Thesis abstract ‘Moana: Reading between the Dunes’

05th January 2014

Stewart Gregory

BA(Hons), Department of Archaeology, School of Cultural Studies, Flinders University, Adelaide, January 1998

This study investigates the archaeology of the Moana Sands Conservation Park, south of Adelaide, South Australia. Since European colonisation, large numbers of Aboriginal artefacts have been recovered from the area and deposited in the South Australian Museum for ‘safe keeping’. As lithic scatters in the dune system are still common, it was possible to compare and contrast the on-site material with that in the museum collection. Samples from museum (n=955) and on-site (n=716) lithic assemblages were analysed in terms of the technological attributes recorded for individual stone artefacts, the identified collector and the location of the collection. This analysis addressed three questions:

1. Does the South Australian Museum collection of lithic material from Moana accurately reflect the lithic assemblage of the site?

2. Did collectors at the site employ subjective or objective collection strategies?

3. Does lithic variation between areas indicate cultural succession or use of particular areas for task specific activities?

The results identified a collection bias towards stone artefacts manufactured from exotic materials (i.e. those not sourced at the site), and against the collection of quartz artefacts. Artefacts readily identifiable as having secondary flaking, and/ or evidence of use, also appear to have been collected on a preferential basis. Over 60% of the recorded sample from the museum showed clear signs of edge wear or secondary modification, compared with 4% of the on-site sample. In some instances, identified collectors are shown to have preferentially collected stone artefacts on the basis of relevance to their various research interests. The museum sample is affected by biased collection strategies, and the on-site sample is biased by previous collection without replacement. An important point for archaeologists is that sole reliance on either the museum or on-site samples may provide misleading information and lead to biased analyses.

Stages in the flaking reduction sequence were used to assist the identification of task specific areas. The foreshore area contained the largest proportion of initial flakes, indicating a likely source of raw materials in the form of quartzite and quartz beach cobbles. The area with the largest concentration of hearths also showed the highest proportion of stone artefacts in the final stages of reduction, indicative of a semipermanent residential area. A deflated area occupying the south of the dune system was identified as a possible fringe camp probably used during large ceremonial gatherings. Gatherings of this sort are supported by the site’s location, which is situated at the juncture of several trading routes and dreaming tracks, and adjacent to Ochre Cove (an important ochre quarry). The presence of Xanthorrhoea sp. resin and quartz barbs in another area may indicate the production of death spears and other men’s weapons, which is suggestive of a men’s camp. Tindale’s (1982) proposal that the technology at this site is the result of cultural succession is rejected in favour of task-specific activity areas.


Tindale, N.B. 1982 A South Australian looks at some beginnings of archaeological research in Australia. Aboriginal History 6(2):92–110.

Gregory, S.
Thesis abstract 'Moana: Reading between the Dunes'
June 1998
Thesis Abstracts
You must be a member to download the attachment ( Login / Sign up )