‘Small, individually nondescript, and easily overlooked’: Contact beads from rockshelters in the Wellington Range, north western Arnhem Land

16th October 2014

Part of the glass beaded headband and necklace collection from the NT sourced between 1925 and 1930 by Mrs Jessie Litchfield and now held at the British Museum (published in Australian Archaeology 79).

Part of the glass beaded headband and necklace collection
from the NT sourced between 1925 and 1930 by Mrs Jessie Litchfield and now held at the British Museum (published in Australian Archaeology 79).

Daryl Wesley and Mirani Litster

This paper examines the interactions between Indigenous traditional owners, Macassan trepangers and European settlers in northwest Arnhem Land, Northern Territory. The recovery of an assemblage of beads from six archaeological sites within the Manganowal estate (Djulirri, Malarrak 1, Malarrak 4, Bald Rock 1, Bald Rock 2 and Bald Rock 3) in the Wellington Range, supports the case for the introduction of these items to Arnhem Land in the pre-Mission era context. We present descriptions of one stone and 28 glass beads/bead fragments and examine the significance of the exchange of these items and how they became incorporated into existing Indigenous cultural systems. This archaeological evidence is assessed in concert with the historical, ethnographic, linguistic and anthropological records. We interpret this within the framework of a hybrid economy between Indigenous people, Europeans and Macassans (Altman 2001,2006, 2007).

Wesley, D. and M. Litster
'Small, individually nondescript, and easily overlooked': Contact beads from rockshelters in the Wellington Range, north western Arnhem Land
December 2014
79
Article
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