Re-Evaluating the Australian Small-Tool Tradition: A Perspective from Hazelwood, Victoria

01st June 2008

Joseph Alexander Brooke

BArch(Hons), Archaeology Program, School of Historical and European Studies, La TrobeUniversity, 2006

This thesis presents the analysis and interpretation of mid-Holocene stone artefact assemblages from the Driffield/Hazelwood area, eastern Victoria. Investigations were designed to generate information about the relationships between stone technology, subsistence activities and mobility patterns. It is argued that during the mid-Holocene, tool types, technologies, raw material use and reduction strategies indicate that people practised relatively mobile foraging strategies and that there was some form of change more recently, during the late Holocene, when people were less mobile.

Results from Driffield/Hazelwood were compared to studies of temporally comparable stone artefact assemblages from other parts of southeastern Australia, including Gariwerd/Grampians, Wilson’s Promontory, CaperteeValley and the southern coast of New South Wales. Similarities and differences in the composition and characteristics of mid-Holocene stone artefact assemblages in southeastern Australia reflect a relatively unified technology. Some variations in assemblage composition north and south of the Murray River are evident and some possible influencing factors for these discussed.

These discussions provide the basis for assessing the different classificatory schemes used to describe mid-Holocene changes in stone technology. It is suggested that the characteristics and significance of the concept of the Australian small-tool tradition need to be re-evaluated. Toward this goal, consideration is given to the explanations that have been offered for the introduction of microlithic industries in other parts of the world. It is argued that rejection of the Australian small-tool tradition, as some have suggested, is premature and more consideration should be given to the causes of regional and temporal variation in the characteristics of these assemblages, as Gould first advocated when he introduced the concept of the small-tool tradition to Australian archaeologists in 1969.

Joseph A. Brook
Re-Evaluating the Australian Small-Tool Tradition: A Perspective from Hazelwood, Victoria
June 2008
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