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

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

One archaeologist’s midden is another’s shell mound: Defining the

criteria for describing and classifing shell mounds.

Vanessa M.C. Alexander

A thesis submitted in part fulfillment

of the requirements for the degree of

Bachelor of Arts with Honours in the

Department of Archaeology,

University of Sydney.

October 2009

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The work presented in this thesis is, to the best of my knowledge

and belief, original except as acknowledged in the text. The

material has not been previously submitted, either in whole or in

part of, for a degree at this or any other university.

V.M.C Alexander

October 2009

Sydney, Australia

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page

Table of Contents…………………………………………………………………….. 2

Appendix………………………………………………………………………………117

List of Figures …………………………………………………………………………6

List of Tables…………………………………………………………………………..19

References Cited……………………………………………………………………....179

Abstract………………………………………………………………………………...11

Acknowledgments………………………………………………………………… …12

CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION TO RESEARCH

Shell middens and coastal archaeology……………………………………..13

Research aims………………………………….……………………………….14

The Blue Mud Bay Project………………………………………………..…...15

Research Rationale..…………………………………………………………....15

Research methodology………………………………………………………...16

Thesis organization…………………………………………………………….17

CHAPTER 2. SHELL MOUNDS IN AUSTRALIAN ARCHAEOLOGICAL

RESEARCH

Introduction……………………………………………………………………..19

History of research……………………………………………………………...20

The investigation of the Danish shell mounds in the 1860s…………..….20.

Australian coastal archaeology an introduction……………………….…22

Models for understanding Holocene coastal sites………………………...23

Current research themes in Australian coastal archaeology……………..24

Case studies…………………………………………………..…………...……..25

Queensland……………………………………………………………….25

Northern Territory………………………………………………………..27

New South Wales…………………………………………………………29

Western Australia……………………………………………………… 32

Conclusion……………………………………………………………………….38

CHAPTER 3. POINT BLANE PENINSULA, BLUE MUD BAY AND BMB/116

Introduction………………………………………………………………………………39

Location…………………………………………………………………………………...40

Climate…………………………………………………………………………………….41

The Wet Season…………………………………………………………………….41

The Dry Season…………………………………………………………………….42

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Indigenous Seasons……………………………………………………………… 43

The Point Blane Peninsula Palaeoenviroment…………………………………... 43

Hydrology………………………………………………………………….…………… 45

Geology & Soils………………………………………………………………………… 46

Flora…………….……………………………………………………………………….. 47

Fauna ………………….………………………………………………………………… 50

BMB/116…………………………………………………………………………………. 53

Project survey and excavation parameters……………………………………53

Lumatjpi…………………………………………………………………………..53

BMB/116…………..………………………………………………………………54

Stratigraphy……………………………………………………………………....57

Age……………………………………………………………………………….. 58

Conclusion………………………………………………………………………………..59

CHAPTER 4. DEFINING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MOUNDED AND

NON‐MOUNDED FORMS OF SHELL MIDDENS

Introduction……………………………………………………………………………... 61

Shell mound or shell midden‐why does it matter?.....…………………..……………61

The source of the problem………………………………………………………………62

Shell mounds or shell midden‐what is the difference?......…………………………..65

Characterizing attributes of shell mounds…………………………………………66

Analysis of research data…………………………………………………………..67

Describing mounded and non‐mounded shell middens…………………………… 69

Midden form attributes………………………………………………………………….70

Definition: Criteria for describing and classifing shell mounds…………………….72

Definition discussion………………………………………………………………72

Anthropological and naturally occurring shell mounds……………………………..74

Recording shell middens in the field………….……………………..………...…...... 75

Images of shell mound profiles…………………………………………………………76

Conclusions……………………………………………………………………………….78

CHAPTER 5. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

Introduction……………………………………………………………………………. ..79

Sampling………………………………………………………………………………….79

Laboratory methods……………………………………………………………………. 80

Analysis of molluscan remains for calculating MNI……………………………...81

Analysis of non molluscan remains……………………………………………… 84

Shell analysis……………………………………………………………………... 84

Methodology for shell analysis: Reviews and implications…………………………86

Number of identified specimens (NISP)…………………………………………..86

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Minimum number if individuals (MNI)…………………………………………..86

Weight……………………………………………………………………………...87

Summary of shell analysis methodology…………………………………………...87

Field Data……………………………………………………………………………… ...88

Conclusion………………………………………………………………………………..88

CHAPTER 6. BMB/115 SITE DESCRIPTION, RESULTS AND

INTERPRETATIONS

Introduction…………………………………………………………………….………. 89

The faunal assemblage: Marine shell remains………………………………………. 89

Species diversity………………………………………………………………………... 90

Dominate species……………………………………………………………………….. 93

Shellfish habitat…………………………………………………………………………. 96

Summary and interpretations…………..……………………………………………... 98

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

BMB/116 formation and occupation pattern………….……………………… …... 102

Resource procurement strategies……………………………………………………...104

BMB/84: A comparison to BMB/116……………………………………………....... 105

A review of mound site data on Point Blane peninsula…………………………….108

BMB/116: Mound or midden? ………………………… ………………………… …109

Conclusions……………………………………………………………………………...110

CHAPTER 7. CONCLUSION, IMPLICATIONS AND

FUTURE RESEARCH

Conclusions……………………………………………………………………………...112

Implications……………………….…………………………………………...………. 114

Future research…………………………………...……………………………………..114

APPENDIX 1…………………………………………………………………………….117

1.1 Shell mound attribute research data

1.2 Shell midden terminology research data

1.3 Shell midden and mound dimensions research data

APPENDIX 2…………………………………………………………………………….127

2.1 Laboratory recording form Mollusc analysis

2.2 Laboratory recording form Non‐mollusc analysis

2.3 Recording form mound formation analysis

APPENDIX 3

3.1 Laboratory recorded data: Shellfish analysis excavation units 1‐12…………...135

APPENDIX 4…………………………………………………………………………….160

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4.1 Laboratory recorded data: Non‐mollusc analysis

APPENDIX 5……………………………………………………………………………162

5.1 Mound formation data analysis

APPPENDIX 6……………………………………………………………………..……166

6.1 Shellfish frequency analysis as a % of excavation units

APPENDIX 7 ……………………………………………………………..…………….168

7.1 Criteria for assessing shellfish deposits

APPENDIX 8……………………………………………………..……………………..170

8.1 Point Blane peninsula mound dimension data

APPENDIX 9………………………………………………………………………..…..174

9.1 Field recording form for shell middens

REFERENCES CITED…………………………………………………………………..178

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LIST OF FIGURES

Figure Short Title Page

2.1 Map of Blue Mud Bay Arnhem Land (Alexander 2009).

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2.2

2.3

2.4

2.5

3.1

3.2

3.3

3.4

3.5

3.6

3.7

3.8

The tumuli of Oden, Thor, and Freyda at Upsala Denmark (Lubbock

1865).

Map of northeast Australia showing Weipa’s principal shell mound

sites (Bailey 1999:106).

A Richmond River mound 1892 (Statham 1892: Plate IX).

Map of Western Australian coastline with regions names in text

(O’Connor 1996:166).

Map of Blue Mud Bay region Arnhem Land (Faulkner 2006: 23).

Map of northeastern Arnhem Land region, location of study area and

Yolngu group boundary.

Map showing the location of Point Blane peninsula and Grove Airport

Bureau of Meteorology weather station (Bureau of Meteorology 2009).

Seasonal weather table for Grove Airport N.T clearly illustrating Wet

and Dry season rainfall (Bureau of Meteorology : Fairfax Media)

Human initiated seasonal bush fires on Point Blane peninsula Blue

Mud Bay (Photograph Clarke 2003)

Mud Flats and midden site Point Blane peninsula (photograph Clarke

2003).

The hydrology of the Point Blane peninsula and neighboring areas,

showing major river and creek catchment systems (Faulkner 2006:47)

Aerial view of Lumatjpi inlet showing the five main vegetation units.

(Google Earth 2009 & Alexander 2009).

22

26

32

34

40

41

42

43

44

45

47

51

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3.9

3.10

3.11

3.12

3.13

3.14

4.1

4.2

4.3

4.4

4.5

4.6

4.7

4.8

Areal view of Lumatjpi Inlet showing the location of the nine sites in

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

Alexander 2009).

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

2003).

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

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

Location of quartzite artefacts across the Point Blane peninsula, with

two km (thin line) and four km (thick line) radius intervals from

quartzitic outcrop (Faulkner 2006:100).

Stratigraphic profile of BMB/116, south section also showing

approximate location of samples taken for radiocarbon dating (Clarke

and Faulkner 2003:72).

Shell mound on Point Blane peninsula (Photograph Clarke 2003)

The West Point shell midden Tasmania excavated by Jones (1966) the

site is 2.50m deep and dated 1,800‐1,200 BP.

Two photographs of shell mound sites on the Point Blane peninsula

illustrate the complexities of identifying sites in the field (Photographs

Clarke 2003).

A 7m high conical Anadara shell mound located on a laterite ridge

approximately 1000m from the current coast at Hope Inlet near

Darwin (Hiscock 2008:177).

Shell mound located on the mudflats Point Blane peninsula

(Photograph Clarke 2003).

Hancock Ridge NT a hemi‐spherical mound, and second mound with

two phase formation a hemi‐spherical lower mound & conical mound

atop (Hiscock & Hughes 2001).

Weipa QLD a conical Anadara mound (Irish 2009).

Hope Inlet NT conical Anadara mound (Hiscock 2008:176).

55

56

56

57

58

59

59

64

66

67

74

77

77

77

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4.9

4.10

5.1

5.2

5.3

5.4

6.1

6.2

Ballina NSW, Richmond River hemi‐spherical oyster mound (Statham

1892).

Weipa 1958 Anadara mound photo from National Archives of

Australia.

Shell reference collection established for this study. Species were

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

Three typical bivalve shells all left halves, shown from the inner side.

Note position on umbo used for calculating MNI.

A Nerita s.p. gastropod with mouth area highlighted used for

calculating MNI.

Oyster lid and base both used for calculating MNI (The Australia

Museum 2009).

Profile of a typical eroded rocky foreshore in north‐western Australia

showing the different levels at which various species of molluscs live

(Wilson 2008:19).

Diagram of a typical Australia estuarine tidal zone, illustrating context

of the mangrove environment found in the Lumatjpi inlet (Australian

Government, Geosciences Australia 2009).

77

78

81

83

84

84

93

105

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LIST OF TABLES

Table Short title Page

2.1 Research themes in Australian coastal archaeology.

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2.2

3.1

3.2

3.3

3.4

3.5

4.1

4.2

4.3

4.4

4.5

5.1

6.1

6.2

Table of Western Australia sites as of 1999 (O’Connor 1996).

Soil province profiles (after Haines et al. 1999:77 cited by Faulkner

2006:28).

Main vegetation units found in the Lumatjpi inlet (Brock 2001; Spect

1958; Wilson et al 1990; Yunupingu et al 1995, cited by Clarke and

Faulkner 2003:26).

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

Wild flora and fauna resources accessed by the Yilpara community in

2002 (Barber 2002:20‐37).

Radiocarbon Estimates

Sites mapped at Winnellie by Burns (1999).

Summary of data: Attributes of shell mounds in W.A; N.T;

Qld; and N.S.W.

Survey results for shell mound terminologies (all references Appendix

2).

Shell midden form attributes (Sullivan 1989:51).

Redefined midden terminologies & definitions after Roberts (1994:180)

expanded by Alexander (2009).

Shellfish species identified in BMB/116 (Carter and Clarke 2009

personal comments).

Shellfish species identified in each excavation unit BMB/116.

Commonly recorded shellfish species in sites across the Point Blane

peninsula and BMB/116.

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48

49

52

53

59

64

67

71

72

75

82

91

92

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6.3

6.4

6.5

6.6

6.7

6.8

6.9

Dominant shellfish species in each excavation unit BMB/116.

Second dominant shellfish species in each excavation unit BMB/116.

Shellfish and their habitat identified in BMB/116 faunal assemblage.

Shellfish weight by habitat calculated as a % across excavation units.

Shellfish habitat analysed as % of upper and lower sections of

BMB/116.

Data for site classification analysis. Based on site recording form

(Appendix 1 Doc 6).

Comparison of Physical Features of BMB / 116 and BMB / 184

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95

96

97

98

99

108

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THESIS ABSTRACT

Archaeological shell mounds are well known features of Australiaʹs

coastal landscape. This descriptive term automatically conjures images

of conspicuous and highly distinguishable shell deposits. A shell mound BMB/116

located in Blue Mud Bay Arnhem Land demonstrated anomalies in shellfish

species, age range and location from those traditional associated with northern

Australian mound sites. The examination of these anomalies is the subject of this

study. The study begins with a comprehensive review of Australian archaeological

literature which revealed that the criteria for differentiating between shell mounds

and shell middens are unclear and confused. The visual prominence of shell

mounds suggested the existence of clear identification criteria for distinguishing

these archaeological deposits from other non‐mounded shell deposits, such as shell

middens. The establishment of criteria is important as consistency in the

classification of sites is the most direct way to understand variation in the

archaeological record. The first research aim examined the range of shell mound

characterizing attributes including shellfish species and age. Then the current

ambiguities in existing definitions of shell mounds is examined and proposes new

criteria for identifying shell mounds in the field. The second research aim

examines BMB116 in detail and places the sites characterizing attributes within the

context of the identified range of shell mound attributes. I will then apply the new

criteria for classifing shell mounds to the site.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

There are three people who must be thanked for their contribution to the research

and writing of this thesis. First thanks are to Dr Annie Clarke (Department of

Archaeology, University of Sydney) who offered me a thesis topic associated with

the Blue Mud Bay Project and supervised my progress. Thanks are due to Dr

Melissa Carter (Department of Archeology, University of Sydney) my shell, and

shell analysis specialist, and supervisor. Thank you for your time, interest and

expertise. Thank you to my external supervisor Dr Val Attenbrow (Principal

Research Scientist, Department of Anthropology, Australian Museum), for

teaching me shell analysis and data recording and patiently answering my

constant questions. Your suggestions of reading material sent me on a journey

that transformed my ideas, and lastly for teaching me about academic writing. I

am indebted to the body of research on the Point Blane peninsular by Annie

Clarke, Patrick Faulkner and Marcus Barber, also to Paul Irish for talking to me

about shell middens and making his research available. Finally I must thank my

father Bryan and husband John without whose love, encouragement and financial

support I could never have undertaken my wonderful journey of study at

university.

