Refitting stone artefacts at Lake Mungo: A study of the integrity of chipped stone artefact scatters on the lunette surface

01st June 2012

The eroding lunette at Lake Mungo in the Willandra Lakes Region World Heritage Area is littered with surface artefacts, as are many of the surfaces of other landforms in arid Australia. However, the present surface of the Mungo lunette is made up of sediments of late Pleistocene to Holocene age, and artefacts do not always lie on the surface from which they originated. In order to interpret human behaviour over long-term scales using data collected from large areas, methods for identifying the stratigraphic origin of surface artefacts are needed. Refitting was undertaken of surface scatters on the Mungo lunette to explore the possibility of using this technique to understand the impact of complex post-exposure processes on the surface artefact record.

The integrity of 10 surface stone artefact scatters in different topographic and stratigraphic settings was investigated. All the artefacts in each scatter were tested systematically for the presence of refits. The number, type and distribution of refits at each site were analysed, together with the non-refitting artefacts from the same scatter. Information about the topographic and geomorphic context of each scatter was also recorded. Refitted artefacts from the same site were found to retain their association with the location in which they were made, and in many cases, permitted identification of assemblages likely to have derived from the same knapping event.

Comparison of the artefact assemblages found in different topographic settings and lying on different sedimentary surfaces allowed an assessment to be made about the impact of site formation processes on surface artefact assemblages found on the Mungo lunette. A case study illustrating the potential for obtaining technological information from surface artefact assemblages with demonstrable integrity was presented.

The results from this thesis show that refitting artefact studies can make a useful contribution to landscape archaeology at Lake Mungo and could be applied in other settings where surface artefacts are found on eroding, stratified landforms.

Elizabeth Foley
Refitting stone artefacts at Lake Mungo: A study of the integrity of chipped stone artefact scatters on the lunette surface
June 2012
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Thesis Abstracts
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