One archaeologist's midden is another's shell mound - vanessa ...

One archaeologist's midden is another's shell mound - vanessa ...

One archaeologist's midden is another's shell mound - vanessa ...


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<strong>One</strong> archaeolog<strong>is</strong>t’s <strong>midden</strong> <strong>is</strong> another’s <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>: Defining the<br />

criteria for describing and classifing <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s.<br />

Vanessa M.C. Alexander<br />

A thes<strong>is</strong> submitted in part fulfillment<br />

of the requirements for the degree of<br />

Bachelor of Arts with Honours in the<br />

Department of Archaeology,<br />

University of Sydney.<br />

October 2009<br />


The work presented in th<strong>is</strong> thes<strong>is</strong> <strong>is</strong>, to the best of my knowledge<br />

and belief, original except as acknowledged in the text. The<br />

material has not been previously submitted, either in whole or in<br />

part of, for a degree at th<strong>is</strong> or any other university.<br />

V.M.C Alexander<br />

October 2009<br />

Sydney, Australia<br />



Page<br />

Table of Contents…………………………………………………………………….. 2<br />

Appendix………………………………………………………………………………117<br />

L<strong>is</strong>t of Figures …………………………………………………………………………6<br />

L<strong>is</strong>t of Tables…………………………………………………………………………..19<br />

References Cited……………………………………………………………………....179<br />

Abstract………………………………………………………………………………...11<br />

Acknowledgments………………………………………………………………… …12<br />


Shell <strong>midden</strong>s and coastal archaeology……………………………………..13<br />

Research aims………………………………….……………………………….14<br />

The Blue Mud Bay Project………………………………………………..…...15<br />

Research Rationale..…………………………………………………………....15<br />

Research methodology………………………………………………………...16<br />

Thes<strong>is</strong> organization…………………………………………………………….17<br />



Introduction……………………………………………………………………..19<br />

H<strong>is</strong>tory of research……………………………………………………………...20<br />

The investigation of the Dan<strong>is</strong>h <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s in the 1860s…………..….20.<br />

Australian coastal archaeology an introduction……………………….…22<br />

Models for understanding Holocene coastal sites………………………...23<br />

Current research themes in Australian coastal archaeology……………..24<br />

Case studies…………………………………………………..…………...……..25<br />

Queensland……………………………………………………………….25<br />

Northern Territory………………………………………………………..27<br />

New South Wales…………………………………………………………29<br />

Western Australia……………………………………………………… 32<br />

Conclusion……………………………………………………………………….38<br />


Introduction………………………………………………………………………………39<br />

Location…………………………………………………………………………………...40<br />

Climate…………………………………………………………………………………….41<br />

The Wet Season…………………………………………………………………….41<br />

The Dry Season…………………………………………………………………….42<br />


Indigenous Seasons……………………………………………………………… 43<br />

The Point Blane Peninsula Palaeoenviroment…………………………………... 43<br />

Hydrology………………………………………………………………….…………… 45<br />

Geology & Soils………………………………………………………………………… 46<br />

Flora…………….……………………………………………………………………….. 47<br />

Fauna ………………….………………………………………………………………… 50<br />

BMB/116…………………………………………………………………………………. 53<br />

Project survey and excavation parameters……………………………………53<br />

Lumatjpi…………………………………………………………………………..53<br />

BMB/116…………..………………………………………………………………54<br />

Stratigraphy……………………………………………………………………....57<br />

Age……………………………………………………………………………….. 58<br />

Conclusion………………………………………………………………………………..59<br />



Introduction……………………………………………………………………………... 61<br />

Shell <strong>mound</strong> or <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>‐why does it matter?.....…………………..……………61<br />

The source of the problem………………………………………………………………62<br />

Shell <strong>mound</strong>s or <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>‐what <strong>is</strong> the difference?......…………………………..65<br />

Characterizing attributes of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s…………………………………………66<br />

Analys<strong>is</strong> of research data…………………………………………………………..67<br />

Describing <strong>mound</strong>ed and non‐<strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s…………………………… 69<br />

Midden form attributes………………………………………………………………….70<br />

Definition: Criteria for describing and classifing <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s…………………….72<br />

Definition d<strong>is</strong>cussion………………………………………………………………72<br />

Anthropological and naturally occurring <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s……………………………..74<br />

Recording <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s in the field………….……………………..………...…...... 75<br />

Images of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> profiles…………………………………………………………76<br />

Conclusions……………………………………………………………………………….78<br />


Introduction……………………………………………………………………………. ..79<br />

Sampling………………………………………………………………………………….79<br />

Laboratory methods……………………………………………………………………. 80<br />

Analys<strong>is</strong> of molluscan remains for calculating MNI……………………………...81<br />

Analys<strong>is</strong> of non molluscan remains……………………………………………… 84<br />

Shell analys<strong>is</strong>……………………………………………………………………... 84<br />

Methodology for <strong>shell</strong> analys<strong>is</strong>: Reviews and implications…………………………86<br />

Number of identified specimens (NISP)…………………………………………..86<br />


Minimum number if individuals (MNI)…………………………………………..86<br />

Weight……………………………………………………………………………...87<br />

Summary of <strong>shell</strong> analys<strong>is</strong> methodology…………………………………………...87<br />

Field Data……………………………………………………………………………… ...88<br />

Conclusion………………………………………………………………………………..88<br />



Introduction…………………………………………………………………….………. 89<br />

The faunal assemblage: Marine <strong>shell</strong> remains………………………………………. 89<br />

Species diversity………………………………………………………………………... 90<br />

Dominate species……………………………………………………………………….. 93<br />

Shellf<strong>is</strong>h habitat…………………………………………………………………………. 96<br />

Summary and interpretations…………..……………………………………………... 98<br />

The origin of BMB/116: Cultural or natural? ……………………………………… ..100<br />

BMB/116 formation and occupation pattern………….……………………… …... 102<br />

Resource procurement strategies……………………………………………………...104<br />

BMB/84: A compar<strong>is</strong>on to BMB/116……………………………………………....... 105<br />

A review of <strong>mound</strong> site data on Point Blane peninsula…………………………….108<br />

BMB/116: Mound or <strong>midden</strong>? ………………………… ………………………… …109<br />

Conclusions……………………………………………………………………………...110<br />



Conclusions……………………………………………………………………………...112<br />

Implications……………………….…………………………………………...………. 114<br />

Future research…………………………………...……………………………………..114<br />

APPENDIX 1…………………………………………………………………………….117<br />

1.1 Shell <strong>mound</strong> attribute research data<br />

1.2 Shell <strong>midden</strong> terminology research data<br />

1.3 Shell <strong>midden</strong> and <strong>mound</strong> dimensions research data<br />

APPENDIX 2…………………………………………………………………………….127<br />

2.1 Laboratory recording form Mollusc analys<strong>is</strong><br />

2.2 Laboratory recording form Non‐mollusc analys<strong>is</strong><br />

2.3 Recording form <strong>mound</strong> formation analys<strong>is</strong><br />

APPENDIX 3<br />

3.1 Laboratory recorded data: Shellf<strong>is</strong>h analys<strong>is</strong> excavation units 1‐12…………...135<br />

APPENDIX 4…………………………………………………………………………….160<br />


4.1 Laboratory recorded data: Non‐mollusc analys<strong>is</strong><br />

APPENDIX 5……………………………………………………………………………162<br />

5.1 Mound formation data analys<strong>is</strong><br />

APPPENDIX 6……………………………………………………………………..……166<br />

6.1 Shellf<strong>is</strong>h frequency analys<strong>is</strong> as a % of excavation units<br />

APPENDIX 7 ……………………………………………………………..…………….168<br />

7.1 Criteria for assessing <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h deposits<br />

APPENDIX 8……………………………………………………..……………………..170<br />

8.1 Point Blane peninsula <strong>mound</strong> dimension data<br />

APPENDIX 9………………………………………………………………………..…..174<br />

9.1 Field recording form for <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s<br />

REFERENCES CITED…………………………………………………………………..178<br />



Figure Short Title Page<br />

2.1 Map of Blue Mud Bay Arnhem Land (Alexander 2009).<br />

21<br />

2.2<br />

2.3<br />

2.4<br />

2.5<br />

3.1<br />

3.2<br />

3.3<br />

3.4<br />

3.5<br />

3.6<br />

3.7<br />

3.8<br />

The tumuli of Oden, Thor, and Freyda at Upsala Denmark (Lubbock<br />

1865).<br />

Map of northeast Australia showing Weipa’s principal <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong><br />

sites (Bailey 1999:106).<br />

A Richmond River <strong>mound</strong> 1892 (Statham 1892: Plate IX).<br />

Map of Western Australian coastline with regions names in text<br />

(O’Connor 1996:166).<br />

Map of Blue Mud Bay region Arnhem Land (Faulkner 2006: 23).<br />

Map of northeastern Arnhem Land region, location of study area and<br />

Yolngu group boundary.<br />

Map showing the location of Point Blane peninsula and Grove Airport<br />

Bureau of Meteorology weather station (Bureau of Meteorology 2009).<br />

Seasonal weather table for Grove Airport N.T clearly illustrating Wet<br />

and Dry season rainfall (Bureau of Meteorology : Fairfax Media)<br />

Human initiated seasonal bush fires on Point Blane peninsula Blue<br />

Mud Bay (Photograph Clarke 2003)<br />

Mud Flats and <strong>midden</strong> site Point Blane peninsula (photograph Clarke<br />

2003).<br />

The hydrology of the Point Blane peninsula and neighboring areas,<br />

showing major river and creek catchment systems (Faulkner 2006:47)<br />

Aerial view of Lumatjpi inlet showing the five main vegetation units.<br />

(Google Earth 2009 & Alexander 2009).<br />

22<br />

26<br />

32<br />

34<br />

40<br />

41<br />

42<br />

43<br />

44<br />

45<br />

47<br />

51<br />


3.9<br />

3.10<br />

3.11<br />

3.12<br />

3.13<br />

3.14<br />

4.1<br />

4.2<br />

4.3<br />

4.4<br />

4.5<br />

4.6<br />

4.7<br />

4.8<br />

Areal view of Lumatjpi Inlet showing the location of the nine sites in<br />

the inlet including BMB/116 and BMB/84 ( Google Earth 2009 and<br />

Alexander 2009).<br />

Survey sketch of BMB/116 site location prior to excavation (Clarke<br />

2003).<br />

Cross‐section of BMB/116 (Clarke and Faulkner 2003: 72).<br />

Contour plan of BMB/116 (Clarke and Faulkner 2003:72).<br />

Location of quartzite artefacts across the Point Blane peninsula, with<br />

two km (thin line) and four km (thick line) radius intervals from<br />

quartzitic outcrop (Faulkner 2006:100).<br />

Stratigraphic profile of BMB/116, south section also showing<br />

approximate location of samples taken for radiocarbon dating (Clarke<br />

and Faulkner 2003:72).<br />

Shell <strong>mound</strong> on Point Blane peninsula (Photograph Clarke 2003)<br />

The West Point <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong> Tasmania excavated by Jones (1966) the<br />

site <strong>is</strong> 2.50m deep and dated 1,800‐1,200 BP.<br />

Two photographs of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> sites on the Point Blane peninsula<br />

illustrate the complexities of identifying sites in the field (Photographs<br />

Clarke 2003).<br />

A 7m high conical Anadara <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> located on a laterite ridge<br />

approximately 1000m from the current coast at Hope Inlet near<br />

Darwin (H<strong>is</strong>cock 2008:177).<br />

Shell <strong>mound</strong> located on the mudflats Point Blane peninsula<br />

(Photograph Clarke 2003).<br />

Hancock Ridge NT a hemi‐spherical <strong>mound</strong>, and second <strong>mound</strong> with<br />

two phase formation a hemi‐spherical lower <strong>mound</strong> & conical <strong>mound</strong><br />

atop (H<strong>is</strong>cock & Hughes 2001).<br />

Weipa QLD a conical Anadara <strong>mound</strong> (Ir<strong>is</strong>h 2009).<br />

Hope Inlet NT conical Anadara <strong>mound</strong> (H<strong>is</strong>cock 2008:176).<br />

55<br />

56<br />

56<br />

57<br />

58<br />

59<br />

59<br />

64<br />

66<br />

67<br />

74<br />

77<br />

77<br />

77<br />


4.9<br />

4.10<br />

5.1<br />

5.2<br />

5.3<br />

5.4<br />

6.1<br />

6.2<br />

Ballina NSW, Richmond River hemi‐spherical oyster <strong>mound</strong> (Statham<br />

1892).<br />

Weipa 1958 Anadara <strong>mound</strong> photo from National Archives of<br />

Australia.<br />

Shell reference collection establ<strong>is</strong>hed for th<strong>is</strong> study. Species were<br />

identified in excavated remains from BMB/116 Point Blane peninsula.<br />

Three typical bivalve <strong>shell</strong>s all left halves, shown from the inner side.<br />

Note position on umbo used for calculating MNI.<br />

A Nerita s.p. gastropod with mouth area highlighted used for<br />

calculating MNI.<br />

Oyster lid and base both used for calculating MNI (The Australia<br />

Museum 2009).<br />

Profile of a typical eroded rocky foreshore in north‐western Australia<br />

showing the different levels at which various species of molluscs live<br />

(Wilson 2008:19).<br />

Diagram of a typical Australia estuarine tidal zone, illustrating context<br />

of the mangrove environment found in the Lumatjpi inlet (Australian<br />

Government, Geosciences Australia 2009).<br />

77<br />

78<br />

81<br />

83<br />

84<br />

84<br />

93<br />

105<br />



Table Short title Page<br />

2.1 Research themes in Australian coastal archaeology.<br />

25<br />

2.2<br />

3.1<br />

3.2<br />

3.3<br />

3.4<br />

3.5<br />

4.1<br />

4.2<br />

4.3<br />

4.4<br />

4.5<br />

5.1<br />

6.1<br />

6.2<br />

Table of Western Australia sites as of 1999 (O’Connor 1996).<br />

Soil province profiles (after Haines et al. 1999:77 cited by Faulkner<br />

2006:28).<br />

Main vegetation units found in the Lumatjpi inlet (Brock 2001; Spect<br />

1958; Wilson et al 1990; Yunupingu et al 1995, cited by Clarke and<br />

Faulkner 2003:26).<br />

Range of fauna found on the Point Blane peninsula (Faulkner 2006:52).<br />

Wild flora and fauna resources accessed by the Yilpara community in<br />

2002 (Barber 2002:20‐37).<br />

Radiocarbon Estimates<br />

Sites mapped at Winnellie by Burns (1999).<br />

Summary of data: Attributes of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s in W.A; N.T;<br />

Qld; and N.S.W.<br />

Survey results for <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> terminologies (all references Appendix<br />

2).<br />

Shell <strong>midden</strong> form attributes (Sullivan 1989:51).<br />

Redefined <strong>midden</strong> terminologies & definitions after Roberts (1994:180)<br />

expanded by Alexander (2009).<br />

Shellf<strong>is</strong>h species identified in BMB/116 (Carter and Clarke 2009<br />

personal comments).<br />

Shellf<strong>is</strong>h species identified in each excavation unit BMB/116.<br />

Commonly recorded <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h species in sites across the Point Blane<br />

peninsula and BMB/116.<br />

35<br />

48<br />

49<br />

52<br />

53<br />

59<br />

64<br />

67<br />

71<br />

72<br />

75<br />

82<br />

91<br />

92<br />


6.3<br />

6.4<br />

6.5<br />

6.6<br />

6.7<br />

6.8<br />

6.9<br />

Dominant <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h species in each excavation unit BMB/116.<br />

Second dominant <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h species in each excavation unit BMB/116.<br />

Shellf<strong>is</strong>h and their habitat identified in BMB/116 faunal assemblage.<br />

Shellf<strong>is</strong>h weight by habitat calculated as a % across excavation units.<br />

Shellf<strong>is</strong>h habitat analysed as % of upper and lower sections of<br />

BMB/116.<br />

Data for site classification analys<strong>is</strong>. Based on site recording form<br />

(Appendix 1 Doc 6).<br />

Compar<strong>is</strong>on of Physical Features of BMB / 116 and BMB / 184<br />

93<br />

95<br />

96<br />

97<br />

98<br />

99<br />

108<br />



Archaeological <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s are well known features of Australiaʹs<br />

coastal landscape. Th<strong>is</strong> descriptive term automatically conjures images<br />

of conspicuous and highly d<strong>is</strong>tingu<strong>is</strong>hable <strong>shell</strong> deposits. A <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> BMB/116<br />

located in Blue Mud Bay Arnhem Land demonstrated anomalies in <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h<br />

species, age range and location from those traditional associated with northern<br />

Australian <strong>mound</strong> sites. The examination of these anomalies <strong>is</strong> the subject of th<strong>is</strong><br />

study. The study begins with a comprehensive review of Australian archaeological<br />

literature which revealed that the criteria for differentiating between <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s<br />

and <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s are unclear and confused. The v<strong>is</strong>ual prominence of <strong>shell</strong><br />

<strong>mound</strong>s suggested the ex<strong>is</strong>tence of clear identification criteria for d<strong>is</strong>tingu<strong>is</strong>hing<br />

these archaeological deposits from other non‐<strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>shell</strong> deposits, such as <strong>shell</strong><br />

<strong>midden</strong>s. The establ<strong>is</strong>hment of criteria <strong>is</strong> important as cons<strong>is</strong>tency in the<br />

classification of sites <strong>is</strong> the most direct way to understand variation in the<br />

archaeological record. The first research aim examined the range of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong><br />

characterizing attributes including <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h species and age. Then the current<br />

ambiguities in ex<strong>is</strong>ting definitions of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s <strong>is</strong> examined and proposes new<br />

criteria for identifying <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s in the field. The second research aim<br />

examines BMB116 in detail and places the sites characterizing attributes within the<br />

context of the identified range of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> attributes. I will then apply the new<br />

criteria for classifing <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s to the site.<br />



There are three people who must be thanked for their contribution to the research<br />

and writing of th<strong>is</strong> thes<strong>is</strong>. First thanks are to Dr Annie Clarke (Department of<br />

Archaeology, University of Sydney) who offered me a thes<strong>is</strong> topic associated with<br />

the Blue Mud Bay Project and superv<strong>is</strong>ed my progress. Thanks are due to Dr<br />

Mel<strong>is</strong>sa Carter (Department of Archeology, University of Sydney) my <strong>shell</strong>, and<br />

<strong>shell</strong> analys<strong>is</strong> special<strong>is</strong>t, and superv<strong>is</strong>or. Thank you for your time, interest and<br />

expert<strong>is</strong>e. Thank you to my external superv<strong>is</strong>or Dr Val Attenbrow (Principal<br />

Research Scient<strong>is</strong>t, Department of Anthropology, Australian Museum), for<br />

teaching me <strong>shell</strong> analys<strong>is</strong> and data recording and patiently answering my<br />

constant questions. Your suggestions of reading material sent me on a journey<br />

that transformed my ideas, and lastly for teaching me about academic writing. I<br />

am indebted to the body of research on the Point Blane peninsular by Annie<br />

Clarke, Patrick Faulkner and Marcus Barber, also to Paul Ir<strong>is</strong>h for talking to me<br />

about <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s and making h<strong>is</strong> research available. Finally I must thank my<br />

father Bryan and husband John without whose love, encouragement and financial<br />

support I could never have undertaken my wonderful journey of study at<br />

university.<br />


Chapter 1<br />

Introduction to research<br />

Shell <strong>midden</strong>s and coastal archaeology<br />

The archaeology of coastlines involves the study of the remains of preh<strong>is</strong>toric<br />

human occupation and their relationship with the geography, palaeoenviroment<br />

and marine and estuarine ecosystems which characterize different coastal regions.<br />

Coastal archaeology however <strong>is</strong> not confined to the land that immediately defines<br />

the coast. In Australia, coastal archaeology encompasses the ocean and its<br />

dreaming stories, resources, transport routes and the study of <strong>is</strong>lands and <strong>is</strong>land<br />

peoples. The study of coastal archaeology also extends inland to trade and<br />

resource zones, to inland sites which line relict coastlines and along freshwater<br />

estuarine systems that lead to the wetlands, billabongs and rivers. The d<strong>is</strong>tinctive<br />

markers of coastal occupation are the vast numbers of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s which<br />

represent a range of past human activity, including long term resource<br />

procurement, and large‐scale social gatherings to the d<strong>is</strong>card of the remains of<br />

meals at temporary camp sites or along walking tracks. In th<strong>is</strong> study the term <strong>shell</strong><br />

<strong>midden</strong>s includes <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s.<br />

From their earliest examination <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s revealed a wealth of information<br />

about human activities. Although the individuals who formed the sites often<br />

remain elusive a part of their lives can be gleaned from the study of these<br />

intriguing deposits. Middens and <strong>mound</strong>s are at once similar and different and<br />

have become an important subject of the investigation of Aboriginal Australians.<br />

Today coastal archaeology sites have become increasingly subject to damage from<br />

environmental processes, as well as mining, tour<strong>is</strong>t developments and recreational<br />


activities such as four wheel driving. The identification of an <strong>is</strong>olated landscape<br />

containing archaeological sites that have had negligible impact from modern<br />

settlement therefore provides an important opportunity for regional scale<br />

archaeological research. <strong>One</strong> such a project was undertaken between 2000 and<br />

2003 in Blue Mud Bay on the Point Blane peninsula, Arnhem Land (Clarke and<br />

Faulkner 2003).<br />

Research aims<br />

Within the broad frame work of a critical examination of the criteria applied for<br />

d<strong>is</strong>tingu<strong>is</strong>hing between archaeological <strong>mound</strong>ed and non‐<strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>shell</strong><br />

<strong>midden</strong>s, th<strong>is</strong> study provides an analys<strong>is</strong> and interpretation of an anomalous<br />

coastal <strong>shell</strong> deposit recorded in the Point Blane peninsula study area. The study<br />

has three main research aims:<br />

1. Through a critical review of the archaeological literature, to examine the<br />

characterizing attributes of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s to determine if the Anadara <strong>mound</strong><br />

model commonly used to describe <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s <strong>is</strong> representative of the<br />

range of attributes represented in <strong>mound</strong>s across Australia. Th<strong>is</strong> aims seeks<br />

to answer the key question are the characterizing attributes of the <strong>mound</strong><br />

site BMB/116 still anomalous when compared to the wider model of <strong>shell</strong><br />

<strong>mound</strong>s data complied from across Australia.<br />

2. Based on the outcomes of th<strong>is</strong> review, to identify the key features or<br />

character<strong>is</strong>tics that clearly define the difference between <strong>mound</strong>ed and non‐<br />

<strong>mound</strong>ed forms of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s, and if required identify and establ<strong>is</strong>h<br />

new criteria for more accurately defining these coastal deposits.<br />

3. Through a review of the recorded field data and an analys<strong>is</strong> of the<br />

excavated assemblage, provide a reassessment of the anomalous BMB/116<br />

site in the context of both the archaeology of the Point Blane peninsula<br />


study area and the new classificatory frame work developed for<br />

d<strong>is</strong>tingu<strong>is</strong>hing <strong>mound</strong>ed and non‐<strong>mound</strong>ed forms of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s.<br />

The Blue Mud Bay Project and the anomalous site BMB/116<br />

The Point Blane peninsula was the location of an extensive archaeological<br />

investigation conducted under the auspices of The Blue Mud Bay Project (BMBP)<br />

(Clarke and Faulkner 2003). The major research aim of the BMBP was to identify<br />

Aboriginal resource use and occupation systems during the late Holocene, and<br />

specifically the last 3,000 years (Clarke and Faulkner 2003:4). Prior to the<br />

commencement of the BMBP in 2000 no archaeological work has been undertaken<br />

in th<strong>is</strong> region of Arnhem Land. An extensive field survey of the study area<br />

identified and recorded 141 sites, producing a d<strong>is</strong>tinct pattern of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s<br />

located along the wetland margins of the peninsula. Due to its determined status<br />

as an archaeological anomaly in the study area, test excavation of BMB/116 was<br />

undertaken (Clarke and Faulkner 2003). The present study represents the first<br />

investigation of the archaeological assemblage excavated from BMB/116, and<br />

provides a new contribution to the Blue Mud Bay project.<br />

Research Rationale<br />

The archaeological literature review undertaken as part of th<strong>is</strong> study demonstrated<br />

the ex<strong>is</strong>tence of a considerable degree of confusion for defining or d<strong>is</strong>tingu<strong>is</strong>hing<br />

<strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>midden</strong>s; or <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s, and non‐<strong>mound</strong>ed forms of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s in<br />

Australian contexts. Th<strong>is</strong> inherent incons<strong>is</strong>tency in archaeological field<br />

methodology implies a lack of clarity and cons<strong>is</strong>tency in the classification of<br />

cultural <strong>shell</strong> deposits. Th<strong>is</strong> <strong>is</strong> significant because research based on the application<br />

of cons<strong>is</strong>tent site classification criteria <strong>is</strong> perhaps the most direct way to elucidate<br />

variation in the archaeological record (Claassen 1991:11 cites Shenkel 1974).<br />


To resolve the incons<strong>is</strong>tent and potentially inaccurate criteria used for classifying<br />

coastal <strong>shell</strong> deposits, a critical review of the attributes and features commonly<br />

applied by archaeolog<strong>is</strong>ts for th<strong>is</strong> task <strong>is</strong> undertaken. The outcome of th<strong>is</strong> review<br />

process will be the identification of key features of criteria considered most reliable<br />

and accurate for d<strong>is</strong>tingu<strong>is</strong>hing <strong>mound</strong>ed from non‐<strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>midden</strong>s. These<br />

results will thus provide a new bas<strong>is</strong> for evaluating the anomalous site BMB/116.<br />

The underlying prem<strong>is</strong>e of th<strong>is</strong> study <strong>is</strong> the critical requirement for a clear<br />

understanding of constitutes <strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>midden</strong> forms in Australian archaeological<br />

contexts. Once th<strong>is</strong> <strong>is</strong> achieved the cons<strong>is</strong>tent application of specific criteria for<br />

d<strong>is</strong>tingu<strong>is</strong>hing coastal site types will provide a more reliable platform from<br />

comparing the regional and national archaeological data (i.e. site d<strong>is</strong>tribution<br />

patterns and nature of <strong>mound</strong>ed forms).<br />

Research Methodology<br />

To investigate the question of what criteria archaeolog<strong>is</strong>ts commonly used for<br />

d<strong>is</strong>tingu<strong>is</strong>hing between <strong>mound</strong>ed and non‐<strong>mound</strong>ed forms of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>, a<br />

detailed review of relevant archaeological literature was initially undertaken. Th<strong>is</strong><br />

provided the literary framework for an understanding of the origins and reasons<br />

for the inherent incons<strong>is</strong>tencies evident in th<strong>is</strong> methodological process. As an<br />

additional outcome, th<strong>is</strong> review provided the opportunity to identify key features<br />

or character<strong>is</strong>tics that offer a more reliable and accurate means for d<strong>is</strong>tingu<strong>is</strong>hing<br />

<strong>mound</strong>ed and non‐<strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>shell</strong>s <strong>midden</strong>s. Th<strong>is</strong> also provided the required<br />

criteria for evaluating the original classification of BMB/116 as a <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> and<br />

solving the question of its anomalous status.<br />

To fully achieve th<strong>is</strong> last aim, however, a detailed analys<strong>is</strong> of the excavated<br />

archaeological assemblage from BMB/116 was also required. By characterizing the<br />


nature of th<strong>is</strong> <strong>shell</strong> assemblage using common methods and criteria employed in<br />

archaeological analys<strong>is</strong> of non‐vertebrate remains, a more complete understanding<br />

of the depositional processes and nature of the BMB/116 <strong>shell</strong> deposit <strong>is</strong> achieved.<br />

Importantly, the archeological analys<strong>is</strong> also produces a comprehensive dataset for<br />

compar<strong>is</strong>on of BMB/116 with another site recorded in the study area (BMB/84), as a<br />

further method for determining the accurate classification of the former site. Th<strong>is</strong><br />

final task <strong>is</strong> also ass<strong>is</strong>ted by a compilation of the recorded field data for all <strong>shell</strong><br />

<strong>mound</strong>s recorded in the Point Blane peninsula study area. Th<strong>is</strong> process adequately<br />

demonstrates that a re‐assessment of the original classification of sites in the Point<br />

Blane peninsula study are (Clarke and Faulkner 2003) <strong>is</strong> required.<br />

Thes<strong>is</strong> organization<br />

Chapter Two presents a literary review of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s in Australian coastal<br />

archaeology providing the h<strong>is</strong>torical context for th<strong>is</strong> study’sresearch. Th<strong>is</strong> chapter<br />

also includes a d<strong>is</strong>cussion of influential theoretical models and current research<br />

themes in Australian coastal archaeology. A number of regions synonymous with<br />

the presence of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s form the focus of the d<strong>is</strong>cussion including New<br />

South Wales, Queensland, Northern territory and Western Australia.<br />

Chapter Three presents the archaeological and environmental background to the<br />

Point Blane peninsula study area. The chapter also includes a description of<br />

BMB/116 and tests excavation. Recorded field data <strong>is</strong> also provided and the<br />

preliminary site classification of BMB/166 as a <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> <strong>is</strong> d<strong>is</strong>cussed.<br />

Having provided the contextual framework for the anomalous nature of BMB/116<br />

in Chapter 3, Chapter 4 presents a detailed literature review of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong><br />

identification and classification in Australian coastal archaeology. Th<strong>is</strong> review<br />


demonstrates the need for both review and expansion of the criteria for defining<br />

<strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s and identifies a number of key criteria used for d<strong>is</strong>tingu<strong>is</strong>hing<br />

<strong>mound</strong>ed and non‐<strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>midden</strong> forms. As a suggested mothod for<br />

improving cons<strong>is</strong>tency in the identification of archaeological <strong>shell</strong> deposits, a<br />

propose Field Recording Form <strong>is</strong> also developed. Th<strong>is</strong> chapter concludes with a<br />

d<strong>is</strong>cussion of the implications of the new criteria for the identification of <strong>mound</strong>ed<br />