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Chapter 1

Introduction to research

Shell middens and coastal archaeology

The archaeology of coastlines involves the study of the remains of prehistoric

human occupation and their relationship with the geography, palaeoenviroment

and marine and estuarine ecosystems which characterize different coastal regions.

Coastal archaeology however is not confined to the land that immediately defines

the coast. In Australia, coastal archaeology encompasses the ocean and its

dreaming stories, resources, transport routes and the study of islands and island

peoples. The study of coastal archaeology also extends inland to trade and

resource zones, to inland sites which line relict coastlines and along freshwater

estuarine systems that lead to the wetlands, billabongs and rivers. The distinctive

markers of coastal occupation are the vast numbers of shell middens which

represent a range of past human activity, including long term resource

procurement, and large‐scale social gatherings to the discard of the remains of

meals at temporary camp sites or along walking tracks. In this study the term shell

middens includes shell mounds.

From their earliest examination shell middens revealed a wealth of information

about human activities. Although the individuals who formed the sites often

remain elusive a part of their lives can be gleaned from the study of these

intriguing deposits. Middens and mounds are at once similar and different and

have become an important subject of the investigation of Aboriginal Australians.

Today coastal archaeology sites have become increasingly subject to damage from

environmental processes, as well as mining, tourist developments and recreational

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activities such as four wheel driving. The identification of an isolated landscape

containing archaeological sites that have had negligible impact from modern

settlement therefore provides an important opportunity for regional scale

archaeological research. One such a project was undertaken between 2000 and

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

Faulkner 2003).

Research aims

Within the broad frame work of a critical examination of the criteria applied for

distinguishing between archaeological mounded and non‐mounded shell

middens, this study provides an analysis and interpretation of an anomalous

coastal shell deposit recorded in the Point Blane peninsula study area. The study

has three main research aims:

1. Through a critical review of the archaeological literature, to examine the

characterizing attributes of shell mounds to determine if the Anadara mound

model commonly used to describe shell mounds is representative of the

range of attributes represented in mounds across Australia. This aims seeks

to answer the key question are the characterizing attributes of the mound

site BMB/116 still anomalous when compared to the wider model of shell

mounds data complied from across Australia.

2. Based on the outcomes of this review, to identify the key features or

characteristics that clearly define the difference between mounded and non‐

mounded forms of shell middens, and if required identify and establish

new criteria for more accurately defining these coastal deposits.

3. Through a review of the recorded field data and an analysis of the

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

site in the context of both the archaeology of the Point Blane peninsula

15


study area and the new classificatory frame work developed for

distinguishing mounded and non‐mounded forms of shell middens.

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

The Point Blane peninsula was the location of an extensive archaeological

investigation conducted under the auspices of The Blue Mud Bay Project (BMBP)

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

Aboriginal resource use and occupation systems during the late Holocene, and

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

commencement of the BMBP in 2000 no archaeological work has been undertaken

in this region of Arnhem Land. An extensive field survey of the study area

identified and recorded 141 sites, producing a distinct pattern of shell mounds

located along the wetland margins of the peninsula. Due to its determined status

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

undertaken (Clarke and Faulkner 2003). The present study represents the first

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

provides a new contribution to the Blue Mud Bay project.

Research Rationale

The archaeological literature review undertaken as part of this study demonstrated

the existence of a considerable degree of confusion for defining or distinguishing

mounded middens; or shell mounds, and non‐mounded forms of shell middens in

Australian contexts. This inherent inconsistency in archaeological field

methodology implies a lack of clarity and consistency in the classification of

cultural shell deposits. This is significant because research based on the application

of consistent site classification criteria is perhaps the most direct way to elucidate

variation in the archaeological record (Claassen 1991:11 cites Shenkel 1974).

16


To resolve the inconsistent and potentially inaccurate criteria used for classifying

coastal shell deposits, a critical review of the attributes and features commonly

applied by archaeologists for this task is undertaken. The outcome of this review

process will be the identification of key features of criteria considered most reliable

and accurate for distinguishing mounded from non‐mounded middens. These

results will thus provide a new basis for evaluating the anomalous site BMB/116.

The underlying premise of this study is the critical requirement for a clear

understanding of constitutes mounded midden forms in Australian archaeological

contexts. Once this is achieved the consistent application of specific criteria for

distinguishing coastal site types will provide a more reliable platform from

comparing the regional and national archaeological data (i.e. site distribution

patterns and nature of mounded forms).

Research Methodology

To investigate the question of what criteria archaeologists commonly used for

distinguishing between mounded and non‐mounded forms of shell midden, a

detailed review of relevant archaeological literature was initially undertaken. This

provided the literary framework for an understanding of the origins and reasons

for the inherent inconsistencies evident in this methodological process. As an

additional outcome, this review provided the opportunity to identify key features

or characteristics that offer a more reliable and accurate means for distinguishing

mounded and non‐mounded shells middens. This also provided the required

criteria for evaluating the original classification of BMB/116 as a shell mound and

solving the question of its anomalous status.

To fully achieve this last aim, however, a detailed analysis of the excavated

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

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nature of this shell assemblage using common methods and criteria employed in

archaeological analysis of non‐vertebrate remains, a more complete understanding

of the depositional processes and nature of the BMB/116 shell deposit is achieved.

Importantly, the archeological analysis also produces a comprehensive dataset for

comparison of BMB/116 with another site recorded in the study area (BMB/84), as a

further method for determining the accurate classification of the former site. This

final task is also assisted by a compilation of the recorded field data for all shell

mounds recorded in the Point Blane peninsula study area. This process adequately

demonstrates that a re‐assessment of the original classification of sites in the Point

Blane peninsula study are (Clarke and Faulkner 2003) is required.

Thesis organization

Chapter Two presents a literary review of shell mounds in Australian coastal

archaeology providing the historical context for this study’sresearch. This chapter

also includes a discussion of influential theoretical models and current research

themes in Australian coastal archaeology. A number of regions synonymous with

the presence of shell mounds form the focus of the discussion including New

South Wales, Queensland, Northern territory and Western Australia.

Chapter Three presents the archaeological and environmental background to the

Point Blane peninsula study area. The chapter also includes a description of

BMB/116 and tests excavation. Recorded field data is also provided and the

preliminary site classification of BMB/166 as a shell mound is discussed.

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

in Chapter 3, Chapter 4 presents a detailed literature review of shell mound

identification and classification in Australian coastal archaeology. This review

18


demonstrates the need for both review and expansion of the criteria for defining

shell mounds and identifies a number of key criteria used for distinguishing

mounded and non‐mounded midden forms. As a suggested mothod for

improving consistency in the identification of archaeological shell deposits, a

propose Field Recording Form is also developed. This chapter concludes with a

discussion of the implications of the new criteria for the identification of mounded

middens in archaeological research.

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

followed by a more comprehensive description of the laboratory methods used for

the analysis of the excavated assemblage. This chapter also includes a review of the

common quantitative techniques used by archaeologists for the analysis of

archaeological shell remains

Chapter 6 presents the results of analysis of the BMB/116 archaeological shell

assemblage, including data an species diversity, dominant species and species

habitat. The archaeological data is compared to BMB/84 and the resulting

implication for both the nature of the archaeological shell deposits in the study

area and the original site type classification of BMB/116 are discussed.

Chapter Seven presents the major conclusions of the research drawing on the

achievements of the three major research aims of the thesis. In addition, a number

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

peninsula, and the discipline of Australian coastal archaeology.ahcievements

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Chapter 2

Shell mounds in Australian archaeological research

Introduction

Shell mounds began to attract the attention of Australian archaeologists in 1963

when Wright (cited by Bailey 1977:132) identified enormous mounded shell

deposits at Weipa in northern Australia. The Weipa shell mounds captured

archaeologists’ imagination due to their size; up to 13m in height (Morrison 2003:

1), which made a dramatic impact on the landscape. Shell mounds have now been

identified along 3,000 kilometers of Australia’s northern coastline from the

Kimberley region to eastern Cape York. They have been generally dated to the mid

Holocene from 3000BP ‐ 600BP and are dominated by Anadara shell (Hiscock

2008:175‐179).

This chapter presents a review of the history of research about shell mounds and

will initially focus on the Danish Kjokkenmoddings or kitchen middens first

identified in the early 1800s. This is followed by a discussion about the themes

which have directed the research and interpretation of shell mounds in Australian

coastal archaeology. The focus of this review is primarily Australian research

initially due to the vastness of the topic of shell mounds in international research

and secondly to focus on Australian trends and research directions. Case study of

sites from Queensland, Northern Territory, New South Wales, and Western

Australia are examined. Each state exhibits distinct variations in the history of

research, also of site establishment and formation. Due to the word limitations of

this paper’s length discussion of neither coastal islands nor coastal research in

Victoria, Tasmania or South Australia has been included (Figure 2.1). This review

20


forms a context for viewing the Blue Mud Bay Project and the research undertaken

in this thesis.

Figure 2.1: Map of Australia showing locations mentioned in text.

History of research

The investigation of the Danish shell mounds in the 1860s

The publication of the investigation of the Danish kjokkenmoddings (Figure 2.2)

(kitchen middens); or shell mound sites, in Lubbock’s 1865 publication “Pre‐

historic Times” established an investigative basis for archaeological research on

cultural shell sites that has had an influence through to the present day. The

Danish shell mound sites were originally thought to be massive natural deposits

consisting of raised beaches. However, subsequent investigation identified a range

of characteristics which resulted in the ‘beaches’ being identified as cultural in

origin. These included the identification of selectivity of shell fish species

characterized by consistency in shell fish size, diverse representation of shell fish

21


habitats and the absence of gravel from storm activity in the shell deposits.

Excavations directed by Professor Steenstrup (Lubbock 1865:180) also uncovered

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

identification of these sites as cultural in origin.

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

The Danish shell mounds varied widely in size up to 300 yards (274m) long 30‐60

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

Variety in mound form was recorded with elongated and doughnut shaped

deposits identified. Sites often occurred in clusters. By 1861 over 50 sites had been

investigated by a specially assembled multidisciplinary team which included

archaeologists. The identification of shell mounds some eight miles from the

current coastline together with and sections of coastline containing no middens

sites was interpreted as evidence for fluctuating sea levels and the impact of harsh

environmental conditions on site survival. The four most prevalent species of

shellfish found in the middens were oysters, cockles, mussels and periwinkles.

Oysters had become almost extinct in Denmark by the 1860s and this was

attributed to both human predation and environmental factors such as a predator

starfish. The reduction in shellfish size overtime in the middens stratigraphic

sequences was interpreted as evidence of over fishing (Lubbock 1865:171‐197). The

major themes identified in Danish midden study’s in the 1860s‐the selectivity of

22


species, site form variation, sea level fluctuation, the impact of the dynamic coastal

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

of current relevance in the study and analysis of middens and mounds in both

Australia and elsewhere in the world.

Australian coastal archaeology

An introduction

The earliest use of coastal marine resources in Australia was identified by

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

culturally deposited shells of mangrove molluscs were dated to >30000 years ago.

Most Australian coastal sites do not demonstrate such antiquity as the coastline

was impacted by first rising and then falling sea levels over the Pleistocene and

early Holocene. Coastal shell midden sites appear in the archaeological record as a

world wide phenomenon between 8000 – 4000 years BP which generally accords

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

Thom & Chapell 1975:90‐93). In Australia there is a significant increase in the

number of recorded coastal shell midden sites dated to the last 3000 years (and

particularly the last 1000). Research seeks to understand why this increase in the

number of recorded shell middens occurs during the late Holocene. This theme

underlines research in coastal archaeology with discussion canvassing the effect of

sea level change on midden formation and destruction and its relationship to

culture change (McNiven & Hall 1999: 88). Shell mounds in Australia are typified

by the Anadara mounds found across Australia’s tropical coastline from the

Kimberley to Cape York. Anadara mounds are usually located away from modern

coastlines and provide evidence that coastal environmental conditions were

different in the past (Hiscock 2008:177).

23


Models for understanding Holocene coastal sites

Changes in the Holocene archaeological record have been characterized by an

increase in site numbers, artefact densities or discard rates, and movement of

populations into previously unoccupied territories. Researchers have looked for a

single idea that could explain the economic change. Explanations have included

social processes, environmental change, or change as a reconfiguration that

followed an Australia‐wide single and upward trajectory in which economic

practices became more efficient and complex. From these ideas the opinion has

emerged that humans developed specific coastal economies only in the recent

millennia. This platform of ideas influenced many archaeological investigations of

Holocene coastal economies of mainland Australia. Two influential research

models emerged in the 1980s to explain the changes indentified in the Late

Holocene archaeological record; the coastal occupation time‐lag model (Beaton

1985), and the intensification model, arguing for increases in social and economic

complexity (Lourandos 1985). Today archaeologists understand Late Holocene

coastal economies by their regional and temporal diversity in both economic

responses and environmental change (Hiscock 2008:162‐182).

Current Research themes in Australian coastal archaeology

Coastal archaeology has developed to encompass a wide and diverse range of

research specialties and themes (Table 2.1). This subject is too extensive to discuss

satisfactorily in this chapter so a table has been presented to indicate the range of

research areas and themes currently discussed in Australian archaeological

research.

