Thesis abstract ‘Salisbury Axe Quarry: The Acquisition, Distribution and Cross-Exchange Patterns from a Local Distribution Site’

13th January 2014

Suzanne Hudson

BA(Hons), Department of Archaeology and Palaeoanthropology, University of New England, Armidale, October 1996

This thesis analysed quarry products and their distribution across the landscape in order to obtain information on past exchange systems, technologies, social relations and population movements. It focused on the spatial distribution and technological variation apparent in stone from the Salisbury Aboriginal stone axe quarry, situated near Uralla in northern New South Wales. The results were then interpreted in terms of the social and resource landscape.

According to Binns and McBryde (1972), the Salisbury quarry was of ‘local’ rather than ‘long transfer’ type with a restricted dispersal of products. My study confirmed this finding but also showed that the Salisbury stone was highly patterned in its dispersal. Basically, no axes were found to the east of the quarry, but some specimens had been moved up to 50 km to the west. This pattern of dispersal closely matched the nature of the social relations between Aboriginal groups observed in the historic period. Specifically, there was traditional enmity between people of the New England Tablelands and the coast. In addition, the density of axe distribution closely matched the distribution of food resources.

The thesis also studied axes made from exotic material found in the Salisbury region. Most of the ‘exotic’ stone was provenanced to the Daruka quarry at Moore Creek some 80 km to the south. Exotic axes were found to be of similar size to axes made from local materials.

I also systematically examined surface material from selected sample squares within the Salisbury axe quarry in order to obtain information on manufacturing processes and dispersal patterns. Artefacts remaining at the quarry were then compared with off-site material. By gaining an understanding of the use of the Salisbury quarry, it was possible to interpret the importance of the minor quarries within the local area and the significance of exotic quarries to the Aboriginal people who once lived in the study area. The major findings of the study did not always agree with the hypotheses formulated by earlier researchers in the New England region. For instance:

1. Interpretation of the resource landscape indicates that the area was possibly not as resource-poor in stone and food resources as originally thought.

2. Oral history refers to the Tablelands people spending winters at the coast: this appears unlikely as the numbers of axes define the movement of people to the west of the region. There was a preference for locally obtained raw material over that from Moore Creek. The exotic material was not regarded as prestige but as utilitarian material.

3. A ‘no-person-zone’ has been identified to the east of the quarry, as no axes from either Salisbury or eastern sources were found in this area. Godwin (1990) states that linguistic evidence points to a break between eastern groups and the Anaiwan people living in the Uralla area.

4. Belshaw (1978) states that the Anaiwan area was used as a ‘marchland’ between two powerful groups, the Gamilaroi and Dainggati. This appears not to be the case, as there is no crossover of axes from the eastern groups.

5. No axes have been found near Mt Yarrowyck (an art site). It is suggested that this area was used for religious purposes only and that hunting was not carried out around the site.

References

Belshaw, J. 1978 Population distribution and the pattern of seasonal movement in northern New South Wales. In I. McBryde (ed.), Records of Times Past, pp.65–8 1. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.

Binns, R.A. and I. McBryde, 1972 A Petrological Analysis of Ground-Edge Artefacts from Northern New South Wales. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.

Godwin, L. 1990 Inside Information: Settlement and Alliance in the Late Holocene of Northeastern New South Wales. Unpublished PhD thesis, Department of Archaeology and Palaeoanthropology, University of New England, Armidale.

Hudson, S.
Thesis abstract 'Salisbury Axe Quarry: The Acquisition, Distribution and Cross-Exchange Patterns from a Local Distribution Site'
June 1997
44
67–68
Thesis Abstracts
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