<strong>midden</strong>s in archaeological research.<br />

Chapter Five provides a brief description of the BmB/116 excavation methods<br />

followed by a more comprehensive description of the laboratory methods used for<br />

the analys<strong>is</strong> of the excavated assemblage. Th<strong>is</strong> chapter also includes a review of the<br />

common quantitative techniques used by archaeolog<strong>is</strong>ts for the analys<strong>is</strong> of<br />

archaeological <strong>shell</strong> remains<br />

Chapter 6 presents the results of analys<strong>is</strong> of the BMB/116 archaeological <strong>shell</strong><br />

assemblage, including data an species diversity, dominant species and species<br />

habitat. The archaeological data <strong>is</strong> compared to BMB/84 and the resulting<br />

implication for both the nature of the archaeological <strong>shell</strong> deposits in the study<br />

area and the original site type classification of BMB/116 are d<strong>is</strong>cussed.<br />

Chapter Seven presents the major conclusions of the research drawing on the<br />

achievements of the three major research aims of the thes<strong>is</strong>. In addition, a number<br />

of future research directions are identified for the BMB/116 site and the Point Blane<br />

peninsula, and the d<strong>is</strong>cipline of Australian coastal archaeology.ahcievements<br />


Chapter 2<br />

Shell <strong>mound</strong>s in Australian archaeological research<br />

Introduction<br />

Shell <strong>mound</strong>s began to attract the attention of Australian archaeolog<strong>is</strong>ts in 1963<br />

when Wright (cited by Bailey 1977:132) identified enormous <strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>shell</strong><br />

deposits at Weipa in northern Australia. The Weipa <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s captured<br />

archaeolog<strong>is</strong>ts’ imagination due to their size; up to 13m in height (Morr<strong>is</strong>on 2003:<br />

1), which made a dramatic impact on the landscape. Shell <strong>mound</strong>s have now been<br />

identified along 3,000 kilometers of Australia’s northern coastline from the<br />

Kimberley region to eastern Cape York. They have been generally dated to the mid<br />

Holocene from 3000BP ‐ 600BP and are dominated by Anadara <strong>shell</strong> (H<strong>is</strong>cock<br />

2008:175‐179).<br />

Th<strong>is</strong> chapter presents a review of the h<strong>is</strong>tory of research about <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s and<br />

will initially focus on the Dan<strong>is</strong>h Kjokkenmoddings or kitchen <strong>midden</strong>s first<br />

identified in the early 1800s. Th<strong>is</strong> <strong>is</strong> followed by a d<strong>is</strong>cussion about the themes<br />

which have directed the research and interpretation of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s in Australian<br />

coastal archaeology. The focus of th<strong>is</strong> review <strong>is</strong> primarily Australian research<br />

initially due to the vastness of the topic of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s in international research<br />

and secondly to focus on Australian trends and research directions. Case study of<br />

sites from Queensland, Northern Territory, New South Wales, and Western<br />

Australia are examined. Each state exhibits d<strong>is</strong>tinct variations in the h<strong>is</strong>tory of<br />

research, also of site establ<strong>is</strong>hment and formation. Due to the word limitations of<br />

th<strong>is</strong> paper’s length d<strong>is</strong>cussion of neither coastal <strong>is</strong>lands nor coastal research in<br />

Victoria, Tasmania or South Australia has been included (Figure 2.1). Th<strong>is</strong> review<br />


forms a context for viewing the Blue Mud Bay Project and the research undertaken<br />

in th<strong>is</strong> thes<strong>is</strong>.<br />

Figure 2.1: Map of Australia showing locations mentioned in text.<br />

H<strong>is</strong>tory of research<br />

The investigation of the Dan<strong>is</strong>h <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s in the 1860s<br />

The publication of the investigation of the Dan<strong>is</strong>h kjokkenmoddings (Figure 2.2)<br />

(kitchen <strong>midden</strong>s); or <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> sites, in Lubbock’s 1865 publication “Pre‐<br />

h<strong>is</strong>toric Times” establ<strong>is</strong>hed an investigative bas<strong>is</strong> for archaeological research on<br />

cultural <strong>shell</strong> sites that has had an influence through to the present day. The<br />

Dan<strong>is</strong>h <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> sites were originally thought to be massive natural deposits<br />

cons<strong>is</strong>ting of ra<strong>is</strong>ed beaches. However, subsequent investigation identified a range<br />

of character<strong>is</strong>tics which resulted in the ‘beaches’ being identified as cultural in<br />

origin. These included the identification of selectivity of <strong>shell</strong> f<strong>is</strong>h species<br />

characterized by cons<strong>is</strong>tency in <strong>shell</strong> f<strong>is</strong>h size, diverse representation of <strong>shell</strong> f<strong>is</strong>h<br />


habitats and the absence of gravel from storm activity in the <strong>shell</strong> deposits.<br />

Excavations directed by Professor Steenstrup (Lubbock 1865:180) also uncovered<br />

flint tools, animal bone with butchery marks and hearths, all of which added to the<br />

identification of these sites as cultural in origin.<br />

Figure 2.2: The tumuli of Oden, Thor and Freyda at Upsala Denmark (Lubbock 1865).<br />

The Dan<strong>is</strong>h <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s varied widely in size up to 300 yards (274m) long 30‐60<br />

yards wide (27‐55m) and between 3 to 10 feet in depth or height (.91‐3.00m).<br />

Variety in <strong>mound</strong> form was recorded with elongated and doughnut shaped<br />

deposits identified. Sites often occurred in clusters. By 1861 over 50 sites had been<br />

investigated by a specially assembled multid<strong>is</strong>ciplinary team which included<br />

archaeolog<strong>is</strong>ts. The identification of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s some eight miles from the<br />

current coastline together with and sections of coastline containing no <strong>midden</strong>s<br />

sites was interpreted as evidence for fluctuating sea levels and the impact of harsh<br />

environmental conditions on site survival. The four most prevalent species of<br />

<strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h found in the <strong>midden</strong>s were oysters, cockles, mussels and periwinkles.<br />

Oysters had become almost extinct in Denmark by the 1860s and th<strong>is</strong> was<br />

attributed to both human predation and environmental factors such as a predator<br />

starf<strong>is</strong>h. The reduction in <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h size overtime in the <strong>midden</strong>s stratigraphic<br />

sequences was interpreted as evidence of over f<strong>is</strong>hing (Lubbock 1865:171‐197). The<br />

major themes identified in Dan<strong>is</strong>h <strong>midden</strong> study’s in the 1860s‐the selectivity of<br />


species, site form variation, sea level fluctuation, the impact of the dynamic coastal<br />

environment on site survival, and the impact of human predation‐are still all areas<br />

of current relevance in the study and analys<strong>is</strong> of <strong>midden</strong>s and <strong>mound</strong>s in both<br />

Australia and elsewhere in the world.<br />

Australian coastal archaeology<br />

An introduction<br />

The earliest use of coastal marine resources in Australia was identified by<br />

O’Connor (O’Connor 1989) in a rock shelter on Koolan Island off W.A. The<br />

culturally deposited <strong>shell</strong>s of mangrove molluscs were dated to >30000 years ago.<br />

Most Australian coastal sites do not demonstrate such antiquity as the coastline<br />

was impacted by first r<strong>is</strong>ing and then falling sea levels over the Ple<strong>is</strong>tocene and<br />

early Holocene. Coastal <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong> sites appear in the archaeological record as a<br />

world wide phenomenon between 8000 – 4000 years BP which generally accords<br />

with the stabilization of sea levels in the post glacial period (Meehan 1982:3 cites<br />

Thom & Chapell 1975:90‐93). In Australia there <strong>is</strong> a significant increase in the<br />

number of recorded coastal <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong> sites dated to the last 3000 years (and<br />

particularly the last 1000). Research seeks to understand why th<strong>is</strong> increase in the<br />

number of recorded <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s occurs during the late Holocene. Th<strong>is</strong> theme<br />

underlines research in coastal archaeology with d<strong>is</strong>cussion canvassing the effect of<br />

sea level change on <strong>midden</strong> formation and destruction and its relationship to<br />

culture change (McNiven & Hall 1999: 88). Shell <strong>mound</strong>s in Australia are typified<br />

by the Anadara <strong>mound</strong>s found across Australia’s tropical coastline from the<br />

Kimberley to Cape York. Anadara <strong>mound</strong>s are usually located away from modern<br />

coastlines and provide evidence that coastal environmental conditions were<br />

different in the past (H<strong>is</strong>cock 2008:177).<br />


Models for understanding Holocene coastal sites<br />

Changes in the Holocene archaeological record have been characterized by an<br />

increase in site numbers, artefact densities or d<strong>is</strong>card rates, and movement of<br />

populations into previously unoccupied territories. Researchers have looked for a<br />

single idea that could explain the economic change. Explanations have included<br />

social processes, environmental change, or change as a reconfiguration that<br />

followed an Australia‐wide single and upward trajectory in which economic<br />

practices became more efficient and complex. From these ideas the opinion has<br />

emerged that humans developed specific coastal economies only in the recent<br />

millennia. Th<strong>is</strong> platform of ideas influenced many archaeological investigations of<br />

Holocene coastal economies of mainland Australia. Two influential research<br />

models emerged in the 1980s to explain the changes indentified in the Late<br />

Holocene archaeological record; the coastal occupation time‐lag model (Beaton<br />

1985), and the intensification model, arguing for increases in social and economic<br />

complexity (Lourandos 1985). Today archaeolog<strong>is</strong>ts understand Late Holocene<br />

coastal economies by their regional and temporal diversity in both economic<br />

responses and environmental change (H<strong>is</strong>cock 2008:162‐182).<br />

Current Research themes in Australian coastal archaeology<br />

Coastal archaeology has developed to encompass a wide and diverse range of<br />

research specialties and themes (Table 2.1). Th<strong>is</strong> subject <strong>is</strong> too extensive to d<strong>is</strong>cuss<br />

sat<strong>is</strong>factorily in th<strong>is</strong> chapter so a table has been presented to indicate the range of<br />

research areas and themes currently d<strong>is</strong>cussed in Australian archaeological<br />

research.<br />


Table 2.1 Research themes in Australian coastal archaeology<br />

Research Themes<br />

(Developed from Hall & McNiven 1999:1‐4)<br />

Dynamic Environment<br />

Taphonomic processes<br />

Sea level fluctuation<br />

Storms<br />

Coastal Landscapes<br />

Seascapes<br />

Exposure of sites<br />

Modern development<br />

Estuarine landscapes<br />

Landscape evolution & resource availability<br />

Occupation landscapes<br />

Relationship with inland resources & occupation<br />

Cultural and heritage landscapes<br />

Long‐term human use of marine systems<br />

Ple<strong>is</strong>tocene culture<br />

Responses to sea level change<br />

Cultural change models<br />

Intensification<br />

Environmental determin<strong>is</strong>m<br />

Change in response to environment & social<br />

processes<br />

Research contexts<br />

Coastal economies<br />

Gender roles<br />

Island use<br />

Island systems<br />

Regional studies<br />

Culture & Heritage management<br />


Case Studies<br />

Queensland<br />

A spectacular landscape of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s <strong>is</strong> located at Weipa on Cape York in<br />

northern Queensland. Research on the <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s at Weipa has generated more<br />

debate than any other coastal area in Australia and for that reason <strong>is</strong> a fitting place<br />

to begin th<strong>is</strong> review. In 1961 anthropolog<strong>is</strong>t W.E.H. Stanner (1961:8‐12) suggested<br />

that the giant steep‐sided <strong>mound</strong>s at Weipa were of natural origin. Later Wright<br />

(1963, 1971) identified that two of the Weipa <strong>mound</strong>s contained the classic<br />

d<strong>is</strong>tingu<strong>is</strong>hing markers of cultural <strong>midden</strong> deposits: artefacts, charcoal, f<strong>is</strong>h and<br />

animal bone. A detailed research project by Geoff Bailey (1977) interpreted the<br />

<strong>mound</strong>s as part of a cultural landscape that extended along the shores of four<br />

rivers which flow into Albatross Bay, Queensland (Figure 2.3). He later re‐<br />

examined their period of formation and occupation and dated th<strong>is</strong> from 3510‐290<br />

BP (Bailey et al. 1994:74) demonstrating<br />

site use over most of the Late Holocene.<br />

Figure 2.3: Map of northeast Australia<br />

showing<br />

Weipa’s principal <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> sites (Bailey<br />

1999:106).<br />

Bailey argued that the traditional<br />

cultural markers of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s were<br />

not the only method available for<br />

identifying cultural origins. Bailey<br />

proposed a ‘self‐selecting’ model as an<br />

alternative for a site’s cultural<br />


identification. The model also explained why <strong>mound</strong>s developed (Bailey 1999).<br />

The model proposed that the large <strong>mound</strong>s were located in preferred occupation<br />

areas and could be understood in relation to their accessibility, seasonal comfort;<br />

availability of a breeze to reduce the impact of mosquitoes, and location near a<br />

range of wet season food resource zones. Bailey’s ‘self selecting‘ model expanded<br />

to interpret clusters of <strong>shell</strong> bearing sites as a cultural landscape and provided a<br />

strong platform for the interpretation of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> sites across northern<br />

Australia. The Weipa <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s continue to attract new research and stimulate<br />

debate. In h<strong>is</strong> critical evaluation of Bailey, H<strong>is</strong>cock (2008:177) argues Bailey’s self<br />

selecting model needs to be modified to look beyond the realized benefits of the<br />

constructed <strong>mound</strong>s towards developing an understanding of what social<br />

motivation lay behind beginning and maintaining the accumulation of <strong>mound</strong>s<br />

over many generations.<br />

Tim Stone’s (1991:255) proposal that the Weipa <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s were the abandoned<br />

nest of a Megapode, the Orange‐footed Scrubfowl, has been the most controversial<br />

hypothes<strong>is</strong>. Stone’s hypothes<strong>is</strong> has been successfully been d<strong>is</strong>counted by Bailey<br />

(1994:69‐79,) Beaton (1995: 802) and notably by Burns (1994:28‐36). Burns re‐<br />

investigated Stones original research sites on Channel Island Darwin Harbour.<br />

Her research establ<strong>is</strong>hed a set of criteria to archaeologically differentiate between<br />

Megapode <strong>mound</strong>s, cultural <strong>mound</strong>s and natural <strong>shell</strong> deposits. The debate and<br />

research on establ<strong>is</strong>hing archaeological criteria for identifying the difference<br />

between natural and cultural <strong>shell</strong> deposits has made a significant contribution to<br />

cultural <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> identification (Burns 1994; Carter 1997; Esposito 2005).<br />

More recently the Weipa <strong>mound</strong>s were explored by Morr<strong>is</strong>on (2003) who argued<br />

an alternative hypothes<strong>is</strong> for the <strong>mound</strong>s formation. H<strong>is</strong> research identified the<br />

‘boom / bust’ nature of Anadara <strong>shell</strong> bed formation as the source of the dominance<br />

of Anadara in the Weipa <strong>mound</strong>s. Morr<strong>is</strong>on argued that during boom periods,<br />


large numbers of people from different local clans participated in intensive social<br />

gatherings and consumed the abundant resource. Morr<strong>is</strong>on cites ethnographic<br />

and anthropological evidence stating large gatherings occurred at Weipa when<br />

particular resources were abundant (Morr<strong>is</strong>on 2003:5). Mound formation processes<br />

can be irregular, gradual or intense and formation patterns can at times be<br />

determined by the radio‐carbon dating of <strong>shell</strong> from selected stratigraphic layers of<br />

a site. However, in the case of the Weipa <strong>mound</strong>s radiocarbon dating has been<br />

unable to clarify <strong>mound</strong> formation patterns (Bailey 1977:134‐136).<br />

Bailey and Morr<strong>is</strong>on’s interpretations may both be valid and represent changing<br />

<strong>mound</strong> use over time at Weipa. The two hypotheses could represent different<br />

responses to the constantly evolving coastal environmental conditions which<br />

results in variation in the local resource base.<br />

Northern Territory<br />

In the Northern Territory research projects have identified cultural landscapes<br />

which feature coastal <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s. Recent research in the Darwin Harbour region<br />

focused on Hope Inlet where archaeological sites are dominated by <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s.<br />

Hope Inlet <strong>is</strong> located north‐east of Darwin Harbour and 200 occupation sites have<br />

been recorded. The investigation of the area by Bourke (2004, 2003, 2002) and<br />

Burns (1994, 1999) provided the opportunity for a regional compar<strong>is</strong>on of the<br />

landscapes in which <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s cluster in Hope Inlet and Weipa. The two<br />

study’s differ in their theories for recorded occupation patterns, resource<br />

procurement and site types. The Hope Inlet landscape appears to be similar to<br />

Weipa yet detailed research on <strong>mound</strong> formation and the type of sites compr<strong>is</strong>ing<br />

the clusters has establ<strong>is</strong>hed that the regions are quiet different.<br />


Hope Inlet <strong>is</strong> a small nearly infilled estuary dominated by chenier plains, mud flats<br />

and mangrove forest. The inlets coastal plain covers an area of less than 100 sq<br />

kilometers and within th<strong>is</strong> area are located Aboriginal <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s, including<br />

<strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s and <strong>shell</strong> scatters, earth <strong>mound</strong>s, stone flake scatters and grinding<br />

stones. Bourke selected three <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s for excavation, each in a separate<br />

cluster of varied site types. The location of the clusters was identified as occurring<br />

at the junction between different resource procurement zones. Occupation of the<br />

Anadara <strong>shell</strong> dominated <strong>mound</strong>s was dated between 2000–500 years BP and the<br />

study argued <strong>mound</strong> formation demonstrated long‐term continuous exploitation<br />

of Anadara. Bourke interpreted occupation of the area as not reliant on the<br />

exploitation of Anadara and continued during periods of Anadara scarcity. During<br />

these periods other fauna was exploited from marine, estuarine and terrestrial<br />

zones. The absence of exploitation of deeper ocean resources such as turtle and<br />

dugong known to be accessed during the contact period was also noted.<br />

The stone artefacts recorded at the site included edge‐ground axes, pestles and<br />

portable mortars. Ochre, hearth stones, and a low density of flaked stone artefacts<br />

were also present. Bourke identified the stone artefacts as of special significance for<br />

interpreting site importance. The stone for tool manufacture was imported, and<br />

portable mortars used for plant processing were considered as possibly associated<br />

with ceremonial activity (Bourke 2004: 19‐21). The presence of the range of heavy<br />

stone artefacts, importation of stone and presence of ochre are argued by Bourke as<br />

indicators of the site and regions importance and demonstrate use over an<br />

extended time period.<br />

Bourke interpreted Hope Inlet as a seasonal semi‐sedentary settlement (Bourke<br />

2002: 35). Its occupiers practicing a generalized and flexible subs<strong>is</strong>tence economy<br />

based on the resource zones of the foreshore, estuary, coastal plains and<br />

hinterland. Burns argues the absence of marine animal bone in the sites<br />


demonstrates that coastal <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s cannot be taken as evidence of a economy<br />

that focuses on deep water marine resources. However anthropological evidence<br />

for other regions of Arnhem Land has demonstrated large marine animals were<br />

not processed at the same sites as <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h (Barber 2005: Appendix 25‐30). Bourke’s<br />

interpretation of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> occupation at Hope Inlet suggests regional variation<br />

in locations were <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> are found when compared with Bailey’s and<br />

Morr<strong>is</strong>on’s (2003) interpretations of Weipa.<br />

Research at Hope Inlet and Weipa provides examples of the use of different<br />

research theories. Bailey’s hypothes<strong>is</strong> understands the establ<strong>is</strong>hment of occupation<br />

at Weipa through environmental determin<strong>is</strong>m; however he interprets behavior at<br />

the sites through social processes. Morr<strong>is</strong>on’s hypothes<strong>is</strong> of occupation at Weipa <strong>is</strong><br />

underpinned by ethnographic data. Environmental determin<strong>is</strong>m means that<br />

environmental change determines resource availability which directly influences<br />

human behavior. The theory <strong>is</strong> often applied; for example Beaton (1995), to explain<br />

the recent establ<strong>is</strong>hment of (

1999:195). In the 1930s the excavation at Burrill Lake (Thorpe 1931, 1932a, and<br />

1932b) focused on stone artefact typologies and not faunal resources. During the<br />

1960s and 1970s research by Bowdler (1970) Bailey (1975:45‐59) and Sullivan (1982)<br />

contributed to identifying the extent of coastal sites in NSW. By 1994 N.P.W.S<br />

Aboriginal Sites Reg<strong>is</strong>ter held records for 3,200 <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong> sites on the NSW<br />

coast (Attenbrow 1999: 201).<br />

The estuary of the Richmond River, Ballina NSW was the location of a v<strong>is</strong>ually<br />

significant cluster of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> sites located along both sides of the river. The<br />

site was first investigated by Statham (1892:304‐314) (Figure 2.4), and Bailey<br />

(1975:45‐59) later reinvestigated the site to examine the relative significance of the<br />

quantity of <strong>shell</strong> in the <strong>mound</strong>s to the diet and settlement patterns of the local<br />

inhabitants. Bailey came to the unexpected conclusion that although vast in size<br />

the <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s possibly played only a minor role in the diet and period of<br />

occupation of the occupiers. H<strong>is</strong> research calculated that the three large <strong>shell</strong><br />

<strong>mound</strong>s: 400m x 4m, and five <strong>midden</strong>s sites were used infrequently at a maximum<br />

of six times a year over the period 2000 BP to 100 BP. The <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s were<br />

composed of 98% Sydney rock oyster with sparse evidence of f<strong>is</strong>h, mammal bone<br />

and stone artefacts. Bailey argued the infrequent occupation pattern represented<br />

an understanding that the oyster beds were vulnerable to over‐exploitation and<br />

their long‐term survival demonstrated they were a carefully managed resource.<br />

Statham (1892) and Bailey (1975:47 cites the following) both argued the sites could<br />

been see in compar<strong>is</strong>on to the oyster <strong>mound</strong>s of California (Gifford, 1916)<br />

Denmark (Madsen et al., 1900) and Japan (Groot & Sinoto, 1952) in terms of their<br />

individual size and general character. Statham and Bailey comments introduce a<br />

rare and important international compar<strong>is</strong>on between Australian <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s<br />

and the wider international phenomena of Holocene <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> building.<br />


Figure 2.4: A Richmond River <strong>mound</strong> 1892 (Statham 1892: Plate IX).<br />

The interpretation of the limited economic importance of the Ballina <strong>mound</strong>s had<br />

implications for other researchers who sought to interpret the relative importance<br />

of the vast volume of molluscs in <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s. The quantification of mollusc meat<br />

as a food resource in dietary reconstruction was an important research theme<br />

which evolved in America and then Australia in the 1870s (Dall 1877; Statham<br />

1892; cited by Claassen 1998:175). Research was revived between 1960 and the<br />

1980s however Claassen argues that today the requ<strong>is</strong>ite assumptions that underlie<br />

every facet of calculations when combined with inadequate sampling and seasonal<br />

variations in nutritional content, means that most archaeolog<strong>is</strong>t are no longer<br />

willing to undertake th<strong>is</strong> form of research (Claassen 1998:194).<br />

The realization that NSW coastal geography could be used to identify possible<br />

locations of <strong>shell</strong> bearing sites was identified by Sullivan when working as an<br />

archaeological consultant. In 1982 Sullivan undertook a broad‐scale and important<br />

archaeological survey of the NSW coast which recorded 801 sites. Sullivan<br />

recognized that the NSW coast divided broadly into two d<strong>is</strong>tinct geographical<br />

zones: the northern sand dominated depositional coastline and the southern<br />

bedrock dominated mixed coastline. Sullivan establ<strong>is</strong>hed that the northern and<br />

southern zones demonstrated a definite relationship between the location of <strong>shell</strong><br />

bearing sites and their geography. Geographical zones where sites were to be<br />


found were identified as beaches, rock platforms and estuaries. Determinants for<br />

site location within each zone were: type of rock platform from which <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h<br />

were collected, location of sand on which to camp, shelter from wind, and location<br />

of drinking water.<br />

Importantly for th<strong>is</strong> d<strong>is</strong>cussion Sullivan also establ<strong>is</strong>hed archaeological criteria for<br />

identifying the location of <strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>midden</strong> deposits. The application of the<br />

criteria led to recognition of the regions of Clarence – Morton and coastal New<br />

England in the north as containing the highest number of <strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>midden</strong>s on<br />

the NSW coast. Mounded <strong>midden</strong> sites were identified as typically located in<br />

estuarine environments sites and in NSW included Clybucca (Connah 1975),<br />

Sussex Inlet (Sullivan 1977) and Wombah (McBryde 1974). Sullivan’s survey also<br />

included the excavations of <strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>midden</strong>s at Pambula Lake (1982:178). The<br />

excavations identified temporal changes in species selection with the transition to<br />

mussel in the upper section of <strong>mound</strong>s. Sullivan suggested a connection with the<br />

introduction of f<strong>is</strong>h hooks found by Bowdler (1970) in a similar temporal change in<br />

a <strong>midden</strong> on the NSW south coast. Th<strong>is</strong> hypothes<strong>is</strong> has been widely refuted;<br />

however other viable answers were not proposed by d<strong>is</strong>senting researches<br />

(O’Connor & Sullivan 1994). Sullivan’s research has been identified as<br />

contributing to the research themes of landscape evolution and resource<br />

availability (Hall & McNiven 1999:3). It provides detailed knowledge on coastal<br />

geomorphology and coastal taphonomy as an important contextual bas<strong>is</strong> for any<br />

assessment in identifying patterns in cultural responses in coastal regions.<br />


Western Australia<br />

Figure 2.5: Map of Western Australia coastline with regions named in text (O’Connor 1996:166)<br />

Prior to 1983 no publ<strong>is</strong>hed <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong> study’s for W.A. ex<strong>is</strong>ted, leading Bowdler<br />

(1983) to state that <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s were apparently absent from the southwestern<br />

Western Australian coast. A survey of the southwestern coast Figure 2.5 (Dortch et<br />

al.1984) identified small localized <strong>shell</strong> scatters equating to one scatter for every<br />

180 km of coastline which suggested that Bowdler’s statements may be correct.<br />

During the following decade most sections of the southwest coast of Western<br />

Australia were surveyed (O’Connor 1996) reconfirming Dortch et al. (1984)<br />

findings (Figure 2.5 & Table 2.2). In the Central west and Pilbara, abundant<br />

evidence for coastal exploitation of marine and estuarine environments was<br />

recorded with occupation appearing from 8000 BP‐6000 BP following the marine<br />


transgression. These early <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s are dominated by gastropods sourced<br />

from forests of giant mangroves.<br />

Table 2.2: Table of W.A sites as of 1999 (O’Connor 1996)<br />

Summary of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong> sites on the WA coast by region from south to north<br />

After O’Connor (1996)<br />

Region Occupation Dates Midden form<br />

South west‐<br />

Geraldton to Shark Bay<br />

Central west‐<br />

Shark Bay<br />

Southern Pilbara‐<br />

North‐West Cape<br />

Turquo<strong>is</strong>e Bay<br />

Pilbara<br />

Exmouth Gulf to<br />

Cape Keraudren<br />

Nickol Bay<br />

West Intercourse Island<br />

Western Desert<br />

Cape Keraudren to Lagrange<br />

5,080‐4,450 BP. Thin surface scatters<br />

7,000‐3,500 BP 100 <strong>shell</strong> scatters, <strong>shell</strong> species<br />

8,000‐7,000 BP<br />

5,500‐ modern<br />

No date<br />

4,500‐ 1,000 BP divided into<br />

two phases<br />

4,640‐3,950 BP mangrove<br />

phase<br />

4,000‐1,040 BP Anadara &<br />

Oyster<br />

6,200‐ 4,200 BP Terebralia to<br />

Anadara<br />

No date available<br />

No date available<br />

No archaeological work has<br />

been carried out. No <strong>midden</strong><br />

sites have been described<br />

from Mangrove phase<br />

Two sites of <strong>shell</strong> scatters<br />

Only ep<strong>is</strong>odic occupation up<br />

to modern period.<br />

Scatters of terebralia on<br />

landward Ple<strong>is</strong>tocene dunes.<br />

First evidence of stratified<br />

<strong>midden</strong>s<br />

Rock shelter<br />

1 <strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>midden</strong><br />

14 <strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>midden</strong>s‐2‐3m<br />

Northern Region (Kimberley) divides into 3 zones Southwest Kimberley, Central‐west<br />

Kimberley and Northern Kimberley<br />

high<br />


Southwest Kimberley<br />

Broome to 80 km south<br />

Roebuck Plain<br />

Cable Beach<br />

Central‐west Kimberley<br />

Buccaneer Archipelago<br />

Northern Kimberley<br />

Mitchell Plateau<br />

3,000‐ modern BP<br />

3,600‐to contact period<br />

No dates<br />

Extensive linear scatters on<br />

coastal dune systems<br />

Anadara <strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>midden</strong>s on<br />

chenier ridges<br />

Extensive d<strong>is</strong>persed scatters<br />

over dunes<br />

No <strong>midden</strong>s or <strong>shell</strong> scatters in open contexts. Change to<br />

rugged coastline and off shore <strong>is</strong>lands, absence of favorable<br />

habitats for marine molluscs<br />

3,000‐ modern BP<br />

Large <strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>midden</strong>s,<br />

Marcia changing to Anadara<br />

In W.A the <strong>mound</strong>ing of <strong>midden</strong>s have earlier radio metric dates in the southern<br />

part of their d<strong>is</strong>tribution in Pilbara (6200 BP) through to the northern Kimberley<br />

sites which date from 3000 BP. O’Connor (1996: 173) was unable to determine if<br />

environment or cultural factors were responsible. A later O’Connor (1999:48)<br />

suggested both local topography and environmental factors effected resource<br />

availability which resulted in the very different temporal sequences in the<br />

appearance of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s. Large <strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s of Anadara and Tapes<br />

similar to the Weipa <strong>mound</strong>s are only found on the northern Kimberley, Mitchell<br />

Plateau area of the Western Australian coast after 4200 BP and cease by 2000BP.<br />

O’Conner hypothesized that <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong> site frequency and <strong>shell</strong> density<br />

increased over time in a southern to northerly direction. O’Conner’s work gave the<br />

Western Australian coastline an archaeological footprint and identified potential<br />

locations to focus future research.<br />

A recent archaeological salvage project at Port Headland in the Pilbara region of<br />

Western Australian’s coast has yielded evidence that challenges O’Conner’s<br />

hypothes<strong>is</strong> of the sequence of occupation along the W.A coast. Th<strong>is</strong> project<br />


ecorded a wide range of site types. Harr<strong>is</strong>on’s (2009:81) excavations identified<br />