24


Table 2.1 Research themes in Australian coastal archaeology

Research Themes

(Developed from Hall & McNiven 1999:1‐4)

Dynamic Environment

Taphonomic processes

Sea level fluctuation

Storms

Coastal Landscapes

Seascapes

Exposure of sites

Modern development

Estuarine landscapes

Landscape evolution & resource availability

Occupation landscapes

Relationship with inland resources & occupation

Cultural and heritage landscapes

Long‐term human use of marine systems

Pleistocene culture

Responses to sea level change

Cultural change models

Intensification

Environmental determinism

Change in response to environment & social

processes

Research contexts

Coastal economies

Gender roles

Island use

Island systems

Regional studies

Culture & Heritage management

25


Case Studies

Queensland

A spectacular landscape of shell mounds is located at Weipa on Cape York in

northern Queensland. Research on the shell mounds at Weipa has generated more

debate than any other coastal area in Australia and for that reason is a fitting place

to begin this review. In 1961 anthropologist W.E.H. Stanner (1961:8‐12) suggested

that the giant steep‐sided mounds at Weipa were of natural origin. Later Wright

(1963, 1971) identified that two of the Weipa mounds contained the classic

distinguishing markers of cultural midden deposits: artefacts, charcoal, fish and

animal bone. A detailed research project by Geoff Bailey (1977) interpreted the

mounds as part of a cultural landscape that extended along the shores of four

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

examined their period of formation and occupation and dated this from 3510‐290

BP (Bailey et al. 1994:74) demonstrating

site use over most of the Late Holocene.

Figure 2.3: Map of northeast Australia

showing

Weipa’s principal shell mound sites (Bailey

1999:106).

Bailey argued that the traditional

cultural markers of shell mounds were

not the only method available for

identifying cultural origins. Bailey

proposed a ‘self‐selecting’ model as an

alternative for a site’s cultural

26


identification. The model also explained why mounds developed (Bailey 1999).

The model proposed that the large mounds were located in preferred occupation

areas and could be understood in relation to their accessibility, seasonal comfort;

availability of a breeze to reduce the impact of mosquitoes, and location near a

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

to interpret clusters of shell bearing sites as a cultural landscape and provided a

strong platform for the interpretation of shell mound sites across northern

Australia. The Weipa shell mounds continue to attract new research and stimulate

debate. In his critical evaluation of Bailey, Hiscock (2008:177) argues Bailey’s self

selecting model needs to be modified to look beyond the realized benefits of the

constructed mounds towards developing an understanding of what social

motivation lay behind beginning and maintaining the accumulation of mounds

over many generations.

Tim Stone’s (1991:255) proposal that the Weipa shell mounds were the abandoned

nest of a Megapode, the Orange‐footed Scrubfowl, has been the most controversial

hypothesis. Stone’s hypothesis has been successfully been discounted by Bailey

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

investigated Stones original research sites on Channel Island Darwin Harbour.

Her research established a set of criteria to archaeologically differentiate between

Megapode mounds, cultural mounds and natural shell deposits. The debate and

research on establishing archaeological criteria for identifying the difference

between natural and cultural shell deposits has made a significant contribution to

cultural shell mound identification (Burns 1994; Carter 1997; Esposito 2005).

More recently the Weipa mounds were explored by Morrison (2003) who argued

an alternative hypothesis for the mounds formation. His research identified the

‘boom / bust’ nature of Anadara shell bed formation as the source of the dominance

of Anadara in the Weipa mounds. Morrison argued that during boom periods,

27


large numbers of people from different local clans participated in intensive social

gatherings and consumed the abundant resource. Morrison cites ethnographic

and anthropological evidence stating large gatherings occurred at Weipa when

particular resources were abundant (Morrison 2003:5). Mound formation processes

can be irregular, gradual or intense and formation patterns can at times be

determined by the radio‐carbon dating of shell from selected stratigraphic layers of

a site. However, in the case of the Weipa mounds radiocarbon dating has been

unable to clarify mound formation patterns (Bailey 1977:134‐136).

Bailey and Morrison’s interpretations may both be valid and represent changing

mound use over time at Weipa. The two hypotheses could represent different

responses to the constantly evolving coastal environmental conditions which

results in variation in the local resource base.

Northern Territory

In the Northern Territory research projects have identified cultural landscapes

which feature coastal shell mounds. Recent research in the Darwin Harbour region

focused on Hope Inlet where archaeological sites are dominated by shell mounds.

Hope Inlet is located north‐east of Darwin Harbour and 200 occupation sites have

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

Burns (1994, 1999) provided the opportunity for a regional comparison of the

landscapes in which shell mounds cluster in Hope Inlet and Weipa. The two

study’s differ in their theories for recorded occupation patterns, resource

procurement and site types. The Hope Inlet landscape appears to be similar to

Weipa yet detailed research on mound formation and the type of sites comprising

the clusters has established that the regions are quiet different.

28


Hope Inlet is a small nearly infilled estuary dominated by chenier plains, mud flats

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

kilometers and within this area are located Aboriginal shell middens, including

shell mounds and shell scatters, earth mounds, stone flake scatters and grinding

stones. Bourke selected three shell mounds for excavation, each in a separate

cluster of varied site types. The location of the clusters was identified as occurring

at the junction between different resource procurement zones. Occupation of the

Anadara shell dominated mounds was dated between 2000–500 years BP and the

study argued mound formation demonstrated long‐term continuous exploitation

of Anadara. Bourke interpreted occupation of the area as not reliant on the

exploitation of Anadara and continued during periods of Anadara scarcity. During

these periods other fauna was exploited from marine, estuarine and terrestrial

zones. The absence of exploitation of deeper ocean resources such as turtle and

dugong known to be accessed during the contact period was also noted.

The stone artefacts recorded at the site included edge‐ground axes, pestles and

portable mortars. Ochre, hearth stones, and a low density of flaked stone artefacts

were also present. Bourke identified the stone artefacts as of special significance for

interpreting site importance. The stone for tool manufacture was imported, and

portable mortars used for plant processing were considered as possibly associated

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

stone artefacts, importation of stone and presence of ochre are argued by Bourke as

indicators of the site and regions importance and demonstrate use over an

extended time period.

Bourke interpreted Hope Inlet as a seasonal semi‐sedentary settlement (Bourke

2002: 35). Its occupiers practicing a generalized and flexible subsistence economy

based on the resource zones of the foreshore, estuary, coastal plains and

hinterland. Burns argues the absence of marine animal bone in the sites

29


demonstrates that coastal shell mounds cannot be taken as evidence of a economy

that focuses on deep water marine resources. However anthropological evidence

for other regions of Arnhem Land has demonstrated large marine animals were

not processed at the same sites as shellfish (Barber 2005: Appendix 25‐30). Bourke’s

interpretation of shell mound occupation at Hope Inlet suggests regional variation

in locations were shell mound are found when compared with Bailey’s and

Morrison’s (2003) interpretations of Weipa.

Research at Hope Inlet and Weipa provides examples of the use of different

research theories. Bailey’s hypothesis understands the establishment of occupation

at Weipa through environmental determinism; however he interprets behavior at

the sites through social processes. Morrison’s hypothesis of occupation at Weipa is

underpinned by ethnographic data. Environmental determinism means that

environmental change determines resource availability which directly influences

human behavior. The theory is often applied; for example Beaton (1995), to explain

the recent establishment of (


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

1932b) focused on stone artefact typologies and not faunal resources. During the

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

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

Aboriginal Sites Register held records for 3,200 shell midden sites on the NSW

coast (Attenbrow 1999: 201).

The estuary of the Richmond River, Ballina NSW was the location of a visually

significant cluster of shell mound sites located along both sides of the river. The

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

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

quantity of shell in the mounds to the diet and settlement patterns of the local

inhabitants. Bailey came to the unexpected conclusion that although vast in size

the shell mounds possibly played only a minor role in the diet and period of

occupation of the occupiers. His research calculated that the three large shell

mounds: 400m x 4m, and five middens sites were used infrequently at a maximum

of six times a year over the period 2000 BP to 100 BP. The shell mounds were

composed of 98% Sydney rock oyster with sparse evidence of fish, mammal bone

and stone artefacts. Bailey argued the infrequent occupation pattern represented

an understanding that the oyster beds were vulnerable to over‐exploitation and

their long‐term survival demonstrated they were a carefully managed resource.

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

been see in comparison to the oyster mounds of California (Gifford, 1916)

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

individual size and general character. Statham and Bailey comments introduce a

rare and important international comparison between Australian shell mounds

and the wider international phenomena of Holocene shell mound building.

31


Figure 2.4: A Richmond River mound 1892 (Statham 1892: Plate IX).

The interpretation of the limited economic importance of the Ballina mounds had

implications for other researchers who sought to interpret the relative importance

of the vast volume of molluscs in shell mounds. The quantification of mollusc meat

as a food resource in dietary reconstruction was an important research theme

which evolved in America and then Australia in the 1870s (Dall 1877; Statham

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

1980s however Claassen argues that today the requisite assumptions that underlie

every facet of calculations when combined with inadequate sampling and seasonal

variations in nutritional content, means that most archaeologist are no longer

willing to undertake this form of research (Claassen 1998:194).

The realization that NSW coastal geography could be used to identify possible

locations of shell bearing sites was identified by Sullivan when working as an

archaeological consultant. In 1982 Sullivan undertook a broad‐scale and important

archaeological survey of the NSW coast which recorded 801 sites. Sullivan

recognized that the NSW coast divided broadly into two distinct geographical

zones: the northern sand dominated depositional coastline and the southern

bedrock dominated mixed coastline. Sullivan established that the northern and

southern zones demonstrated a definite relationship between the location of shell

bearing sites and their geography. Geographical zones where sites were to be

32


found were identified as beaches, rock platforms and estuaries. Determinants for

site location within each zone were: type of rock platform from which shellfish

were collected, location of sand on which to camp, shelter from wind, and location

of drinking water.

Importantly for this discussion Sullivan also established archaeological criteria for

identifying the location of mounded midden deposits. The application of the

criteria led to recognition of the regions of Clarence – Morton and coastal New

England in the north as containing the highest number of mounded middens on

the NSW coast. Mounded midden sites were identified as typically located in

estuarine environments sites and in NSW included Clybucca (Connah 1975),

Sussex Inlet (Sullivan 1977) and Wombah (McBryde 1974). Sullivan’s survey also

included the excavations of mounded middens at Pambula Lake (1982:178). The

excavations identified temporal changes in species selection with the transition to

mussel in the upper section of mounds. Sullivan suggested a connection with the

introduction of fish hooks found by Bowdler (1970) in a similar temporal change in

a midden on the NSW south coast. This hypothesis has been widely refuted;

however other viable answers were not proposed by dissenting researches

(O’Connor & Sullivan 1994). Sullivan’s research has been identified as

contributing to the research themes of landscape evolution and resource

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

geomorphology and coastal taphonomy as an important contextual basis for any

assessment in identifying patterns in cultural responses in coastal regions.

33


Western Australia

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

Prior to 1983 no published shell midden study’s for W.A. existed, leading Bowdler

(1983) to state that shell middens were apparently absent from the southwestern

Western Australian coast. A survey of the southwestern coast Figure 2.5 (Dortch et

al.1984) identified small localized shell scatters equating to one scatter for every

180 km of coastline which suggested that Bowdler’s statements may be correct.

During the following decade most sections of the southwest coast of Western

Australia were surveyed (O’Connor 1996) reconfirming Dortch et al. (1984)

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

evidence for coastal exploitation of marine and estuarine environments was

recorded with occupation appearing from 8000 BP‐6000 BP following the marine

34


transgression. These early shell middens are dominated by gastropods sourced

from forests of giant mangroves.

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

Summary of shell midden sites on the WA coast by region from south to north

After O’Connor (1996)

Region Occupation Dates Midden form

South west‐

Geraldton to Shark Bay

Central west‐

Shark Bay

Southern Pilbara‐

North‐West Cape

Turquoise Bay

Pilbara

Exmouth Gulf to

Cape Keraudren

Nickol Bay

West Intercourse Island

Western Desert

Cape Keraudren to Lagrange

5,080‐4,450 BP. Thin surface scatters

7,000‐3,500 BP 100 shell scatters, shell species

8,000‐7,000 BP

5,500‐ modern

No date

4,500‐ 1,000 BP divided into

two phases

4,640‐3,950 BP mangrove

phase

4,000‐1,040 BP Anadara &

Oyster

6,200‐ 4,200 BP Terebralia to

Anadara

No date available

No date available

No archaeological work has

been carried out. No midden

sites have been described

from Mangrove phase

Two sites of shell scatters

Only episodic occupation up

to modern period.

Scatters of terebralia on

landward Pleistocene dunes.

First evidence of stratified

middens

Rock shelter

1 mounded midden

14 mounded middens‐2‐3m

Northern Region (Kimberley) divides into 3 zones Southwest Kimberley, Central‐west

Kimberley and Northern Kimberley

high

35


Southwest Kimberley

Broome to 80 km south

Roebuck Plain

Cable Beach

Central‐west Kimberley

Buccaneer Archipelago

Northern Kimberley

Mitchell Plateau

3,000‐ modern BP

3,600‐to contact period

No dates

Extensive linear scatters on

coastal dune systems

Anadara mounded middens on

chenier ridges

Extensive dispersed scatters

over dunes

No middens or shell scatters in open contexts. Change to

rugged coastline and off shore islands, absence of favorable

habitats for marine molluscs

3,000‐ modern BP

Large mounded middens,

Marcia changing to Anadara

In W.A the mounding of middens have earlier radio metric dates in the southern

part of their distribution in Pilbara (6200 BP) through to the northern Kimberley

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

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

suggested both local topography and environmental factors effected resource

availability which resulted in the very different temporal sequences in the

appearance of shell middens. Large mounded shell middens of Anadara and Tapes

similar to the Weipa mounds are only found on the northern Kimberley, Mitchell

Plateau area of the Western Australian coast after 4200 BP and cease by 2000BP.

