Understanding Choice: Aboriginal Law and Decision-Making in the Selection of Rocks for a Stone Arrangement

21st April 2013

Elena Piotto TA AA76Elena Piotto

BA(Hons), School of Social Science, The University of Queensland, October 2012

This thesis examines the decision-making processes used in the creation of stone arrangement sites through an investigation of the archaeological record at the Gummingurru Aboriginal Stone Arrangement site, southeast Queensland. The hypothesis of this research is that the creators of stone arrangements deliberately selected certain rocks based on size and shape for the production of motifs. The aim is to determine the decision-making processes that may have occurred during the creation of the motifs that make up stone arrangement sites. To test my hypothesis I conducted a preliminary analysis on four of the motifs at Gummingurru.

The thesis is set in a social constructivist methodology. As Gummingurru is an Aboriginal site, the theoretical literature that frames my research concerns Aboriginal cultural law and Aboriginal worldviews. However, because my data are archaeological measurements, I have also used quantitative methods in the form of the computer program ‘Statistical Package for the Social Sciences’ (SPSS) version 20. Using this combined methodology of a constructivist paradigm and quantitative methods, I investigate whether the case study motifs at Gummingurru were created from rocks deliberately selected for size and shape.

My results demonstrate that there are indeed signs of deliberate rock selection having been made in the construction of the case study motifs at Gummingurru. Consequently, I conclude that there are archaeological signatures of human behaviour and law with respect to the choice of raw materials, at least in stone arrangement sites.

Elena Piotto
Understanding choice: Aboriginal law and decision-making in the selection of rocks for a stone arrangement
June 2013
Thesis Abstracts
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