Anadara exploitation in northwestern Australia as continuous from at least 4592BP<br />

and possibly as late as 578BP which calibrates to 310‐60calBP. Harr<strong>is</strong>on states these<br />

dates encompass some of the earliest and latest dates associated with Anadara<br />

exploitation from northwestern Australia. Anadara deposition occurred across a<br />

variety of site types; <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s, earth <strong>mound</strong>s, surface <strong>shell</strong> scatters and<br />

stratified lenses of <strong>shell</strong>. The sites are dominated by high percentages of Anadara<br />

<strong>shell</strong> and also include minimal stone artefacts and a small number of faunal<br />

remains. Seven sites were selected for excavation and radio carbon dating<br />

indicated each had a limited period of formation; averaging 700 years. Harr<strong>is</strong>on<br />

argued that the dates must be viewed collectively as they present a continuous<br />

sequence of occupation and resource exploitation over a 5000 year period.<br />

Harr<strong>is</strong>on has associated the establ<strong>is</strong>hment of exploitation of coastal resources with<br />

environmental factors. He argues the occupation of Port Hedland coincided with a<br />

period of increasing aridity during the mid to late Holocene resulting in resource<br />

stress and as result populations who previously accessed inland resources moved<br />

towards to the coast. The increased frequency of occupation and increased<br />

complexity of site types <strong>is</strong> interpreted as a social and economic response to these<br />

environmental factors. Harr<strong>is</strong>on applied Meehan’s (1982) observations of Anbarra<br />

to the Port Hedland sites, and identified the <strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>midden</strong> sites 13 & 14 as<br />

dinner‐time camps (2009: 91). The Anbarra observations are further extended to<br />

argue that the greater focus on <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h resources reflects a change in the economic<br />

practices of women. Faulkner (2006: 11) has recently argued against the use of<br />

anthropological evidence as it assumes continuity between the behavior of people<br />

in the past and the present. He further argues against the application of<br />

ethnographic data from d<strong>is</strong>tinctly different regions as too simpl<strong>is</strong>tic citing the<br />

inappropriate application of Meehan’s (1989) work as an example.<br />


He argues the different classification of site types of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s, earth <strong>mound</strong>s<br />

and <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s do not represent different behavioral signatures traditionally<br />

argued by Australian archaeolog<strong>is</strong>ts (Bourke 2004; Bailey 1999; Faulkner 2006).<br />

When attempting to classify the sites as <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s, earth <strong>mound</strong>s or <strong>mound</strong>ed<br />

<strong>midden</strong>s, and <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s Harr<strong>is</strong>on found the similarity of the content, Anadara<br />

<strong>shell</strong> volume and length of occupation as problematic. He theoretically argues that<br />

if each site type represented the same rate of deposition they could be formed by<br />

the environmental context in which they occur. Harr<strong>is</strong>on’s argues <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s<br />

are formed in areas were soils are eroding, on the margins of mudflats and<br />

mangroves. Earth <strong>mound</strong>s form in areas protected from erosion by sand dunes<br />

formed by wind blown sediments. Shell <strong>midden</strong>s form on surfaces where there <strong>is</strong> a<br />

shift from erosion to depositional environment after site occupation has ceased.<br />

The initial point that the sites could represent the same rate of deposition <strong>is</strong><br />

contradicted by Burns (1994) Brockwell (2006) and Roberts (1994).<br />

Harr<strong>is</strong>on’s argument that site types represent environmental contexts <strong>is</strong> further<br />

used to see the Port Headland <strong>midden</strong> sites as seamless sequence of occupation<br />

from 5360 BP to the present. All Anadara bearing sites are part of a constant<br />

expression of Anadara exploitation over time a view in line with Bailey (1999:105)<br />

and Cribb (1996:169). Harr<strong>is</strong>on’s argument answers H<strong>is</strong>cock’s (2008: 177) question<br />

of why begin the varied depositional processes. Harr<strong>is</strong>on’s applies an<br />

environmental explanation for the varied site forms of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s over the<br />

popular behavioral interpretations.<br />

Harr<strong>is</strong>on’s contribution expands the data on age range, range of exploited species<br />

and site density of coastal occupation on the Western Australian Pilbara coast.<br />

Harr<strong>is</strong>on’s arguments are on one hand radical with h<strong>is</strong> ideas on site formation, and<br />

are flawed in h<strong>is</strong> application of anthropological evidence to explore the <strong>is</strong>sue of<br />

gender. The most interesting contribution h<strong>is</strong> research has made <strong>is</strong> the idea that<br />


<strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s should not be considered as individual phenomena but as part of an<br />

environmentally induced <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong> deposition pattern which must be<br />

considered collectively (Harr<strong>is</strong>on 2009). Th<strong>is</strong> interpretation may be unique and<br />

establ<strong>is</strong>h Harr<strong>is</strong>on’s research at Port Hedland as a regionally d<strong>is</strong>tinctive in<br />

interpretation, early site establ<strong>is</strong>hment and site density. Harr<strong>is</strong>on draws on a wide<br />

range of theoretical approaches environmental determin<strong>is</strong>m, social processes,<br />

anthropology and gender which he uses with enthusiasm to explore a range of<br />

theoretical propositions to interpret the occupation of Port Headland.<br />

Conclusion<br />

Th<strong>is</strong> chapter’s review of Australian coastal archaeology and focus on <strong>mound</strong>ed<br />

<strong>midden</strong> research has illustrated that the questions asked today began with the first<br />

examination of a <strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>midden</strong> in Denmark in the 1860s. The case study’shave<br />

illustrated that landscapes including <strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>midden</strong>s appear to be similar. Yet<br />

detailed analys<strong>is</strong> of <strong>mound</strong> content, associated sites and landscapes, in conjunction<br />

with and an understanding of the regional geography and palaeoenviroment<br />

allows varied interpretations of site use suggesting <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s are not<br />

associated with any single form of social expression but are part of a diverse range<br />

of coastal landscape utilization all of which involve the consumption of molluscs.<br />


CHAPTER 3<br />

Introduction to Point Blane Peninsula, Blue Mud Bay<br />

and BMB/116<br />

Introduction<br />

Chapter 3 presents background information about the environmental context of<br />

the Point Blane peninsula and details of BMB/116 (Figure 3.1). Included <strong>is</strong> an<br />

overview of the regional climate, palaeoenviromental h<strong>is</strong>tory, hydrology, flora,<br />

and fauna. Th<strong>is</strong> provides a context for the archaeological research undertaken for<br />

th<strong>is</strong> thes<strong>is</strong> and forms an important bas<strong>is</strong> for the interpretation of research data.<br />

Coastal archaeolog<strong>is</strong>ts need to consider sea level fluctuations, coastline shifts,<br />

marine and estuarine ecosystem development in order to formulate models and<br />

interpret hunter‐gather occupation and adaptation (Hall & McNiven 1999:1).<br />

Figure 3.1: Map of Blue Mud Bay region Arnhem (Faulkner 2003:23)<br />


Location<br />

The case study site BMB/116 <strong>is</strong> located in the Lumatjpi inlet on the coastal margin<br />

of the Point Blane peninsula. The peninsula <strong>is</strong> bounded by Grindall Bay to the west<br />

and Myaoola Bay to the east (Figure 3.1). Point Blane peninsula <strong>is</strong> one of a series of<br />

small peninsulas which project into the northern end of Blue Mud Bay (Faulkner<br />

2006:22). The Lumatjpi inlet <strong>is</strong> one of the localities identified by members of the<br />

Madarrpa clan whose homelands are concentrated on the peninsula and who form<br />

the Yilpara Community (Clarke & Faulkner 2003:57). The Yilpara settlement <strong>is</strong><br />

located south of Lumatjpi and the majority of the Madarrpa clan of over 100<br />

people lives at Yilpara. The region in turn forms part of the traditional lands of a<br />

set of closely related Yolngu clans of greater Arnhem Land area (Figure 3.2).<br />

Figure 3.2: Map Northeast Arnhem Land region, location<br />

of study area and Yolngu group boundary.<br />


Climate<br />

Northern Territory’s climate <strong>is</strong> d<strong>is</strong>tinctly different from that of southern Australia,<br />

and within the Northern Territory itself there <strong>is</strong> great diversity. The territories<br />

northern part, known as the ‘Top End’, where the Point Blane peninsula <strong>is</strong> located,<br />

<strong>is</strong> d<strong>is</strong>tinctly different to the southern regions which are predominantly arid and<br />

semi‐arid. The weather in the north of the Territory divides into two d<strong>is</strong>tinct<br />

seasons; the ‘wet’ from October to April and the ‘dry’ from May to September.<br />

The Wet Season<br />

Figure 3.3: Map showing location of Point Blane<br />

peninsula and Grove Airport Bureau of<br />

Meteorology weather station (BM 2009)<br />

The wet season months from October to April are characterized by the monsoon<br />

trough which <strong>is</strong> the source of much rainfall (Figure 3.4). The accompanying hot<br />

summer temperatures run from December to February. A typical wet season<br />

cons<strong>is</strong>ts of a prolonged inactive period during the buildup. Th<strong>is</strong> period <strong>is</strong><br />

characterized by light winds, <strong>is</strong>olated showers and thunderstorm activity.<br />

Tropical cyclones can develop off the coast in the wet season. Heavy rain and high<br />

winds, sometimes of destructive strength, can be experienced along the coast.<br />

Bushfires, fairly common in October and November, are ignited by lightening<br />


from dry, gusty thunderstorms (Bureau of Meteorology, Weather table by Fairfax<br />

media).<br />

Figure 3.4: Seasonal weather table for Grove Airport N.T (Figure 3.3) clearly illustrating Wet and<br />

Dry season rainfall (BM2009: Fairfax Media)<br />

The Dry Season<br />

The Northern Territory’s second d<strong>is</strong>tinct season <strong>is</strong> the dry season running from<br />

May to September, when fine conditions prevail throughout the Northern<br />

Territory. The dry season <strong>is</strong> characterized by cool winter temperatures and sub<br />

tropical high pressure systems which push southeast trade winds resulting in clear<br />

skies and very dry conditions. Low pressure cold fronts occasionally reach the Top<br />

End marked by either thunderstorms or, if rainfall has been low, a wall of dust.<br />

Rainfall <strong>is</strong> generally low, although on the northeast coast light showers are<br />

common. Controlled and uncontrolled human initiated bushfires; (Figure 3.5)<br />

fuelled by abundant wet season growth, are widespread in the north during th<strong>is</strong><br />

season (Bureau of Meteorology 2009).<br />


Indigenous Seasons<br />

Figure 3.5: Human initiated seasonal bush fires Point Blane peninsula<br />

(Photo Clarke 2003).<br />

The Blue Mud Bay indigenous seasonal cycle <strong>is</strong> detailed, containing seven d<strong>is</strong>tinct<br />

seasons. The seven seasons occur within the overall rhythm of wet and dry<br />

seasonal pattern of the tropical north. The seasons are locally specific to the Yolngu<br />

people, coded for by changes in the wind and weather, but also by the appearance<br />

of plants and animals (Barber 2005:89).<br />

The Point Blane Peninsula Palaeoenviroment<br />

The archaeological survey of the Point Blane peninsula identified occupation dates<br />

from ranging from 2500 years BP to the present (Faulkner 2006:69). The Lumatjpi<br />

inlet BMB/116 site was dated to the end of th<strong>is</strong> period. Therefore a brief overview<br />

of the prevailing climatic and environmental conditions over th<strong>is</strong> period of the<br />

Late Holocene <strong>is</strong> warranted. The coastal plains of Australia’s northeast were<br />


formed following stabilization of sea‐levels around 6,000BP. Sedimentation and<br />

coastal progradation resulted in the formation of floodplains across the north<br />

coast. Following the ‘Sinuous Phase’ (4000‐2500 BP) rivers began to be establ<strong>is</strong>hed<br />

across the floodplains forming a mosaic of estuarine, freshwater and mud flat<br />

areas. By 2000 BP vast freshwater flood‐plains and wetlands were establ<strong>is</strong>hed and<br />

are still a major feature of the northern coastline and feature on the Point Blane<br />

peninsula (Figure 3.6). Coastline sedimentation continued forming intertidal<br />

mudflat on intertidal embayment. Th<strong>is</strong> development provided the optimal<br />

environment for the establ<strong>is</strong>hment of <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h beds which resulted in proliferation<br />

of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong> sites across the north east coast (Figure 3.6) (Chappell 1988;<br />

Woodroffe et al.1988; cited by Brockwell et al. 2009:58). Evidence for climatic<br />

patterns during the Holocene has been obtained from pollen records on Groote<br />

Eylandt, located in Blue Mud Bay. Research indicated change in the climate from<br />

the early to late Holocene. The early Holocene was characterized by continuously<br />

increasing rainfall, which was followed after 4000 BP by a period of reduced<br />

rainfall and increased climatic variability. Th<strong>is</strong> was bought on by the modern<br />

ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) (Brockwell et al. 2009:59).<br />

Figure 3.6: Mudflats & <strong>midden</strong> site, Point Blane peninsula (Photo Clarke 2003).<br />


After 3700 BP, the sharp reduction in effective precipitation was accompanied with<br />

increased climatic variability from around 1000 BP and continued to the present.<br />

<strong>One</strong> of the effects of the climatic variability was a decrease in monsoon conditions<br />

resulting in the widespread appearance of dune systems (Faulkner 2006: 41, citing<br />

Schulmesiter 1999:82) on which <strong>midden</strong>s are often located (Sullivan 1977:59).<br />

Hydrology<br />

The monsoon climate of d<strong>is</strong>tinct wet / dry seasons has a powerful impact on the<br />

hydrology of the northeast coastal plains. The northwestern edge of the Gulf of<br />

Carpentaria typically has a very low river run off into the sea. However the Blue<br />

Mud Bay coastline <strong>is</strong> notable for having the only substantial fluvial deposits on<br />

th<strong>is</strong> part of the coast (NT Dept of EWHA 2007). The coastal plain of Blue Mud Bay<br />

<strong>is</strong> mainly flat with extensive coastal swamps or wetland, the Barkley Tableland<br />

system of hills divides the coastal river drainage systems from the broad mostly<br />

dry shallow inland basin (Bureau of Metrology 2009).<br />

The Point Blane peninsula has a complex fresh water system dominated by the<br />

Durabudboi River (Figure 3.7). The river flows from the north of the Point Blane<br />

peninsula to the south and drains through the peninsula’s Dhuruputjpi wetlands<br />

and usually provide year round fresh water(Faulkner 2006: 46). Creeks, fresh<br />

water swamps, billabongs and sub‐surface aquifers make up the remaining<br />

components of the hydrological regime. The study area contains a number of<br />

reliable of fresh water sources one of which <strong>is</strong> located in the Lumatjpi Inlet (A.<br />

Clarke personal comment).<br />


Figure 3.7: The hydrology of the Point Blane peninsula and neighboring areas, showing major<br />

river and creek catchment systems (based on Natural Resources Div<strong>is</strong>ion, Department of Lands,<br />

Planning and Environment: Water Resources of North Eastern Arnhem Land Map sheet,<br />

Faulkner 2006:47).<br />

Geology & soil<br />

The Blue Mud Bay coastal plain extends up to ninety kilometers inland from the<br />

coast (Haines et al. 1999:1‐2). The geological h<strong>is</strong>tory of the area cons<strong>is</strong>ts of thin<br />

terrestrial deposits and shallow marine succession across Blue Mud Bay during the<br />

Cretaceous period. Th<strong>is</strong> process evolved as a response to the high stand of sea<br />

level and the beginning of the deep weathering process that has led to widespread<br />

laterite formation. The following Cainozoic period, gradually eroded the lateritic<br />

surface (Haines et al. 1999:91, cited by Faulkner 2006:26), and thin Cainozoic<br />

deposits cover over half the land area of Blue Mud Bay. Laterite <strong>is</strong> a feature of the<br />

excavated material identified from the BMB/116. The intensity of the original<br />

weathering processes has resulted in severe nutritional impover<strong>is</strong>hment of the soil<br />

profile (Hubble et al. 1983:26‐27, cited by Faulkner 2006:26).<br />


Table 3.1: Soil province profiles found in the<br />

Lumatjpi inlet (after Haines et al. 1999:77 cited<br />

by Faulkner 2006:28).<br />

(Czl) Gravelly, earthy sands<br />

(Cz) Shallow and gravely soils<br />

The above are grouped together as they are<br />

difficult to differentiate.<br />

(Qa) Alluvial gravel, sand, silt and clay<br />

found in active channels, flood plains.<br />

(Qr) Active and recently active cheniers and<br />

sandy beach ridges.<br />

The Lumatjpi Inlet <strong>is</strong> characterized by three geological soil provinces (Table 3.1).<br />

The Lumatjpi Inlet as surround by (Qr) profile on the water front, compr<strong>is</strong>ing of<br />

<strong>shell</strong>y sand as a narrow zone of ridges a few meters in height on the coastal fringes<br />

(Haines et al. 1999:77, cited by Faulkner 2006:28). The (Qa) profile borders and<br />

extends westwards along the freshwater tributary which flows into the Lumatjpi<br />

Inlet. Behind the waterfront beach ridges and extending outwards from the active<br />

channels and flood plains lie (Czl and CZ) soil profiles which characterized the<br />

greater part of the Point Blane peninsula (Faulkner 2006:27).<br />

Flora<br />

The Lumatjpi Inlet contains five of the nine d<strong>is</strong>tinct vegetation units (Table 3.2)<br />

found across the Point Blane Peninsula (Brock 2001; Spect 1958: Wilson et al 1990;<br />

Yunupingu et al 1995; cited by Clarke and Faulkner 2003:26). Each vegetation unit<br />

<strong>is</strong> closely associated with the hydrological and geological zones that form the inlet<br />

landscape and <strong>is</strong> illustrated in Figure 3.8.<br />


Table 3.2: Main vegetation units found in the Lumatjpi Inlet<br />

(After Brock 2001; Spect 1958: Wilson et al 1990; Yunupingu et al<br />

1995, cited by Clarke and Faulkner 2003:26)<br />

Unit Vegetation unit Flora species character<strong>is</strong>tic of<br />

No<br />

01 Monsoon vine<br />

thickets<br />

04 Eucalyptus forest,<br />

woodland grassy<br />

understory<br />

54 Seasonal flood<br />

plains<br />

vegetation units on Point Blane<br />

peninsula<br />

Black wattle, Yellow Flame Tree,<br />

Banyan, Milkwood, Red Flowered<br />

Kapok, Beach Hib<strong>is</strong>cus, and Native<br />

Cherry<br />

Darwin Woolly Butt (Eucalyptus<br />

minata), Stringybark (Eucalyptus<br />

tetrodona), Sorghum grass<br />

Sedgeland grasses Oryza & Eliochar<strong>is</strong><br />

s.p., Water Lilies, Bullrush, herblands<br />

& grasslands.<br />

102 Coastal dunes Coastal She Oak, Spinifex grass, Wild<br />

105 Mangal Low<br />

Closed‐Forest<br />

(Mangroves)<br />

Passionfruit, Monsoon Vine, Wattle &<br />

stunted shrubs.<br />

25 tree species, 26 shrubs and grasses<br />

in NT mangrove communities,<br />

including White Mangrove, Stilt Root<br />

Mangrove, Mangrove, Mangrove<br />

Holly.<br />

(Brock 2001; Specht 1958; Wilson etal.1990; Yunupingu et al. 1995<br />

cited by Faulkner 2006:48.)<br />

The inlet’s narrow coastal fringe <strong>is</strong> dominated by Mangal low closed forest (105)<br />

dominated by species of White Mangrove. The White Mangrove <strong>is</strong> the most<br />

widespread flora species in the region. The Coastal Dune Complex (102)<br />

vegetation unit forms across the coastal limits of the coastal plain. The dunes are<br />

located adjacent to the beach and form in narrow bands of well‐drained generally<br />


unconsolidated beach sands. On the landward side fresh water catchments<br />

supports woodlands of Coastal She Oak interspersed throughout by Monsoon<br />

Vine thickets (01) forming on both sides of the dunes. The Seasonal Flood Plains<br />

(54) begin at the narrowest point of the Lumatjpi Inlet where the fresh water<br />

tributary cuts through the landscape. The Seasonal Flood Plains are characterized<br />

by heavy, black to grey cracking clays exposed bare dry ground late in the Dry<br />

season, and covered by several meters of water supporting plant life during the<br />

wet. The majority of the remaining area of the Point Blane peninsula; excluding the<br />

wetlands, <strong>is</strong> covered by Mixed Eucalypts Woodlands with grass understory (04).<br />

The woodlands are characterized by the mixed stands of Darwin Woollybutt and<br />

Stringybark compr<strong>is</strong>ing the tree layer with a sorghum grassland understory<br />

(Faulkner 2006). The vegetation regime of Point Blane peninsula has d<strong>is</strong>tinct<br />

seasonal variation with periods of dry to flooding water, fresh to saline water<br />

environments and poor quality soil to sand. Th<strong>is</strong> <strong>is</strong> reflected in the diversity of<br />

vegetation that characterizes the region.<br />

Figure 3.8: Areal view of Lumatjpi inlet illustrating the five main vegetation units (Google Earth<br />

2009 & Alexander 2009).<br />


Fauna<br />

The range of faunal species recorded on the Point Blane peninsula was compiled<br />

by Clarke & Faulkner (2003) and Barber (2002), (Figure 3.3). Wider research on the<br />

fauna of Arnhem Land was undertaken during the American‐Australian Scientific<br />

Expedition to Arnhem Land in 1948 (Specht 1964). The most popular habitats for<br />

large numbers of fauna on the peninsula are the sub‐coastal lowland, floodplains<br />

and coastal woodland where the common rare species of native mammals are<br />

found. High levels of environmental damage around permanent water sources are<br />

caused by increasing populations of Water Buffalo, feral pigs, cats and dingoes.<br />

Table 3.3: Range of fauna found on the Point Blane peninsula (Faulkner 2006:52)<br />

Common species of<br />

mammals<br />

Rare species of<br />

mammals<br />

Feral species or<br />

problem species<br />

Common Wallaroo, Antilopine Wallaroo, Agile Wallaby, Short‐eared<br />

Rock Wallaby, NT Sugar Glider, Northern Brushtail Possum,<br />

Northern Brown Bandicoot, Eastern Horseshoe Bat.<br />

Grassland Melomys, Delicate Mouse, Brush‐tailed tree rat, Black‐<br />

footed Tree rat, Dusky rat, Red‐cheeked Dunnart, Northern Quoll,<br />

Fawn Antechinus, Short‐beaked Echidna,<br />

Water Buffalo, Feral Pigs, Feral Cats, Dingoes.<br />

Reptiles Saltwater Crocodile, Freshwater Crocodile, Goanna, Skinks,<br />

Mangrove Monitor, Marine Turtles, Freshwater Torto<strong>is</strong>es, File<br />

Snakes, Whip Snakes, Brown Snakes.<br />

Birds Magpie Geese, Brolga, Jabiru, Emu.<br />

Marine & Freshwater<br />

Fauna<br />

Dugong, Mud Crabs, Mud Lobster, Oysters, Mangrove Gastropods,<br />

Bi‐valves‐Anadara Polymesoda & Isognomon species. Freshwater<br />

mussel, F<strong>is</strong>h‐ Barramundi, Saratoga, Cod, Wrasse.<br />


Marine and freshwater fauna are extensively exploited within the study area.<br />

Dugongs, Mud Crabs, Mud Lobsters and a variety of mollusc species are<br />

frequently harvested around mangrove stands (Faulkner 2006:52). Shark, Rays and<br />

mullet are caught by spear f<strong>is</strong>hing from shallow water (Barber 2005:31). The range<br />

of fauna recorded in Table 3.3 suggests a high level of species and habitat diversity<br />

currently ex<strong>is</strong>ts in the study area. The relevance of th<strong>is</strong> data to BMB/116 <strong>is</strong> the<br />

contrast between the abundance of both terrestrial and marine fauna currently<br />

accessed by the Yilpara community in the research region (Table 3.4) and the<br />

limited range of fauna identified in the archaeological assemblage.<br />

Table 3.4: Wild flora and fauna resources accessed by the Yilpara community in 2002<br />

(Barber 2002:20‐37).<br />

Plants<br />

Fruits Wungapu, Muta muta Black fruit, Damang, Wak’naning,<br />

Dangapa, Wangaur, balkpalk, murrngga, dilminyin, liddawarr,<br />

gumbo, larrani, dalpi<br />

Nuts Pandanus nuts, Djillka, Darangalk pods,<br />

Berries Borpurr, Burrum burrum,murrtjumum<br />

Yams Bush yams, manmunga<br />

Bush Honey Barngitj (Tree or ant houses) Gaamu (Tree tops), Yarrpany (top<br />

Mammals, birds & reptiles<br />

of hollow trees)<br />

Mammals Kangaroo, Wallaby, Flying fox,<br />

Birds Magpie geese, Brolga, jabiru, Heron, Duck<br />

Reptiles Large goannas, Freshwater torto<strong>is</strong>e (20cm)<br />

Saltwater foods & bait<br />

Turtle & Dugong Green turtle, Hawksbill Turtle, Olive Ridley Turtle, Flatback<br />

Turtle, Loggerhead Turtle, Leatherback Turtle, Dugong.<br />

Shellf<strong>is</strong>h Terebralia, Polymesoda, Rocky reef oyster, estuarine oyster.<br />

Sharks and stingrays Cowtial ray, Barmbi, Mangrove whipray, manta ray, Sawf<strong>is</strong>h,<br />

Hammerhead shark, Lemon shark, Nervous shark.<br />

Crabs Mud Crab, sand crab, mangrove crab, Blue rock crab, hermit<br />


crab, small hermit crab.<br />

Marine F<strong>is</strong>h 26 species recorded. often targeted species were‐<br />

Parrot f<strong>is</strong>h, Wamungu, Estuarine Rock Cod, Trevally, Catf<strong>is</strong>h,<br />

Queensf<strong>is</strong>h, Barramundi. Caught on handlines or speared<br />

Freshwater F<strong>is</strong>h Saratoga, Sleepy Cod, Sooty grunter.<br />

BMB/116<br />

Project survey and excavation parameters<br />

The Point Blane peninsular was selected for an archaeological survey due to the<br />

contained and <strong>is</strong>olated nature of the region. Several factors were important in the<br />

implementation of the project survey area and unit size and excavation unit size.<br />

Long thin survey transects were selected due to the ease of locating transects, good<br />

site variability, relative density estimates and ability to observe the local ecology.<br />

The project applied a cons<strong>is</strong>tent test pit size of 1m x .50m for excavations (Clarke &<br />

Faulkner 2003:70). The test pit was divided into test pit A and test pit B each 50cm<br />

sq representing

Lumatjpi<br />

Nine archaeological sites are located in the area clustered around a coastal inlet<br />

known in th<strong>is</strong> study as the Lumatjpi inlet (Figure 3.9). The majority of the sites<br />

cons<strong>is</strong>t of very small, localized patches of thinly spread surface <strong>midden</strong>. The<br />

exceptions are BMB/116 and BMB/84 both of which were excavated (Clarke &<br />

Faulkner 2003). No photographs of BMB/116 survived the survey due to camera<br />

malfunction.<br />

Figure 3.9 Areal photo of the Lumatjpi inlet showing the location of the nine sites including<br />

BMB/116 and BMB/84. Note the woodland, mangrove and creek (Google earth 2009 &<br />

Alexander 2009)<br />

BMB/116<br />

Th<strong>is</strong> site classified as a <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> <strong>is</strong> located approximately 500m to the south of<br />

BMB/84 inside a stand of mangroves on the surface of a low, chenier‐ type ridge.<br />

The <strong>mound</strong> <strong>is</strong> described as elongated and irregularly shaped, measuring<br />

approximately 27.6m by 11.50m with a height of approximately 70cm, as shown in<br />


the cross section (Figure 3.11) and contour plan below (Figure 3.12). The site<br />

location <strong>is</strong> 20 to 30m in front of the low laterite ridge running parallel to the<br />

coastline and <strong>is</strong> surrounded by mangroves and paperbark (Figure 3.10).<br />

Figure 3.10: Survey sketch of BMB/116 site location prior to excavation (Clarke 2003).<br />

Vine thicket, paperbark trees and grass cover much of the surface. The site was<br />

selected for excavation as it <strong>is</strong> the only <strong>mound</strong> identified on the exposed coastline<br />

of the peninsula. Clarke & Faulkner (2003:71) also observed the different <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h<br />

species composition at the site in compar<strong>is</strong>on with the peninsula’s wetland<br />

<strong>mound</strong>s. The <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h species recorded on the surface of the site correlated with<br />

species identified during analys<strong>is</strong> (Appendix Doc 1).<br />

Figure 3.11: Cross section of BMB/116 (Clarke & Faulkner 2003:72)<br />


Figure 3.12: Contour plan of BMB/116<br />

(Clarke & Faulkner 2003:72)<br />

The survey excavation report recorded the presence of a piece of burnt termite<br />

<strong>mound</strong> and hearth stones, and a stone artefact found on the surface of the site. The<br />

stone artefact was identified as pink quartzite unretouched flake, secondary cortex,<br />

measuring L= 25.97mm x W= 44.38mm x T= 15.75mm and weighed 30grams<br />

(Faulkner 2006: 342). A total of 250 stone artefacts were recorded during the<br />

survey, the location of stone source and artefact d<strong>is</strong>tribution <strong>is</strong> illustrated (Figure<br />

3.13).<br />


Figure 3.13: Location of quartzite artefacts across the Point Blane peninsula, with two km (thin<br />

line) and four km (thick line) radius intervals from quartzitic outcrop (Faulkner 2006: 100).<br />

Stratigraphy<br />

Excavation revealed three major stratigraphic layers illustrated in the South profile<br />

of the excavation (Fig 6.5). The surface layer (10cm) of the deposit <strong>is</strong> characterized<br />

by densely packed <strong>shell</strong> with a fine matrix of light grey sediment. Underlying th<strong>is</strong><br />

surface deposit <strong>is</strong> a middle layer of densely packed <strong>shell</strong> in a fine, dark grey humic<br />

matrix extending approximately 10cm to 20cm in depth. Several patches of ash or<br />

charcoal also occur between these two layers. The bottom 10cm to 15cm of deposit<br />

