. McNiven

Excavations at Dauan 4 on the island of Dauan in the top western islands of Torres Strait revealed a 700 year sequence created by marine specialists who ate turtle, dugong, fish and shellfish and employed mostly a flaked quartz technology. The presence of bipolar micro-cores less than 10 mm in length reveals extreme reduction of quartz, possibly for manufacture of small skin cutting tools. While recent research indicates an antiquity of at least 4000 years for marine specialists in Torres Strait, Dauan 4 follows a suite of sites across the Strait demonstrating major cultural changes taking place within the last 600–800 years. These changes herald the emergence of ethnographically-known social arrangements marked by a rapid phase of site establishment and intensified site use consistent with population increase. Paralleling these changes was the appearance of new ritual sites linked spiritually to seascapes such as dugong bone arrangements, stone arrangements and shell arrangements. Such changes may have represented in part socially-mediated responses to a local expression of the Little Ice Age global climatic phenomenon.

Image caption: Excavation in progress at Duaun 4, looking southeast (published in Australian Archaeology 62:3).
Ian J. McNiven
Dauan 4 and the emergence of ethnographically-known social arrangement across Torres Strait during the last 600–800 Years
June 2006
62
1-12
Article
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