Thesis abstract ‘ A Geoarchaeological Approach to Understanding the Formation History of the ‘Murchison Cement/s’ in Ballinu Springs, including their Associated Artefact and Megafaunal Records’

03rd May 2014

Ashleigh Murszewski

BSc(Hons), Department of Archaeology, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, November 2013

Merrilees’ seminal theory, ‘Man the Destroyer’, was developed using evidence from the Murchison region in the Mid-West of Western Australia. Such concepts cannot be effectively researched without addressing site-specific evidence to support regional models. Many landscapes within Australia are the result of complex processes that impact our ability to source archaeological data that support these grand theories. The Murchison is certainly one such region, with intricate alluvial systems that possess discontinuous sedimentary records, influencing our access to archaeological material within it. The megafaunal and artefact discoveries that were used to support Merrilees’ theory are embedded within alluvium of the Murchison that has been collectively named ‘Murchison Cement/s’. The informal application of this term has led to ambiguity regarding which artefacts were extracted from the fossil-bearing stratigraphic unit, now dated to 56 ky BP. A field trip in May 2013 to the site of Ballinu (Ballinyoo) Springs revealed yet another megafaunal fossil and a possible artefact embedded in deposits in the riverbed. The stratigraphy of this single site provides the foundation for new research, which focuses on contextualising museum artefacts sourced from the Ballinu Springs region based on their attached sediment. Detailed sedimentological analysis highlights pedogenic and geomorphic features used to identify artefacts that have a conceivable association with megafaunal remains. This information also provides a preliminary insight into the alluvial regimes and depositional events that have altered the archaeological and paleontological record at Ballinu Springs. In providing a new classification of the true Murchison Cement/s, this study forms the foundation for a much larger research project that addresses the contemporaneity of megafauna and humans in the Mid-West.

Murszewski, A.
June 2014
Type: Thesis abstract

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