<strong>is</strong> the orange sand and <strong>shell</strong> grit indicative of the chenier like surface the <strong>mound</strong><br />


site <strong>is</strong> sitting on. Th<strong>is</strong> basal unit contained a further, restricted lens of <strong>midden</strong><br />

material that can be seen in the south section of the stratigraphic profile.<br />

Age<br />

Figure 3.14: Stratigraphic profile of site BMB/116, south section<br />

also showing approximate location of samples taken for<br />

radiocarbon dating (Clarke & Faulkner 2003:72).<br />

Two samples of marine <strong>shell</strong> were submitted for radiocarbon dating. The<br />

approximate locations of these samples are shown in the stratigraphic profile<br />

(Figure 3.14) and the details are in Table 3.15. The surface sample (XU1) returned a<br />

date 650±60, which calibrated to 281 calBP. The sample from the base of the site<br />

(XU12) returned a date of 1120±60 which calibrated to 657 calBP. These dates<br />

suggest a minimum occupation period of 380 years for th<strong>is</strong> site.<br />

Table 3.5: Radiocarbon estimates – site BMB/116 (Clarke & Faulkner 2003:73).<br />


Conclusion<br />

In summary the Point Blane peninsula <strong>is</strong> typical of the dynamic northern coastal<br />

environment. The d<strong>is</strong>tinct bi‐seasonal climate has influenced the d<strong>is</strong>tribution of<br />

natural resources and hence the structure of human settlement and resource use<br />

from the late Holocene to the present. Barber’s anthropological study of current<br />

resource exploitation highlights the diversity of resources in the region. Th<strong>is</strong><br />

provides a secondary context for considering resource exploitation in the Lumatjpi<br />

inlet <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> BMB/116.<br />


Chapter 4<br />

Defining the difference between <strong>mound</strong>ed and non‐<br />

<strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s<br />

Introduction<br />

Figure 4.1: Shell <strong>mound</strong> on Point Blane peninsula (Photo Clarke 2003)<br />

Th<strong>is</strong> investigation was initiated to examine the anomalous attributes BMB/116<br />

<strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>. The site date, dominate <strong>shell</strong> species and regional location were<br />

identified as unusual (Clarke personal comment 2009) when compared with<br />

typical northern Australian <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s (H<strong>is</strong>cock 2008). The site’s attributes were<br />

unique in the research area of the Point Blane peninsula (Clarke & Faulkner 2003).<br />


My first aim <strong>is</strong> to review <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> attributes recorded across a wide sample of<br />

Australia’s coastline. Th<strong>is</strong> review compiles a set of attributes which includes <strong>shell</strong><br />

<strong>mound</strong> site name; date, dominant species, site h<strong>is</strong>tory, dimensions and<br />

geographical location. The compilation and analys<strong>is</strong> of th<strong>is</strong> data achieves two<br />

results it forms a comparative base to review the BMB/116 within the wider<br />

context of <strong>mound</strong> sites recorded in WA, NT, QLD and NSW. Second, to determine<br />

if wider parameters can be establ<strong>is</strong>hed for <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> sites characterizing<br />

attributes beyond the current Anadara <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> model. Th<strong>is</strong> research identified<br />

incons<strong>is</strong>tencies in the way <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> sites were classified. As a result I sought to<br />

clarify the establ<strong>is</strong>hed criterion for the identification of Australian <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s. A<br />

review of relevant literature identified that archaeological criteria specific to <strong>shell</strong><br />

<strong>mound</strong> identification had not been formally reviewed or establ<strong>is</strong>hed. Therefore,<br />

part of my thes<strong>is</strong>’ research undertakes th<strong>is</strong> task. I examine a variety of aspects of<br />

<strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s which includes characterizing attributes, terminology, and <strong>shell</strong><br />

<strong>midden</strong> form criteria, to determine which are the most applicable to the<br />

identification of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s. From th<strong>is</strong> a definition has been derived with criteria<br />

identifying <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s in the archeological record. In Chapter 6 I apply the new<br />

criteria to review the attributes of BMB/116 classified by Clarke & Faulkner’s study<br />

criteria (2003) as a <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>.<br />

Shell <strong>mound</strong> or <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong> ‐ why does it matter?<br />

When undertaking a new research project two important questions need to be<br />

asked, have you identified a problem, and why does it matter? The absence of<br />

criteria for <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> identification <strong>is</strong> an important problem for two reasons;<br />

firstly, archaeolog<strong>is</strong>ts seek to differentiate between <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong> and <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong><br />

sites to argue that different human behaviors are represented by different site<br />

types. These site types include a variety of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong> types usually<br />


differentiated by their areal view and include <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s and <strong>shell</strong> scatters.<br />

Within these typologies recent researchers have argued that <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s sites<br />

play a role in ritual, ceremony and negotiation of territory (Bourke 2004; Morr<strong>is</strong>on<br />

2003; Cribb 1986; cited by H<strong>is</strong>cock & Faulkner 2006:210 and more recently<br />

Harr<strong>is</strong>on 2009). These researches argue that <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s as a d<strong>is</strong>tinct site type<br />

represent strong symbols of cultural expression. Secondly, establ<strong>is</strong>hed criteria<br />

provide a base line for debate and compar<strong>is</strong>on of site data as was demonstrated by<br />

Burns (1994) study of cultural and Megapode <strong>mound</strong>s. Establ<strong>is</strong>hed criteria<br />

facilitates national collaboration between researches, research data and allows a<br />

more constant view point to identify regional trends in sites and site research.<br />

Therefore I believe it <strong>is</strong> important that sites identified as <strong>mound</strong>s either conform to<br />

or explain why they differ from accepted site classification criteria/ definitions.<br />

The source of the problem<br />

My research has revealed that the classification criteria for <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s differ<br />

between researches. The repercussion has been that the difference between<br />

<strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>midden</strong> sites and non‐<strong>mound</strong>ed sites has become unclear. An example<br />

that succinctly demonstrates th<strong>is</strong> point <strong>is</strong> illustrated by an extract from Burns<br />

(1999:64, Table 4.1).<br />

Table 4.1: Sites mapped at Winnellie by Burns (1999).<br />

Site Site type Dimensions<br />

Wx Dx H<br />

Stone artefacts Environmental context<br />

WIN1 Shell <strong>mound</strong> 10x 5x 0.30 quartz flakes Outcropping<br />

rock/intertidal flats<br />

WIN2 Shell <strong>midden</strong> 8x 11x 0.30 quartz flakes Hill‐crest at hinterland &<br />

mangrove edge<br />

WIN3 Shell <strong>mound</strong> 14x 18x 0.30 to quartz flakes Hill‐crest at hinterland &<br />

0.40<br />

mangrove edge<br />

WIN4 Shell <strong>midden</strong> 10x 17x 0.30 quartz Hill‐crest at hinterland &<br />

mangrove edge<br />


Figure 4.2: West Point <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong> Tasmania excavated by<br />

Jones (1966) the site <strong>is</strong> 2.50m deep and dated 1800‐1200 BP.<br />

Burns’ table records sites classified as <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s and <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s that<br />

demonstrate no d<strong>is</strong>cernable difference in height, length, width, or location. Yet<br />

Burns has classified the sites differently and uses these differences to support her<br />

d<strong>is</strong>cussion. Burns has widely stated (1994, 1999 & as Bourke 2002, 2003, 2004, & in<br />

Brockwell 2009) her classification of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> sites as any site over 30 cm in<br />

height. In the above table two sites which meet these criteria are recorded as <strong>shell</strong><br />

<strong>midden</strong>s. The question ra<strong>is</strong>ed by th<strong>is</strong> example <strong>is</strong> does Burns use another unstated<br />

criteria to differentiate between the classification “<strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>” and “<strong>shell</strong><br />

<strong>midden</strong>” in her research. The justification for the application of the criterion <strong>is</strong><br />

cited as Mitchell (1993:4). A close examination of th<strong>is</strong> reference reveals the<br />

statement that <strong>mound</strong> size and shape were not important criteria for<br />

differentiating cultural <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s and Megapode <strong>mound</strong>s. I believe th<strong>is</strong><br />

statement has been transposed by Burns to justify her establ<strong>is</strong>hment of the criteria<br />

of >30cm in height as a classification criteria for <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s. The implications of<br />

Burns work have been wide reaching with Clarke & Faulkner (2003); Faulkner<br />

(2006); and most recently Brockwell et al (2009) citing her <strong>mound</strong> classification of<br />

>30cm to classify <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> sites. Burns criteria that stresses height contrasts<br />

with the classification by Bowdler (1977); Sullivan (1984); Meehan (1984); Jones<br />

(1971 Figure 4.2) who have classified sites as <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s up to and greater than<br />


1m in height. Or H<strong>is</strong>cock’s reference to Anadara <strong>mound</strong>s which he describes as<br />

conical piles or steep ridges of <strong>shell</strong> (H<strong>is</strong>cock 2008:175). Bailey’s (1975, 1977)<br />

descriptions of <strong>mound</strong> sites are similar to H<strong>is</strong>cock’s. Th<strong>is</strong> demonstrates that in<br />

Australian research one archaeolog<strong>is</strong>t’s <strong>midden</strong> <strong>is</strong> another’s <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>.<br />

The classification of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> sites by height only <strong>is</strong> essentially flawed. Sullivan<br />

in her outline of recording <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong> sites clearly demonstrates that the <strong>shell</strong><br />

<strong>midden</strong> form attribute of profile; for example <strong>mound</strong>ed or non‐<strong>mound</strong>ed, <strong>is</strong> the<br />

basic criteria for the classification of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s. Th<strong>is</strong> study’s d<strong>is</strong>cussion has<br />

highlighted that the classification of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s in Australian research <strong>is</strong><br />

incons<strong>is</strong>tent, and possibly flawed. The identification of differences between<br />

<strong>mound</strong>ed and non‐<strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s needs to be establ<strong>is</strong>hed.<br />

Figure 4.3: The two photographs of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s sites on the Point Blane peninsula illustrate<br />

the complexities of identifying sites in the field (Photo Clarke 2003).<br />

Shell <strong>mound</strong> or <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong> ‐ what <strong>is</strong> the difference?<br />

The term <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong> <strong>is</strong> used to describe any <strong>shell</strong> deposit identified as cultural<br />

regardless of location, density, depth or v<strong>is</strong>ibility, or surface area it covers. Shell<br />

<strong>midden</strong>s are dumps of d<strong>is</strong>posed <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h <strong>shell</strong>s and usually compr<strong>is</strong>e part of the<br />


food consumed at the site. Shell <strong>midden</strong>s vary considerably in their form and<br />

makeup. They occur along open coastlines, around estuaries, along coastal and<br />

inland river flood plains and around coastal and inland lakes. Shell <strong>midden</strong>s may<br />

be open sites, or deposits within rock shelters. Their forms vary from circular or<br />

elongated <strong>mound</strong>ed deposits, through deposits of even depth spread across the<br />

land surface, to patches of thinly d<strong>is</strong>tributed <strong>shell</strong>. They may be present on the<br />

surface or buried (Sullivan 1989). Therefore it <strong>is</strong> to be understood that a <strong>shell</strong><br />

<strong>mound</strong> site <strong>is</strong> a form or type or variation of a <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>. The examination of the<br />

characterizing attributes of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s <strong>is</strong> the first step to establ<strong>is</strong>hing the<br />

differences between <strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s from other forms of non‐<strong>mound</strong>ed<br />

<strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s.<br />

Figure 4.4: A 7‐m‐high conical Anadara <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> located on a laterite ridge approximately<br />

1000 m from the current coast at Hope Inlet near Darwin (H<strong>is</strong>cock 2008:177).<br />


Characterizing attributes of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s<br />

Shell <strong>mound</strong>s in Australian research are often represented by their dominant type<br />

the large Anadara <strong>mound</strong>s (figure 4.4) found along more than 3,000 km of northern<br />

tropical coastline. They are conical piles or steep ridges of <strong>shell</strong> that range from<br />

less than cubic meter to 10,000 tons of <strong>shell</strong>. They date from 3000BP to around 600<br />

years BP (H<strong>is</strong>cock 2008:<br />

165). It was against these characterizing attributes that BMB116 was compared.<br />

BMB/116 <strong>is</strong> less than 600 years of age and the dominate species <strong>is</strong> Marcia hiantina.<br />

To determine if the BMB/116 was a <strong>mound</strong> outside the accepted criteria, a survey<br />

was undertaken to establ<strong>is</strong>h if the Anadara <strong>mound</strong> model was truly representative<br />

of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s in Australia. The research compiled a range of data from <strong>shell</strong><br />

<strong>mound</strong>s sites recorded by Australian researchers. Th<strong>is</strong> data included site name,<br />

age, dominate <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h species, site morphology, dimensions and location. The<br />

detailed research data <strong>is</strong> presented in Appendix 1.1 (Shell <strong>mound</strong> attribute data)<br />

and analys<strong>is</strong> of data in Table 4.2. The research establ<strong>is</strong>hed wider parameters for<br />

characterizing <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s beyond the Anadara type model and provided a<br />

different context for understanding BMB/116.<br />

Analys<strong>is</strong> of characterizing attributes of research data<br />

The survey of “<strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>” attributes identified <strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s sites<br />

across all the regions surveyed, the survey covered a period of research from 1977<br />

to 2009. The geographical zones in which <strong>mound</strong>s occurred correspond to the<br />

zones in which non‐<strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>midden</strong>s are found. The age range for <strong>mound</strong>s <strong>is</strong><br />

limited in compar<strong>is</strong>on to those for non‐<strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>midden</strong>s which have been dated<br />

as early as 34200 +/‐ 1050 BP (Veth 1999:65). The survey demonstrates a wider age<br />

range for <strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>midden</strong>s than that described (H<strong>is</strong>cock 2009:165) for Anadara<br />


<strong>mound</strong>s. The range of dominate species <strong>is</strong> diverse and <strong>is</strong> interpreted as indicating<br />

which <strong>shell</strong> f<strong>is</strong>h species were best suited to the environmental conditions of each<br />

location. The diversity argues against the idea that <strong>mound</strong>s should be associated<br />

with only a limited range of <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h species. Anadara <strong>shell</strong>s dominate <strong>mound</strong><br />

sites overall closely followed by various species of oysters and mussel. Th<strong>is</strong><br />

corresponds to a similar pattern of species of bi‐valves identified in the Dan<strong>is</strong>h<br />

<strong>midden</strong>s d<strong>is</strong>cussed earlier.<br />

Table 4.2: Summary of data: Attributes of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s in W.A; N.T;<br />

Qld; and N.S.W. (Research detail and references see Appendix 1.1)<br />

Attribute Variable<br />

Regions W.A; N.T; Qld; NSW.<br />

Geographical zones Estuarine, river, coast, inland, beaches, <strong>is</strong>lands.<br />

Geographical<br />

Locations<br />

Wetlands, mudflats, dunes, laterite ridges,<br />

Chenier ridges,<br />

Date range 5250‐90 years BP<br />

Dominant species Anadara granosa, Gafrarium tumidum, Saccostrea glomerata, Marcia<br />

hiantina, Ostrea angasi, Mytilus planulatus, Saccostrea glomerata,<br />

Anadara trapezia, Dorsina juvenil<strong>is</strong>, Coecella horsfieldi<br />

Site h<strong>is</strong>tories Stratigraphy‐Two phase, alternate rapid & minimal, cons<strong>is</strong>tent<br />

Pattern of occupation‐ Irregular, time limited, regular<br />

Length of occupation‐Limited, continuous.<br />

Dimensions Height 0.20m to 10m<br />

Length 1m to 400m<br />

Width 5m to 45m<br />

Data research period 1977 to 2009<br />

Site h<strong>is</strong>tories have been described by researchers in three different ways<br />

stratigraphy, pattern of occupation and length of occupation. Each descriptor<br />

demonstrated varied patterns however the two phases of stratigraphy in sites was<br />

the most commonly noted by excavators (see Appendix 1.1 for details). I would<br />

argue based on the data available that stratigraphy, pattern of occupation and<br />

length of occupation of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> sites <strong>is</strong> determined by factors other than<br />

anything associated with the idea of deliberate <strong>mound</strong> construction. The criteria of<br />

dimension‐ height, length and width of <strong>mound</strong>s <strong>is</strong> widely varied (see Appendix<br />

1.3) and further detailed research would be required to determine if site<br />


dimensions correspond to geographical zones or demonstrated regional<br />

character<strong>is</strong>tics.<br />

The survey on the characterizing attributes for Australian <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s<br />

establ<strong>is</strong>hed a wider range of attributes than the Anadara <strong>mound</strong> model against<br />

which BMB/116 was set. Collectively the attributes establ<strong>is</strong>hed a pattern that <strong>is</strong><br />

more limited than those identified for non‐<strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s. The range of<br />

characterizing attributes of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s presented in th<strong>is</strong> study enhances our<br />

understanding of the diversity of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> sites. When the attributes of<br />

BMB/116 age and dominate <strong>shell</strong> species are placed within th<strong>is</strong> wider context they<br />

are no longer anomalous but fall within an establ<strong>is</strong>hed range of known attributes<br />

for an Australian <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>. However as each identified <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> attribute<br />

can be attributed to non‐<strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s they can not be used to classify a<br />

<strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> site only to describe it. I next review the terminology to assess how<br />

<strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s have been described, to determine if more rigorous use of terms<br />

would ass<strong>is</strong>t in <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> identification.<br />

Describing <strong>mound</strong>ed and non‐<strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s<br />

The terminology used for describing <strong>mound</strong>ed and non‐<strong>mound</strong>ed forms of <strong>shell</strong><br />

<strong>midden</strong>s <strong>is</strong> diverse and incons<strong>is</strong>tent (Appendix 1.2 and 1.3). Language varies<br />

across research projects and no formalized criterion or terminology <strong>is</strong> apparent.<br />

Terminology <strong>is</strong> the first point for any compar<strong>is</strong>on between research data and<br />

interpreting individual archaeolog<strong>is</strong>ts’ meaning <strong>is</strong> at times difficult. I have<br />

compiled the range of terminology (Table 4.3) current used to describe <strong>mound</strong><br />

sites. The table column entitled “Shell Mounds” highlights the problem. The seven<br />

terms italicized all have been used as general descriptions of <strong>mound</strong> sites. Without<br />

further clarification from the researchers are we to suppose to understand the sites<br />


as a) the all same site type, or b) different site types, or c) some the same and some<br />

different. Th<strong>is</strong> argument may appear pedantic; however, it <strong>is</strong> used to illustrate the<br />

problem of widespread variation in terminology and the lack of clarity of meaning<br />

which <strong>is</strong> demonstrated across all three columns of terminologies.<br />

Table 4.3: Survey results for <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> terminologies (all references Appendix 2).<br />

Range of terminologies used by Australian and international archaeolog<strong>is</strong>ts to describe non‐<br />

<strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>midden</strong>s and <strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>midden</strong>s.<br />

Middens Shell Mounds Shell Midden Sites<br />

Shell <strong>midden</strong> Shell <strong>midden</strong> <strong>mound</strong> Shell matrix site<br />

Kitchen <strong>midden</strong> Midden <strong>mound</strong> Shell bearing habitation site<br />

Coastal <strong>midden</strong> Shell <strong>mound</strong> Composite <strong>mound</strong> site<br />

Circular <strong>midden</strong> Surface <strong>mound</strong> Shell bearing site<br />

Doughnut shaped <strong>midden</strong> Mound of <strong>shell</strong> Shell bearing <strong>midden</strong> site<br />

Paleochannel <strong>midden</strong> Large domed <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong><br />

High‐density <strong>midden</strong> Base site <strong>mound</strong> Complexes of <strong>midden</strong> sites<br />

Linear <strong>midden</strong> Elongated <strong>mound</strong> Shell matrix site<br />

‘West Point Type’ <strong>midden</strong> Overlapping <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s Shell bearing habitation site<br />

Midden dump Mudflat <strong>mound</strong> Composite <strong>mound</strong> site<br />

Medium sized <strong>midden</strong> U shape <strong>mound</strong><br />

Band of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong> Mounded <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>/ earth<br />

<strong>mound</strong><br />

Band of <strong>shell</strong> Earth <strong>mound</strong><br />

Geomorphological <strong>mound</strong><br />

The second and most fundamental point demonstrated by Table 4.3 <strong>is</strong> that there <strong>is</strong><br />

failure to clearly understand the difference between <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong> and <strong>shell</strong><br />

<strong>midden</strong> forms as defined by Sullivan (1989). The incons<strong>is</strong>tency in the application<br />

of criteria used to identify and describe <strong>mound</strong>ed and non‐<strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>shell</strong><br />

<strong>midden</strong>s <strong>is</strong> also demonstrated by Table 4.3.<br />


Midden form attributes<br />

Form describes the different physical attributes of a site. Shell <strong>midden</strong> form may be<br />

a single attribute such as <strong>shell</strong> lens or a combination of attributes such as circular‐<br />

<strong>mound</strong>ed, or linear‐ d<strong>is</strong>continuous‐irregular surface. The <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong> forms are<br />

defined by Sullivan (1989:51) and have been further developed by myself and are<br />

presented in the Table 4.4.<br />

Table 4.4: Shell <strong>midden</strong> form attributes (Sullivan 1989:51)<br />

Profile: Non‐<strong>mound</strong>ed‐ <strong>mound</strong>ed.<br />

Mounded Cross sections‐ Conical, hemi‐spherical, irregular<br />

Areal Shape: Elongated, circular, oval, doughnut, irregular.<br />

Dimensions: Min height or depth, diameter<br />

or length x width = area (sqm)<br />

Surface or stratified sub‐surface: Surface scatter –stratigraphic lens<br />

Depth or height from current ground level Depth‐measurement below current ground<br />

level.<br />

Height‐ measurement above current ground<br />

level.<br />

Continuity: Continuous –d<strong>is</strong>continuous<br />

The <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong> form attribute of profile identifies whether the <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong> site<br />

<strong>is</strong> <strong>mound</strong>ed or non‐<strong>mound</strong>ed. The cross‐section differentiates between an irregular<br />

<strong>mound</strong>ed form of <strong>midden</strong> and a conical– hem<strong>is</strong>pherical <strong>midden</strong> profile that can be<br />

classified as <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>. For a <strong>midden</strong> to be classified as a <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> the<br />

profile must in essence be; <strong>mound</strong>ed / ra<strong>is</strong>ed in its centre, form a small hill shape,<br />

have a heaped up nature. The cross section conical or hemi‐spherical shape can<br />

also be a variation in between the two profile shapes. Critically <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s<br />

described as <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s must be lower at the edges and r<strong>is</strong>e towards a central<br />

high point.<br />

Th<strong>is</strong> argument has been determined by the definition of the word ‘Mound’ as<br />

language <strong>is</strong> the critical point of communication in research. The term ‘<strong>mound</strong>’ <strong>is</strong><br />


defined in the Oxford Dictionary (1999) as a “ra<strong>is</strong>ed mass of earth or other compacted<br />

material, a small hill, a heap or pile, or by the Verb: heap up into a <strong>mound</strong>. The<br />

understanding of the words ra<strong>is</strong>ed and pile <strong>is</strong> also important Ra<strong>is</strong>e; lift or move to a<br />

higher position or level, set upright, increase the amount or level. Pile: a heap of things laid<br />

or lying one on top of another, a large amount, a large imposing building. The dictionary<br />

definition of these words defining and describing ‘<strong>mound</strong>’ must be represented in<br />

the physical form of any <strong>midden</strong> site classified as a <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>. Therefore I argue<br />

that along with profile the <strong>midden</strong> form attribute of dimension (height, width,<br />

length or diameter) <strong>is</strong> also important. Both conical and hem<strong>is</strong>pherical profiles in<br />

their nature have d<strong>is</strong>tinct height variation from the outer edge to the highest point<br />

of a site. For a conical or hem<strong>is</strong>pherical profile to be‐ imposing, a small hill, high in<br />

level, large, the dimensions of site width, length, or diameter must also be relevant<br />

to that description. On the bas<strong>is</strong> of these arguments and analys<strong>is</strong> I propose the<br />

following definition identifying the criteria that differentiates between <strong>mound</strong>ed<br />

and non‐<strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s.<br />

Definition: Criteria for describing and classifing <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s<br />

A <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong> site classified as a <strong>mound</strong> should exhibit the following attributes of<br />

<strong>midden</strong> Form Profile and Dimension. The site Profile should be <strong>mound</strong>ed with a<br />

cross‐section of hemi‐spherical to conical. The Dimensions of height, width, length<br />

or diameter should represent a ra<strong>is</strong>ed imposing mass, a small hill, a pile of<br />

substance. Be d<strong>is</strong>tinctly different from a small pile of <strong>shell</strong>, at least 75cm high and<br />

3m in diameter. Height must move from a lower profile towards a higher profile<br />

and then progress downwards again to a lower profile. Th<strong>is</strong> definition will tested<br />

on BMB/116 in Chapter 6 as part of the site analys<strong>is</strong>.<br />


Definition d<strong>is</strong>cussion<br />

The essential element of th<strong>is</strong> definition <strong>is</strong> that <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> sites must demonstrate<br />

an essentially <strong>mound</strong>ed form. Th<strong>is</strong> form must be composed of the form attributes<br />

of Profile, Dimension, and Depth/Height. Therefore site classified by height alone<br />

as argued by Burns (1994) have demonstrated no <strong>mound</strong>ed attributes and I would<br />

argue they are a form of <strong>midden</strong>. Arguments will immediately ar<strong>is</strong>e when any<br />

definition <strong>is</strong> proposed suggesting examples of when the definition would not<br />

apply. <strong>One</strong> comes immediately to mind and therefore need to be addressed. Shell<br />

<strong>mound</strong>s are often located on mudflats as demonstrated by the previous survey of<br />

<strong>mound</strong> data and are prominent on the Point Blane peninsula (Figure 4.5). The<br />

photograph of a mudflat <strong>mound</strong> identified on the Point Blane peninsular<br />

demonstrates that they exhibit no apparent <strong>mound</strong>ed form the criteria of Profile,<br />

Dimension are not evident as these features are buried under the sediment.<br />

Similar mud flat <strong>mound</strong>s have been described by Burns (1999:64).<br />

I counter th<strong>is</strong> problem by developing a range of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> site types which can<br />

be identified and recorded in the field. The identification of mudflat <strong>mound</strong>s as a<br />

d<strong>is</strong>tinct site type will counter the <strong>is</strong>sues faced by the literal application of the<br />

definition. Formal identification of a mudflat site as a <strong>mound</strong> could be determined<br />

by test pit excavation.<br />


Figure 4.5: Shell <strong>mound</strong> located on mudflats Point Blane peninsula<br />

(Photo Clarke 2003)<br />

Anthropological and naturally occurring <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s<br />

Having determined the criteria for classifing <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s it <strong>is</strong> worthwhile briefly<br />

d<strong>is</strong>cussing what other types of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s and <strong>mound</strong> sites will be encountered<br />

in the field. Mounds can be divided into anthropological and naturally occurring<br />

<strong>mound</strong>s. The div<strong>is</strong>ion of <strong>mound</strong> types into two groups (Table 4.5) <strong>is</strong> the first step<br />

in consolidating terminology and site classification. In the l<strong>is</strong>t of cultural <strong>mound</strong><br />

terms have included <strong>midden</strong> sites often associated with <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> clusters to<br />

further demonstrate the use and application of the terminology. The development<br />

of a field recording sheet will form the second part of consolidating terminologies<br />

used to describe <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong> sites and has been specifically designed to facilitate<br />

<strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> identification and recording.<br />


Table 4.5: Redefined <strong>midden</strong> terminologies & definitions after Roberts (1994:180) expanded by<br />

Alexander (2009).<br />

Shell <strong>midden</strong>‐ any <strong>shell</strong> deposit identified as cultural in nature, regardless of size<br />

areal shape or density.<br />

Shell scatter‐ a <strong>midden</strong> deposit with sparse <strong>shell</strong>, low in density.<br />

Shell lens‐ a <strong>midden</strong> deposit often a buried thin layer of <strong>shell</strong> in the stratigraphy<br />

of a site.<br />

Shell pile‐ unsubstantial conical or hemi‐spherical piles of <strong>shell</strong> 3m in diameter. Demonstrating d<strong>is</strong>tinct difference between the lowest to<br />

highest point in height.<br />

Types of cultural <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s<br />

Mudflat Mounds‐ As above and varying in size located directly on or under seasonally inundated<br />

mudflats.<br />

Anadara <strong>mound</strong>s‐ Shell <strong>mound</strong>s composed of 90% Anadara <strong>shell</strong>s.<br />

Earth Mound‐ Large <strong>mound</strong> of earth and sand with low percentage of <strong>shell</strong> (Brockwell 2006).<br />

Naturally occurring <strong>mound</strong>s which may contain <strong>shell</strong><br />

Megapode <strong>mound</strong>s‐ conical or elongated <strong>mound</strong>s 0.50 ‐ 5m H with a high sediment content<br />

reflecting the immediate surroundings (Burns 1994).<br />

Geomorphological <strong>mound</strong>s‐ Often storm deposits. Long stratified <strong>mound</strong>s made up entirely of <strong>shell</strong><br />

species commonly found in the active foreshore environment.<br />

Recording <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s in the field<br />

The development of a definition <strong>is</strong> a theoretical process that requires further<br />

development for practical application. The best method of testing the practical<br />

application of the archaeological criteria for classifing <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s <strong>is</strong> through the<br />

development of a field recording sheet. The recording of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong> sites was<br />

developed by Sullivan (1989:50‐53) for the Australian Heritage Comm<strong>is</strong>sion and<br />


th<strong>is</strong> will form the bas<strong>is</strong> of the Field recording form for <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s I have<br />

developed; Appendix 9.1, which specifically focuses on classifing <strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>shell</strong><br />

<strong>midden</strong>s. My recording sheet will form the second part of consolidating<br />

terminologies used to describe <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong> sites. The sheet <strong>is</strong> intended as a guide<br />

to what data sets are required for <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> site identification, recording, and<br />

range of data relevant for research purposes. The actual recording form used in<br />

any specific program will vary, depending on the reason for the program and the<br />

research question being asked (Sullivan 1989). Finalization of a Field recording<br />

form <strong>is</strong> beyond the scope of th<strong>is</strong> study and <strong>is</strong> a subject for future research. The<br />

