Reduced to Tools: A technological study of two stone artefact assemblages from Lake Mungo, Australia

06th November 2013

LR TA Roy 201361 - image - lunetteLouisa Roy

 BArch(Hons), Archaeology Program, La Trobe University, June 2013

An analysis of two stone artefact assemblages from the Willandra Lakes Region World Heritage Area provides the basis for a study of technological organisation at Lake Mungo. The two assemblages were originally collected and analysed by Allen (1972) for his PhD thesis. One assemblage originates from the southern end of the Mungo lunette, whilst the other originates from the western shoreline. Allen used a typological and culture historical framework, current at the time he undertook his research, to analyse and interpret the assemblages. He identified recurring artefact forms at both sites from which continuities in technology and tool-kits were inferred. This contributed to the formal definition of the ‘Australian Core Tool and Scraper Tradition’, which was considered to be typical of many Pleistocene Australian assemblages. Since this time, researchers have built a more complete picture of Pleistocene stone technologies, and Hiscock and Allen’s (2000) reassessment of Allen’s original data suggested that there were in fact differences in the assemblages that could be interpreted as differences in stoneworking activities at the two locations.

This study re-analysed the artefacts from the Walls of China and Mungo Backshore assemblages to investigate technological   organisation at Lake Mungo. The results suggest that a large part of the reduction sequence occurred on the western shoreline. Suitable large cores and specifically shaped flakes were then selected, and possibly transported to the lunette. Once cores were on the lunette, they were reduced to a greater extent compared to those in the western shoreline assemblage. Some measures of tool resharpening showed that tools on the lunette were rejuvenated more than the western shoreline, although other measures showed no difference between the two locations.


Allen, H. 1972 Where the Crow Flies Backwards: Man and Land in the Darling Basin. Unpublished PhD thesis, Department of Prehistory, Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian National University, Canberra.

Hiscock, P. and H. Allen 2000 Assemblage variability in the Willandra Lakes. Archaeology in Oceania 35:97–103.

Roy, L.
Thesis abstract 'Reduced to Tools: A technological study of two stone artefact assemblages from Lake Mungo, Australia'
Dec 2013
Thesis Abstracts
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