Tigershark Rockshelter (Baidamau Mudh): Seascape and settlement reconfigurations on the sacred islet of Pulu, western Zenadh Kes (Torres Strait)

05th May 2013

McNiven_etal_AA66 Figure2Ian J. McNiven, Joe Crouch, Marshall Weisler, Noel Kemp, Lucía Clayton Martínez, John Stanisic, Meredith Orr, Liam Brady, Scott Hocknull and Walter Boles

Tigershark Rockshelter, a small midden site on the sacred islet of Pulu in central western Zenadh Kes (Torres Strait), was visited intermittently by small groups of marine specialists between 500 and 1300 years ago. The diverse faunal assemblage demonstrates procurement of turtle, dugong, shellfish, fish, shark and ray from mangrove, reef and open water environments. Apart from a characteristic flaked quartz technology, the site contains shell body adornments. Establishment of Tigershark Rockshelter reveals increasing preference for shoreline settlements possibly for enhanced intervisibility, intimacy and liminality between newly-conceptualised territorial land- and seascapes. Intensified occupation 500–700 years ago matches concomitant demographic expansions across the region. As local settlement patterns focused on large open village sites 500 years ago, Tigershark Rockshelter became obsolete and was abandoned. These settlement reconfigurations were part of broader social transformations that eventually saw the status of Pulu change from a residential to a ceremonial and sacred place.

Image caption: Excavation of Square A by Iona Mooka with John Bani reading Volume 5 of the Haddon reports at Tigershark Rockshelter (published in Australian Archaeology 66:16).
Ian J. McNiven, Joe Crouch, Marshall Weisler, Noel Kemp, Lucía Clayton Martínez, John Stanisic, Meredith Orr, Liam Brady, Scott Hocknull and Walter Boles
Tigershark Rockshelter (Baidamau Mudh): Seascape and settlement reconfigurations on the sacred islet of Pulu, western Zenadh Kes (Torres Strait)
June 2008
66
15-32
Article
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