Field recording form <strong>is</strong> included as preliminary suggestion of attributes and data<br />

categories that need to be considered. The inclusion of diagrams of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong><br />

profiles recorded in the field would be a useful guide to the recording sheet.<br />

However these are rarely reproduced in journals, a compilation of recorded<br />

<strong>mound</strong> shape diagrams <strong>is</strong> a subject for further research. I have included a few<br />

images and diagrams that I found available (Figures 4.6 – 4.10).<br />


Images of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> profiles<br />

Figure 4.6: Hancock Ridge NT a<br />

hemi‐spherical <strong>mound</strong> and second <strong>mound</strong><br />

with two phase formation a hem<strong>is</strong>pherical<br />

lower <strong>mound</strong> & conical <strong>mound</strong> atop<br />

(H<strong>is</strong>cock & Hughes 2001).<br />

Figure 4.9: Ballina NSW, Richmond River hemi‐spherical<br />

oyster <strong>mound</strong> (Statham 1892).<br />

Figure 4.7: Weipa QLD a conical Anadara <strong>mound</strong><br />

(Ir<strong>is</strong>h 2009).<br />

Figure 4.8: Hope Inlet NT conical Anadara <strong>mound</strong><br />

(H<strong>is</strong>cock 2008:176)<br />


Figure 4.6 a geomorphic diagram has been used to illustrate two <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s at<br />

Haycock Reach NT (H<strong>is</strong>cock & Hughes 2001:42). The top (figure 3) image <strong>is</strong> of a<br />

classic hemi‐spherical <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>. A hemi‐spherical shape <strong>is</strong> curved or a crescent<br />

shape. The bottom image (figure 4) <strong>is</strong> complex <strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>midden</strong> with two phases<br />

of formation. The bottom section <strong>is</strong> a hemi‐spherical linear <strong>mound</strong> and the upper<br />

section a conical <strong>mound</strong>. The method of using geomorphic diagrams to illustrate<br />

the surface topography of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s <strong>is</strong> rarely used however it <strong>is</strong> a highly<br />

effective for illustrating surface variations in <strong>mound</strong>s often ind<strong>is</strong>cernible in<br />

photographic images. Figure 4.7 clearly illustrates the hem<strong>is</strong>pherical <strong>mound</strong>ed<br />

profile and character<strong>is</strong>tic establ<strong>is</strong>hment of vegetation on <strong>mound</strong> sites. Figure 4.8 <strong>is</strong><br />

classic conical Anadara <strong>mound</strong> of Australia northern coastline. Figure 4.9 an<br />

estuarine oyster hemi‐spherical <strong>mound</strong>, the image <strong>is</strong> also of h<strong>is</strong>torical interest as<br />

the image of the site was recorded in 1892. The last image I have included in th<strong>is</strong><br />

chapter <strong>is</strong> the iconic image of an Australian <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>. Figure 4.10 <strong>is</strong> an iconic<br />

photo that records a journal<strong>is</strong>t standing<br />

on an enormous <strong>mound</strong> at Weipa in<br />

1958 and <strong>is</strong> now part of the National<br />

photographic archives of Australia.<br />

Figure 4.10: Weipa Anadara <strong>mound</strong> 1958<br />

(National Archives of Australia).<br />


Conclusion<br />

Th<strong>is</strong> study’s first research aim examined <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> characterizing attributes and<br />

produced a new model for Australia <strong>mound</strong> attributes beyond the traditional<br />

Anadara <strong>mound</strong> model. The research establ<strong>is</strong>hed that BMB/116’s age and dominate<br />

<strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h species are within the normal range for an Australian <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> while<br />

still remaining anomalous on the Point Blane peninsula. However it was also<br />

determined site attributes could not differentiate between <strong>mound</strong>ed or non‐<br />

<strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>midden</strong>s. The second part of the research question sought to answer th<strong>is</strong><br />

question and establ<strong>is</strong>hed the criteria for classifing <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> are the <strong>midden</strong><br />

form attributes of profile, dimension. These findings challenge previous study’s<br />

methods of classifing <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s and argue for <strong>mound</strong> site classification to be<br />

reviewed. The examination of th<strong>is</strong> study’s first research questions has provided<br />

two new theoretical bases from which to interpret the analys<strong>is</strong> BMB/116 presented<br />

in Chapter 6.<br />


Chapter 5<br />

Research Methodology<br />

Introduction<br />

The following procedures were adopted during the excavation and analys<strong>is</strong> of<br />

excavated material from BMB/116: sampling during excavation of BMB/116 and<br />

analys<strong>is</strong> of the excavated materials; analys<strong>is</strong> of molluscan remains and non‐<br />

molluscan remains; and design of recording sheets for the data generated during<br />

analyses.<br />

Sampling<br />

A sample of BMB/116 was recorded by excavating a trench 1m by 50cm from a<br />

high point of the site down the side of the site (Clarke and Faulkner 2003). Th<strong>is</strong><br />

trench, divided into Pit A and Pit B each 50cm square, was taken to a depth of 40‐<br />

50cm in 12 excavation units. The deposit divided into three stratigraphic units. The<br />

total weight of material removed in each excavation unit was recorded and then a<br />

bulk sample of approximately 1.50 kilo was removed. The remaining material was<br />

then sieved through 6mm and 3mm sieves and the sieve remains bagged<br />

according to sieve screen size. The entire residue from the 6mm sieve fraction for<br />

each excavation unit from Pit B was sorted and analysed for th<strong>is</strong> study. The<br />

residue from the 3mm sieve was determined to be too highly fragmented for<br />

mollusc species identification or meaningful sorting of molluscan from non‐<br />

molluscan remains and therefore would not produce effective results for th<strong>is</strong><br />

study.<br />

Laboratory methods<br />


Figure 5.1: Shell reference collection establ<strong>is</strong>hed for th<strong>is</strong> study species were identified in<br />

excavated remains of BMB/116 Point Blane peninsula.<br />

Two preliminary tasks were undertaken to facilitate the analys<strong>is</strong> of excavated<br />

materials. Firstly three data recording sheets were developed encompassing the<br />

specific needs of th<strong>is</strong> study (Claassen 1998: 106): Laboratory recording form: mollusc<br />

analys<strong>is</strong> (Appendix 2.1), Laboratory recording form: non‐molluscan analys<strong>is</strong> (Appendix<br />

2.2), and Recording form: <strong>mound</strong> formation analys<strong>is</strong> (Appendix 2.3). The criterion for<br />

molluscan analys<strong>is</strong> includes; MNI counts, weight per taxon, weight of non<br />

molluscan remains, % calculations. The criterion for non‐molluscan analys<strong>is</strong><br />

includes; Bucket weight, Identified material weight, which includes rubble, plant<br />

and charcoal. The criterion for <strong>mound</strong> formation analys<strong>is</strong> includes; analys<strong>is</strong> by<br />

excavation unit of <strong>shell</strong> weight, followed by dominate <strong>shell</strong> species, rubble weight,<br />

plant weight, charcoal weight and a calculation of the percentage per excavation<br />

unit of the dominate material. Secondly a <strong>shell</strong> reference collection was<br />

establ<strong>is</strong>hed primarily from BMB/116 B XU4; which had a high volume and wide<br />

range of species in good condition. The taxa were identified to species level where<br />

possible under the advice of Dr M. Carter (2009) labeled and collated in a specimen<br />

case (Fig 5.1).<br />


The bagged material from the 6mm sieve fraction for each excavation unit was<br />

initially sorted into molluscan and non‐molluscan material. The weight of material<br />

in each of these categories was recorded in the data base.<br />

Analys<strong>is</strong> of molluscan remains for calculating MNI<br />

The molluscan remains were identified and sorted according species see Table 5.1.<br />

The next process was to sort each Bi‐valve into species and then each species into<br />

predetermined categories for the calculation of MNI. Bivalve species were sorted<br />

into umbos

Fig 5.2: Three typical bivalve <strong>shell</strong>s all left halves, shown from the inner sides. Note umbo used<br />

for calculating MNI (Wilson 2008:13).<br />

Gastropods were sorted into whole mouths, whole <strong>shell</strong>s >70%, and fragments<br />

(Figure 5.3).<br />

Figure 5.3: A Nerita s.p. gastropod with mouth area highlighted used for calculating MNI<br />

(www.gastropods.com).<br />


Oysters were sorted into lids, bases and fragments (Ulm 2006:41) see figure 5.4.<br />

Each diagnostic category for each species was then counted and weighed and the<br />

data entered into the data base.<br />

Figure 5.4: Oyster lid and base both used for calculating<br />

MNI (The Australian Museum 2009).<br />

Non‐economic species of <strong>shell</strong>

excavation unit was recorded and calculated as a % of total excavation unit weight.<br />

Th<strong>is</strong> data will inform on the level of taphonomic d<strong>is</strong>turbance per excavation unit<br />

by hydrology.<br />

Shell analys<strong>is</strong><br />

Th<strong>is</strong> section reviews the methods used for the measurement of relative abundance<br />

of <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h in archaeological deposits, after which the methods selected to analyze<br />

BMB/116 are presented. The measure of relative abundance <strong>is</strong> important in the<br />

analys<strong>is</strong> of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s because the generated data informs on <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h species<br />

volume, species proportion and identifies selectivity of targeted species. The<br />

identification of species selectivity in a <strong>shell</strong> deposit <strong>is</strong> a primary indicator for<br />

differentiating between cultural and natural <strong>shell</strong> deposits.<br />

There are three methods used to measure relative abundance. These are minimum<br />

number of individuals (MNI), number of individual specimens (NISP) and <strong>shell</strong><br />

weight per taxon. The data collected from the measurement of abundance in a<br />

deposit includes volume, density and proportion. The percentage frequencies for<br />

each taxon are the most common stat<strong>is</strong>tic generated for <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h in sites that<br />

contain more than one molluscan species. Th<strong>is</strong> measure bears the most<br />

interpretative weight. In cultural <strong>shell</strong> deposits the species diversity, ubiquity,<br />

species dominance and habitat can provide information about human behavior the<br />

environment and site formation processes across time (Claassen 1998:106 ‐116).<br />

Species diversity refers to the number of species in an assemblage, a number often<br />

compared with other site assemblages (Claassen 1998:117). In th<strong>is</strong> study diversity<br />

<strong>is</strong> measured across each excavation unit (Table 6.3). The identification of diversity<br />

<strong>is</strong> important for two reasons firstly as an indicator of the cultural origins of the site.<br />


Secondly species diversity informs on the local environmental during site<br />

occupation and indicates resource availability and procurement patterns.<br />

Species dominance <strong>is</strong> interpreted as either culturally or environmentally<br />

determined (Claassen 1998:133). In th<strong>is</strong> study species dominance <strong>is</strong> measured<br />

across all excavation units by weight and MNI. Meehan (1982:71 & 80) observed<br />

cultural determin<strong>is</strong>m as the range and quantity of species collected was not only<br />

related to <strong>is</strong>sues of subs<strong>is</strong>tence. Small quantities of a variety of species were<br />

collected by both children and adults to be eaten as tidbits before the main meal of<br />

a single targeted species. Environmental determin<strong>is</strong>m <strong>is</strong> illustrated by<br />

proportional hunting archaeolog<strong>is</strong>t analys<strong>is</strong> of <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h assemblages in the USA<br />

and South Africa (Yesner 1977; Lobell 1980; Litter 1980; Voigt 1982 cited by<br />

Claassen 1989:132) demonstrated that species proportions occurred in the same<br />

rank order as they do in the living environment.<br />

The identification of <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h habitats represents the optimal environmental<br />

conditions required for the establ<strong>is</strong>hment of <strong>shell</strong>‐beds (Faulkner 2009:83; Claassen<br />

1998:126). Information on the range of habitats of <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h species found in an<br />

archaeological site provides evidence for environmental conditions in a region<br />

during the period of site occupation (Claassen 1998:122). The identification of<br />

species habitat provides information on which foraging zones were targeted to<br />

procure resources consumed or processed at the site (Bourke 2004).<br />

Methodology for <strong>shell</strong> analys<strong>is</strong>: Reviews and implications<br />

The calculation of the quantity of individual taxon in excavated material <strong>is</strong><br />

typically determined by counting. Counting methods are; MNI where the number<br />

of predetermined diagnostic elements are counted, or NISP which involves the<br />

identification and counting of every <strong>shell</strong> fragment per taxon (Claassen 1998:106).<br />


Number of Identified Specimens (NISP)<br />

The NISP measure <strong>is</strong> the number of <strong>shell</strong> fragments identified to a particular taxon.<br />

NISP <strong>is</strong> useful for intra‐ and inter site compar<strong>is</strong>ons of individual taxon and for<br />

examining <strong>shell</strong> fragmentation rates (Ulm 2006:41‐42). The major limitation of th<strong>is</strong><br />

method <strong>is</strong> the level of identifiability of <strong>shell</strong> fragments. NISP has been criticized for<br />

over‐representing the abundance of taxa with d<strong>is</strong>tinctive sculpture attributes<br />

(Mowat 1995) or when taxa are highly fragmented (Marshall & Pilgram 1993: 261).<br />

The critical <strong>is</strong>sue associated with NISP methodology <strong>is</strong> that identification of every<br />

<strong>shell</strong> fragment <strong>is</strong> very time consuming and accuracy <strong>is</strong> problematic. NISP <strong>is</strong> argued<br />

not to be cost effective in terms of time and accuracy and MNI <strong>is</strong> preferable<br />

(Mowat 1995:81).<br />

Minimum Number of Individuals (MNI)<br />

MNI <strong>is</strong> the minimum number if individual taxon that can be counted. The<br />

diagnostic elements representative of each taxon <strong>is</strong> determined then sorted and<br />

counted. In bivalves hinges are counted, either by the highest number of hinges of<br />

left or right side, or where <strong>shell</strong> <strong>is</strong> more fragmented the total number of hinges are<br />

counted then halved to represent MNI. For asymmetrical bivalves (e.g. oysters)<br />

<strong>shell</strong> are separated into upper (lids) and lower (bases) valves and the greater<br />

number taken as MNI. For gastropods spires or mouths are counted to calculate<br />

MNI. In highly fragmented assemblages <strong>shell</strong> fragmentation <strong>is</strong> highly varied and<br />

results in an incons<strong>is</strong>tent pattern of survival of diagnostic elements severely over<br />

and under estimating different taxa’s levels of abundance(Ulm 2006:41).<br />

Weight<br />

The weight of all pieces of an individual taxon <strong>is</strong> calculated in either grams or<br />

kilograms and achieves an absolute frequency. Th<strong>is</strong> method <strong>is</strong> a quick and easy.<br />


The limitations of th<strong>is</strong> method are heavier <strong>shell</strong>ed taxon appear d<strong>is</strong>proportionate<br />

to lighter <strong>shell</strong>ed taxon when an MNI count many argue they represent the same<br />

number of <strong>shell</strong>s (Claassen 1998: 107). Th<strong>is</strong> problem <strong>is</strong> set against the <strong>is</strong>sue that<br />

MNI does not differentiate between <strong>shell</strong> size both within species and between<br />

species (Bowdler 1983:140). The solution has been successfully argued that both<br />

percentages by weight and MNI or NISP are needed to adequately describe the<br />

proportions of <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h species in a site (Coleman 1966: 37, cited by Bowdler<br />

1983:140).<br />

Summary of <strong>shell</strong> analys<strong>is</strong> methodology<br />

MNI <strong>is</strong> the preferred method if time <strong>is</strong> a premium. The calculation of weight of<br />

sorted taxon <strong>is</strong> a valuable addition as time permits. The combination of the two<br />

methods of MNI and weight counters many of the <strong>is</strong>sues that each method alone<br />

contains and provides a good bas<strong>is</strong> for measures of abundance and calculation of<br />

percentage frequencies. On th<strong>is</strong> bas<strong>is</strong> the use of MNI and weight <strong>is</strong> justified for the<br />

investigations in th<strong>is</strong> study.<br />

Field data<br />

Field data on 60 <strong>shell</strong>s sites identified during the Point Blane peninsula survey<br />

(Clarke & Faulkner 2003) was compiled for analys<strong>is</strong>. An Excel spreadsheet was<br />

establ<strong>is</strong>hed to record each <strong>mound</strong>’s code and dimensions including length, width,<br />

and height and also age when available. Th<strong>is</strong> data was then assessed to calculate<br />

the number of <strong>mound</strong>s less than 75cm in height. The compilation of th<strong>is</strong> data<br />

provides a data set to test the implications of the implementation of the <strong>shell</strong><br />

<strong>mound</strong> classification criteria presented in Chapter 4.<br />


Conclusion<br />

MNI and weight have been determined as the most suitable measurement for<br />

determining species abundance in BMB/116 B. Th<strong>is</strong> numerical data informs on<br />

each taxon’s relative abundance and if the range of <strong>shell</strong> f<strong>is</strong>h identified<br />

demonstrates selectivity of targeted species. Th<strong>is</strong> data which informs on human<br />

behavior and the environment <strong>is</strong> presented in Chapter 6. The field data <strong>is</strong> used in<br />

a comparative analys<strong>is</strong> of the dimensions of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s on the Point Blane<br />

peninsula, including BMB/116. Th<strong>is</strong> data supports the d<strong>is</strong>cussion in Chapter 3 on<br />

the characterizing attributes of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> form of height, profile and volume.<br />


CHAPTER 6<br />

BMB/116: Results of analys<strong>is</strong> and interpretation<br />

Introduction<br />

Th<strong>is</strong> chapter presents the results of analys<strong>is</strong> of the BMB/116 test excavation. Analys<strong>is</strong><br />

focuses on the marine <strong>shell</strong> assemblage and investigates the key features of species<br />

diversity, dominant species and <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h habitat. Analys<strong>is</strong> <strong>is</strong> conducted by calculating<br />

data from each Excavation Unit (XU) of the BMB/116 excavation. Results obtained from<br />

the analys<strong>is</strong> are firstly used to interpret the nature of the BMB/116 <strong>shell</strong> deposit, and<br />

secondly to interpret the relationship between BMB/116 and the other archaeological<br />

sites identified in the Point Blane peninsula inlet. The final aim of th<strong>is</strong> chapter <strong>is</strong> to<br />

contextualize the BMB/116 archaeological deposit within the newly constructed<br />

classificatory framework of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s in Australian archaeology.<br />

The faunal assemblage: Marine <strong>shell</strong> remains<br />

The faunal assemblage of BMB/116 cons<strong>is</strong>ts almost exclusively of the remains of<br />

<strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h (one small fragment of crustacean <strong>shell</strong> was recovered in XU3). Table 6.1<br />

provides the total weight and proportions of <strong>shell</strong> recovered from each XU. Th<strong>is</strong> data<br />

demonstrates the majority of the <strong>shell</strong> assemblage was recovered from the upper<br />

section of the excavation in XU1‐5, compr<strong>is</strong>ing 93% of the total <strong>shell</strong> assemblage. As<br />

described in Chapter 3, XU6‐7 were not excavated in BMB/116 (Test Pit B) and are not<br />

included in the archaeological analyses. The lower half of the excavation (XU8‐12)<br />

contained the remaining small proportion of the <strong>shell</strong> assemblage (7%). Based on th<strong>is</strong><br />

vertical d<strong>is</strong>tribution of the <strong>shell</strong> remains, for the purpose of th<strong>is</strong> analys<strong>is</strong> from th<strong>is</strong><br />

point XU1‐5 are classified as the upper half of excavation and XU8‐12 are classified as<br />


the lower half of the excavation. Th<strong>is</strong> div<strong>is</strong>ion of the assemblage directly corresponds<br />

to the natural stratigraphy of the BMB/116 excavation and the absence of XU6 and<br />

XU7 (described previously in Chapter 3).<br />

Species diversity<br />

Table 6.1 Total <strong>shell</strong> weight per XU.<br />

Upper half<br />

Lower half<br />

XU Shell<br />

weight<br />

(gm)<br />

% Shell<br />

weight<br />

1 1566.0 11.4<br />

2 3321.9 24.1<br />

3 3115.0 22.6<br />

4 3960.30 28.8<br />

5 786.5 5.7<br />

6 Not excavated<br />

7 Not excavated<br />

8 311.75 2.3<br />

9 222.5 1.6<br />

10 340.0 2.5<br />

11 128.0 0.9<br />

12 13.0 0.1<br />

Total 13764.95 100%<br />

A total of 26 species were identified in the BMB/116 assemblage, compr<strong>is</strong>ing 16 marine<br />

<strong>shell</strong> species that were identified to taxon level (Table 6.2) and ten species measuring<br />

Table 6.2 Identified <strong>shell</strong> f<strong>is</strong>h species<br />

Taxon Common name<br />

Anadara granosa Roughbacked cockle<br />

Asaph<strong>is</strong> violascens Sunset clam<br />

Anadara s.p Cockle<br />

Chama fibula Spiny oyster<br />

Gafrarium tumidum Venus <strong>shell</strong><br />

Isognomon ephippium Hammer oyster<br />

Marcia hiantina Beach clam<br />

Nerita s.p. Periwinkle<br />

Pinctada margaritifera Pearl or Winged oyster<br />

Polymosoda erosa Mud clam<br />

Saccostrea culcullata Rock oyster<br />

Strombus s.p Conch<br />

Septifer bilocular<strong>is</strong> Mussel<br />

Telescopium telescopium Long bum<br />

Terebralia palustr<strong>is</strong> Mud whelk<br />

Xanthomelon sp. Land snail<br />

Veneridae Family ‐<br />

Table 6.3 Shellf<strong>is</strong>h species present in each<br />

XU<br />

Marcia hiantina<br />

No. of species<br />

12<br />

10<br />

8<br />

6<br />

4<br />

2<br />

0<br />

Anadara granosa<br />

Isognomon ephippium<br />

Saccostrea culcullata<br />

Gafrarium tumidum<br />

Terebralia palustr<strong>is</strong><br />

Nerita s.p.<br />

Figure 6.1 Number of identified species per XU<br />

Polymesoda erosa<br />

1 x x x x x x x x x x x<br />

2 x x x x x x x x x x x x x x<br />

3 x x x x x x x x x x x x x<br />

4 x x x x x x x x x x x x<br />

5 x x x x x x x x x x<br />

8 x x x x x x x x x<br />

9 x x x x x x x x<br />

10 x x x x x x x x x<br />

11 x x x x x x x x x x<br />

12 x x<br />

N<br />

o<br />

t<br />

e<br />

x<br />

c<br />

a<br />

v<br />

a<br />

t<br />

e<br />

d<br />

Septifer bilocular<strong>is</strong><br />

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12<br />

Excavation Unit<br />

N<br />

o<br />

t<br />

e<br />

x<br />

c<br />

a<br />

v<br />

a<br />

t<br />

e<br />

d<br />

Telescopium telescopium<br />

Pinctada margaritifera<br />

Chama fibula<br />

Asaph<strong>is</strong> violascens<br />

Strombus s.p.<br />

Veneridae s.p.<br />

Xanthomelon sp.<br />

92<br />


Dominant species<br />

The dominant species in the BMB/116 marine <strong>shell</strong> assemblage are determined by the<br />

analys<strong>is</strong> of both weight and MNI calculations of the identified species. Table 6.4<br />

provides a l<strong>is</strong>t of weight and MNI data for all identified species in each XU and Table<br />

6.5 provides a summary of the calculated %weight and %MNI of all identified species.<br />

Both quantitative datasets reveal the species Marcia hiantina as the unequivocally<br />

dominate species in each XU. In contrast, the second most dominant species <strong>is</strong><br />

variable throughout the BMB/116 deposit: XU1‐4 <strong>is</strong> dominated by Anadara granosa;<br />

XU5 <strong>is</strong> dominated by Isognomon ephippium; XU8‐10 are dominated by Saccostrea<br />

culcullata while the lowermost units (XU11–12) have proportionally equal quantities of<br />

Anadara granosa, Saccostrea Culcullata and Gafrarium tumidum. The species composition<br />

of the BMB/116 deposit indicates that although Marcia hiantina remained the dominant<br />

species throughput the occupation of the site, there may have been some change over<br />

time in the selection of species that were more secondary to the marine <strong>shell</strong>‐f<strong>is</strong>hing<br />

economy. Th<strong>is</strong> will be d<strong>is</strong>cussed further below in the context of <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h habitat of the<br />

identified species and procurement strategies.<br />

Of the relatively conservative number of 32 commonly occurring <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h species<br />

previously identified at Point Blane peninsula by Clarke and Faulkner (2003:49‐51),<br />

eight are indentified as commonly occurring across the 116 recorded <strong>midden</strong> sites.<br />

These species are l<strong>is</strong>ted in Table 6.6 in order of frequency. Th<strong>is</strong> table also l<strong>is</strong>ts the<br />

most commonly occurring species identified in the BMB/116 marine <strong>shell</strong> assemblage<br />

based on %weight and %MNI quantities. A compar<strong>is</strong>on of the two groups shows that<br />

only two species ‐ Marcia hiantina and Anadara granosa ‐ are identified as commonly<br />

occurring in both sets of archaeological data. Th<strong>is</strong> apparent variability in dominant<br />

species diversity across the study area will be d<strong>is</strong>cussed further below.<br />


Table 6.4 Shell species weight and MNI per XU<br />

XU1 XU2 XU3 XU4 XU5 XU8 XU9 XU10 XU11 XU12<br />

Species<br />

Marcia<br />

hiantina<br />

Anadara<br />

granosa<br />

Isognomon<br />

ephippium<br />

Saccostrea<br />

culcullata<br />

Gafrarium<br />

tumidum<br />

Terebralia<br />

palustr<strong>is</strong><br />

Polymesoda<br />

erosa<br />

Telescopium<br />

telescopium<br />

Nerita sp.<br />

Weight(gm)<br />

MNI<br />

Weight(gm)<br />

MNI<br />

Weights (gm)<br />

MNI<br />

Weight gms<br />

MNI<br />

Weight gms<br />

MNI<br />

854.00 58 2034.00 220 1750.00 236 2086.00 195 504.00 79 156.50 30 144.50 35 212.50 49 54.00 15 7.50 2<br />

450.00 11 299.00 10 167.00 6 254.00 9 4.50 2.50 3.00 1 / 15.00 1 1.00<br />

101.50 44.50 164.00 1 245.00 21 141.50 131 7.50 4.50 5.50 2.50 ‐<br />

49.50 5 62.50 2 97.50 3 156.00 15 46.50 1 66.00 5 23.00 1 32.50 5 15.00 2 ‐<br />

1.50 1.50 14.50 1 40.50 6 7.50 23.50 5 15.00 3 31.50 3 15.00 3 1.00 1<br />

‐ 12.00 12.50 63.50 18.00 ‐ 5.00 8.50 4.00 ‐<br />

23.00 1 10.00 38.50 1 ‐ 5.00 ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐<br />

‐ 3.50 5.00 18.00 ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐<br />

38.00 5 21.00 2 18.00 1 19.00 2 6.50 5.60 1 5.00 4.50 2 3.00 ‐<br />

Septifer<br />

bilocular<strong>is</strong><br />

1.50 2.00 8.00 37.50 10.50 10 2.70 1 ‐ 2.00 1 2.00 3 ‐<br />

Pinctada<br />

margaritifera<br />

2.00 4.50 ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐<br />

Charma fibula ‐ 3.50 ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐<br />

Unidentified<br />

<strong>shell</strong> &<br />

fragments<br />

44.50 10 794.50 39 791.55 36 954.80 341 27.00 48 40.55 45 25.50 10 42.50 9 12.50 9 3.50<br />

Totals 1566.00 90 3321.90 274 3115.00 285 3960.30 598 786.50 151 311.75 87 222.50 50 340.00 69 128.00 33 13.00<br />

Weight gms<br />

MNI<br />

Weight gms<br />

MNI<br />

Weight gms<br />

MNI<br />

Weight gms<br />

MNI<br />

94<br />

Weight gms<br />


Table 6.5 %Weight and % MNI of <strong>shell</strong> species per XU<br />

XU1 XU2 XU3 XU4 XU5 XU8 XU9 XU10 XU11 XU12<br />

%Weight<br />

%MNI<br />

%Weight<br />

%MNI<br />

%Weight<br />

%MNI<br />

%Weight<br />

%MNI<br />

Marcia hiantina 55% 65% 61% 80% 56% 79% 53% 33% 64% 53% 51% 34% 65% 70% 63% 70% 42% 46% 58% 67%<br />

Anadara granosa 29% 12% 9% 4% 5% 3% 7% 1% 1% ‐ 1% ‐ 1% 2% 1% ‐ 13% 3% 7% 33<br />

Isognomon ephippium 6% ‐ 1% ‐ 5% 3% 7% 3% 18% 8% 3% ‐ 2% ‐ 2% ‐ 2% ‐ ‐ ‐<br />

Saccostrea culcullata 3% 5% 2% 1% 3% 1% 4% 2% 6%

Shellf<strong>is</strong>h habitat<br />

Table 6.6: Commonly recorded <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h species in order of<br />

frequency (shaded species indicate common species)<br />

Point Blane peninsula study region BMB/116<br />

Anadara granosa Marcia hiantina<br />

Polymesoda erosa Anadara granosa<br />

Mactra abbreviata Isognomon ephippium<br />

Marcia hiantina Saccostrea culcullata<br />

Telescopium telescopium Gafrarium tumidum<br />

Ostrea s.p. Terebralia palustr<strong>is</strong><br />

Placuna placenta Nerita s.p.<br />

Septifer bilocular<strong>is</strong><br />

Table 6.7 provides a summary of the common habitats of the identified <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h<br />

species in the BMB/116 deposit. These species represent a range of coastal habitats,<br />

including mangroves, littoral sand and estuarine. For the purposes of th<strong>is</strong> study the<br />

different range of habitat areas have been broadly classified as one of the three main<br />

habitat areas: beach, rocky foreshore and mangrove (see Table 6.7). Analys<strong>is</strong> of<br />

habitats of the entire BMB/116 <strong>shell</strong> assemblage (based on %weight) demonstrates a<br />

cons<strong>is</strong>tent pattern within the deposit. Table 6.8 demonstrates that beach species<br />

clearly dominate compr<strong>is</strong>ing 68% of the total excavated deposit. Both rocky foreshore<br />

species (9%) and mangrove species (6%) compr<strong>is</strong>e much smaller proportions of the<br />

excavated <strong>shell</strong> (the remaining 17% compr<strong>is</strong>es fragmented <strong>shell</strong> and <strong>shell</strong>