O’Conner hypothesized that shell midden site frequency and shell density

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

Western Australian coastline an archaeological footprint and identified potential

locations to focus future research.

A recent archaeological salvage project at Port Headland in the Pilbara region of

Western Australian’s coast has yielded evidence that challenges O’Conner’s

hypothesis of the sequence of occupation along the W.A coast. This project

36


ecorded a wide range of site types. Harrison’s (2009:81) excavations identified

Anadara exploitation in northwestern Australia as continuous from at least 4592BP

and possibly as late as 578BP which calibrates to 310‐60calBP. Harrison states these

dates encompass some of the earliest and latest dates associated with Anadara

exploitation from northwestern Australia. Anadara deposition occurred across a

variety of site types; shell mounds, earth mounds, surface shell scatters and

stratified lenses of shell. The sites are dominated by high percentages of Anadara

shell and also include minimal stone artefacts and a small number of faunal

remains. Seven sites were selected for excavation and radio carbon dating

indicated each had a limited period of formation; averaging 700 years. Harrison

argued that the dates must be viewed collectively as they present a continuous

sequence of occupation and resource exploitation over a 5000 year period.

Harrison has associated the establishment of exploitation of coastal resources with

environmental factors. He argues the occupation of Port Hedland coincided with a

period of increasing aridity during the mid to late Holocene resulting in resource

stress and as result populations who previously accessed inland resources moved

towards to the coast. The increased frequency of occupation and increased

complexity of site types is interpreted as a social and economic response to these

environmental factors. Harrison applied Meehan’s (1982) observations of Anbarra

to the Port Hedland sites, and identified the mounded midden sites 13 & 14 as

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

argue that the greater focus on shellfish resources reflects a change in the economic

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

anthropological evidence as it assumes continuity between the behavior of people

in the past and the present. He further argues against the application of

ethnographic data from distinctly different regions as too simplistic citing the

inappropriate application of Meehan’s (1989) work as an example.

37


He argues the different classification of site types of shell mounds, earth mounds

and shell middens do not represent different behavioral signatures traditionally

argued by Australian archaeologists (Bourke 2004; Bailey 1999; Faulkner 2006).

When attempting to classify the sites as shell mounds, earth mounds or mounded

middens, and shell middens Harrison found the similarity of the content, Anadara

shell volume and length of occupation as problematic. He theoretically argues that

if each site type represented the same rate of deposition they could be formed by

the environmental context in which they occur. Harrison’s argues shell mounds

are formed in areas were soils are eroding, on the margins of mudflats and

mangroves. Earth mounds form in areas protected from erosion by sand dunes

formed by wind blown sediments. Shell middens form on surfaces where there is a

shift from erosion to depositional environment after site occupation has ceased.

The initial point that the sites could represent the same rate of deposition is

contradicted by Burns (1994) Brockwell (2006) and Roberts (1994).

Harrison’s argument that site types represent environmental contexts is further

used to see the Port Headland midden sites as seamless sequence of occupation

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

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

and Cribb (1996:169). Harrison’s argument answers Hiscock’s (2008: 177) question

of why begin the varied depositional processes. Harrison’s applies an

environmental explanation for the varied site forms of shell middens over the

popular behavioral interpretations.

Harrison’s contribution expands the data on age range, range of exploited species

and site density of coastal occupation on the Western Australian Pilbara coast.

Harrison’s arguments are on one hand radical with his ideas on site formation, and

are flawed in his application of anthropological evidence to explore the issue of

gender. The most interesting contribution his research has made is the idea that

38


shell mounds should not be considered as individual phenomena but as part of an

environmentally induced shell midden deposition pattern which must be

considered collectively (Harrison 2009). This interpretation may be unique and

establish Harrison’s research at Port Hedland as a regionally distinctive in

interpretation, early site establishment and site density. Harrison draws on a wide

range of theoretical approaches environmental determinism, social processes,

anthropology and gender which he uses with enthusiasm to explore a range of

theoretical propositions to interpret the occupation of Port Headland.

Conclusion

This chapter’s review of Australian coastal archaeology and focus on mounded

midden research has illustrated that the questions asked today began with the first

examination of a mounded midden in Denmark in the 1860s. The case study’shave

illustrated that landscapes including mounded middens appear to be similar. Yet

detailed analysis of mound content, associated sites and landscapes, in conjunction

with and an understanding of the regional geography and palaeoenviroment

allows varied interpretations of site use suggesting shell mounds are not

associated with any single form of social expression but are part of a diverse range

of coastal landscape utilization all of which involve the consumption of molluscs.

39


CHAPTER 3

Introduction to Point Blane Peninsula, Blue Mud Bay

and BMB/116

Introduction

Chapter 3 presents background information about the environmental context of

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

overview of the regional climate, palaeoenviromental history, hydrology, flora,

and fauna. This provides a context for the archaeological research undertaken for

this thesis and forms an important basis for the interpretation of research data.

Coastal archaeologists need to consider sea level fluctuations, coastline shifts,

marine and estuarine ecosystem development in order to formulate models and

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

Figure 3.1: Map of Blue Mud Bay region Arnhem (Faulkner 2003:23)

40


Location

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

of the Point Blane peninsula. The peninsula is bounded by Grindall Bay to the west

and Myaoola Bay to the east (Figure 3.1). Point Blane peninsula is one of a series of

small peninsulas which project into the northern end of Blue Mud Bay (Faulkner

2006:22). The Lumatjpi inlet is one of the localities identified by members of the

Madarrpa clan whose homelands are concentrated on the peninsula and who form

the Yilpara Community (Clarke & Faulkner 2003:57). The Yilpara settlement is

located south of Lumatjpi and the majority of the Madarrpa clan of over 100

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

set of closely related Yolngu clans of greater Arnhem Land area (Figure 3.2).

Figure 3.2: Map Northeast Arnhem Land region, location

of study area and Yolngu group boundary.

41


Climate

Northern Territory’s climate is distinctly different from that of southern Australia,

and within the Northern Territory itself there is great diversity. The territories

northern part, known as the ‘Top End’, where the Point Blane peninsula is located,

is distinctly different to the southern regions which are predominantly arid and

semi‐arid. The weather in the north of the Territory divides into two distinct

seasons; the ‘wet’ from October to April and the ‘dry’ from May to September.

The Wet Season

Figure 3.3: Map showing location of Point Blane

peninsula and Grove Airport Bureau of

Meteorology weather station (BM 2009)

The wet season months from October to April are characterized by the monsoon

trough which is the source of much rainfall (Figure 3.4). The accompanying hot

summer temperatures run from December to February. A typical wet season

consists of a prolonged inactive period during the buildup. This period is

characterized by light winds, isolated showers and thunderstorm activity.

Tropical cyclones can develop off the coast in the wet season. Heavy rain and high

winds, sometimes of destructive strength, can be experienced along the coast.

Bushfires, fairly common in October and November, are ignited by lightening

42


from dry, gusty thunderstorms (Bureau of Meteorology, Weather table by Fairfax

media).

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

Dry season rainfall (BM2009: Fairfax Media)

The Dry Season

The Northern Territory’s second distinct season is the dry season running from

May to September, when fine conditions prevail throughout the Northern

Territory. The dry season is characterized by cool winter temperatures and sub

tropical high pressure systems which push southeast trade winds resulting in clear

skies and very dry conditions. Low pressure cold fronts occasionally reach the Top

End marked by either thunderstorms or, if rainfall has been low, a wall of dust.

Rainfall is generally low, although on the northeast coast light showers are

common. Controlled and uncontrolled human initiated bushfires; (Figure 3.5)

fuelled by abundant wet season growth, are widespread in the north during this

season (Bureau of Meteorology 2009).

43


Indigenous Seasons

Figure 3.5: Human initiated seasonal bush fires Point Blane peninsula

(Photo Clarke 2003).

The Blue Mud Bay indigenous seasonal cycle is detailed, containing seven distinct

seasons. The seven seasons occur within the overall rhythm of wet and dry

seasonal pattern of the tropical north. The seasons are locally specific to the Yolngu

people, coded for by changes in the wind and weather, but also by the appearance

of plants and animals (Barber 2005:89).

The Point Blane Peninsula Palaeoenviroment

The archaeological survey of the Point Blane peninsula identified occupation dates

from ranging from 2500 years BP to the present (Faulkner 2006:69). The Lumatjpi

inlet BMB/116 site was dated to the end of this period. Therefore a brief overview

of the prevailing climatic and environmental conditions over this period of the

Late Holocene is warranted. The coastal plains of Australia’s northeast were

44


formed following stabilization of sea‐levels around 6,000BP. Sedimentation and

coastal progradation resulted in the formation of floodplains across the north

coast. Following the ‘Sinuous Phase’ (4000‐2500 BP) rivers began to be established

across the floodplains forming a mosaic of estuarine, freshwater and mud flat

areas. By 2000 BP vast freshwater flood‐plains and wetlands were established and

are still a major feature of the northern coastline and feature on the Point Blane

peninsula (Figure 3.6). Coastline sedimentation continued forming intertidal

mudflat on intertidal embayment. This development provided the optimal

environment for the establishment of shellfish beds which resulted in proliferation

of shell midden sites across the north east coast (Figure 3.6) (Chappell 1988;

Woodroffe et al.1988; cited by Brockwell et al. 2009:58). Evidence for climatic

patterns during the Holocene has been obtained from pollen records on Groote

Eylandt, located in Blue Mud Bay. Research indicated change in the climate from

the early to late Holocene. The early Holocene was characterized by continuously

increasing rainfall, which was followed after 4000 BP by a period of reduced

rainfall and increased climatic variability. This was bought on by the modern

ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) (Brockwell et al. 2009:59).

Figure 3.6: Mudflats & midden site, Point Blane peninsula (Photo Clarke 2003).

45


After 3700 BP, the sharp reduction in effective precipitation was accompanied with

increased climatic variability from around 1000 BP and continued to the present.

One of the effects of the climatic variability was a decrease in monsoon conditions

resulting in the widespread appearance of dune systems (Faulkner 2006: 41, citing

Schulmesiter 1999:82) on which middens are often located (Sullivan 1977:59).

Hydrology

The monsoon climate of distinct wet / dry seasons has a powerful impact on the

hydrology of the northeast coastal plains. The northwestern edge of the Gulf of

Carpentaria typically has a very low river run off into the sea. However the Blue

Mud Bay coastline is notable for having the only substantial fluvial deposits on

this part of the coast (NT Dept of EWHA 2007). The coastal plain of Blue Mud Bay

is mainly flat with extensive coastal swamps or wetland, the Barkley Tableland

system of hills divides the coastal river drainage systems from the broad mostly

dry shallow inland basin (Bureau of Metrology 2009).

The Point Blane peninsula has a complex fresh water system dominated by the

Durabudboi River (Figure 3.7). The river flows from the north of the Point Blane

peninsula to the south and drains through the peninsula’s Dhuruputjpi wetlands

and usually provide year round fresh water(Faulkner 2006: 46). Creeks, fresh

water swamps, billabongs and sub‐surface aquifers make up the remaining

components of the hydrological regime. The study area contains a number of

reliable of fresh water sources one of which is located in the Lumatjpi Inlet (A.

Clarke personal comment).

46


Figure 3.7: The hydrology of the Point Blane peninsula and neighboring areas, showing major

river and creek catchment systems (based on Natural Resources Division, Department of Lands,

Planning and Environment: Water Resources of North Eastern Arnhem Land Map sheet,

Faulkner 2006:47).

Geology & soil

The Blue Mud Bay coastal plain extends up to ninety kilometers inland from the

coast (Haines et al. 1999:1‐2). The geological history of the area consists of thin

terrestrial deposits and shallow marine succession across Blue Mud Bay during the

Cretaceous period. This process evolved as a response to the high stand of sea

level and the beginning of the deep weathering process that has led to widespread

laterite formation. The following Cainozoic period, gradually eroded the lateritic

surface (Haines et al. 1999:91, cited by Faulkner 2006:26), and thin Cainozoic

deposits cover over half the land area of Blue Mud Bay. Laterite is a feature of the

excavated material identified from the BMB/116. The intensity of the original

weathering processes has resulted in severe nutritional impoverishment of the soil

profile (Hubble et al. 1983:26‐27, cited by Faulkner 2006:26).

47


Table 3.1: Soil province profiles found in the

Lumatjpi inlet (after Haines et al. 1999:77 cited

by Faulkner 2006:28).

(Czl) Gravelly, earthy sands

(Cz) Shallow and gravely soils

The above are grouped together as they are

difficult to differentiate.

(Qa) Alluvial gravel, sand, silt and clay

found in active channels, flood plains.

(Qr) Active and recently active cheniers and

sandy beach ridges.

The Lumatjpi Inlet is characterized by three geological soil provinces (Table 3.1).

The Lumatjpi Inlet as surround by (Qr) profile on the water front, comprising of

shelly sand as a narrow zone of ridges a few meters in height on the coastal fringes

(Haines et al. 1999:77, cited by Faulkner 2006:28). The (Qa) profile borders and

extends westwards along the freshwater tributary which flows into the Lumatjpi

Inlet. Behind the waterfront beach ridges and extending outwards from the active

channels and flood plains lie (Czl and CZ) soil profiles which characterized the

greater part of the Point Blane peninsula (Faulkner 2006:27).

Flora

The Lumatjpi Inlet contains five of the nine distinct vegetation units (Table 3.2)

found across the Point Blane Peninsula (Brock 2001; Spect 1958: Wilson et al 1990;

Yunupingu et al 1995; cited by Clarke and Faulkner 2003:26). Each vegetation unit

is closely associated with the hydrological and geological zones that form the inlet

landscape and is illustrated in Figure 3.8.

