Trialing geophysical techniques in the identification of open Indigenous sites in Australia: A case study from inland northwest Queensland

05th May 2013

Ian Moffat, Lynley A. Wallis, Alice Beale and Darren Kynuna

Introduction

The use of geophysical techniques as an aid to archaeological investigations has become common-place, however these methods have only occasionally been applied in Indigenous Australian archaeology. This is despite recognition (and recommendations) since the 1970s that such approaches have the potential to yield positive results in such contexts (e.g. Connah et al. 1976; Stanley 1983; Stanley and Green 1976). Australian archaeologists have perhaps been reluctant to embrace these techniques because of their perceived high cost (both of equipment and specialist staff) and the subtle nature of subsurface Indigenous sites as geophysical targets. Nevertheless, there have been a number of recent applications of these techniques in Australia, particularly in relation to burial and hearth sites. In this paper we report the results of a pilot study conducted in northwest Queensland. This study aimed to test the applicability of geophysical methods being routinely employed to locate a variety of open site features (particularly hearths and middens) as part of reconnaissance surveys. While not being entirely successful, this study demonstrated that certain archaeological features can be readily identified using geophysical techniques, though further research and trial should be carried out to refine the uses of these techniques to allow their more widespread applicability.

Image caption: Ant Timms carrying out EM survey at Bora Station (photograph courtesy of Lynley Wallis).
Ian Moffat, Lynley A. Wallis, Alice Beale and Darren Kynuna
Trialing geophysical techniques in the identification of open Indigenous sites in Australia: A case study from inland northwest Queensland
June 2008
66
60-63
Short Report
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