Reply to Brown: Australian Archaeology, Number 38, 1994

23rd January 2014

Robin Sim and Alan Thorne

We wish to make two simple points. Firstly, this series of critique and counter critique rests ultimately on a dispute over a single skeletal measurement. We demonstrated (Thorne and Sim 1994) that the measurement we published was correct and can be verified in photographic documentation. In the year since this was published neither Brown nor anyone else has asked to examine the photographs or slides of the remains, and we take this as acceptance by the profession of the published data. Secondly and more generally, we believe the practice of publishing data from archaeological remains that are, or will be, reburied should be encouraged, particularly in the current socio-political context. Access to skeletal material may well be constricted by time and field conditions if we are to comply with Aboriginal wishes. As Donlon (1995) points out, this is increasingly the circumstance in which archaeologists and palaeoanthropologists find themselves. Colin Pardoe for example has long been publishing valuable data on human remains that may never be re-examined (Pardoe 1988, 1990, 1993; Park and Webb 1986; Witter et al. 1993). Cohen (1993) also recently described human remains examined under similar circumstances. The nature of our profession is changing and researchers need to recognise this, particularly where reburial is concerned.


Cohen, S. 1993 Burial site bones baffle the boffins. Geo Australasia 15(1):52–61.

Donlon, D. 1995 Aboriginal skeletal collections and research in physical anthropology: An historical perspective. AustraIian Archaeology 39:73–82.

Pardoe, C. 1988 The Mallee Cliffs burial (central River Murray) and population based archaeology. Australian Archaeology 27:45–62.

Pardoe, C. 1990 Sharing the past: Aboriginal influence on archaeological practice, a case study from New South 0200, Australia. Wales. Australian History 14:28–223.

Pardoe. C. 1993 Wamba Yadu, a later Holocene cemetery of the central River Murray. Archaeology in Oceania 28:77–84.

Pardoe. C. and S. Webb 1986 Prehistoric skeletal remains from Cowra and the Macquarie Marsh. NSW. Australian Archaeology 22:7–26.

Thorne. A.G. and R. Sim 1994 The gracile male skeleton from late Pleistocene King Island. Australia. Australian Archaeology 38:8–10.

Witter. D., R. Fullagar and C. Pardoe 1993 The Terrarnungamine incident: A double burial with grave goods near Dubbo. New South Wales. Records of the Australian Museum supplement 17:77–89.

Sim, R. and A. Thorne
Reply to Brown: Australian Archaeology, Number 38, 1994
December 1995
Short Report
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