Editorial June 2015

31st May 2015

Heather Burke and Lynley A. Wallis

We are pleased to commence this Editorial with some information about AA’s international standing. When compared to the major archaeology journals according to the SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) scheme, AA sits just outside the top ten, with an SJR value of 0.874 for 2013 (2014 data are not yet available). This is the highest SJR the journal has received, up from 0.499 in 2012 and 0.842 in 2011. In 2014, for the first time, AA was also listed in the Thomson Reuters Current Contents/Social and Behavioural Sciences and the Social Sciences Citation Indices. For the latter we received an impact factor of 1.268, placing us 22nd out of all archaeology-related journals in the world. These are extremely pleasing results that are testimony to the high quality of the contributions received and published by AA.

One challenge that the journal will face in coming years is the increasing focus on journal metrics. With AA primarily reaching a domestic audience, we have noticed a concerning trend whereby some Australian archaeologists are choosing to publish their significant research findings in international journals with a presumably wider reach. Consequently, these papers—likely to be highly cited—are not enhancing or improving local impact factors. If this trend continues, the strong international standing of journals such as AA will potentially decline, so we encourage authors to remember that AA is a highly regarded publication internationally and should be a genuine first choice for publishing significant material. With our online availability through JSTOR, and the ability of authors to circulate their papers on platforms such as Researchgate and Academia.edu, as well as through the AAA Twitter and Facebook platforms, international colleagues are easily able to access papers published in AA.

Moving beyond our colleagues, the world of social media, including Twitter, the blogosphere and Facebook, has greatly enhanced the opportunities for AAA to reach members of the general public, a goal that is part of the core business of the Association. As recent research has demonstrated (see Matthews and Wallis 2015; Wallis and Matthews 2013), followers of these social media platforms have increased substantially in recent years. While very few members of the general public will ever take the time to read a journal article aimed at academics, many of them do seek out high quality information such as that delivered by the commissioned blog posts of AA. Experience has shown that few authors (though there are some notable exceptions) have the inclination to prepare blogs about their research, since such posts do not ‘count’ as publications on their CVs, or understand how writing a blog for a general audience is different to writing an article for an academic one. The service that AA provides for authors by disseminating research to a wider general audience via the journal blog is another benefit of choosing to publish with us. This is an excellent means by which local communities and the people with whom researchers work can find out about the outcomes of research, and is an important part of ethical practice.

On a completely different note, we would like to congratulate Sean Ulm, Julie Jerbic and the rest of the Organising Committee and volunteers for organising an excellent conference in Cairns in December 2014. It was exciting to see so many new faces and hear about the range of research being undertaken, at least some of which we know will be featuring in future editions of AA. We’d also like to offer our hearty congratulations to Jo McDonald and Peter Veth, who were awarded the 2014 Ulm-Ross Prize for their paper entitled ‘Rock art in arid landscapes: Pilbara and Western Desert petroglyphs’. Thanks to Sean Ulm, ben Gunn and Vincent Megaw who served on the judging panel. Congratulations to all of those who won other prizes and awards at the conference, including the recipients of Small Boy and Big Man awards, especially Tom Sapienza for taking out the top gong with a Twitter rant about the size of Peter Veth’s head (a warning to those attending the conference in Fremantle in 2015: don’t sit behind Pete!).

In terms of research funding, archaeology did very well in the late 2014 ARC round grant announcements. Congratulations to Martin Polkinghorne, Sarah Hayes, Tiina Manne, Jessica Thompson and Rachel Wood, who were all awarded DECRAs, and to Judith Field, Glenn Summerhayes, Alison Betters, Marika Vicziany, Angelo Di Castro, John Dodson, Dexin Cong, Xiao Li, Philip Salzman, Annie Clarke, Jude Philip, Robin Torrence, Chantal Knowles, Richard Cosgrove, Jillian Garvey, John Webb, Nicola Stern, Zenobia Jacobs, Simon McClusky, Ian Williams, Colin Murray-Wallace, Rainer Grun, Tim Denham, Colin Hope, Gillian Bowen, Iain Gardner, John Tibby, Patrick Moss, Melanie Leng, Jeremy Shakun, Nigel Spooner, Hsiao-chun Hung, Michael Carson, Dougald O’Reilly, Louise Shewan, Richard Armstrong, Samsung Lim, Nigel Chang, Kate Domett, Sian Halcrow, Sally Treloyn, Nicholas Thieberger, Mary Anne Jebb, Kimberley Christen and Andrew Dowding, who were all awarded archaeology or heritage-related Discovery grants (apologies if we missed anyone!). And a final, extra large congratulations to Matthew Spriggs, Michael Bird and Alan Cooper, who were all awarded Australian Laureate Fellowships.

This volume brings another veritable feast of research from around Australia. Kicking off AA80, freshly minted Dr Daryl Wesley (with Mirani Litster) looks at glass beads from sites in the Wellington Range, and their role in cross-cultural interactions between Indigenous people, Macassans and Europeans. We then have several rock art-related offerings, two of which address issues of stylistic variation in particular motifs and the persistent problem of emic vs etic meaning that underlies rock art analysis. The first, by Alandra Tasire and Iain Davidson, tackles macropod motifs in the Sydney Basin, using anatomical design elements to construct stylistic zones and then compares and contrasts this patterning with existing arguments for rock art styles. Moving to the north of the continent, David Welch reassesses the claims for the presence of the extinct carnivore Thylacoleo in northern Australian rock art. Contrary to previous claims, he suggests that these are a case of mistaken identity, with the images actually having been meant to represent the now extinct thylacine. In South Australia, Amy Roberts and colleagues unravel the mystery of a dark coating associated with engraved motifs in the Ngaut Ngaut rockshelter on the Murray River, exploring its implications for rock art dating and site conservation.