48


Table 3.2: Main vegetation units found in the Lumatjpi Inlet

(After Brock 2001; Spect 1958: Wilson et al 1990; Yunupingu et al

1995, cited by Clarke and Faulkner 2003:26)

Unit Vegetation unit Flora species characteristic of

No

01 Monsoon vine

thickets

04 Eucalyptus forest,

woodland grassy

understory

54 Seasonal flood

plains

vegetation units on Point Blane

peninsula

Black wattle, Yellow Flame Tree,

Banyan, Milkwood, Red Flowered

Kapok, Beach Hibiscus, and Native

Cherry

Darwin Woolly Butt (Eucalyptus

minata), Stringybark (Eucalyptus

tetrodona), Sorghum grass

Sedgeland grasses Oryza & Eliocharis

s.p., Water Lilies, Bullrush, herblands

& grasslands.

102 Coastal dunes Coastal She Oak, Spinifex grass, Wild

105 Mangal Low

Closed‐Forest

(Mangroves)

Passionfruit, Monsoon Vine, Wattle &

stunted shrubs.

25 tree species, 26 shrubs and grasses

in NT mangrove communities,

including White Mangrove, Stilt Root

Mangrove, Mangrove, Mangrove

Holly.

(Brock 2001; Specht 1958; Wilson etal.1990; Yunupingu et al. 1995

cited by Faulkner 2006:48.)

The inlet’s narrow coastal fringe is dominated by Mangal low closed forest (105)

dominated by species of White Mangrove. The White Mangrove is the most

widespread flora species in the region. The Coastal Dune Complex (102)

vegetation unit forms across the coastal limits of the coastal plain. The dunes are

located adjacent to the beach and form in narrow bands of well‐drained generally

49


unconsolidated beach sands. On the landward side fresh water catchments

supports woodlands of Coastal She Oak interspersed throughout by Monsoon

Vine thickets (01) forming on both sides of the dunes. The Seasonal Flood Plains

(54) begin at the narrowest point of the Lumatjpi Inlet where the fresh water

tributary cuts through the landscape. The Seasonal Flood Plains are characterized

by heavy, black to grey cracking clays exposed bare dry ground late in the Dry

season, and covered by several meters of water supporting plant life during the

wet. The majority of the remaining area of the Point Blane peninsula; excluding the

wetlands, is covered by Mixed Eucalypts Woodlands with grass understory (04).

The woodlands are characterized by the mixed stands of Darwin Woollybutt and

Stringybark comprising the tree layer with a sorghum grassland understory

(Faulkner 2006). The vegetation regime of Point Blane peninsula has distinct

seasonal variation with periods of dry to flooding water, fresh to saline water

environments and poor quality soil to sand. This is reflected in the diversity of

vegetation that characterizes the region.

Figure 3.8: Areal view of Lumatjpi inlet illustrating the five main vegetation units (Google Earth

2009 & Alexander 2009).

50


Fauna

The range of faunal species recorded on the Point Blane peninsula was compiled

by Clarke & Faulkner (2003) and Barber (2002), (Figure 3.3). Wider research on the

fauna of Arnhem Land was undertaken during the American‐Australian Scientific

Expedition to Arnhem Land in 1948 (Specht 1964). The most popular habitats for

large numbers of fauna on the peninsula are the sub‐coastal lowland, floodplains

and coastal woodland where the common rare species of native mammals are

found. High levels of environmental damage around permanent water sources are

caused by increasing populations of Water Buffalo, feral pigs, cats and dingoes.

Table 3.3: Range of fauna found on the Point Blane peninsula (Faulkner 2006:52)

Common species of

mammals

Rare species of

mammals

Feral species or

problem species

Common Wallaroo, Antilopine Wallaroo, Agile Wallaby, Short‐eared

Rock Wallaby, NT Sugar Glider, Northern Brushtail Possum,

Northern Brown Bandicoot, Eastern Horseshoe Bat.

Grassland Melomys, Delicate Mouse, Brush‐tailed tree rat, Black‐

footed Tree rat, Dusky rat, Red‐cheeked Dunnart, Northern Quoll,

Fawn Antechinus, Short‐beaked Echidna,

Water Buffalo, Feral Pigs, Feral Cats, Dingoes.

Reptiles Saltwater Crocodile, Freshwater Crocodile, Goanna, Skinks,

Mangrove Monitor, Marine Turtles, Freshwater Tortoises, File

Snakes, Whip Snakes, Brown Snakes.

Birds Magpie Geese, Brolga, Jabiru, Emu.

Marine & Freshwater

Fauna

Dugong, Mud Crabs, Mud Lobster, Oysters, Mangrove Gastropods,

Bi‐valves‐Anadara Polymesoda & Isognomon species. Freshwater

mussel, Fish‐ Barramundi, Saratoga, Cod, Wrasse.

51


Marine and freshwater fauna are extensively exploited within the study area.

Dugongs, Mud Crabs, Mud Lobsters and a variety of mollusc species are

frequently harvested around mangrove stands (Faulkner 2006:52). Shark, Rays and

mullet are caught by spear fishing from shallow water (Barber 2005:31). The range

of fauna recorded in Table 3.3 suggests a high level of species and habitat diversity

currently exists in the study area. The relevance of this data to BMB/116 is the

contrast between the abundance of both terrestrial and marine fauna currently

accessed by the Yilpara community in the research region (Table 3.4) and the

limited range of fauna identified in the archaeological assemblage.

Table 3.4: Wild flora and fauna resources accessed by the Yilpara community in 2002

(Barber 2002:20‐37).

Plants

Fruits Wungapu, Muta muta Black fruit, Damang, Wak’naning,

Dangapa, Wangaur, balkpalk, murrngga, dilminyin, liddawarr,

gumbo, larrani, dalpi

Nuts Pandanus nuts, Djillka, Darangalk pods,

Berries Borpurr, Burrum burrum,murrtjumum

Yams Bush yams, manmunga

Bush Honey Barngitj (Tree or ant houses) Gaamu (Tree tops), Yarrpany (top

Mammals, birds & reptiles

of hollow trees)

Mammals Kangaroo, Wallaby, Flying fox,

Birds Magpie geese, Brolga, jabiru, Heron, Duck

Reptiles Large goannas, Freshwater tortoise (20cm)

Saltwater foods & bait

Turtle & Dugong Green turtle, Hawksbill Turtle, Olive Ridley Turtle, Flatback

Turtle, Loggerhead Turtle, Leatherback Turtle, Dugong.

Shellfish Terebralia, Polymesoda, Rocky reef oyster, estuarine oyster.

Sharks and stingrays Cowtial ray, Barmbi, Mangrove whipray, manta ray, Sawfish,

Hammerhead shark, Lemon shark, Nervous shark.

Crabs Mud Crab, sand crab, mangrove crab, Blue rock crab, hermit

52


crab, small hermit crab.

Marine Fish 26 species recorded. often targeted species were‐

Parrot fish, Wamungu, Estuarine Rock Cod, Trevally, Catfish,

Queensfish, Barramundi. Caught on handlines or speared

Freshwater Fish Saratoga, Sleepy Cod, Sooty grunter.

BMB/116

Project survey and excavation parameters

The Point Blane peninsular was selected for an archaeological survey due to the

contained and isolated nature of the region. Several factors were important in the

implementation of the project survey area and unit size and excavation unit size.

Long thin survey transects were selected due to the ease of locating transects, good

site variability, relative density estimates and ability to observe the local ecology.

The project applied a consistent test pit size of 1m x .50m for excavations (Clarke &

Faulkner 2003:70). The test pit was divided into test pit A and test pit B each 50cm

sq representing


Lumatjpi

Nine archaeological sites are located in the area clustered around a coastal inlet

known in this study as the Lumatjpi inlet (Figure 3.9). The majority of the sites

consist of very small, localized patches of thinly spread surface midden. The

exceptions are BMB/116 and BMB/84 both of which were excavated (Clarke &

Faulkner 2003). No photographs of BMB/116 survived the survey due to camera

malfunction.

Figure 3.9 Areal photo of the Lumatjpi inlet showing the location of the nine sites including

BMB/116 and BMB/84. Note the woodland, mangrove and creek (Google earth 2009 &

Alexander 2009)

BMB/116

This site classified as a shell mound is located approximately 500m to the south of

BMB/84 inside a stand of mangroves on the surface of a low, chenier‐ type ridge.

The mound is described as elongated and irregularly shaped, measuring

approximately 27.6m by 11.50m with a height of approximately 70cm, as shown in

54


the cross section (Figure 3.11) and contour plan below (Figure 3.12). The site

location is 20 to 30m in front of the low laterite ridge running parallel to the

coastline and is surrounded by mangroves and paperbark (Figure 3.10).

Figure 3.10: Survey sketch of BMB/116 site location prior to excavation (Clarke 2003).

Vine thicket, paperbark trees and grass cover much of the surface. The site was

selected for excavation as it is the only mound identified on the exposed coastline

of the peninsula. Clarke & Faulkner (2003:71) also observed the different shellfish

species composition at the site in comparison with the peninsula’s wetland

mounds. The shellfish species recorded on the surface of the site correlated with

species identified during analysis (Appendix Doc 1).

Figure 3.11: Cross section of BMB/116 (Clarke & Faulkner 2003:72)

55


Figure 3.12: Contour plan of BMB/116

(Clarke & Faulkner 2003:72)

The survey excavation report recorded the presence of a piece of burnt termite

mound and hearth stones, and a stone artefact found on the surface of the site. The

stone artefact was identified as pink quartzite unretouched flake, secondary cortex,

measuring L= 25.97mm x W= 44.38mm x T= 15.75mm and weighed 30grams

(Faulkner 2006: 342). A total of 250 stone artefacts were recorded during the

survey, the location of stone source and artefact distribution is illustrated (Figure

3.13).

56


Figure 3.13: Location of quartzite artefacts across the Point Blane peninsula, with two km (thin

line) and four km (thick line) radius intervals from quartzitic outcrop (Faulkner 2006: 100).

Stratigraphy

Excavation revealed three major stratigraphic layers illustrated in the South profile

of the excavation (Fig 6.5). The surface layer (10cm) of the deposit is characterized

by densely packed shell with a fine matrix of light grey sediment. Underlying this

surface deposit is a middle layer of densely packed shell in a fine, dark grey humic

matrix extending approximately 10cm to 20cm in depth. Several patches of ash or

charcoal also occur between these two layers. The bottom 10cm to 15cm of deposit

is the orange sand and shell grit indicative of the chenier like surface the mound

57


site is sitting on. This basal unit contained a further, restricted lens of midden

material that can be seen in the south section of the stratigraphic profile.

Age

Figure 3.14: Stratigraphic profile of site BMB/116, south section

also showing approximate location of samples taken for

radiocarbon dating (Clarke & Faulkner 2003:72).

Two samples of marine shell were submitted for radiocarbon dating. The

approximate locations of these samples are shown in the stratigraphic profile

(Figure 3.14) and the details are in Table 3.15. The surface sample (XU1) returned a

date 650±60, which calibrated to 281 calBP. The sample from the base of the site

(XU12) returned a date of 1120±60 which calibrated to 657 calBP. These dates

suggest a minimum occupation period of 380 years for this site.

Table 3.5: Radiocarbon estimates – site BMB/116 (Clarke & Faulkner 2003:73).

58


Conclusion

In summary the Point Blane peninsula is typical of the dynamic northern coastal

environment. The distinct bi‐seasonal climate has influenced the distribution of

natural resources and hence the structure of human settlement and resource use

from the late Holocene to the present. Barber’s anthropological study of current

resource exploitation highlights the diversity of resources in the region. This

provides a secondary context for considering resource exploitation in the Lumatjpi

inlet shell mound BMB/116.

59


Chapter 4

Defining the difference between mounded and non‐

mounded shell middens

Introduction

Figure 4.1: Shell mound on Point Blane peninsula (Photo Clarke 2003)

This investigation was initiated to examine the anomalous attributes BMB/116

shell mound. The site date, dominate shell species and regional location were

identified as unusual (Clarke personal comment 2009) when compared with

typical northern Australian shell mounds (Hiscock 2008). The site’s attributes were

unique in the research area of the Point Blane peninsula (Clarke & Faulkner 2003).

60


My first aim is to review shell mound attributes recorded across a wide sample of

Australia’s coastline. This review compiles a set of attributes which includes shell

mound site name; date, dominant species, site history, dimensions and

geographical location. The compilation and analysis of this data achieves two

results it forms a comparative base to review the BMB/116 within the wider

context of mound sites recorded in WA, NT, QLD and NSW. Second, to determine

if wider parameters can be established for shell mound sites characterizing

attributes beyond the current Anadara shell mound model. This research identified

inconsistencies in the way shell mound sites were classified. As a result I sought to

clarify the established criterion for the identification of Australian shell mounds. A

review of relevant literature identified that archaeological criteria specific to shell

mound identification had not been formally reviewed or established. Therefore,

part of my thesis’ research undertakes this task. I examine a variety of aspects of

shell mounds which includes characterizing attributes, terminology, and shell

midden form criteria, to determine which are the most applicable to the

identification of shell mounds. From this a definition has been derived with criteria

identifying shell mounds in the archeological record. In Chapter 6 I apply the new

criteria to review the attributes of BMB/116 classified by Clarke & Faulkner’s study

criteria (2003) as a shell mound.

Shell mound or shell midden ‐ why does it matter?

When undertaking a new research project two important questions need to be

asked, have you identified a problem, and why does it matter? The absence of

criteria for shell mound identification is an important problem for two reasons;

firstly, archaeologists seek to differentiate between shell midden and shell mound

sites to argue that different human behaviors are represented by different site

types. These site types include a variety of shell midden types usually

61


differentiated by their areal view and include shell mounds and shell scatters.