Table 6.7<br />

Taxon Common name Specific habitat Broad habitat area<br />

Anadara granosa Roughbacked<br />

cockle<br />

Littoral sand and mud Beach<br />

Chama fibula Spiny oyster Coral rock, or <strong>shell</strong> debr<strong>is</strong> Rocky foreshore<br />

Gafrarium tumidum Venus <strong>shell</strong> Littoral muddy sand<br />

Beach<br />

Isognomon Hammer oyster Mangroves to under rocks Mangrove<br />

ephippium<br />

in shallow water<br />

Marcia hiantina Littoral sand Beach<br />

Nerita s.p. Periwinkle Mangroves roots / rocks Rocky foreshore<br />

Pinctada<br />

Pearl or Winged Attached to substrate in Beach<br />

margaritifera oyster<br />

intertidal / subtidal areas<br />

Polymosoda erosa Coastal rivers, streams ,<br />

estuaries<br />

Mangrove<br />

Saccostrea<br />

culcullata<br />

Rock oyster Mangrove roots/ rocks in<br />

subtidal areas<br />

Strombus s.p Littoral sand<br />

Mangrove<br />

Beach<br />

Septifer bilocular<strong>is</strong> Attached to rock or debr<strong>is</strong> Rocky foreshore<br />

Telescopium<br />

telescopium<br />

Long bum Mangroves<br />

Mangrove<br />

Terebralia palustr<strong>is</strong> Mud whelk Mangroves<br />

Mangrove<br />

Xanthomelon sp. Land snail Land Terrestrial<br />

Veneridae Family Littoral sand Beach<br />

Table 6.8: Shellf<strong>is</strong>h weight of each habitat<br />

calculated as a % across excavation units.<br />

XU Beach Rocky foreshore Mangrove<br />

Upper half<br />

1 83% 6% 7%<br />

2 70% 3% 2%<br />

3 63% 4% 6%<br />

4 60% 5% 8%<br />

5 66% 8% 20%<br />

Lower half<br />

8 59% 23% 2%<br />

9 73% 11% 4%<br />

10 72% 11% 6%<br />

11 66% 16% 5%<br />

12 73% 0% 0%<br />

Further analys<strong>is</strong> of the habitats represented in the lower and upper halves of the<br />

excavation, however, reveal a decrease in the proportions of rocky foreshore species<br />

and a corresponding increase in the proportions of mangrove species in the upper half<br />

of the excavation. Although the cons<strong>is</strong>tent large (~60%) proportions of beach species<br />

indicate that th<strong>is</strong> habitat zone remained of central importance for <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>hing during<br />

the entire phase of site occupation, the change in the proportions of secondary<br />

<strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h species may indicate a some localized environmental change in the area. Th<strong>is</strong><br />

will be d<strong>is</strong>cussed further below.<br />

Summary and Interpretations<br />

The results of the analys<strong>is</strong> presented above have demonstrated a number of d<strong>is</strong>tinct<br />

character<strong>is</strong>tics of the BMB/116 archaeological <strong>shell</strong> assemblage. These are<br />

summarized and interpreted as follows:<br />

• To the virtual exclusion of all other faunal remains including f<strong>is</strong>h bone, the<br />

excavated faunal assemblage compr<strong>is</strong>ed entirely of the remains of <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h;<br />


• The largest quantity of <strong>shell</strong> was recovered from the upper half of the<br />

excavation in XU1‐5, with a significantly smaller quantity in the lower half in<br />

XU8‐12;<br />

• The limited number of species identified in the BMB/116 excavated deposit<br />

(n=26) <strong>is</strong> cons<strong>is</strong>tent with broader patterns of limited species diversity<br />

previously establ<strong>is</strong>hed for the Point Blane peninsula study area;<br />

• The entire BMB/116 assemblage was dominated by a single species (Marcia<br />

hiantina), with some variability demonstrated in the second most commonly<br />

occurring species, most evident in a compar<strong>is</strong>on of the upper and lower<br />

halves of the excavation;<br />

• Compar<strong>is</strong>on of the eight most commonly occurring species at BMB/116 and<br />

the broader Point Blane peninsula study area (Clarke and Faulkner 2003)<br />

demonstrate variability in the diversity of identified dominate species with<br />

only two species – Marcia hiantina and Anadara granosa cons<strong>is</strong>tently recorded;<br />

• Beach species dominate the entire BMB/116 archaeological <strong>shell</strong> assemblage<br />

indicating th<strong>is</strong> habitat as a key resource procurement zone throughout the<br />

occupation of the site;<br />

• Species from rocky foreshore and mangroves occur in much smaller<br />

proportions throughout the deposit, suggesting these habitat areas were<br />

much less depended on for marine resource procurement;<br />

• Limited evidence for the possibility of localized environment change in the<br />

area indicated an increase in the deposition of mangrove <strong>shell</strong> species in the<br />

upper half of the excavation.<br />

The identified archaeological features of the BMB/116 deposit allow for the<br />

interpretation of a range of <strong>is</strong>sues central to the main research aims of developing an<br />

understanding of the resource procurement activities and deposition processes that<br />


esulted in the formation of BMB/116, and characterization of BMB/116 within the<br />

newly constructed contextual frame work for defining <strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong><br />

deposits. Based on the results presented above, interpretations of site origin,<br />

occupation patterns, resource procurement activities, and coastal landscape change<br />

for BMB/116 are presented.<br />

The origin of BMB/116: Cultural or Natural?<br />

Criteria for determining the natural and cultural origins of <strong>shell</strong> deposits has been<br />

widely d<strong>is</strong>cussed and debated in archaeological literature (Bailey 1977; Bowdler 1983;<br />

Claassen 1998:76; Attenbrow 1992; Carter 1997; Esposito 2005). Appendix 7 provides a<br />

summary of the most common criteria used by archaeolog<strong>is</strong>ts for d<strong>is</strong>tingu<strong>is</strong>hing<br />

between natural and cultural <strong>shell</strong> deposits (Attenbrow 1992). Through the<br />

application of these criteria to the BMB/116 archaeological deposit and the results of<br />

the present analyses, Clarke and Faulkner’s (2003) identification of BMB/116 as a<br />

cultural <strong>shell</strong> deposit <strong>is</strong> unequivocally confirmed. The features which clearly<br />

d<strong>is</strong>tingu<strong>is</strong>h the site as cultural are:<br />

• A restricted range of <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h species sourced from three different coastal<br />

habitats located in immediate proximity to the site;<br />

• The dominance of the remains of one <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h species (Marcia hiantina);<br />

• Presence of cons<strong>is</strong>tently larger (adult) sized <strong>shell</strong>s for all identified species,<br />

while small (juvenile) <strong>shell</strong>s are were rare;<br />

• Overall limited quantity of <strong>shell</strong>s measuring

• Radiocarbon dating suggests site occupation occurred prior to European<br />

contact in the study area.<br />

<strong>One</strong> notable aspect of the analys<strong>is</strong> of the faunal remains was the absence of f<strong>is</strong>h<br />

bone. The presence of f<strong>is</strong>hbone <strong>is</strong> common in <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s and <strong>is</strong> generally<br />

considered to preserve well in these depositional contexts in Australia (Sullivan<br />

1989:49). The absence of f<strong>is</strong>h bone in the BMB/116 deposit <strong>is</strong> contrary to<br />

associated oral h<strong>is</strong>tory evidence, which suggests that the Lumatjpi Inlet was used<br />

for f<strong>is</strong>hing, freshwater collection and <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h gathering for the last 30 years<br />

(Clarke and Faulkner 2000 personal comments cited by Esposito 2005:11). Clarke<br />

(pers. comm. 2009), however, comments that vertebrate faunal remains were<br />

rarely found in <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s in Blue Mud Bay and suggests that harsh<br />

monsoonal conditions may impact on bone preservation in the study area.<br />

The limited range of archaeological faunal remains in BMB/116 <strong>is</strong> also in contrast<br />

to the wide selection of terrestrial and marine fauna used as subs<strong>is</strong>tence<br />

resources by the Yilpara community today (Chapter 3, Table 3.4) (Clarke and<br />

Faulkner 2000 cited by Esposito 2005:11 on f<strong>is</strong>hing in the inlet within living<br />

memory). The paucity of bone identified in sites across the region supports<br />

Clarke’s comment of poor preservation of archaeological vertebrate remains in<br />

the study area. The absence of f<strong>is</strong>hbone and other bone remains in BMB/116 <strong>is</strong><br />

interpreted as the possible result of taphonomic processes; however, further<br />

investigations may be required to confirm the reasons for the absence of<br />

archaeological vertebrate material across Blane peninsula. The small quantity<br />

and range of the non‐<strong>shell</strong> remains identified during the analys<strong>is</strong> does not<br />

warrant further description and consideration of these materials (see Appendix 4<br />

for details).<br />


BMB/116 formation and occupation pattern<br />

The above analyses demonstrated that the majority of the <strong>shell</strong> assemblage (93%)<br />

from BMB/116 was recovered from the upper half of the excavation, with very<br />

little <strong>shell</strong> in the lower half. Th<strong>is</strong> deposition pattern indicates intensive site use<br />

during the most recent phase of occupation which occurred sometime prior to<br />

280 years BP. Due to the absence of a radiocarbon date from the middle of the<br />

excavation (XU4 or XU5), which marks the likely transition from low intensity<br />

site use to high intensity site use, interpretation of the timing of th<strong>is</strong> transition <strong>is</strong><br />

not possible at present.<br />

The small proportion of the archaeological <strong>shell</strong> (7%) in the lower half of the<br />

excavation suggests that after initial site use, dated to 657 years BP, occupation<br />

of the site was non‐intensive. The presence of large quantities of laterite in the<br />

lower half of the excavation supports the interpretation of limited early site use,<br />

as well as the natural accumulation of th<strong>is</strong> material washed in from the nearby<br />

laterite ridge. In compar<strong>is</strong>on, smaller quantities of laterite were identified from<br />

the upper half of the excavation, confirming a change in site use and site<br />

contours (i.e. emergence of a <strong>mound</strong>ed form of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>) (see Appendix 5<br />

for %weights of laterite per XU).<br />

The nature of the <strong>shell</strong> remains identified in the lower half of the excavation <strong>is</strong><br />

cons<strong>is</strong>tent with descriptions of the recorded stratigraphic features at BMB/116<br />

(Clarke and Faulkner 2003:72). Restricted lenses of <strong>midden</strong> material were<br />

recorded during excavation and can be observed in the stratigraphic profile (see<br />


Figure 3.14). The cons<strong>is</strong>tent patterns observed throughout the assemblage in<br />

<strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h species d<strong>is</strong>tribution (Table 6.3) and dominance of beach habitat species<br />

(Table 6.7) confirms <strong>shell</strong> in the lower half of the excavation as in situ cultural<br />

deposit and not the result of reworking (i.e. mixing with natural <strong>shell</strong> deposits).<br />

Th<strong>is</strong> evidence suggests the nature of the earliest occupation was transitory, with<br />

a small volume and restricted range of faunal resources deposited at the site<br />

during th<strong>is</strong> period.<br />

The nature of the <strong>shell</strong> remains identified in the upper half of the excavation <strong>is</strong><br />

cons<strong>is</strong>tent with the stratigraphic descriptions of densely packed <strong>shell</strong> with a fine<br />

matrix of light grey sediment (Clarke and Faulkner 2003:72). The large quantity<br />

of <strong>shell</strong> (93%) <strong>is</strong> interpreted as representative of the most intensive phase of<br />

occupation at BMB/116. The concentration of archaeological remains within<br />

XU2‐4 indicates th<strong>is</strong> as the most intensive period of the recent phase of site<br />

occupation, with XU5 marking a major point of transition in site use (i.e.<br />

commencement of a possible change in intra‐site occupation focus).<br />

Both the site contour plan (Figure: 3.12) and cross section below (Figure: 6.2)<br />

further inform on the impact of the nature of occupation on site formation. The<br />

cross section indicates the site had three different areas of occupation focus.<br />

Point A appears to be the largest occupation area and <strong>is</strong> representative of a small<br />

scale conical <strong>mound</strong> profile. Focus point B appears <strong>mound</strong>ed but smaller and<br />

lower and has merged with Focus point A. Focus point C has a slightly ra<strong>is</strong>ed<br />

area and <strong>is</strong> more character<strong>is</strong>tic of a <strong>midden</strong> profile. Ir<strong>is</strong>h (in press) has recently<br />

examined similar evidence of occupation focus areas in <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s through<br />

the identification of surface features, where subsequent excavation revealed a<br />

d<strong>is</strong>tinctive pattern of hearths.<br />


Figure 6.3: BMB/116 site cross section showing three areas of intra‐site occupation focus<br />

(after Clarke and Faulkner 2003:76).<br />

Resource procurement strategies<br />

A<br />

B C<br />

The analys<strong>is</strong> of the BMB/116 marine <strong>shell</strong> assemblage revealed a dominance of<br />

the species Marcia hiantina and a cons<strong>is</strong>tent dominance of <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h procured<br />

from beach habitats, including littoral sand and the intertidal zone. Today the<br />

beach within the inlet <strong>is</strong> restricted to the eastern most margin of the inlet. The<br />

clustering of seven sites (including BMB/116) in the mid northwestern section<br />

of the inlet suggests the beach may have once extended further towards the<br />

estuary than at present. The large sand bodies v<strong>is</strong>ible at both the eastern and<br />

western margins of the inlet today (see Figure 3.9) are further evidence of the<br />

remnant beach which <strong>is</strong> part of the modern coastal dune complex in the inlet<br />

(see Table 3.2). Th<strong>is</strong> situation also implies that the mangrove habitat may have<br />

once been restricted to the margins of the estuary on the western most point of<br />

the inlet, where an <strong>is</strong>olated <strong>midden</strong> deposit has been recorded. Th<strong>is</strong><br />

interpretation and the dominance of the Marcia hiantina throughout the<br />

BMB/116 excavated assemblage confirm the likelihood that the inlet may have<br />

been targeted primarily for its availability of beach <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h species.<br />


The increase in the deposition of remains from mangrove <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h species at<br />

BMB/116 illustrated previously (Table 6.7), provides further evidence for recent<br />

changes to the local site environment and <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h habitats (prior to 280 years<br />

ago). It <strong>is</strong> noted, however, mangrove resources remained only secondary to the<br />

<strong>shell</strong>‐f<strong>is</strong>hing economy with the beach continuing to be the main coastal habitat<br />

targeted for <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h throughout the period of site occupation.<br />

The results produced from the analyses of the BMB/116 excavated deposit have<br />

provided a useful body of data for a compar<strong>is</strong>on with another archaeological<br />

site recorded in the Point Blane peninsula study area.<br />

BMB/84: A compar<strong>is</strong>on to BMB/116<br />

The site of BMB/84 has been selected for comparative analys<strong>is</strong> for two key<br />

reasons. Firstly, BMB/84 <strong>is</strong> located 500m to the east of BMB/116 in the Lumatjpi<br />

inlet providing close spatial proximity between the two sites. Secondly, the sites<br />

have a broadly similar radiocarbon chronology and demonstrate<br />

contemporaneous occupation between the approximate period 480 – 280 cal yrs<br />

BP. Th<strong>is</strong> provides an excellent opportunity to compare two archaeological<br />

<strong>midden</strong> sites within the same local area and which presumably formed under the<br />

same environmental conditions. The identification of similarities and/or<br />

differences in the two sites may provide a broader view of occupation patterns<br />

within the inlet, as well as to ass<strong>is</strong>t in establ<strong>is</strong>hing the defining features or<br />

character<strong>is</strong>tics for d<strong>is</strong>tingu<strong>is</strong>hing between <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s and <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s in<br />

Point Blane peninsula study area.<br />


BMB/84 <strong>is</strong> described as a <strong>midden</strong> complex, compr<strong>is</strong>ing dense concentrations of<br />

<strong>shell</strong> extending 320m x 75m along a sandy ridge behind the mangrove (Clarke<br />

and Faulkner 2003: 70‐71). The site complex <strong>is</strong> d<strong>is</strong>persed over 16,000m² with<br />

concentrated <strong>shell</strong> deposits covering an area of 1,500m². Significantly, the site<br />

complex contains both cultural and natural <strong>shell</strong> deposits. A summary of the<br />

main features of BMB/84 and the key similarities and differences with BMB/116<br />

are provided below and in Table 6.8:<br />

• The BMB/84 site complex <strong>is</strong> much larger than the <strong>is</strong>olated deposit at<br />

BMB/116, indicating differences in the nature of site use and deposition<br />

patterns of remains;<br />

• The presence of naturally deposited <strong>shell</strong> within the BMB/84 site complex<br />

indicates different environmental processes may have been affecting the<br />

two areas during the period of past occupation and use. The location of<br />

BMB/84 closer to coast may have exposed the site storm surge, resulting in<br />

the intermixing of natural and cultural <strong>shell</strong> deposits;<br />

• BMB/84 has broader species diversity than BMB/116. Th<strong>is</strong> <strong>is</strong> interpreted<br />

as the result of the presence of natural <strong>shell</strong> deposits at BMB/84, which by<br />

contrast are absent from BMB/116;<br />

• In spite of broader species diversity, BMB/84 demonstrates similar<br />

proportions of <strong>shell</strong>s from beach, rocky foreshore and mangrove habitats<br />

identified at BMB/116, therefore demonstrating similar patterns in<br />

procurement strategies and resource selection preferences;<br />

• BMB/84 <strong>is</strong> characterized by the d<strong>is</strong>tribution of a number of concentrated<br />

ground level <strong>midden</strong> deposits of a range of dimensions within a larger<br />

area of scattered surface <strong>shell</strong>. The results of radiocarbon of the<br />

concentrated <strong>shell</strong> deposits suggest that occupation may have been<br />

periodic and unfocused over a large area (over 16,000m²);<br />


• In contrast, the results of the BMB/116 analyses indicate that occupation at<br />

th<strong>is</strong> site was both spatially and temporally contained, resulting in the<br />

concentrated deposition of the remains of marine <strong>shell</strong> ra<strong>is</strong>ed above<br />

ground level to a >70cm.<br />

Table 6.9 Compar<strong>is</strong>on of physical features of BMB/116 and<br />

BMB/184<br />

BMB/116 BMB/84<br />

Date range 657‐281 cal BP 482‐ modern cal BP<br />

Extent of<br />

occupation<br />

380 years 482 years<br />

Profile <strong>mound</strong>ed flat<br />

Cross section irregular N/A<br />

Areal shape oval irregular<br />

Dimensions L 27.6m x W<br />

11.5m<br />

L 320 x W 50<br />

‐ height .70m N/A<br />

‐ depth ‐ 50cm<br />

‐ area 317.4m² 16,000 m²<br />

‐ volume 149.18 N/A<br />

Surface or<br />

subsurface<br />

surface Surface to subsurface<br />

Continuous<br />

/d<strong>is</strong>continuous<br />

continuous d<strong>is</strong>continuous<br />

Dominant<br />

species<br />

Other content<br />

v<strong>is</strong>ible<br />

Marcia<br />

hiantina<br />

Anadara<br />

granosa<br />

stone flake ‐<br />

Marcia hiantina<br />

Isognomon <strong>is</strong>ognomom<br />

A range of d<strong>is</strong>tinct physical and material differences are apparent between<br />

BMB/116 and BMB/84. It <strong>is</strong> suggested that BMB/84 represents a location where<br />

ongoing spatial and temporal variability in site use resulted in a broadly<br />

d<strong>is</strong>persed pattern of archeological <strong>shell</strong> deposits, with some limited and possibly<br />


short term concentration of depositional activities. In contrast, the nature of the<br />

archeological deposit at BMB/116 indicates that activities were spatially<br />

concentrated at the site, and even more specifically focused within the<br />

boundaries of the deposit itself (refer to above description of site contours and<br />

Figure 6.3). Several reasons may ex<strong>is</strong>t for these differences in the nature of site<br />

use and deposition patterns at BMB/116 and BMB/84. <strong>One</strong> simple possibility <strong>is</strong><br />

the availability of shade, a breeze or shelter from wind – three attractive features<br />

which happen to characterize the BMB/116 site location. Excavation and analys<strong>is</strong><br />

of BMB/84 (Esposito 2005) sought to determine the degree of mixing and<br />

reworking of the cultural <strong>shell</strong> deposits in th<strong>is</strong> area. The four test excavations<br />

produced mixed results with both cultural and natural deposits identified at<br />

varying XU levels, with a remixing of the natural beach ridge evident. It <strong>is</strong><br />

possible that natural processes are partly responsible for the natural and form of<br />

the <strong>shell</strong> deposits recorded in at th<strong>is</strong> site. Importantly, however, both th<strong>is</strong><br />

compar<strong>is</strong>on and the interpretation of the BMB/116 profile as demonstrating both<br />

<strong>mound</strong>ed and non‐<strong>mound</strong> forms clearly demonstrate the requirement for a<br />

review of the site classification process applied to the archaeological deposits on<br />

the Point Blane peninsula.<br />

A review of <strong>mound</strong> site data on Point Blane peninsula<br />

With the aim of assessing the efficacy of the newly identified criteria for<br />

classifying <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s a review of the dimensions of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> sites<br />

recorded in Point Blane Peninsula was undertaken. Due to the inherent<br />

constraints of th<strong>is</strong> d<strong>is</strong>sertation, however, only the height requirement criterion<br />

will be assessed here. Appendix 9 provides a l<strong>is</strong>t of the compiled data on the<br />

length, width and height, as well as age range and dominant archaeological<br />


material for <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> sites recorded in the study area. A further aim of th<strong>is</strong><br />

data review <strong>is</strong> to assess the implications of the newly establ<strong>is</strong>hed height<br />

criterion for the ex<strong>is</strong>ting classification of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> sites across Point Blane<br />

peninsula. As outlined previously in Chapter 4, a minimum height of 75cm<br />

was determined as an important criterion for the classification of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s.<br />

Th<strong>is</strong> specific height <strong>is</strong> interpreted as demonstrating a d<strong>is</strong>tinct change between<br />

the lowest point and the highest point of a site represented by the deposit<br />

profile.<br />

The data compiled in Appendix 9 demonstrates that 28 out of 60 <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong><br />

sites recorded on the Point Blane peninsula have a height of less than 75cm.<br />

Th<strong>is</strong> outcome therefore indicates that under the new classificatory frame work<br />

for identifying <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s, and specifically the height criterion, the initial<br />

‘<strong>mound</strong>’ classification of these sites requires reconsideration. Based on th<strong>is</strong><br />

outcome, the final section of th<strong>is</strong> chapter provides a reassessment of the<br />

original classification of BMB/116 as a <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>.<br />

BMB/116: Mound or <strong>midden</strong>?<br />

As described above the BMB/116 deposit <strong>is</strong> interpreted as exhibiting both<br />

<strong>mound</strong>ed and non‐<strong>mound</strong>ed profiles. Th<strong>is</strong> newly establ<strong>is</strong>hed variable nature<br />

of the deposit profile <strong>is</strong> contrary to the original fieldwork classification of the<br />

site as a <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> (Clarke and Faulkner 2003). A further review of the field<br />

data recorded for BMB/116 (refer Table 6.9, Appendix 10) highlights the<br />

following key features of the site profile:<br />

• The site does not demonstrate one central high point;<br />


• The recorded height of 70cm <strong>is</strong> under the minimum determined height<br />

of 75cm;<br />

• The site cross section or profile <strong>is</strong> irregular, and hence does not conform<br />

to classificatory criteria of conical or hemi‐spherical.<br />

The resulting interpretation <strong>is</strong> that BMB/116 <strong>is</strong> not classified as a <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>.<br />

Although the review of the defining attributes of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s demonstrated<br />

BMB/116a age range, dominate <strong>shell</strong> species and location; anomalous for a <strong>shell</strong><br />

<strong>mound</strong> on the Point Blane peninsula, are within the demonstrated range of<br />

attributes for <strong>mound</strong> sites in Australian. Th<strong>is</strong> study demonstrated these<br />

characterizing attributes do not form the bas<strong>is</strong> for site classification. Only by<br />

the application and analys<strong>is</strong> of the <strong>midden</strong> forms of Profile and Dimension can<br />

<strong>mound</strong>ed and non‐<strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>midden</strong>s be differentiated. The above analys<strong>is</strong> of<br />

BMB/116 clearly demonstrate BMB//16 <strong>is</strong> a <strong>midden</strong> not a <strong>mound</strong>. Significantly,<br />

however, the reclassification of th<strong>is</strong> site as <strong>midden</strong> provides resolution to the<br />

anomalous status of th<strong>is</strong> site identified at the outset of th<strong>is</strong> study (Chapter 1).<br />

With the addition of BMB/116 to the catalogue of <strong>midden</strong> sites recorded on the<br />

Point Blane peninsula, all <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s in the study area are restricted to the<br />

western wetland margins. Th<strong>is</strong> new result not only has significant implications<br />

for the previous interpretations of site patterns d<strong>is</strong>tribution, but for<br />

interpretations of the past cultural processes and behaviors responsible for<br />

their formation.<br />

Conclusions<br />

The results of the analys<strong>is</strong> of the excavated BMB/116 <strong>shell</strong> assemblage,<br />

including an investigation of species diversity, dominate species and <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h<br />


habitat, provided useful data for the interpretation of site origin, formation and<br />

past procurement strategies. Th<strong>is</strong> data provided useful compar<strong>is</strong>on with<br />

BMB/84 to determine similarities and differences across <strong>shell</strong> deposits within<br />

broadly similar spatial and temporal contexts in the Point Blane peninsula<br />

study area. The results demonstrated key differences in the form,<br />

concentration and extent of <strong>shell</strong> deposits at the two sites, suggesting<br />

variability in the depositional processes (and possibly taphonomic processes)<br />

through which they were produced.<br />

Based on the application of the newly identified height requirement for<br />

defining <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s, a review of the site dimensions of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s<br />

recorded during fieldwork on the Point Blane peninsula revealed the need for<br />

reassessment of the original site classifications. Th<strong>is</strong> was further confirmed by<br />

the final diagnos<strong>is</strong> of BMB/116, which establ<strong>is</strong>hed that contrary to its original<br />

classification as a <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>, the site may more accurately be defined as a<br />

<strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>. Further implications and the significance of the outcomes of th<strong>is</strong><br />

study for the d<strong>is</strong>cipline of Australian coastal archaeology are d<strong>is</strong>cussed in<br />

Chapter 7.<br />

The previously identified anomalies of BMB/116 age and <strong>shell</strong> species was<br />

determined to be within the range of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> attributes identified across<br />

NSW, QLD, NT and WA. The form of the site was reclassified as a <strong>shell</strong><br />

<strong>midden</strong> answering the question of why was only one <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> identified on<br />

the coastal margins of Point Blane Peninsula.<br />

Compar<strong>is</strong>on of BMB/116 data with BMB/84 data<br />


Introduction to BMB/84<br />

D<strong>is</strong>cussion<br />

Hypothes<strong>is</strong>: Interpretation of site use in the Lumatjpi Inlet.<br />

Introduction to field data analys<strong>is</strong><br />

Size analys<strong>is</strong> of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s on Blane Peninsula<br />

Compar<strong>is</strong>on with BMB/116<br />

Interpretation of field data analys<strong>is</strong><br />

Chapter 7<br />

Conclusion, implications and future research<br />


Th<strong>is</strong> chapter presents the major conclusions of th<strong>is</strong> study drawing on the<br />

achievements of the three major research aims. In addition a number of future<br />

research directions are identified for BMB/116 and the Point Blane peninsula, and<br />

a new research project on Australian <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s.<br />

Conclusions<br />

Th<strong>is</strong> study’s research was developed within the broad frame work of an<br />

examination of identifying what criteria could be applied to d<strong>is</strong>tingu<strong>is</strong>h between<br />

<strong>mound</strong>ed and non‐<strong>mound</strong>ed forms of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s. Early research for th<strong>is</strong><br />

study identified incons<strong>is</strong>tencies in the way Australian archaeolog<strong>is</strong>ts described<br />

and classified <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s and that no formal criteria for classifing <strong>mound</strong> sites<br />

had been developed. Within th<strong>is</strong> frame work a case study was undertaken of<br />

analys<strong>is</strong> and interpretation of an anomalous coastal <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> BMB/116<br />

located on the Point Blane peninsula. A critical review of the archaeological<br />

literature examined the characterizing attributes of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s which<br />

importantly establ<strong>is</strong>hed a wider range of site age and dominate species for <strong>shell</strong><br />

<strong>mound</strong> sites and identified they could be located anywhere <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s<br />

occurred. The research identified the commonly d<strong>is</strong>cussed Anadara <strong>mound</strong>s<br />

were not a suitable representative model for <strong>mound</strong> sites across Australia. The<br />

wider range of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> attributes provided a new context to review the<br />

anomalous attributes of BMB/116 and determined they fell within the identified<br />

parameters of the range of attributes of Australian <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s.<br />

The review also undertook to review the key features of <strong>midden</strong> form attributes<br />

and identified Profile and Dimension as offering an accurate and reliable means<br />


for d<strong>is</strong>tingu<strong>is</strong>hing between <strong>mound</strong>ed and non‐<strong>mound</strong>ed forms of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s.<br />

From th<strong>is</strong> base a definition of criteria for describing and classifing <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s<br />

was developed and presented. These bodies of research provided a new context<br />

for evaluating BMB/116 and resolve the question of its anomalous status.<br />

To fully understand and evaluate BMB/116 a detailed analys<strong>is</strong> of the excavated<br />

assemblage was undertaken. Th<strong>is</strong> identified the characterizing nature of the<br />

<strong>shell</strong> assemblage and a more complete understanding of the depositional<br />

processes was achieved. The recording of a comprehensive dataset provided the<br />

bas<strong>is</strong> for compar<strong>is</strong>on of BMB/116 with another site recorded in the immediate<br />

study area (BMB/84). Th<strong>is</strong> compar<strong>is</strong>on highlighted the contained spatial and<br />

temporal nature of BMB/116. The interpretation of the two sites suggested<br />

different behavioral and taphonomic circumstances affected the differing<br />

formation of the two sites. Three occupation focus points were also identified in<br />

BMB/116s profile which were interpreted has having both <strong>mound</strong>ed and non‐<br />

