Thesis abstract ‘An Application of Use-Wear and Residue Analyses to Wooden Digging Sticks’

13th November 2013

Suzanne J. Nugent

BA(Hons), School of Social Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, 2001

Use-wear and residue analyses techniques were implemented in a systematic integrated approach to ascertain whether a sample of 12 post-contact Australian wooden digging sticks from two museums retain traces of their use. Ethnographic literature and museum records provided relevant information for the analytical procedures selected and evidence with which to compare results. The procedures employed included macroscopic examination of the sample and replication of digging stick manufacture. Empirical data for an application of Facet Theory and statistical analyses were obtained during low-magnification microscopic examination of the artefacts. Statistical analyses included a multivariate analysis aimed to differentiate use-wear from blood residues manufacture marks. Hemastix tests for were undertaken and high-magnification microscopy was used to detect and identify extracted residues. No blood residues suggestive of animal procurement were detected. However, results suggest that ethnographic wooden digging sticks retain traces of residues and use-wear indicative of their use as plant food-procuring tools. Identified residues included starch granules, phytoliths and spherulites, and complex marks were identified as probable use-wear marks. Based on the correspondence between the presence of residues and marks indicative of use-wear, it is inferred that 10 digging sticks had been used to procure plant foods. The information obtained enhances the value of these implements within museum collections. The results also suggest that similar analytical methods could be used in future research on other ethnographic wooden implements, as well as archaeological wooden artefacts.

Nugent, S.J.
Thesis abstract 'An Application of Use-Wear and Residue Analyses to Wooden Digging Sticks'
2002
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Thesis Abstracts
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