Within these typologies recent researchers have argued that shell mounds sites

play a role in ritual, ceremony and negotiation of territory (Bourke 2004; Morrison

2003; Cribb 1986; cited by Hiscock & Faulkner 2006:210 and more recently

Harrison 2009). These researches argue that shell mounds as a distinct site type

represent strong symbols of cultural expression. Secondly, established criteria

provide a base line for debate and comparison of site data as was demonstrated by

Burns (1994) study of cultural and Megapode mounds. Established criteria

facilitates national collaboration between researches, research data and allows a

more constant view point to identify regional trends in sites and site research.

Therefore I believe it is important that sites identified as mounds either conform to

or explain why they differ from accepted site classification criteria/ definitions.

The source of the problem

My research has revealed that the classification criteria for shell mounds differ

between researches. The repercussion has been that the difference between

mounded midden sites and non‐mounded sites has become unclear. An example

that succinctly demonstrates this point is illustrated by an extract from Burns

(1999:64, Table 4.1).

Table 4.1: Sites mapped at Winnellie by Burns (1999).

Site Site type Dimensions

Wx Dx H

Stone artefacts Environmental context

WIN1 Shell mound 10x 5x 0.30 quartz flakes Outcropping

rock/intertidal flats

WIN2 Shell midden 8x 11x 0.30 quartz flakes Hill‐crest at hinterland &

mangrove edge

WIN3 Shell mound 14x 18x 0.30 to quartz flakes Hill‐crest at hinterland &

0.40

mangrove edge

WIN4 Shell midden 10x 17x 0.30 quartz Hill‐crest at hinterland &

mangrove edge

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Figure 4.2: West Point shell midden Tasmania excavated by

Jones (1966) the site is 2.50m deep and dated 1800‐1200 BP.

Burns’ table records sites classified as shell mounds and shell middens that

demonstrate no discernable difference in height, length, width, or location. Yet

Burns has classified the sites differently and uses these differences to support her

discussion. Burns has widely stated (1994, 1999 & as Bourke 2002, 2003, 2004, & in

Brockwell 2009) her classification of shell mound sites as any site over 30 cm in

height. In the above table two sites which meet these criteria are recorded as shell

middens. The question raised by this example is does Burns use another unstated

criteria to differentiate between the classification “shell mound” and “shell

midden” in her research. The justification for the application of the criterion is

cited as Mitchell (1993:4). A close examination of this reference reveals the

statement that mound size and shape were not important criteria for

differentiating cultural shell mounds and Megapode mounds. I believe this

statement has been transposed by Burns to justify her establishment of the criteria

of >30cm in height as a classification criteria for shell mounds. The implications of

Burns work have been wide reaching with Clarke & Faulkner (2003); Faulkner

(2006); and most recently Brockwell et al (2009) citing her mound classification of

>30cm to classify shell mound sites. Burns criteria that stresses height contrasts

with the classification by Bowdler (1977); Sullivan (1984); Meehan (1984); Jones

(1971 Figure 4.2) who have classified sites as shell middens up to and greater than

63


1m in height. Or Hiscock’s reference to Anadara mounds which he describes as

conical piles or steep ridges of shell (Hiscock 2008:175). Bailey’s (1975, 1977)

descriptions of mound sites are similar to Hiscock’s. This demonstrates that in

Australian research one archaeologist’s midden is another’s shell mound.

The classification of shell mound sites by height only is essentially flawed. Sullivan

in her outline of recording shell midden sites clearly demonstrates that the shell

midden form attribute of profile; for example mounded or non‐mounded, is the

basic criteria for the classification of shell mounds. This study’s discussion has

highlighted that the classification of shell mounds in Australian research is

inconsistent, and possibly flawed. The identification of differences between

mounded and non‐mounded shell middens needs to be established.

Figure 4.3: The two photographs of shell mounds sites on the Point Blane peninsula illustrate

the complexities of identifying sites in the field (Photo Clarke 2003).

Shell mound or shell midden ‐ what is the difference?

The term shell midden is used to describe any shell deposit identified as cultural

regardless of location, density, depth or visibility, or surface area it covers. Shell

middens are dumps of disposed shellfish shells and usually comprise part of the

64


food consumed at the site. Shell middens vary considerably in their form and

makeup. They occur along open coastlines, around estuaries, along coastal and

inland river flood plains and around coastal and inland lakes. Shell middens may

be open sites, or deposits within rock shelters. Their forms vary from circular or

elongated mounded deposits, through deposits of even depth spread across the

land surface, to patches of thinly distributed shell. They may be present on the

surface or buried (Sullivan 1989). Therefore it is to be understood that a shell

mound site is a form or type or variation of a shell midden. The examination of the

characterizing attributes of shell mounds is the first step to establishing the

differences between mounded shell middens from other forms of non‐mounded

shell middens.

Figure 4.4: A 7‐m‐high conical Anadara shell mound located on a laterite ridge approximately

1000 m from the current coast at Hope Inlet near Darwin (Hiscock 2008:177).

65


Characterizing attributes of shell mounds

Shell mounds in Australian research are often represented by their dominant type

the large Anadara mounds (figure 4.4) found along more than 3,000 km of northern

tropical coastline. They are conical piles or steep ridges of shell that range from

less than cubic meter to 10,000 tons of shell. They date from 3000BP to around 600

years BP (Hiscock 2008:

165). It was against these characterizing attributes that BMB116 was compared.

BMB/116 is less than 600 years of age and the dominate species is Marcia hiantina.

To determine if the BMB/116 was a mound outside the accepted criteria, a survey

was undertaken to establish if the Anadara mound model was truly representative

of shell mounds in Australia. The research compiled a range of data from shell

mounds sites recorded by Australian researchers. This data included site name,

age, dominate shellfish species, site morphology, dimensions and location. The

detailed research data is presented in Appendix 1.1 (Shell mound attribute data)

and analysis of data in Table 4.2. The research established wider parameters for

characterizing shell mounds beyond the Anadara type model and provided a

different context for understanding BMB/116.

Analysis of characterizing attributes of research data

The survey of “shell mound” attributes identified mounded shell middens sites

across all the regions surveyed, the survey covered a period of research from 1977

to 2009. The geographical zones in which mounds occurred correspond to the

zones in which non‐mounded middens are found. The age range for mounds is

limited in comparison to those for non‐mounded middens which have been dated

as early as 34200 +/‐ 1050 BP (Veth 1999:65). The survey demonstrates a wider age

range for mounded middens than that described (Hiscock 2009:165) for Anadara

66


mounds. The range of dominate species is diverse and is interpreted as indicating

which shell fish species were best suited to the environmental conditions of each

location. The diversity argues against the idea that mounds should be associated

with only a limited range of shellfish species. Anadara shells dominate mound

sites overall closely followed by various species of oysters and mussel. This

corresponds to a similar pattern of species of bi‐valves identified in the Danish

middens discussed earlier.

Table 4.2: Summary of data: Attributes of shell mounds in W.A; N.T;

Qld; and N.S.W. (Research detail and references see Appendix 1.1)

Attribute Variable

Regions W.A; N.T; Qld; NSW.

Geographical zones Estuarine, river, coast, inland, beaches, islands.

Geographical

Locations

Wetlands, mudflats, dunes, laterite ridges,

Chenier ridges,

Date range 5250‐90 years BP

Dominant species Anadara granosa, Gafrarium tumidum, Saccostrea glomerata, Marcia

hiantina, Ostrea angasi, Mytilus planulatus, Saccostrea glomerata,

Anadara trapezia, Dorsina juvenilis, Coecella horsfieldi

Site histories Stratigraphy‐Two phase, alternate rapid & minimal, consistent

Pattern of occupation‐ Irregular, time limited, regular

Length of occupation‐Limited, continuous.

Dimensions Height 0.20m to 10m

Length 1m to 400m

Width 5m to 45m

Data research period 1977 to 2009

Site histories have been described by researchers in three different ways

stratigraphy, pattern of occupation and length of occupation. Each descriptor

demonstrated varied patterns however the two phases of stratigraphy in sites was

the most commonly noted by excavators (see Appendix 1.1 for details). I would

argue based on the data available that stratigraphy, pattern of occupation and

length of occupation of shell mound sites is determined by factors other than

anything associated with the idea of deliberate mound construction. The criteria of

dimension‐ height, length and width of mounds is widely varied (see Appendix

1.3) and further detailed research would be required to determine if site

67


dimensions correspond to geographical zones or demonstrated regional

characteristics.

The survey on the characterizing attributes for Australian shell mounds

established a wider range of attributes than the Anadara mound model against

which BMB/116 was set. Collectively the attributes established a pattern that is

more limited than those identified for non‐mounded shell middens. The range of

characterizing attributes of shell mounds presented in this study enhances our

understanding of the diversity of shell mound sites. When the attributes of

BMB/116 age and dominate shell species are placed within this wider context they

are no longer anomalous but fall within an established range of known attributes

for an Australian shell mound. However as each identified shell mound attribute

can be attributed to non‐mounded shell middens they can not be used to classify a

shell mound site only to describe it. I next review the terminology to assess how

shell mounds have been described, to determine if more rigorous use of terms

would assist in shell mound identification.

Describing mounded and non‐mounded shell middens

The terminology used for describing mounded and non‐mounded forms of shell

middens is diverse and inconsistent (Appendix 1.2 and 1.3). Language varies

across research projects and no formalized criterion or terminology is apparent.

Terminology is the first point for any comparison between research data and

interpreting individual archaeologists’ meaning is at times difficult. I have

compiled the range of terminology (Table 4.3) current used to describe mound

sites. The table column entitled “Shell Mounds” highlights the problem. The seven

terms italicized all have been used as general descriptions of mound sites. Without

further clarification from the researchers are we to suppose to understand the sites

68


as a) the all same site type, or b) different site types, or c) some the same and some

different. This argument may appear pedantic; however, it is used to illustrate the

problem of widespread variation in terminology and the lack of clarity of meaning

which is demonstrated across all three columns of terminologies.

Table 4.3: Survey results for shell mound terminologies (all references Appendix 2).

Range of terminologies used by Australian and international archaeologists to describe non‐

mounded middens and mounded middens.

Middens Shell Mounds Shell Midden Sites

Shell midden Shell midden mound Shell matrix site

Kitchen midden Midden mound Shell bearing habitation site

Coastal midden Shell mound Composite mound site

Circular midden Surface mound Shell bearing site

Doughnut shaped midden Mound of shell Shell bearing midden site

Paleochannel midden Large domed shell mound

High‐density midden Base site mound Complexes of midden sites

Linear midden Elongated mound Shell matrix site

‘West Point Type’ midden Overlapping shell mounds Shell bearing habitation site

Midden dump Mudflat mound Composite mound site

Medium sized midden U shape mound

Band of shell midden Mounded shell midden/ earth

mound

Band of shell Earth mound

Geomorphological mound

The second and most fundamental point demonstrated by Table 4.3 is that there is

failure to clearly understand the difference between shell midden and shell

midden forms as defined by Sullivan (1989). The inconsistency in the application

of criteria used to identify and describe mounded and non‐mounded shell

middens is also demonstrated by Table 4.3.

69


Midden form attributes

Form describes the different physical attributes of a site. Shell midden form may be

a single attribute such as shell lens or a combination of attributes such as circular‐

mounded, or linear‐ discontinuous‐irregular surface. The shell midden forms are

defined by Sullivan (1989:51) and have been further developed by myself and are

presented in the Table 4.4.

Table 4.4: Shell midden form attributes (Sullivan 1989:51)

Profile: Non‐mounded‐ mounded.

Mounded Cross sections‐ Conical, hemi‐spherical, irregular

Areal Shape: Elongated, circular, oval, doughnut, irregular.

Dimensions: Min height or depth, diameter

or length x width = area (sqm)

Surface or stratified sub‐surface: Surface scatter –stratigraphic lens

Depth or height from current ground level Depth‐measurement below current ground

level.

Height‐ measurement above current ground

level.

Continuity: Continuous –discontinuous

The shell midden form attribute of profile identifies whether the shell midden site

is mounded or non‐mounded. The cross‐section differentiates between an irregular

mounded form of midden and a conical– hemispherical midden profile that can be

classified as shell mound. For a midden to be classified as a shell mound the

profile must in essence be; mounded / raised in its centre, form a small hill shape,

have a heaped up nature. The cross section conical or hemi‐spherical shape can

also be a variation in between the two profile shapes. Critically shell middens

described as shell mounds must be lower at the edges and rise towards a central

high point.

This argument has been determined by the definition of the word ‘Mound’ as

language is the critical point of communication in research. The term ‘moundis

70


defined in the Oxford Dictionary (1999) as a “raised mass of earth or other compacted

material, a small hill, a heap or pile, or by the Verb: heap up into a mound. The

understanding of the words raised and pile is also important Raise; lift or move to a

higher position or level, set upright, increase the amount or level. Pile: a heap of things laid

or lying one on top of another, a large amount, a large imposing building. The dictionary

definition of these words defining and describing ‘mound’ must be represented in

the physical form of any midden site classified as a shell mound. Therefore I argue

that along with profile the midden form attribute of dimension (height, width,

length or diameter) is also important. Both conical and hemispherical profiles in

their nature have distinct height variation from the outer edge to the highest point

of a site. For a conical or hemispherical profile to be‐ imposing, a small hill, high in

level, large, the dimensions of site width, length, or diameter must also be relevant

to that description. On the basis of these arguments and analysis I propose the

following definition identifying the criteria that differentiates between mounded

and non‐mounded shell middens.

Definition: Criteria for describing and classifing shell mounds

A shell midden site classified as a mound should exhibit the following attributes of

midden Form Profile and Dimension. The site Profile should be mounded with a

cross‐section of hemi‐spherical to conical. The Dimensions of height, width, length

or diameter should represent a raised imposing mass, a small hill, a pile of

substance. Be distinctly different from a small pile of shell, at least 75cm high and

3m in diameter. Height must move from a lower profile towards a higher profile

and then progress downwards again to a lower profile. This definition will tested

on BMB/116 in Chapter 6 as part of the site analysis.