<strong>mound</strong>ed character<strong>is</strong>tics. Th<strong>is</strong> point clearly demonstrated a review of sites<br />

classification was required.<br />

The application of the new classificatory criteria of Profile and Dimension to<br />

BMB/116 identified the site did not met either criteria’s requirements for <strong>mound</strong><br />

classification. Th<strong>is</strong> resolved the final anomalous question of BMB/116 being the<br />

only <strong>mound</strong> site located on the coastal margins of the peninsula. The<br />

reclassification of BMB/116 establ<strong>is</strong>hes all <strong>mound</strong> sites on the Point Blane<br />

peninsula are located on the wetland margins. Th<strong>is</strong> result has significant<br />

implications for the pervious criteria used to classify <strong>mound</strong> sites in th<strong>is</strong> region<br />

and impacts on interpretations of <strong>mound</strong> site pattern d<strong>is</strong>tribution on the<br />


peninsula. Further, the implications impact on the classification of <strong>mound</strong> sites in<br />

a wide range of previous research.<br />

Implications<br />

The implications of the new classificatory criteria for <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s were tested<br />

against field data complied from Point Blane peninsula. The criteria of<br />

dimension were tested as data on profile was not available. The results suggested<br />

30% of the <strong>mound</strong> sites on Point Blane peninsula would be identified for a<br />

review of their site classification. Th<strong>is</strong> suggests a major review of previously<br />

classified <strong>mound</strong> sites <strong>is</strong> required. The implementation of th<strong>is</strong> new frame work<br />

for classifing <strong>mound</strong> sites will produce results that will provide a direct way to<br />

elucidate variation in the archaeological record as demonstrate in the site<br />

compar<strong>is</strong>on between BMB/116 and BMB/84. The criterion will provide a more<br />

reliable platform for comparing regional and national archaeological data. Only<br />

then will a clearer understanding emerge of these elusive forms of <strong>midden</strong>s in<br />

Australian coastal archaeology.<br />

Future research<br />

Th<strong>is</strong> study identified a range of future research directions that would further<br />

develop the work undertaken in th<strong>is</strong> study. The other research directions extend<br />

beyond th<strong>is</strong> study to contribute to coastal archaeology as a d<strong>is</strong>cipline. Future<br />

research directly related to th<strong>is</strong> study includes<br />

• The further development of the Field Recording Form and an<br />

accompanying data base of <strong>mound</strong> profile images.<br />


• The compiling of a data base of <strong>mound</strong> profiles would also warrant an<br />

investigation in <strong>mound</strong> profile variations to determine if a wider range of<br />

profile cross‐sections could be included in those identified as <strong>mound</strong>ed in<br />

form.<br />

• The examination of the survival of f<strong>is</strong>h bone in <strong>midden</strong> sites in the study<br />

area to determine if taphonomic or cultural reasons can explain the<br />

absence of f<strong>is</strong>h bone from <strong>midden</strong> sites.<br />

• Further dating of marine <strong>shell</strong> from BMB/116 UX 5 and UX 8 to determine<br />

the chronology of the identified changes in site use.<br />

Point Blane peninsula would also provide the ideal study region for a range of<br />

future research;<br />

• The wider testing of the new classificatory criteria for <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s.<br />

• The study of types of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> sites as framework for identifying a<br />

wider range of categories of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s.<br />

Finally a major new research direction would focus on the examination of<br />

<strong>mound</strong> site surface areas to indentify surface features, and patterns of intra‐site<br />

occupation focus points. Excavation would be targeted at occupation focus<br />

points to determine if surface occupation points are replicated across the<br />

stratigraphy of the excavation.<br />

Th<strong>is</strong> study has identified that archaeological criteria are critical to the<br />

classification of any site. Shell <strong>mound</strong>s are widely known as d<strong>is</strong>tinctive markers<br />

of coastal archaeological landscapes however th<strong>is</strong> study has demonstrated wide<br />

variation ex<strong>is</strong>ts in <strong>mound</strong> site dimensions and profiles making site identification<br />

complex. The application of th<strong>is</strong> study’s new classificatory frame work for<br />


<strong>mound</strong> sites has resolved these difficulties and will introduce cons<strong>is</strong>tency into<br />

the identification of <strong>mound</strong> sites in future research.<br />


Appendix 1.1<br />

Shell <strong>mound</strong> attribute research data<br />


Location Location<br />

geograph<br />

y<br />

Weipa<br />

(Bailey 1977)<br />

Darwin<br />

Harbour<br />

)Burns 1999<br />

Bourke 2004)<br />

Mari‐<br />

aMaramay<br />

Croker Island<br />

(Mitchell<br />

1993)<br />

Port<br />

Headland<br />

(Harr<strong>is</strong>on<br />

2009(<br />

Richmond<br />

River Ballina<br />

(Bailey 1975)<br />

Point Blane<br />

peninsula<br />

(Clarke &<br />

Faulkner<br />

2003)<br />

Nickol Bay<br />

WA<br />

Nichol 2.<br />

(Clune 2002)<br />

Pambula<br />

Lake<br />

(Sullivan<br />

Date all<br />

BP<br />

Estuarine 3510‐710 Anadara<br />

granosa<br />

Mud flats 1601‐446 Anadara<br />

granosa<br />

Island 3000‐2000 Gafrarium<br />

tumidum<br />

Estuarine 3410‐2910<br />

5250‐4400<br />

1280‐1030<br />

Dom Species Formation Dimensions<br />

Anadara<br />

granosa<br />

River 1746‐250 Sydney Rock<br />

Oyster<br />

Wet<br />

Lands<br />

& mud<br />

flats<br />

2173‐281 Anadara<br />

granosa<br />

late sites<br />

Marcia hiantina<br />

Coast 4250 Anadara<br />

granosa<br />

Estuarine Ostrea angasi<br />

(mud oyster)<br />

2 phases<br />

1st surface<br />

scatter<br />

2nd <strong>mound</strong>ed<br />

L110m x W45m x<br />

H3m<br />

Max H 10m<br />

majority H

1982)<br />

Severs Beach<br />

(Sullivan<br />

1982)<br />

Pambula<br />

Lake<br />

(Sullivan<br />

1982)<br />

Coast 4000sqm<br />

cluster of sites<br />

1m to 10m<br />

diameter<br />

>1.50m D<br />

Esturine 2700‐ 90 Upper <strong>midden</strong><br />

Mytilus<br />

planulatus<br />

Lower<br />

Ostrea angasi<br />

Two<br />

phases<br />


Clybucca<br />

Andersons<br />

Inlet<br />

(Reg<strong>is</strong>ter of<br />

the National<br />

Estate<br />

www.heritag<br />

e.gov.au(<br />

Northern<br />

Kimberly<br />

(O’Connor<br />

1996)<br />

Blyth River<br />

BR Kula Kula<br />

Mounds<br />

Yuluk Yulluk<br />

<strong>mound</strong>s<br />

(Meehan<br />

1982:166)<br />

Howard<br />

River East<br />

Darwin<br />

(H<strong>is</strong>cock &<br />

Faulkner<br />

2006)<br />

River 5000‐2000 Upper<br />

Cassogstrea<br />

Commercial<strong>is</strong><br />

Lower<br />

Anadara<br />

trapezia<br />

Coast 4200‐<br />

present<br />

River<br />

Inland<br />

up to 5<br />

km<br />

Upper<br />

Anadara<br />

Lower<br />

Tapes hiantina<br />

Dosinia<br />

juvenil<strong>is</strong><br />

Coecella<br />

horsfieldi<br />

Two<br />

phases<br />

Two<br />

phases<br />

N/A<br />

N/A<br />

N/A<br />

Continuous<br />

<strong>midden</strong> complex<br />

350Klm. irregular<br />

depth <strong>is</strong>olated<br />

<strong>mound</strong>s<br />

Large Weipa like<br />

<strong>mound</strong>s<br />

30m diameter x<br />

5m H<br />

N/A<br />

N/A<br />

1800‐ 600 Anadara N/A 1m to 90m L<br />

.20m to 7m H<br />


Apendix 1.2<br />

Shell <strong>midden</strong> terminology research data<br />


Term Reference Source<br />

Shell matrix sites Forchhammer et al. 1851‐157 Claassen 1998<br />

Shell matrix level of – Single dump<br />

Lens<br />

scatter<br />

Ambrose 1967 Claassen 1998:6<br />

Shell‐bearing habitation site Claassen 1991 Same<br />

Base site <strong>mound</strong> Beaton 1985<br />

Meehan 1982<br />

Cited by Roberts 1994<br />

Composite <strong>mound</strong> site Cribb 1996 Cited by Bourke 2004<br />

Shell bearing site Widmer 1989 Claassen 1991<br />

Shell‐bearing <strong>midden</strong> site Claassen 1991 Same<br />

Kjokkenmodding<br />

Dan<strong>is</strong>h Government<br />

Claassen 1998<br />

Kitchen Midden<br />

Study group 1848.<br />

Brough Smyth 1878 (Aust)<br />

Rowland 1994<br />

Shell <strong>midden</strong> Waselkov 1987<br />

Same<br />

Sullivan 1989<br />

Same<br />

Clarke & Faulkner 2003 Same<br />

Bowdler 1983<br />

Same<br />

Coastal <strong>midden</strong> Woodroffe et al 1988 Same<br />

Circular shaped <strong>midden</strong> Bourke 2004 Same<br />

Doughnut shaped <strong>midden</strong> Bourke 2004 Same<br />

Paleochannel <strong>midden</strong> Woodroffe et al 1985 Same<br />

Midden scatter Woodroffe et al 1985<br />

Bailey 1975<br />

Beaton 1985<br />

Cited by Roberts 1994<br />

Shell scatter Bourke 2004<br />

Same<br />

Sullivan 1989<br />

Same<br />

Surface scatter Woodroffe et al 1985 Same<br />

High‐density <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s<br />

Low‐ density <strong>shell</strong> scatters<br />

McNiven 1992 (JFA)<br />

Same<br />

Shell <strong>midden</strong> <strong>mound</strong> Sullivan 1989 Same<br />

Midden <strong>mound</strong> Woodroffe Et al 1985<br />

Beatob 1985<br />

Meehan 1982<br />

Cribb 1986b<br />

Bourke 2004<br />

Cited by Roberts 1994<br />

Shell <strong>mound</strong> Cribb 1991<br />

Same<br />

Burns 1994<br />

Same<br />

Faulkner 2006<br />

Same<br />

Meehan 1982<br />

Same<br />

Surface <strong>mound</strong> Woodroffe et al 1988 Same<br />

Shell‐heap C Darwin 1839 Claassen 1998<br />

Conical <strong>shell</strong> heap Bailey 1975<br />

Meehan 1982<br />

Cribb 1986<br />

Beaton 1985<br />

Cited by Roberts 1994<br />

Mounds of <strong>shell</strong><br />

Rings of <strong>shell</strong><br />

Claassen 1998:6 Same<br />

U shaped <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> Frankland 1990 Rowland 1994<br />

Mudflat <strong>mound</strong> Woodroffe et al 1985 Cited by Roberts1994<br />


Elongated <strong>mound</strong><br />

Bailey 1975<br />

Cribb 1986b<br />

Bourke 2004 Same<br />

Earth <strong>mound</strong> Stocker 1971<br />

Crib 1986B<br />

Cited by Roberts 1994<br />

Bourke 2004<br />

Same<br />

Geomorphological <strong>mound</strong> Bailey 1975 Cited by<br />

Roberts 1994<br />

Large domed <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong> Beaton Cited by Sullivan & O’Connor<br />

1993<br />


Appendix 1.3<br />

Shell <strong>midden</strong> & <strong>mound</strong> site dimensions research data<br />


Site description & location Dimensions Reference<br />

Scotland<br />

Large <strong>midden</strong>,<br />

Limfjord Northern Jutland<br />

Midden, Limfjord Northern<br />

Jutland<br />

5 open air <strong>midden</strong>s,<br />

Oronsay Island Scotland<br />

Cave <strong>midden</strong><br />

Ulva Island Scotland<br />

Occupation area <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>‐<br />

Fife Scotland. Site B<br />

North America<br />

Shell <strong>midden</strong>,<br />

Mashomack Preserve<br />

Four small open <strong>midden</strong>s,<br />

Potowomut Neck, Rhode Island<br />

State<br />

Coastal <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>,<br />

Brit<strong>is</strong>h Camp<br />

Extensive <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>, Glenrose<br />

Cannery Site<br />

Japan<br />

Circular <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong><br />

Natsushima<br />

7 <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s in a horseshoe<br />

shape, Kidosaku Site<br />

All of the above from Ir<strong>is</strong>h 1997<br />

Australia<br />

Large open <strong>midden</strong>,<br />

Bass Point NSW<br />

Open site <strong>mound</strong>ed <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>,<br />

Pambula Lake NSW<br />

Large <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong> home base<br />

site, Matai Community<br />

Arnhem Land<br />

Anabarra territory <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s<br />

Large <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s<br />

140m x 20m x1.90m Anderson & Johansen<br />

1986:35<br />

8m x 12m x 0.40m Same<br />

30m L x 0.06m D Russell et al 1995<br />

170m2 x 0.35m D Same<br />

30m x 3.50m x 0.50‐0.78m Coles 1971<br />

16sqm x 0.15m D Lightfoot 1985<br />

Size not recorded, small<br />

1‐2sm<br />

Kerber 1985<br />

300m x 4.00m D Stein 1992<br />

200m x 60m x 2 ‐ 5.50m Matson 1976<br />

15m diameter x 1.50m D Aikens 1982<br />

200‐400m x 0.02‐.40m D Koike 1996<br />

100m x 40m x 0.40m Bowdler 1976<br />

30m x 20m x 0.90m Sullivan 1984<br />

35sqm x 1.00m D<br />

Scatters to 1.00m D<br />

30m diameter x up 5m H<br />

Meehan 1982<br />


Australia additional site sizes by<br />

Alexander<br />

Small <strong>mound</strong>s adjacent to large<br />

<strong>mound</strong>s<br />

Lueng, M<strong>is</strong>sion River Qld<br />

13 Shell <strong>mound</strong> cluster<br />

Lueng, M<strong>is</strong>sion River Qld<br />

Shell <strong>mound</strong> clusters < 15 <strong>mound</strong>s<br />

Shell <strong>mound</strong>s<br />

Weipa Qld<br />

Overlapping <strong>mound</strong>s<br />

Shell <strong>mound</strong><br />

Hey River Weipa<br />

Shell <strong>mound</strong><br />

Agnes Waters Qld.<br />

Linear <strong>midden</strong><br />

Small <strong>midden</strong> dumps<br />

Doughnut <strong>midden</strong>s<br />

North West Tasmania Nelson Bay<br />

area<br />

Roughly circular <strong>mound</strong>s<br />

Croker Island Arnhem Land<br />

Shell <strong>mound</strong><br />

Band of <strong>shell</strong><br />

Band of <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong><br />

Port Hedland W. A.<br />

Shell <strong>midden</strong> <strong>mound</strong>s<br />

Richmond River NSW<br />

0.03m<br />

0.05m H 4.00m H<br />

5.00m H<br />

600sqm area<br />

Mounds< 0.05m H<br />

2 – 6m H<br />

5m diameter x 13m H<br />

<strong>mound</strong>s < 0.20 D<br />

245m x 40m x 7.50H<br />

23m x 17m x 1.50H<br />

Morr<strong>is</strong>on 2003<br />

Archaeology in Oceania<br />

Morr<strong>is</strong>on 2003<br />

Archaeology in Oceania<br />

Morr<strong>is</strong>on 2003<br />

Archaeology in Oceania<br />

Bailey et al 1994<br />

16m x 20m x >1m Rowland 1994<br />

1.5 km x 0.7 km x 1‐15cm<br />

H<br />

1‐3m diameter x 20‐30cm<br />

H<br />

13m external diameter x<br />

5m internal diameter x<br />

40cm H<br />

10m x 12m x 1.10m<br />

9m x 8m 0.80m<br />

26m x 24m x 0.80m<br />

77m x 18m x 0.10m<br />

246m x 196m x 0.10m<br />

148 x 133m x 0.10m<br />

D. Ranson 1978<br />

Aus Arc, no8, 149‐158<br />

S. Mitchell 1993<br />

Harr<strong>is</strong>on 2009<br />

400m x ….. x 4.00H Bailey 1975<br />


Appendix 2 .1<br />

Laboratory recording form <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h analys<strong>is</strong><br />



Site BMB/116 Excavation Unit<br />

BMB/116B<br />

Spit No Date sorted<br />

Total <strong>shell</strong> weight sorted >6mm<br />

BIVALVES Shell weight Shell counts<br />

Species Total<br />

wgt<br />

Anadara antiquate<br />

Marcia hiantina<br />

Polymosoda erosa<br />

Gafrarium tumidum<br />

Fuliva tenvicostata<br />

Veneridae (Fam)<br />

Septifer Mussel<br />

Unidentified<br />

Frag wgt Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong><br />

wgt<br />

Umbo to<br />

70%<strong>shell</strong><br />

Umbo to<br />

70%<br />

<strong>shell</strong><br />

OYSTER Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Chama fibula<br />

Saccostrea culcullata<br />

Pinctada<br />

margaritifera<br />

Isognomon<br />

ephippium<br />

Unidentified<br />

OTHER<br />

MARINE<br />

LIFE<br />

Barnacles<br />

Worm tubes<br />

Coral<br />

Crab<br />

Total<br />

wgt<br />

Total<br />

wgt<br />

Frag wgt Lid wgt Bases<br />

wgt<br />

No of<br />

70% lids<br />

No of<br />

70%<br />

bases<br />

Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Frag wgt Whole<br />

wgt<br />

No of<br />

specimns<br />

Whole <strong>shell</strong>s MNI<br />

No of beaks MNI<br />

MNI<br />



Terebralia Paustr<strong>is</strong><br />

Telescopium Telescopium<br />

Strombus s.p.<br />

Nerita s.p.<br />

Terrestrial snail<br />

Unidentified gastropods<br />

Total<br />

wgt<br />

Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Frag<br />

wgt<br />

Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong><br />

Wgt<br />

70%<br />

<strong>shell</strong><br />

wgt<br />

No 70%<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

No<br />

whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />


Appendix 2.2<br />

Laboratory recording form Non‐mollusc analys<strong>is</strong><br />


Site BMB/116 Date sorted 24.8.09<br />

Excavation unit BMB/116 B<br />

Total weight of non‐mollusc material<br />

Total weight of rubble<br />

Spit No<br />

1<br />

2<br />

3<br />

4<br />

5<br />

6<br />

7<br />

8<br />

9<br />

10<br />

11<br />

12<br />

Total<br />

total as<br />

% of<br />

TP<br />

Bucket<br />

weight<br />

Bulk<br />

weight<br />

Bkt<br />

wgt<br />

less<br />

bulk<br />

wgt<br />

Material weights<br />

Non‐<br />

mol<br />

material<br />

total<br />

wgt Rubble Plant Charcoal<br />

Spit as<br />

% of<br />

test pit<br />


Appendix 2.3<br />

Recording form <strong>mound</strong> formation analys<strong>is</strong><br />




TEST PIT NO………<br />


Honour Project for USYD<br />

2009<br />

Date<br />

sorted………………………..<br />

.<br />

SHELL SPECIES‐ A = Anadara granosa, G = Gafrarium tumidum, I = Isognomon<br />

ephippium, M = Marcia hiantina, S = Saccostrea culcullata<br />

SPIT LEVELS → 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12<br />

Shell wgt grams<br />

< 6mm<br />

Shell wgt grams<br />

Calculated<br />

sediment<br />

weight<br />

Page 2 Mound analys<strong>is</strong> by %<br />

Spit 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12<br />

Dom non‐<br />

mollusc<br />

material<br />

% of excavated<br />

remains in spit<br />

% of <strong>shell</strong> in<br />

excavated<br />

remains<br />

% of rubble in<br />

excavated<br />

remains<br />

% of sediment<br />

to spit<br />

% of spit wgt to<br />

test pit<br />


Appendix 3.1<br />

Laboratory recorded data: Shellf<strong>is</strong>h analys<strong>is</strong> excavation<br />

units 1‐12<br />



Site BMB/116 Excavation Unit<br />

BMB/116B<br />

Spit No 1 Date sorted 24.08.09<br />

Total <strong>shell</strong> weight sorted >6mm 1566.00 grams<br />

BIVALVES Shell weight Shell counts<br />

Species Total<br />

wgt<br />

Frag wgt Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong> wgt<br />

Umbo to<br />

70%<strong>shell</strong><br />

Umbo to<br />

70% <strong>shell</strong><br />

Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

Anadara granosa 450.50 251.50 199.00 8 15 11<br />

Marcia hiantina 854.00 610.00 244.00 88 28 58<br />

Polymosoda erosa 23.00 5.00 1 1<br />

Gafrarium tumidum 1.50 1.50 ‐<br />

Fuliva tenvicostata ‐<br />

Veneridae (Fam) ‐<br />

Septifer Mussel 1.50 1.00 0.50 3.00 2.00 ‐<br />

Unidentified ‐<br />

OYSTER Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Total<br />

wgt<br />

Frag wgt Lid wgt Bases<br />

wgt<br />

No >70%<br />

lids<br />

No >70%<br />

bases<br />

No of<br />

beaks<br />

Chama fibula ‐<br />

Saccostrea culcullata<br />

49.50 24.00 25.50 5 1 5<br />

Pinctada<br />

margaritifera 2.00 2.00 ‐<br />

Isognomon<br />

ephippium 101.50 89.50 12.00 3 ‐<br />

Unidentified<br />

‐<br />

OTHER<br />

MARINE<br />

LIFE<br />

Total<br />

wgt<br />

Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Frag wgt Whole<br />

wgt<br />

No of<br />

specimen<br />

s<br />

Barnacles 3.00 1.50 1.50 1 ‐<br />

Worm tubes ‐<br />

Coral ‐<br />

Crab ‐<br />


DS<br />

Total<br />

wgt<br />

Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Frag wgt Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong> Wgt<br />

70%<br />

<strong>shell</strong> wgt<br />

No 70%<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

No whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

MNI<br />

MNI<br />

MNI<br />

no mouths MNI<br />

Terebralia Paustr<strong>is</strong> ‐<br />

Telescopium<br />

Telescopium ‐<br />

Strombus s.p.<br />

Nerita s.p.<br />

‐<br />

38.00 22.00 16.00 5 5<br />

Terrestrial snail 0.50<br />

0.50 ‐<br />


Unidentified<br />

gastropods<br />



Site BMB/116 Excavation<br />

Unit BMB/116B<br />

Spit No 2 Date sorted<br />

24.8.09<br />

Total <strong>shell</strong> weight sorted >6mm 3321.90gms<br />

BIVALVES Shell weight Shell counts<br />

Species Total<br />

wgt<br />

Frag wgt Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong> wgt<br />

Umbo<br />

to<br />

70%shel<br />

l<br />

Umbo <<br />

70% <strong>shell</strong><br />

Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

Anadara granosa 299.00 279.00 17.00 3.00 3 17 10<br />

Marcia hiantina 2034.00 1298.00 310.00 426.00 356 84 220<br />

Polymosoda erosa 10.00 10.00 ‐<br />

Gafrarium<br />

tumidum<br />

1.50 1.50 ‐<br />

Fuliva<br />

tenvicostata<br />

‐<br />

Veneridae (Fam) ‐<br />

Septifer Mussel 2.00 0.50 1.50 1.00 1<br />

Unidentified ‐<br />

OYSTER Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Total<br />

wgt<br />

Frag wgt Lid wgt Bases<br />

wgt<br />

No of<br />

70% lids<br />

No of<br />

70%<br />

bases<br />

No of<br />

beaks<br />

Chama fibula<br />

Saccostrea<br />

3.50 3.50 1 1<br />

culcullata<br />

Pinctada<br />

62.50 22.50 40.00 3 1 3<br />

margaritifera<br />

Isognomon<br />

4.50 4.50 ‐<br />

ephippium 44.50 44.50 ‐<br />

Unidentified 20.00 20.00 ‐<br />

OTHER<br />

MARINE<br />

LIFE<br />

Total<br />

wgt<br />

Shell weights Shell counts ‐<br />

Frag wgt Whole<br />

wgt<br />

No of<br />

specimn<br />

Barnacles 1.00 1.00 ‐<br />

Worm tubes ‐<br />

Coral ‐<br />

Crab ‐<br />


ODS<br />

Total<br />

wgt<br />

Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Frag wgt Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong><br />

Wgt<br />

70%<br />

<strong>shell</strong><br />

wgt<br />

No 70%<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

No<br />

whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

MNI<br />

MNI<br />

MNI<br />

no mouths MNI<br />


Terebralia<br />

Paustr<strong>is</strong><br />

Telescopium<br />

12.00 12.00 ‐<br />

Telescopium 3.50 3.50 ‐<br />

Strombus s.p. ‐<br />

Nerita s.p. 21.00 14.50 6.50 2 2<br />

Terrestrial snail 0.40 0.40 ‐<br />

Unidentified<br />

gastropods<br />



Site BMB/116 Excavation Unit BMB/116B<br />

Spit No 3 Date sorted 24.8.09<br />

Total <strong>shell</strong> weight sorted >6mm 3115.05 gms<br />

BIVALVES Shell weight Shell counts<br />

Species Total wgt Frag wgt Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong> wgt<br />

Umbo to<br />

70%<strong>shell</strong><br />

Umbo to<br />

70% <strong>shell</strong><br />

Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

Anadara granosa 167.00 106.50 60.38 0.12 7 6 6<br />

Marcia hiantina 1750.50 971.50 465.00 314.00 374 98 236<br />

Polymosoda erosa 38.50 32.50 6.00 1 1<br />

Gafrarium tumidum 14.50 9.50 3.50 1.50 1 1 1<br />

Fuliva tenvicostata ‐<br />

Veneridae (Fam) ‐<br />

Septifer Mussel 8.00 5.00 1.50 1.50 7 6 6<br />

Unidentified ‐<br />

OYSTER Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Chama fibula<br />

Total wgt Frag wgt Lid wgt Bases wgt No of<br />

70% lids<br />

No of<br />

70%<br />

bases<br />

Saccostrea culcullata 97.50 63.00 34.50 3.00 2.00<br />

Pinctada margaritifera<br />

Isognomon ephippium 164.00 96.50 67.50 21.00<br />

Unidentified<br />

OTHER<br />


No of<br />

beaks<br />

Shell weights Shell counts ‐<br />

Total wgt Frag wgt Whole<br />

wgt<br />

No of<br />

specimns<br />

Barnacles 0.50 0.50 ‐<br />

Worm tubes ‐<br />

Coral 0.05 0.05 ‐<br />

Crab 4.00 4.00 5.00 ‐<br />

141<br />

MNI<br />

MNI<br />

‐<br />

3<br />

‐<br />

1<br />

‐<br />



Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Total wgt Frag wgt Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong> Wgt<br />

70% <strong>shell</strong><br />

wgt<br />

No 70%<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

No whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

no mouths MNI<br />

Terebralia Paustr<strong>is</strong> 12.50 12.50 ‐<br />

Telescopium<br />

Telescopium<br />

5.00 5.00<br />

Strombus s.p. 1.00 1.00 1.00<br />

Nerita s.p. 18.00 18.00<br />

Terrestrial snail 0.50 0.50 ‐<br />

Unidentified 12.00 12.00 ‐<br />



Site BMB/116 Excavation Unit BMB/116B<br />

Spit No 4 Date sorted 24.8.09<br />

Total <strong>shell</strong> weight sorted >6mm 3960.30 gms All material Pre wash weight<br />

4982.25<br />

BIVALVES Shell weight Shell counts<br />

Species Total<br />

wgt<br />

Frag wgt Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong> wgt<br />

Umbo to<br />

70%<strong>shell</strong><br />

Umbo to<br />

70%<br />

<strong>shell</strong><br />

Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

Anadara granosa 254.00 97.00 145.00 12.00 5 14 9<br />

Marcia hiantina 2089.00 1368.50 536.50 185.00 195 196 195<br />

Polymosoda erosa ‐<br />

Gafrarium tumidum 40.50 7.00 33.50 1.00 1 12 6<br />

Fuliva tenvicostata ‐<br />

Veneridae (Fam) 5.00 1.50 3.50 3 3<br />

Septifer Mussel 37.50 33.50 2.50 1.50 13.0 5 9<br />

Unidentified poss<br />

Anadara granosa<br />

14.50 4.50 10.00 3<br />

OYSTER Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Chama fibula<br />

Total<br />

wgt<br />

Frag wgt Lid wgt Bases wgt No of 70%<br />

lids<br />

No of<br />

70%<br />

bases<br />

Saccostrea culcullata 156 76.5 79.5 15 2<br />

Pinctada margaritifera<br />

Isognomon ephippium 245 159.5 85.5 42<br />

No of<br />

beaks<br />

Unidentified 61.5 61.5 ‐<br />

OTHER<br />


Total<br />

wgt<br />

Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Frag wgt Whole<br />

wgt<br />

No of<br />

specimens<br />

Barnacles ‐<br />

Worm tubes ‐<br />

Coral ‐<br />

Crab ‐<br />

143<br />

MNI<br />

2<br />

MNI<br />

‐<br />

15<br />

‐<br />

21<br />


GASTROPODS Total<br />

wgt<br />

Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Frag wgt Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong><br />

Wgt<br />

70% <strong>shell</strong><br />

wgt<br />

No 70%<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

No<br />

whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

no mouths MNI<br />

Terebralia Paustr<strong>is</strong> 63.50 63.50 ‐<br />

Telescopium Telescopium 18.00 18.00<br />

Strombus s.p.<br />

Nerita s.p. 19.00 14.00 5.00 2. 2<br />

Terrestrial snail 2.00 2.00<br />

Unidentified ‐<br />



Site BMB/116 Excavation Unit BMB/116B<br />

Spit No 5 Date sorted 26.8.09<br />

Total <strong>shell</strong> weight sorted >6mm 786.50 gms<br />

BIVALVES Shell weight Shell counts<br />

Species Total wgt Frag wgt Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong> wgt<br />