David Guilfoyle and Myles Mitchell shift the focus to heritage management issues as they reflect on their experiences working with the Noongar community in southwest Australia and their attempts to use place-based participatory mapping to derive negotiated outcomes in a commercial consulting context. Presenting two case studies, they argue that this approach affords a best practice outcome that moves beyond mere compliance, offering food for thought for those working in the consulting arena. Also on the CHM front, Alice Buhrich and colleagues consider management issues relating to a particularly interesting though rare form of material culture, dendroglyphs in the Wet Tropics region.

Janelle Stevenson and colleagues report on a recent palaeoenvironmental study of Big Willum (Waandriipayn) Swamp on Cape York Peninsula and explore how these changes may be linked to changes in the archaeological record, particularly the most intensive period of shell mound formation and the commencement of earth mound building at nearby Wathayn.

Two further offerings will sate the interests of lithic-minded readers. Marika Low looks at the issue of standardisation in backed artefact production at two Hunter River valley sites originally excavated in the 1960s (when the imperial measurement system was still in use). In turn, Mike Smith and colleagues consider what residues and use-wear on a classic ethnographic seed-grinder reveal, finding that the long use-lives and opportunistic use of these implements for other tasks greatly complicate interpretation of their microscopic signatures.

Several short reports present results from recent excavations. In another paper that draws inspiration from Charlie Dortch (who was the focus of AA79’s themed section), Carly Monks and colleagues present results from two midden excavations on the central Western Australian coastline. Kat Szabo and colleagues present results from the analysis of the first known natural pearl recovered from a shell midden deposit in a cave on the Kimberley coastline. Turning to the Northern Territory, another recently minted PhD, Denis Shine, and colleagues present results from the excavation of Bindjarran rockshelter.

Finally, there are some major changes in store for the journal which will be unfolding over the coming year. In terms of recent changes to the AA Editorial Advisory Board (EAB), we offer thanks to retiring members Val Attenbrow and Judith Littleton, and issue a formal welcome to Nathan Woolford, who joined the team in late 2014. More importantly, if you were at the Cairns AAA Conference in December you will know that the decision was made by the EAB and the Executive to progress a proposal to move AA to an online publishing house. You will also know that this is our last editorial, and that a new Editorial team, comprising Sandra Bowdler, Kate Morse, Vicky Winton, Jane Balme and Joe Dortch, will be taking over the helm in July. The new Editors will let members know what the implications of the move to on-line publication will be in the near future, but suffice it to say here that this option will offer a range of benefits to members and authors, and should result in an even better service and product for all involved.

We would like to offer a final thanks to everyone who has assisted us with the production of AA over the past several years, but particularly Susan Arthure, Tiina Manne, Claire St George, Alice Gorman, Jane Lydon, Sean Winter, John Reid, Grant Woolard, Mark Pearce, Sarah Lelliott, Don Caldwell, Richard Arrowsmith and all the Flinders University ArchSoc volunteers—producing the journal was genuinely a team effort every time and we were blessed to work with some of the best. We wish the best of luck to the new Editorial team for AA81, and hope to see many of you at AAA2015 in Fremantle in December.

Goodbye from Wallis and Grommet!


Matthews, J. and L.A. Wallis 2015 Broadcasting, listening and the mysteries of public engagement: An investigation of the AAA online audience. Australian Archaeology 81 (accepted for publication).

Wallis, L.A. and J. Matthews 2013 Is social media just for laughs? Insights from AAA’s 2013 social media survey. Unpublished poster presented at the AAA Annual Conference, Coffs Harbour, December 2013.

Erratum for AA79 

The following acknowledgements were inexplicably not printed with the paper entitled ‘Transforming the inedible to the edible: An analysis of the nutritional returns from Aboriginal nut processing in Queensland’s Wet Tropics’, by Anna Tuechler, Åsa Ferrier and Richard Cosgrove:

This work was conducted under an ARC Discovery grant (DP 0986579) and with the support of La Trobe University as part of a BA(Hons) thesis. We would like to thank late Jirrbal elder Maisie Barlow, Corrine Barlow and Ngadjonji elder Ernie Raymont for generously sharing their knowledge of traditional foods and the preparation of the four nut species studied in this project. Thank you to Ron and Deanna Stager, and Doug and Audrey Morris for their hospitality, and to Lars Larsson, Lawrence May, Paul Kajewski, Brad Ferrier, Melissa Dunk, Lincoln Steinberger, Duncan Jones and Helen McConnell for their help with the experimental work. We thank Jennie Brand-Miller and Judith Field for their advice on the chemical analyses and Wei Ming for production of the map. The nut specimens used in this work were collected under permit number WISP07417410 issued by the Department of Environment and Resource Management to AT.
Burke, H. and L.A. Wallis
June 2015
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