71


Definition discussion

The essential element of this definition is that shell mound sites must demonstrate

an essentially mounded form. This form must be composed of the form attributes

of Profile, Dimension, and Depth/Height. Therefore site classified by height alone

as argued by Burns (1994) have demonstrated no mounded attributes and I would

argue they are a form of midden. Arguments will immediately arise when any

definition is proposed suggesting examples of when the definition would not

apply. One comes immediately to mind and therefore need to be addressed. Shell

mounds are often located on mudflats as demonstrated by the previous survey of

mound data and are prominent on the Point Blane peninsula (Figure 4.5). The

photograph of a mudflat mound identified on the Point Blane peninsular

demonstrates that they exhibit no apparent mounded form the criteria of Profile,

Dimension are not evident as these features are buried under the sediment.

Similar mud flat mounds have been described by Burns (1999:64).

I counter this problem by developing a range of shell mound site types which can

be identified and recorded in the field. The identification of mudflat mounds as a

distinct site type will counter the issues faced by the literal application of the

definition. Formal identification of a mudflat site as a mound could be determined

by test pit excavation.

72


Figure 4.5: Shell mound located on mudflats Point Blane peninsula

(Photo Clarke 2003)

Anthropological and naturally occurring shell mounds

Having determined the criteria for classifing shell mounds it is worthwhile briefly

discussing what other types of shell middens and mound sites will be encountered

in the field. Mounds can be divided into anthropological and naturally occurring

mounds. The division of mound types into two groups (Table 4.5) is the first step

in consolidating terminology and site classification. In the list of cultural mound

terms have included midden sites often associated with shell mound clusters to

further demonstrate the use and application of the terminology. The development

of a field recording sheet will form the second part of consolidating terminologies

used to describe shell midden sites and has been specifically designed to facilitate

shell mound identification and recording.

73


Table 4.5: Redefined midden terminologies & definitions after Roberts (1994:180) expanded by

Alexander (2009).

Shell midden‐ any shell deposit identified as cultural in nature, regardless of size

areal shape or density.

Shell scatter‐ a midden deposit with sparse shell, low in density.

Shell lens‐ a midden deposit often a buried thin layer of shell in the stratigraphy

of a site.

Shell pile‐ unsubstantial conical or hemi‐spherical piles of shell 3m in diameter. Demonstrating distinct difference between the lowest to

highest point in height.

Types of cultural shell mounds

Mudflat Mounds‐ As above and varying in size located directly on or under seasonally inundated

mudflats.

Anadara mounds‐ Shell mounds composed of 90% Anadara shells.

Earth Mound‐ Large mound of earth and sand with low percentage of shell (Brockwell 2006).

Naturally occurring mounds which may contain shell

Megapode mounds‐ conical or elongated mounds 0.50 ‐ 5m H with a high sediment content

reflecting the immediate surroundings (Burns 1994).

Geomorphological mounds‐ Often storm deposits. Long stratified mounds made up entirely of shell

species commonly found in the active foreshore environment.

Recording shell middens in the field

The development of a definition is a theoretical process that requires further

development for practical application. The best method of testing the practical

application of the archaeological criteria for classifing shell mounds is through the

development of a field recording sheet. The recording of shell midden sites was

developed by Sullivan (1989:50‐53) for the Australian Heritage Commission and

74


this will form the basis of the Field recording form for shell middens I have

developed; Appendix 9.1, which specifically focuses on classifing mounded shell

middens. My recording sheet will form the second part of consolidating

terminologies used to describe shell midden sites. The sheet is intended as a guide

to what data sets are required for shell mound site identification, recording, and

range of data relevant for research purposes. The actual recording form used in

any specific program will vary, depending on the reason for the program and the

research question being asked (Sullivan 1989). Finalization of a Field recording

form is beyond the scope of this study and is a subject for future research. The

Field recording form is included as preliminary suggestion of attributes and data

categories that need to be considered. The inclusion of diagrams of shell mound

profiles recorded in the field would be a useful guide to the recording sheet.

However these are rarely reproduced in journals, a compilation of recorded

mound shape diagrams is a subject for further research. I have included a few

images and diagrams that I found available (Figures 4.6 – 4.10).

75


Images of shell mound profiles

Figure 4.6: Hancock Ridge NT a

hemi‐spherical mound and second mound

with two phase formation a hemispherical

lower mound & conical mound atop

(Hiscock & Hughes 2001).

Figure 4.9: Ballina NSW, Richmond River hemi‐spherical

oyster mound (Statham 1892).

Figure 4.7: Weipa QLD a conical Anadara mound

(Irish 2009).

Figure 4.8: Hope Inlet NT conical Anadara mound

(Hiscock 2008:176)

76


Figure 4.6 a geomorphic diagram has been used to illustrate two shell mounds at

Haycock Reach NT (Hiscock & Hughes 2001:42). The top (figure 3) image is of a

classic hemi‐spherical shell mound. A hemi‐spherical shape is curved or a crescent

shape. The bottom image (figure 4) is complex mounded midden with two phases

of formation. The bottom section is a hemi‐spherical linear mound and the upper

section a conical mound. The method of using geomorphic diagrams to illustrate

the surface topography of shell mounds is rarely used however it is a highly

effective for illustrating surface variations in mounds often indiscernible in

photographic images. Figure 4.7 clearly illustrates the hemispherical mounded

profile and characteristic establishment of vegetation on mound sites. Figure 4.8 is

classic conical Anadara mound of Australia northern coastline. Figure 4.9 an

estuarine oyster hemi‐spherical mound, the image is also of historical interest as

the image of the site was recorded in 1892. The last image I have included in this

chapter is the iconic image of an Australian shell mound. Figure 4.10 is an iconic

photo that records a journalist standing

on an enormous mound at Weipa in

1958 and is now part of the National

photographic archives of Australia.

Figure 4.10: Weipa Anadara mound 1958

(National Archives of Australia).

77


Conclusion

This study’s first research aim examined shell mound characterizing attributes and

produced a new model for Australia mound attributes beyond the traditional

Anadara mound model. The research established that BMB/116’s age and dominate

shellfish species are within the normal range for an Australian shell mound while

still remaining anomalous on the Point Blane peninsula. However it was also

determined site attributes could not differentiate between mounded or non‐

mounded middens. The second part of the research question sought to answer this

question and established the criteria for classifing shell mound are the midden

form attributes of profile, dimension. These findings challenge previous study’s

methods of classifing shell mounds and argue for mound site classification to be

reviewed. The examination of this study’s first research questions has provided

two new theoretical bases from which to interpret the analysis BMB/116 presented

in Chapter 6.

78


Chapter 5

Research Methodology

Introduction

The following procedures were adopted during the excavation and analysis of

excavated material from BMB/116: sampling during excavation of BMB/116 and

analysis of the excavated materials; analysis of molluscan remains and non‐

molluscan remains; and design of recording sheets for the data generated during

analyses.

Sampling

A sample of BMB/116 was recorded by excavating a trench 1m by 50cm from a

high point of the site down the side of the site (Clarke and Faulkner 2003). This

trench, divided into Pit A and Pit B each 50cm square, was taken to a depth of 40‐

50cm in 12 excavation units. The deposit divided into three stratigraphic units. The

total weight of material removed in each excavation unit was recorded and then a

bulk sample of approximately 1.50 kilo was removed. The remaining material was

then sieved through 6mm and 3mm sieves and the sieve remains bagged

according to sieve screen size. The entire residue from the 6mm sieve fraction for

each excavation unit from Pit B was sorted and analysed for this study. The

residue from the 3mm sieve was determined to be too highly fragmented for

mollusc species identification or meaningful sorting of molluscan from non‐

molluscan remains and therefore would not produce effective results for this

study.

Laboratory methods

79


Figure 5.1: Shell reference collection established for this study species were identified in

excavated remains of BMB/116 Point Blane peninsula.

Two preliminary tasks were undertaken to facilitate the analysis of excavated

materials. Firstly three data recording sheets were developed encompassing the

specific needs of this study (Claassen 1998: 106): Laboratory recording form: mollusc

analysis (Appendix 2.1), Laboratory recording form: non‐molluscan analysis (Appendix

2.2), and Recording form: mound formation analysis (Appendix 2.3). The criterion for

molluscan analysis includes; MNI counts, weight per taxon, weight of non

molluscan remains, % calculations. The criterion for non‐molluscan analysis

includes; Bucket weight, Identified material weight, which includes rubble, plant

and charcoal. The criterion for mound formation analysis includes; analysis by

excavation unit of shell weight, followed by dominate shell species, rubble weight,

plant weight, charcoal weight and a calculation of the percentage per excavation

unit of the dominate material. Secondly a shell reference collection was

established primarily from BMB/116 B XU4; which had a high volume and wide

range of species in good condition. The taxa were identified to species level where

possible under the advice of Dr M. Carter (2009) labeled and collated in a specimen

case (Fig 5.1).

80


The bagged material from the 6mm sieve fraction for each excavation unit was

initially sorted into molluscan and non‐molluscan material. The weight of material

in each of these categories was recorded in the data base.

Analysis of molluscan remains for calculating MNI

The molluscan remains were identified and sorted according species see Table 5.1.

The next process was to sort each Bi‐valve into species and then each species into

predetermined categories for the calculation of MNI. Bivalve species were sorted

into umbos


Fig 5.2: Three typical bivalve shells all left halves, shown from the inner sides. Note umbo used

for calculating MNI (Wilson 2008:13).

Gastropods were sorted into whole mouths, whole shells >70%, and fragments

(Figure 5.3).

Figure 5.3: A Nerita s.p. gastropod with mouth area highlighted used for calculating MNI

(www.gastropods.com).

82


Oysters were sorted into lids, bases and fragments (Ulm 2006:41) see figure 5.4.

Each diagnostic category for each species was then counted and weighed and the

data entered into the data base.

Figure 5.4: Oyster lid and base both used for calculating

MNI (The Australian Museum 2009).

Non‐economic species of shell


excavation unit was recorded and calculated as a % of total excavation unit weight.

This data will inform on the level of taphonomic disturbance per excavation unit

by hydrology.

Shell analysis

This section reviews the methods used for the measurement of relative abundance

of shellfish in archaeological deposits, after which the methods selected to analyze

BMB/116 are presented. The measure of relative abundance is important in the

analysis of shell middens because the generated data informs on shellfish species

volume, species proportion and identifies selectivity of targeted species. The

identification of species selectivity in a shell deposit is a primary indicator for

differentiating between cultural and natural shell deposits.

There are three methods used to measure relative abundance. These are minimum

number of individuals (MNI), number of individual specimens (NISP) and shell

weight per taxon. The data collected from the measurement of abundance in a

deposit includes volume, density and proportion. The percentage frequencies for

each taxon are the most common statistic generated for shellfish in sites that

contain more than one molluscan species. This measure bears the most

interpretative weight. In cultural shell deposits the species diversity, ubiquity,

species dominance and habitat can provide information about human behavior the

environment and site formation processes across time (Claassen 1998:106 ‐116).

Species diversity refers to the number of species in an assemblage, a number often

compared with other site assemblages (Claassen 1998:117). In this study diversity

is measured across each excavation unit (Table 6.3). The identification of diversity

is important for two reasons firstly as an indicator of the cultural origins of the site.

84


Secondly species diversity informs on the local environmental during site

occupation and indicates resource availability and procurement patterns.

Species dominance is interpreted as either culturally or environmentally

determined (Claassen 1998:133). In this study species dominance is measured

across all excavation units by weight and MNI. Meehan (1982:71 & 80) observed

cultural determinism as the range and quantity of species collected was not only

related to issues of subsistence. Small quantities of a variety of species were

collected by both children and adults to be eaten as tidbits before the main meal of

a single targeted species. Environmental determinism is illustrated by

proportional hunting archaeologist analysis of shellfish assemblages in the USA

and South Africa (Yesner 1977; Lobell 1980; Litter 1980; Voigt 1982 cited by

Claassen 1989:132) demonstrated that species proportions occurred in the same

rank order as they do in the living environment.

The identification of shellfish habitats represents the optimal environmental

conditions required for the establishment of shell‐beds (Faulkner 2009:83; Claassen

1998:126). Information on the range of habitats of shellfish species found in an

archaeological site provides evidence for environmental conditions in a region

during the period of site occupation (Claassen 1998:122). The identification of

species habitat provides information on which foraging zones were targeted to

procure resources consumed or processed at the site (Bourke 2004).

Methodology for shell analysis: Reviews and implications

The calculation of the quantity of individual taxon in excavated material is

typically determined by counting. Counting methods are; MNI where the number

of predetermined diagnostic elements are counted, or NISP which involves the

identification and counting of every shell fragment per taxon (Claassen 1998:106).

85


Number of Identified Specimens (NISP)

The NISP measure is the number of shell fragments identified to a particular taxon.

NISP is useful for intra‐ and inter site comparisons of individual taxon and for

examining shell fragmentation rates (Ulm 2006:41‐42). The major limitation of this

method is the level of identifiability of shell fragments. NISP has been criticized for

over‐representing the abundance of taxa with distinctive sculpture attributes

(Mowat 1995) or when taxa are highly fragmented (Marshall & Pilgram 1993: 261).

The critical issue associated with NISP methodology is that identification of every

shell fragment is very time consuming and accuracy is problematic. NISP is argued

not to be cost effective in terms of time and accuracy and MNI is preferable

(Mowat 1995:81).