Umbo to<br />

70%<strong>shell</strong><br />

Umbo to<br />

70% <strong>shell</strong><br />

Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

Anadara granosa 4.50 4.50 ‐<br />

Marcia hiantina 504.00 274.00 168.00 62.00 96 62 79<br />

Polymosoda erosa 5.00 5.00 ‐<br />

Gafrarium tumidum 7.50 7.50 ‐<br />

Fuliva tenvicostata ‐<br />

Veneridae (Fam) ‐<br />

Septifer Mussel 10.50 6.00 2.50 1.50 12 8 10<br />

Unidentified poss<br />

Anadara granosa<br />

13.50 5.00 8.50 4 2<br />

OYSTER Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Total wgt Frag wgt Lid wgt Bases wgt No of<br />

70% lids<br />

No of<br />

70%<br />

bases<br />

No of<br />

beaks<br />

Chama fibula ‐<br />

Saccostrea culcullata<br />

Pinctada margaritifera<br />

Isognomon ephippium<br />

46.50 38.50 8.00 1<br />

141.50 138.00 32.50 27.00<br />

Unidentified ‐<br />

OTHER<br />


Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Total wgt Frag wgt Whole<br />

wgt<br />

No of<br />

specimns<br />

Barnacles 0.50 0.50 2.00 ‐<br />

Worm tubes ‐<br />

Coral ‐<br />

Crab ‐<br />

145<br />

MNI<br />

MNI<br />

1<br />

‐<br />

13<br />



Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Total wgt Frag wgt Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong> Wgt<br />

70% <strong>shell</strong><br />

wgt<br />

No 70%<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

No whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

no mouths MNI<br />

Terebralia Paustr<strong>is</strong> 18.00 18.00 ‐<br />

Telescopium<br />

Telescopium ‐<br />

Strombus s.p. ‐<br />

Nerita s.p. 6.50 6.50 ‐<br />

Terrestrial snail 1.50<br />

Unidentified gastropods<br />

1.50 ‐<br />



Site BMB/116 Excavation Unit BMB/116B<br />

Spit No 6 NOT EXCAVATED Date sorted<br />

Total <strong>shell</strong> weight sorted >6mm<br />

BIVALVES Shell weight Shell counts<br />

Species Total wgt Frag wgt Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong> wgt<br />

Anadara granosa<br />

Marcia hiantina<br />

Polymosoda erosa<br />

Gafrarium tumidum<br />

Fuliva tenvicostata<br />

Veneridae (Fam)<br />

Septifer Mussel<br />

Unidentified<br />

Umbo to<br />

70%<strong>shell</strong><br />

Umbo to<br />

70% <strong>shell</strong><br />

OYSTER Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Chama fibula<br />

Saccostrea culcullata<br />

Pinctada margaritifera<br />

Isognomon ephippium<br />

Unidentified<br />

OTHER<br />


Barnacles<br />

Worm tubes<br />

Coral<br />

Crab<br />

Total wgt Frag wgt Lid wgt Bases wgt No of<br />

70% lids<br />

No of 70%<br />

bases<br />

Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Total wgt Frag wgt Whole<br />

wgt<br />

No of<br />

specimns<br />

Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

No of<br />

beaks<br />

147<br />

MNI<br />

MNI<br />



Terebralia Paustr<strong>is</strong><br />

Telescopium<br />

Telescopium<br />

Strombus s.p.<br />

Nerita s.p.<br />

Terrestrial snail<br />

Unidentified gastropods<br />

Total wgt Frag wgt Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong> Wgt<br />

70% <strong>shell</strong><br />

wgt<br />

No 70%<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

No whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />



Site BMB/116 Excavation Unit BMB/116B<br />

Spit No 7 NOT EXCAVATED Date sorted<br />

Total <strong>shell</strong> weight sorted >6mm<br />

BIVALVES Shell weight Shell counts<br />

Species Total wgt Frag wgt Whole <strong>shell</strong><br />

wgt<br />

Anadara granosa<br />

Marcia hiantina<br />

Polymosoda erosa<br />

Gafrarium tumidum<br />

Fuliva tenvicostata<br />

Veneridae (Fam)<br />

Septifer Mussel<br />

Unidentified<br />

Umbo to<br />

70%<strong>shell</strong><br />

Umbo to<br />

70% <strong>shell</strong><br />

OYSTER Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Chama fibula<br />

Saccostrea culcullata<br />

Pinctada margaritifera<br />

Isognomon ephippium<br />

Unidentified<br />


LIFE<br />

Barnacles<br />

Worm tubes<br />

Coral<br />

Crab<br />

Total wgt Frag wgt Lid wgt Bases wgt No of 70%<br />

lids<br />

No of 70%<br />

bases<br />

Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Total wgt Frag wgt Whole<br />

wgt<br />

No of<br />

specimns<br />

Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

149<br />

MNI<br />

No of beaks MNI<br />



Terebralia Paustr<strong>is</strong><br />

Total wgt Frag wgt Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong> Wgt<br />

Telescopium Telescopium<br />

Strombus s.p.<br />

Nerita s.p.<br />

Terrestrial snail<br />

Unidentified gastropods<br />

70% <strong>shell</strong><br />

wgt<br />

No 70%<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

No whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />



Site BMB/116 Excavation Unit BMB/116B<br />

Spit No 8 Date sorted 29.8.09<br />

Total <strong>shell</strong> weight sorted >6mm 311.75 gms<br />

BIVALVES Shell weight Shell counts<br />

Species Total wgt Frag wgt Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong> wgt<br />

Umbo to<br />

70%<strong>shell</strong><br />

Umbo to<br />

70% <strong>shell</strong><br />

Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

Anadara granosa 2.50 2.50 ‐<br />

Marcia hiantina 156.50 67.00 66.00 23.50 31 29 30<br />

Polymosoda erosa ‐<br />

Gafrarium tumidum 23.50 4.00 17.00 2.50 4 7 5<br />

Fuliva tenvicostata ‐<br />

Veneridae (Fam) ‐<br />

Septifer Mussel 2.70 2.50 0.20 2 1<br />

Unidentified ‐<br />

OYSTER Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Total wgt Frag wgt Lid wgt Bases wgt No of 70%<br />

lids<br />

No of<br />

70%<br />

bases<br />

No of<br />

beaks<br />

Chama fibula<br />

‐<br />

Saccostrea culcullata<br />

Pinctada margaritifera<br />

66.00 5.50 12.00 48.50 4 5<br />

5<br />

‐<br />

Isognomon ephippium 7.50 7.50<br />

‐<br />

Unidentified 7.50 7.50 ‐<br />

OTHER<br />


Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Total wgt Frag wgt Whole<br />

wgt<br />

No of<br />

specimens<br />

Barnacles ‐<br />

Worm tubes<br />

Coral ‐<br />

Crab ‐<br />

151<br />

MNI<br />

MNI<br />

MNI<br />

GASTROPODS Total wgt Frag wgt Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong> Wgt<br />

Shell weights Shell counts ‐<br />

70% <strong>shell</strong><br />

wgt<br />

No 70%<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

No whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

no mouths MNI<br />

Terebralia Paustr<strong>is</strong> ‐<br />

Telescopium Telescopium<br />

Strombus s.p.<br />

Nerita s.p. 5.00 4.00 1.00 1<br />

Terrestrial snail 1.50 1.50<br />

Unidentified gastropods 5.50 5.50<br />



Site BMB/116 Excavation Unit BMB/116B<br />

Spit No 9 Date sorted 26.8.09<br />

Total <strong>shell</strong> weight sorted >6mm 222.50 gms<br />

BIVALVES Shell weight Shell counts<br />

Species Total<br />

wgt<br />

Frag<br />

wgt<br />

Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong> wgt<br />

Umbo to<br />

70%<strong>shell</strong><br />

Umbo to<br />

70% <strong>shell</strong><br />

Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

Anadara granosa 3.0 1.0 2.0 1 1<br />

Marcia hiantina 144.5 53.5 65.5 25.5 38 33 35<br />

Polymosoda erosa ‐<br />

Gafrarium tumidum 15.0 8.5 3.5 3.0 3 2 3<br />

Fuliva tenvicostata ‐<br />

Veneridae (Fam) ‐<br />

Septifer Mussel ‐<br />

Unidentified ‐<br />

OYSTER Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Chama fibula<br />

Total<br />

wgt<br />

Frag<br />

wgt<br />

Lid wgt Bases wgt No of 70%<br />

lids<br />

No of<br />

70%<br />

bases<br />

Saccostrea culcullata 23.0 11.5 3.5 8.0 1 1<br />

Pinctada margaritifera<br />

Isognomon ephippium 4.5 4.5<br />

No of<br />

beaks<br />

Unidentified ‐<br />

OTHER<br />


Total<br />

wgt<br />

Frag<br />

wgt<br />

Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Whole<br />

wgt<br />

No of<br />

specimens<br />

Barnacles 0.50 0.50 ‐<br />

Worm tubes ‐<br />

Coral ‐<br />

Crab ‐<br />

153<br />

MNI<br />

MNI<br />

‐<br />

1<br />

‐<br />

‐<br />


GASTROPODS Total<br />

wgt<br />

Frag<br />

wgt<br />

Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong> Wgt<br />

70% <strong>shell</strong><br />

wgt<br />

No 70%<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

No whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

no mouths MNI<br />

Terebralia Paustr<strong>is</strong> 5.00 5.00 ‐<br />

Telescopium Telescopium<br />

Strombus s.p.<br />

Nerita s.p. 5.00 5.00 ‐<br />

Terrestrial snail<br />

Unidentified gastropods<br />



Site BMB/116 Excavation Unit BMB/116B<br />

Spit No 10 Date sorted 27.8.09<br />

Total <strong>shell</strong> weight sorted >6mm 340.00 gms<br />

BIVALVES Shell weight Shell counts<br />

Species Total wgt Frag wgt Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong> wgt<br />

Umbo to<br />

70%<strong>shell</strong><br />

Umbo to<br />

70% <strong>shell</strong><br />

Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

Anadara granosa ‐<br />

Marcia hiantina 212.50 63.50 122.50 26.50 39 60 49<br />

Polymosoda erosa ‐<br />

Gafrarium tumidum 31.50 18.00 13.50 6 3<br />

Fuliva tenvicostata ‐<br />

Veneridae (Fam) 0.50 0.50 1 1<br />

Septifer Mussel 2.00 0.50 1.50 1 1<br />

Unidentified ‐<br />

OYSTER Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Total wgt Frag wgt Lid wgt Bases wgt No of<br />

70% lids<br />

No of<br />

70%<br />

bases<br />

No of<br />

beaks<br />

Chama fibula ‐<br />

Saccostrea culcullata 32.50 12.00 13.00 7.50 5.00 1<br />

5<br />

Pinctada margaritifera<br />

‐<br />

Isognomon ephippium 5.50 5.50<br />

Unidentified<br />

‐<br />

‐<br />

OTHER<br />


Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Total wgt Frag wgt Whole<br />

wgt<br />

No of<br />

specimen<br />

Barnacles ‐<br />

Worm tubes ‐<br />

Coral ‐<br />

Crab ‐<br />

155<br />

MNI<br />

MNI<br />



Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Total wgt Frag wgt Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong> Wgt<br />

70% <strong>shell</strong><br />

wgt<br />

No 70%<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

No whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

no mouths MNI<br />

Terebralia Paustr<strong>is</strong> 8.50 8.50 ‐<br />

Telescopium<br />

Telescopium<br />

Strombus s.p. ‐<br />

Nerita s.p. 4.50 3.00 1.50 2 2<br />

Terrestrial snail<br />

Unidentified gastropods<br />



Site BMB/116 Excavation Unit BMB/116B<br />

Spit No 11 Date sorted 27 .8 .09<br />

Total <strong>shell</strong> weight sorted >6mm 128 gms<br />

BIVALVES Shell weight Shell counts<br />

Species Total wgt Frag wgt Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong> wgt<br />

Umbo to<br />

70%<strong>shell</strong><br />

Umbo to<br />

70% <strong>shell</strong><br />

Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

Anadara granosa 15.00 9.00 6.00 2. 1<br />

Marcia hiantina 54.00 39.00 7.00 8.00 25 5 15<br />

Polymosoda erosa ‐<br />

Gafrarium tumidum 15.00 4.50 7.00 3.50 3 3 3<br />

Fuliva tenvicostata ‐<br />

Veneridae (Fam) ‐<br />

Septifer Mussel 2.00 1.50 0.50 6 3<br />

Asaph<strong>is</strong> violascens 4.50 0.50 4.00<br />

OYSTER Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Chama fibula<br />

Total wgt Frag wgt Lid wgt Bases wgt No of<br />

70% lids<br />

Saccostrea culcullata 15.00 11.00 4.00 2<br />

Pinctada margaritifera<br />

Isognomon ephippium 2.50 2.50<br />

No of<br />

70%<br />

bases<br />

No of<br />

beaks<br />

Unidentified ‐<br />

157<br />

MNI<br />

1<br />

MNI<br />

‐<br />

2<br />

‐<br />

OTHER<br />


Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Total wgt Frag wgt Whole<br />

wgt<br />

No of<br />

specimen<br />

Barnacles ‐<br />

Worm tubes<br />

Coral ‐<br />

Crab 0.18 ‐<br />


Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Total wgt Frag wgt Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong> Wgt<br />

70% <strong>shell</strong><br />

wgt<br />

No 70%<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

No whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

158<br />

MNI<br />

no mouths MNI<br />

Terebralia Paustr<strong>is</strong> 4.00 4.00 ‐<br />

Telescopium Telescopium<br />

Strombus s.p. ‐<br />

Nerita s.p. 3.00 3.00 ‐<br />

Terrestrial snail ‐<br />

Unidentified gastropods<br />



Site BMB/116 Excavation Unit BMB/116B<br />

Spit No 12 Date sorted 27.8.09<br />

Total <strong>shell</strong> weight sorted >6mm 13.00 gms<br />

BIVALVES Shell weight Shell counts<br />

Species Total wgt Frag wgt Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong> wgt<br />

Umbo to<br />

70%<strong>shell</strong><br />

Umbo to<br />

70% <strong>shell</strong><br />

Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

Anadara granosa 1.00 1.00 ‐<br />

Marcia hiantina 7.50 3.50 4.00 4 2<br />

Polymosoda erosa ‐<br />

Gafrarium tumidum 1.00 1.00 2 1<br />

Fuliva tenvicostata<br />

Veneridae (Fam)<br />

Septifer Mussel<br />

Unidentified<br />

OYSTER Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Chama fibula<br />

Saccostrea culcullata<br />

Pinctada margaritifera<br />

Isognomon ephippium<br />

Total wgt Frag wgt Lid wgt Bases wgt No of<br />

70% lids<br />

No of<br />

70%<br />

bases<br />

No of<br />

beaks<br />

Unidentified 1.00 1.00 ‐<br />

OTHER<br />


Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Total wgt Frag wgt Whole<br />

wgt<br />

No of<br />

specimen<br />

159<br />

MNI<br />

MNI<br />

‐<br />

‐<br />

‐<br />

‐<br />


Barnacles ‐<br />

Worm tubes<br />

Coral ‐<br />

Crab ‐<br />


Shell weights Shell counts<br />

Total wgt Frag wgt Whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong> Wgt<br />

70% <strong>shell</strong><br />

wgt<br />

No 70%<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

No whole<br />

<strong>shell</strong>s<br />

no mouths MNI<br />

Terebralia Paustr<strong>is</strong> ‐<br />

Telescopium<br />

Telescopium ‐<br />

Strombus s.p. ‐<br />

Nerita s.p. ‐<br />

Terrestrial snail<br />

Unidentified gastropods<br />


Appendix 4 .1<br />

Laboratory recorded data: non‐ molluscan analys<strong>is</strong><br />



Site BMB/116 Date sorted<br />

24.8.09<br />

Excavation unit BMB/116 B<br />

Total weight of non-mollusc material<br />

Total weight of rubble<br />

Spit<br />

No<br />

Bucket<br />

weight<br />

Bulk<br />

weight<br />

1 6,000.00 1,500.0<br />

0<br />

2 12,000.0<br />

0<br />

3 11,000.0<br />

0<br />

4 20,000.0<br />

0<br />

1,400.0<br />

0<br />

1,300.0<br />

0<br />

1,000.0<br />

0<br />

Material weights in grams<br />

Bkt wgt<br />

less<br />

bulk wgt<br />

Total<br />

nonmol<br />

wgt<br />

Rubbl<br />

e<br />

Plant Charco<br />

al<br />

Nonmol<br />

as<br />

% of<br />

Bkt<br />

less<br />

bulk<br />

wgt<br />

4,500.00 58.77 55.50 3.27 0 1.31<br />

10,600.0<br />

0<br />

106.30 104.00 0.25 2.05 1.00<br />

9,700.00 204.27 192.00 1.72 10.55 2.11<br />

19,000.0<br />

0<br />

767.45 756.00 4.23 7.22 4.04<br />

5 9,500.00 1,200.0<br />

0<br />

8,300.00 470.00 461.00 6.00 3.00 5.66<br />

6 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00<br />

7 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00<br />

8 8500.00 1200.00 6900.00 542.00 536.00 5.00 1.00 7.86<br />

9 12,500.0<br />

0<br />

10 16,000.0<br />

0<br />

11 16,000.0<br />

0<br />

1,500.0<br />

0<br />

1,300.0<br />

0<br />

14,00.0<br />

0<br />

11,000.0<br />

0<br />

14,700.0<br />

0<br />

14,600.0<br />

0<br />

648.50 644.00 4.00 0.50 5.90<br />

903.00 899.50 3.00 0.50 6.14<br />

887.00 884.00 1.50 1.50 6.08<br />


12 9,500.00 1,000.0<br />

0<br />

Tot 121,000. 12,800.<br />

al<br />

00 00<br />

Total as % of<br />

TP<br />

8,500.00 615.00 614.00 1.00 0.00 7.24<br />

108,200.<br />

00<br />

5,261.<br />

09<br />

Appendix 5.1<br />

Mound formation data analys<strong>is</strong><br />

5,146.<br />

00<br />

29.97 26.32 Averag<br />

e 4.96<br />

%<br />

4.86% 4.75% 0.03% 0.02%<br />




BMB/116 Honour Project for USYD 2009<br />

TEST PIT NO BMB/116B<br />


Date 5. 10. 09<br />

SHELL SPECIES‐ A = Anadara granosa, G = Gafrarium tumidum, I = Isognomon<br />

ephippium, M = Marcia hiantina, S = Saccostrea culcullata<br />

SPIT<br />

LEVE<br />

LS →<br />

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12<br />

Shell 156 332 311 3960 789. 0.0 0.0 311. 222. 340. 128. 13.0<br />

wgt<br />

in<br />

gram<br />

s <<br />

6mm<br />

6.00 1.90 5.05 .00 05 0 0 75 50 00 00 0<br />

Shell 2.00 5.00 6.50 47.5 10.5 0.0 0.0 6.55 10.5 14.5 1.00 2.50<br />

wgt<br />

Dom<br />

<strong>shell</strong><br />

MNI<br />

2nd<br />

dom<br />

<strong>shell</strong><br />

sp<br />

2nd<br />

dom<br />

<strong>shell</strong><br />

wgt<br />

2nd<br />

dom<br />

<strong>shell</strong><br />

MNI<br />

Other<br />

marin<br />

e wgt<br />

Rubb<br />

le<br />

wgt<br />

Plant<br />

wgt<br />

Charc<br />

oal<br />

wgt<br />

Dom<br />

non‐mol<br />

material<br />

by wgt<br />

& MNI<br />

Total<br />

excav<br />

ated<br />

remai<br />

ns<br />

wgt<br />

Calcu<br />

58 220 236 195 79 0 0 30 35 49 15 2<br />

A A A A I 0 0 S S S A,<br />

G, S<br />

450.<br />

50<br />

299.<br />

00<br />

167.<br />

00<br />

254.<br />

00<br />

141.<br />

50<br />

0.0<br />

0<br />

0.0<br />

0<br />

66.0<br />

0<br />

23.0<br />

0<br />

32.5<br />

0<br />

15.0<br />

0<br />

each<br />

11 10 6 9 27 0 0 5 1 3 A=2,<br />

G‐3,<br />

S=2<br />

3.00 1.00 4.55 0.50 0.00 0.0<br />

0<br />

55.5<br />

0<br />

104.<br />

00<br />

192.<br />

00<br />

756.<br />

00<br />

461.<br />

00<br />

0.0<br />

0<br />

3.27 0.25 10.5 7.22 3.00 0.0<br />

5<br />

0<br />

0.00 2.05 2.11 4.04 5.66 0.0<br />

0<br />

0.0<br />

0<br />

0.0<br />

0<br />

0.0<br />

0<br />

0.0<br />

0<br />

A,<br />

G<br />

1.00<br />

eac<br />

h<br />

A=0<br />

,<br />

G=1<br />

0.50 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00<br />

536.<br />

00<br />

M M M M M 0 0 Ru<br />

bbl<br />

e<br />

162<br />

4.77<br />

287<br />

5.23<br />

342<br />

9.20<br />

717<br />

0.8<br />

323<br />

2.21<br />

646<br />

7.79<br />

4639<br />

.26<br />

1436<br />

0.74<br />

125<br />

9.05<br />

674<br />

3.19<br />

0.0<br />

0<br />

0.0<br />

0<br />

0.0<br />

0<br />

0.0<br />

0<br />

644.<br />

00<br />

899.<br />

50<br />

884.<br />

00<br />

614.<br />

00<br />

1.00 4.00 3.00 1.50 1.00<br />

7.86 5.90 6.14 6.08 7.24<br />

856.<br />

61<br />

604<br />

3.39<br />

Rub<br />

ble<br />

876.<br />

40<br />

1012<br />

3.60<br />

Rub<br />

ble<br />

1248<br />

.64<br />

1345<br />

1.36<br />

Rub<br />

ble<br />

1019<br />

.58<br />

1358<br />

0.42<br />

Ru<br />

bbl<br />

e<br />

627.<br />

74<br />

787<br />

2.26<br />


lated<br />

sedi<br />

ment<br />

weig<br />

ht<br />

Page 2 Mound analys<strong>is</strong> by %<br />

% of<br />

excav<br />

ated<br />

remai<br />

ns in<br />

spit<br />

% of<br />

<strong>shell</strong><br />

in<br />

excav<br />

ated<br />

remai<br />

ns<br />

% of<br />

rubbl<br />

e in<br />

excav<br />

ated<br />

remai<br />

ns<br />

% of<br />

sedi<br />

ment<br />

to<br />

spit<br />

% of<br />

spit<br />

wgt<br />

to<br />

Test<br />

pit<br />

36<br />

%<br />

96<br />

%<br />

32<br />

%<br />

97<br />

%<br />

33<br />

%<br />

95<br />

%<br />

24% 19<br />

%<br />

83% 51<br />

%<br />

3% 2% 2% 16% 36<br />

%<br />

64<br />

%<br />

4.20<br />

%<br />

68<br />

%<br />

9.80<br />

%<br />

67<br />

%<br />

8.90<br />

%<br />

76% 81<br />

%<br />

17.6<br />

0%<br />

7.60<br />

%<br />

0 0 12% 8% 8% 7% 7%<br />

0 0 36% 25% 27% 13% 1%<br />

0 0 63% 74% 72% 87% 98%<br />

0 0 88% 92% 92% 93% 93%<br />

0.0<br />

0%<br />

0.0<br />

0%<br />

6.40<br />

%<br />

10.2<br />

0%<br />

13.6<br />

0%<br />

13.5<br />

0%<br />

7.80<br />

%<br />


Appendix 6.1<br />

Shellf<strong>is</strong>h frequency analys<strong>is</strong> as a % of excavation unit<br />


Table 6.5 % Shellf<strong>is</strong>h frequency as a % of excavation unit<br />

Excavation<br />

units→<br />

Taxon<br />

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12<br />

Anadara<br />

granosa<br />

29% 9% 5% 6%

Appendix 7.1<br />

Criteria for assessing <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h deposits<br />

(Attenbrow 1992:4)<br />


Range and number of <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h species present<br />

o Percentage frequency of each <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h species<br />

o Habitat of <strong>shell</strong>f<strong>is</strong>h<br />

o Size of <strong>shell</strong> within individual species<br />

o Presence or absence of<br />

Non‐economic species or articulated <strong>shell</strong>s<br />

Water worn <strong>shell</strong>s<br />

Burnt or blackened <strong>shell</strong>s<br />

Non‐molluscan fauna<br />

Pumice and marine <strong>shell</strong> grit<br />

Charcoal, burnt wood, hearth stones<br />

Marine species not utilized by Aboriginal people eg coral<br />

Pitted stones<br />

Stratification<br />

o Location of the deposit in the soil profile and in the landscape<br />

o Recent non‐Aboriginal activities in the vicinity of the deposit.<br />

o Radiocarbon date<br />


Appendix 8.1<br />

Point Blane peninsula <strong>mound</strong> dimension data<br />


Shell <strong>mound</strong> dimensions field data from Point Blane Peninsular<br />

Site code Lengt Widt Heig Date Dominant<br />

h h ht<br />

Component<br />

BMB/24 22.70 10.50 0.62 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/25 18.20 15.60 0.90 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/26 34.60 33.00 2.46 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/27 23.00 22.00 0.50 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/28 28.00 28.00 2.60 Anadara Gran<br />

Dated BMB/29 23.60 21.00 1.07 2014<br />

calBP‐<br />

2326<br />

calBP<br />

Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/30 27.70 21.80 1.56 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/34 15.40 14.00 0.56 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/35 12.70 8.80 0.54 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/36 10.30 7.50 0.42 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/39 11.90 11.10 0.50 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/40 10.30 9.30 0.54 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/41 15.00 13.40 0.61 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/42 13.80 9.50 0.44 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/43 14.10 12.10 0.56 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/44 16.70 12.80 0.67 Anadara Gran<br />

Dated BMB/45 22.70 11.40 0.35 550<br />

calBP‐<br />

624 calBP<br />

Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/46 44.50 19.30 0.66 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/47 30.60 19.00 0.77 Anadara Gran<br />


Smallest<br />

<strong>mound</strong><br />

BMB/48 52.70 14.30 0.89 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/49 32.20 13.00 0.62 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/50 21.40 7.20 0.35 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/51 29.70 10.50 1.32 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/52 17.50 14.00 0.57 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/53 38.00 19.00 3.29 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/54 25.00 18.00 1.14 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/56 5.80 4.50 N/A Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/57 32.20 28.00 1.19 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/58 11.80 11.20 0.32 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/60 13.60 10.00 0.33 Anadara Gran<br />

Dated BMB/61 13.00 10.90 0.29 1046<br />

calBP‐<br />

1264<br />

calBP<br />

Anadara Gran/<br />

Silcrete<br />

BMB/62 12.80 12.20 0.39 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/63 16.40 10.40 0.44 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/64 31.50 17.80 1.24 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/65 16.10 12.5<br />

0<br />

0.88 Anadara Gran<br />

Dated BMB/71 19.80 19.40 1.08 1253<br />

calBP‐<br />

1519<br />

calBP<br />

Dated<br />

Largest<br />

<strong>mound</strong><br />

Anadara<br />

Gran/Silcrete<br />

BMB/72 17.50 13.50 0.35 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/73 19.00 13.50 0.63 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/74 16.30 15.60 0.39 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB75 16.40 14.50 0.41 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/77 20.00 18.60 0.76 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/78 41.00 15.40 0.84 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/81 354.0<br />

0<br />

30.00 0.69 482<br />

calBP‐<br />

modern<br />

Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/82 60.50 38.00 1.82 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/91 28.80 29.50 0.47 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/92 20.00 13.00 0.86 Anadara Gran<br />

Dated BMB/93 23.00 14.60 0.49 surface<br />

1825<br />

Anadara Gran<br />


BMB/95 36.00 21.50 0.74<br />

calBP<br />

Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/97 17.50 11.40 0.57 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/98 15.70 13.30 0.34 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/99 41.00 32.50 1.43 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/101 25.10 25.00 0.61 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/105 20.40 14.40 0.63 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/106 29.60 27.30 1.65 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/107 24.20 21.70 0.99 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/108 27.40 26.40 1.12 Anadara Gran<br />

BMB/109 31.00 21.50 1.04 Anadara Gran/<br />

Silcrete<br />

Dated BMB/116 27.60 11.50 0.47 281<br />

calBP‐<br />

657 calBP<br />

Anadara anti/<br />

Quartzite<br />


Appendix 9.1<br />

Field recording form for <strong>shell</strong> <strong>midden</strong>s<br />


Part 1 Shell <strong>midden</strong> recording and identification<br />

Field recording sheet<br />

Project name<br />

Recorders name Date<br />

GPS or map coordinates Site no:<br />

Location & description<br />

Coast / estuary / inland<br />

Aspect<br />

Landform<br />

Site v<strong>is</strong>ibility<br />

Isolated / cluster<br />

Midden description<br />

Continuous / d<strong>is</strong>continuous<br />

Contained<br />

Shell scatter<br />

Above ground‐ below ground<br />

Other<br />

Arial shape<br />

Oval<br />

Circular<br />

Irregular<br />

Linear<br />

Doughnut<br />

Profile<br />

Mounded<br />

Non‐<strong>mound</strong>ed<br />

Flat<br />


Irregular<br />

Profile Cross section<br />

Conical<br />

Hemi‐spherical<br />

Flat<br />

Undulating / irregular<br />

Researchers own sketch<br />

Dimensions (for both the site, e.g. <strong>mound</strong> cluster area, and individual deposit<br />

Eg <strong>shell</strong> <strong>mound</strong>)<br />

Overall site area length<br />

Overall site area width<br />

Deposit length<br />

Deposit width<br />

Maximum depth<br />

Minimum depth<br />

Maximum height<br />

Minimum height<br />

Estimated volume<br />

Context<br />

Substrate<br />

Matrix<br />

Colour<br />

Interbedded lenses or layers<br />

Overlying sediments<br />

Shell species present<br />


Dominate species<br />

Secondary species<br />

Changes in <strong>shell</strong> species v<strong>is</strong>ible in stratigraphy<br />

Other v<strong>is</strong>ible contents<br />

Bone<br />

Stone<br />

Plant material<br />

Charcoal<br />

Hearths<br />

Stone artefacts<br />

Other<br />

Site d<strong>is</strong>turbances<br />

See reverse side of sheet for examples of <strong>mound</strong> profiles (Section still under<br />

development)<br />


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Personal comments<br />

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Dr M, Carter. April‐ August 2009.<br />

Re ‐ Establ<strong>is</strong>hing <strong>shell</strong> reference collection.<br />

Re ‐ Shell identification and analys<strong>is</strong> methods.<br />


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