Rock of Ages: Use of the South Molle Island Quarry, Whitsunday Islands, and the Implications for Holocene Technological Change in Australia

01st December 2006

Lara Lamb

PhD, School of Archaeology and Anthropology, The Australian National University, December 2005

There is evidence to suggest that the South Molle Island stone quarry, in the Whitsunday Islands off the central Queensland coast, has been used by the indigenous inhabitants of the region from at least 9000 BP to the historical present. Known distribution of stone from the quarry extends for 170km along the coast, from Abbott Point in the north to the Repulse Islands in the south. A comprehensive technological characterisation of the quarry has demonstrated that a range of manufacturing behaviours was conducted onsite, including the initial extraction of the raw material, through to the final stages of artefact retouch. The systematic production of backed artefacts is included among this suite of technological practice. This research has demonstrated that the antiquity of backed artefacts and the timing of high production rates of backed artefacts occurs earlier in the Whitsunday region than elsewhere in southern Australia. In the Whitsunday Islands backed artefact production has been shown to be present from the beginning of the Holocene and to have been a key technological element in the early Holocene. A new understanding of backing technologies in Australia can be developed in light of this recognition of regional variation. A risk-oriented model of Holocene technological change in the Whitsunday region is presented, as well as a discussion of the implications for other coastal and island technological systems throughout the Holocene.

Lara Lamb
Rock of Ages: Use of the South Molle Island Quarry, Whitsunday Islands, and the Implications for Holocene Technological Change in Australia
December 2006
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Thesis Abstracts
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