Stones from the South-Side: An Analysis of Lithics from the Onkaparinga River, South Australia

12th November 2013

Phil Czerwinski

BA(Hons), Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, Adelaide, November 1997

This research defines the role of raw materials at sites within the Onkaparinga River estuary, South Australia. With an emphasis toward stone artefact technology and industry, a picture of raw material selectivity and conservation is gauged, with reduction sequences determining the role of individual rock types in a continual flaking system. People reduced different rock types to flakes and cores by different means of percussion because of differences in raw material fracture features and availability. Conservation of rare, imported and fine-grained raw materials is also highlighted, as is the expedient use of locally sourced raw materials and the transportation of flakes away from the sites.

Use-wear analysis of edges with secondary modification then determines the function of a sub-set of the stone implements. People used different rock types for different and often special use tasks because of edge durability, sharpness and also bluntness. These use-wear results are next compared with used glass implements from the same sites; exploring postcolonial use of a new raw material and the similarities/differences between the two industries.

By further study of the stone and glass assemblages, the spatial relationships between sites are examined to understand environmental disturbance, task specific areas, and a slightly altered demography after contact. The ethnographic recording of seasonal shifts between coastal dune sites in the summer and wooded inland sites in the winter, explored through locally available raw materials, ascertains the season of occupation at the estuary floodplain sites. Ethnography is then incorporated to assess subsistence and tool manufacture activities.

By using this stone artefact analysis and ethnographic analogy of tool use, manufacture and maintenance in the region, the role of rock types in a cultural system’s material culture is found. The use of quartz as the main stone component in composite barbed spears and clubs, and the use of quartzite as the hammerstones and anvils to reduce quartz by bipolar and microblade techniques, is symbiotic. Gender specific implements also record the community-based living plan of the sites. People knew their rock’s limits then flaked and used them accordingly, implying a greater knowledge of stone artefact technology will improve our understanding of hunter-gatherer activities and their relationship with the landscape.


Czerwinski, P.
Stones from the South-Side: An Analysis of Lithics from the Onkaparinga River, South Australia
Thesis Abstracts
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