Minimum Number of Individuals (MNI)

MNI is the minimum number if individual taxon that can be counted. The

diagnostic elements representative of each taxon is determined then sorted and

counted. In bivalves hinges are counted, either by the highest number of hinges of

left or right side, or where shell is more fragmented the total number of hinges are

counted then halved to represent MNI. For asymmetrical bivalves (e.g. oysters)

shell are separated into upper (lids) and lower (bases) valves and the greater

number taken as MNI. For gastropods spires or mouths are counted to calculate

MNI. In highly fragmented assemblages shell fragmentation is highly varied and

results in an inconsistent pattern of survival of diagnostic elements severely over

and under estimating different taxa’s levels of abundance(Ulm 2006:41).

Weight

The weight of all pieces of an individual taxon is calculated in either grams or

kilograms and achieves an absolute frequency. This method is a quick and easy.

86


The limitations of this method are heavier shelled taxon appear disproportionate

to lighter shelled taxon when an MNI count many argue they represent the same

number of shells (Claassen 1998: 107). This problem is set against the issue that

MNI does not differentiate between shell size both within species and between

species (Bowdler 1983:140). The solution has been successfully argued that both

percentages by weight and MNI or NISP are needed to adequately describe the

proportions of shellfish species in a site (Coleman 1966: 37, cited by Bowdler

1983:140).

Summary of shell analysis methodology

MNI is the preferred method if time is a premium. The calculation of weight of

sorted taxon is a valuable addition as time permits. The combination of the two

methods of MNI and weight counters many of the issues that each method alone

contains and provides a good basis for measures of abundance and calculation of

percentage frequencies. On this basis the use of MNI and weight is justified for the

investigations in this study.

Field data

Field data on 60 shells sites identified during the Point Blane peninsula survey

(Clarke & Faulkner 2003) was compiled for analysis. An Excel spreadsheet was

established to record each mound’s code and dimensions including length, width,

and height and also age when available. This data was then assessed to calculate

the number of mounds less than 75cm in height. The compilation of this data

provides a data set to test the implications of the implementation of the shell

mound classification criteria presented in Chapter 4.

87


Conclusion

MNI and weight have been determined as the most suitable measurement for

determining species abundance in BMB/116 B. This numerical data informs on

each taxon’s relative abundance and if the range of shell fish identified

demonstrates selectivity of targeted species. This data which informs on human

behavior and the environment is presented in Chapter 6. The field data is used in

a comparative analysis of the dimensions of shell mounds on the Point Blane

peninsula, including BMB/116. This data supports the discussion in Chapter 3 on

the characterizing attributes of shell mound form of height, profile and volume.

88


CHAPTER 6

BMB/116: Results of analysis and interpretation

Introduction

This chapter presents the results of analysis of the BMB/116 test excavation. Analysis

focuses on the marine shell assemblage and investigates the key features of species

diversity, dominant species and shellfish habitat. Analysis is conducted by calculating

data from each Excavation Unit (XU) of the BMB/116 excavation. Results obtained from

the analysis are firstly used to interpret the nature of the BMB/116 shell deposit, and

secondly to interpret the relationship between BMB/116 and the other archaeological

sites identified in the Point Blane peninsula inlet. The final aim of this chapter is to

contextualize the BMB/116 archaeological deposit within the newly constructed

classificatory framework of shell mounds in Australian archaeology.

The faunal assemblage: Marine shell remains

The faunal assemblage of BMB/116 consists almost exclusively of the remains of

shellfish (one small fragment of crustacean shell was recovered in XU3). Table 6.1

provides the total weight and proportions of shell recovered from each XU. This data

demonstrates the majority of the shell assemblage was recovered from the upper

section of the excavation in XU1‐5, comprising 93% of the total shell assemblage. As

described in Chapter 3, XU6‐7 were not excavated in BMB/116 (Test Pit B) and are not

included in the archaeological analyses. The lower half of the excavation (XU8‐12)

contained the remaining small proportion of the shell assemblage (7%). Based on this

vertical distribution of the shell remains, for the purpose of this analysis from this

point XU1‐5 are classified as the upper half of excavation and XU8‐12 are classified as

89


the lower half of the excavation. This division of the assemblage directly corresponds

to the natural stratigraphy of the BMB/116 excavation and the absence of XU6 and

XU7 (described previously in Chapter 3).

Species diversity

Table 6.1 Total shell weight per XU.

Upper half

Lower half

XU Shell

weight

(gm)

% Shell

weight

1 1566.0 11.4

2 3321.9 24.1

3 3115.0 22.6

4 3960.30 28.8

5 786.5 5.7

6 Not excavated

7 Not excavated

8 311.75 2.3

9 222.5 1.6

10 340.0 2.5

11 128.0 0.9

12 13.0 0.1

Total 13764.95 100%

A total of 26 species were identified in the BMB/116 assemblage, comprising 16 marine

shell species that were identified to taxon level (Table 6.2) and ten species measuring


Table 6.2 Identified shell fish species

Taxon Common name

Anadara granosa Roughbacked cockle

Asaphis violascens Sunset clam

Anadara s.p Cockle

Chama fibula Spiny oyster

Gafrarium tumidum Venus shell

Isognomon ephippium Hammer oyster

Marcia hiantina Beach clam

Nerita s.p. Periwinkle

Pinctada margaritifera Pearl or Winged oyster

Polymosoda erosa Mud clam

Saccostrea culcullata Rock oyster

Strombus s.p Conch

Septifer bilocularis Mussel

Telescopium telescopium Long bum

Terebralia palustris Mud whelk

Xanthomelon sp. Land snail

Veneridae Family ‐


Table 6.3 Shellfish species present in each

XU

Marcia hiantina

No. of species

12

10

8

6

4

2

0

Anadara granosa

Isognomon ephippium

Saccostrea culcullata

Gafrarium tumidum

Terebralia palustris

Nerita s.p.

Figure 6.1 Number of identified species per XU

Polymesoda erosa

1 x x x x x x x x x x x

2 x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

3 x x x x x x x x x x x x x

4 x x x x x x x x x x x x

5 x x x x x x x x x x

8 x x x x x x x x x

9 x x x x x x x x

10 x x x x x x x x x

11 x x x x x x x x x x

12 x x

N

o

t

e

x

c

a

v

a

t

e

d

Septifer bilocularis

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Excavation Unit

N

o

t

e

x

c

a

v

a

t

e

d

Telescopium telescopium

Pinctada margaritifera

Chama fibula

Asaphis violascens

Strombus s.p.

Veneridae s.p.

Xanthomelon sp.

92

Species


Dominant species

The dominant species in the BMB/116 marine shell assemblage are determined by the

analysis of both weight and MNI calculations of the identified species. Table 6.4

provides a list of weight and MNI data for all identified species in each XU and Table

6.5 provides a summary of the calculated %weight and %MNI of all identified species.

Both quantitative datasets reveal the species Marcia hiantina as the unequivocally

dominate species in each XU. In contrast, the second most dominant species is

variable throughout the BMB/116 deposit: XU1‐4 is dominated by Anadara granosa;

XU5 is dominated by Isognomon ephippium; XU8‐10 are dominated by Saccostrea

culcullata while the lowermost units (XU11–12) have proportionally equal quantities of

Anadara granosa, Saccostrea Culcullata and Gafrarium tumidum. The species composition

of the BMB/116 deposit indicates that although Marcia hiantina remained the dominant

species throughput the occupation of the site, there may have been some change over

time in the selection of species that were more secondary to the marine shell‐fishing

economy. This will be discussed further below in the context of shellfish habitat of the

identified species and procurement strategies.

Of the relatively conservative number of 32 commonly occurring shellfish species

previously identified at Point Blane peninsula by Clarke and Faulkner (2003:49‐51),

eight are indentified as commonly occurring across the 116 recorded midden sites.

These species are listed in Table 6.6 in order of frequency. This table also lists the

most commonly occurring species identified in the BMB/116 marine shell assemblage

based on %weight and %MNI quantities. A comparison of the two groups shows that

only two species ‐ Marcia hiantina and Anadara granosa ‐ are identified as commonly

occurring in both sets of archaeological data. This apparent variability in dominant

species diversity across the study area will be discussed further below.

93


Table 6.4 Shell species weight and MNI per XU

XU1 XU2 XU3 XU4 XU5 XU8 XU9 XU10 XU11 XU12

Species

Marcia

hiantina

Anadara

granosa

Isognomon

ephippium

Saccostrea

culcullata

Gafrarium

tumidum

Terebralia

palustris

Polymesoda

erosa

Telescopium

telescopium

Nerita sp.

Weight(gm)

MNI

Weight(gm)

MNI

Weights (gm)

MNI

Weight gms

MNI

Weight gms

MNI

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

450.00 11 299.00 10 167.00 6 254.00 9 4.50 2.50 3.00 1 / 15.00 1 1.00

101.50 44.50 164.00 1 245.00 21 141.50 131 7.50 4.50 5.50 2.50 ‐

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 ‐

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

‐ 12.00 12.50 63.50 18.00 ‐ 5.00 8.50 4.00 ‐

23.00 1 10.00 38.50 1 ‐ 5.00 ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐

‐ 3.50 5.00 18.00 ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐

38.00 5 21.00 2 18.00 1 19.00 2 6.50 5.60 1 5.00 4.50 2 3.00 ‐

Septifer

bilocularis

1.50 2.00 8.00 37.50 10.50 10 2.70 1 ‐ 2.00 1 2.00 3 ‐

Pinctada

margaritifera

2.00 4.50 ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐

Charma fibula ‐ 3.50 ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐ ‐

Unidentified

shell &

fragments

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

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

Weight gms

MNI

Weight gms

MNI

Weight gms

MNI

Weight gms

MNI

94

Weight gms

MNI


Table 6.5 %Weight and % MNI of shell species per XU

XU1 XU2 XU3 XU4 XU5 XU8 XU9 XU10 XU11 XU12

%Weight

%MNI

%Weight

%MNI

%Weight

%MNI

%Weight

%MNI

Marcia hiantina 55% 65% 61% 80% 56% 79% 53% 33% 64% 53% 51% 34% 65% 70% 63% 70% 42% 46% 58% 67%

Anadara granosa 29% 12% 9% 4% 5% 3% 7% 1% 1% ‐ 1% ‐ 1% 2% 1% ‐ 13% 3% 7% 33

Isognomon ephippium 6% ‐ 1% ‐ 5% 3% 7% 3% 18% 8% 3% ‐ 2% ‐ 2% ‐ 2% ‐ ‐ ‐

Saccostrea culcullata 3% 5% 2% 1% 3% 1% 4% 2% 6%


Shellfish habitat

Table 6.6: Commonly recorded shellfish species in order of

frequency (shaded species indicate common species)

Point Blane peninsula study region BMB/116

Anadara granosa Marcia hiantina

Polymesoda erosa Anadara granosa

Mactra abbreviata Isognomon ephippium

Marcia hiantina Saccostrea culcullata

Telescopium telescopium Gafrarium tumidum

Ostrea s.p. Terebralia palustris

Placuna placenta Nerita s.p.

Septifer bilocularis

Table 6.7 provides a summary of the common habitats of the identified shellfish

species in the BMB/116 deposit. These species represent a range of coastal habitats,

including mangroves, littoral sand and estuarine. For the purposes of this study the

different range of habitat areas have been broadly classified as one of the three main

habitat areas: beach, rocky foreshore and mangrove (see Table 6.7). Analysis of

habitats of the entire BMB/116 shell assemblage (based on %weight) demonstrates a

consistent pattern within the deposit. Table 6.8 demonstrates that beach species

clearly dominate comprising 68% of the total excavated deposit. Both rocky foreshore

species (9%) and mangrove species (6%) comprise much smaller proportions of the

excavated shell (the remaining 17% comprises fragmented shell and shell


Table 6.7

Taxon Common name Specific habitat Broad habitat area

Anadara granosa Roughbacked

cockle

Littoral sand and mud Beach

Chama fibula Spiny oyster Coral rock, or shell debris Rocky foreshore

Gafrarium tumidum Venus shell Littoral muddy sand

Beach

Isognomon Hammer oyster Mangroves to under rocks Mangrove

ephippium

in shallow water

Marcia hiantina Littoral sand Beach

Nerita s.p. Periwinkle Mangroves roots / rocks Rocky foreshore

Pinctada

Pearl or Winged Attached to substrate in Beach

margaritifera oyster

intertidal / subtidal areas

Polymosoda erosa Coastal rivers, streams ,

estuaries

Mangrove

Saccostrea

culcullata

Rock oyster Mangrove roots/ rocks in

subtidal areas

Strombus s.p Littoral sand

Mangrove

Beach

Septifer bilocularis Attached to rock or debris Rocky foreshore

Telescopium

telescopium

Long bum Mangroves

Mangrove

Terebralia palustris Mud whelk Mangroves

Mangrove

Xanthomelon sp. Land snail Land Terrestrial

Veneridae Family Littoral sand Beach


Table 6.8: Shellfish weight of each habitat

calculated as a % across excavation units.

XU Beach Rocky foreshore Mangrove

Upper half

1 83% 6% 7%

2 70% 3% 2%

3 63% 4% 6%

4 60% 5% 8%

5 66% 8% 20%

Lower half

8 59% 23% 2%

9 73% 11% 4%

10 72% 11% 6%

11 66% 16% 5%

12 73% 0% 0%

Further analysis of the habitats represented in the lower and upper halves of the

excavation, however, reveal a decrease in the proportions of rocky foreshore species

and a corresponding increase in the proportions of mangrove species in the upper half

of the excavation. Although the consistent large (~60%) proportions of beach species

indicate that this habitat zone remained of central importance for shellfishing during

the entire phase of site occupation, the change in the proportions of secondary

shellfish species may indicate a some localized environmental change in the area. This

will be discussed further below.

Summary and Interpretations

The results of the analysis presented above have demonstrated a number of distinct

characteristics of the BMB/116 archaeological shell assemblage. These are

summarized and interpreted as follows:

• To the virtual exclusion of all other faunal remains including fish bone, the

excavated faunal assemblage comprised entirely of the remains of shellfish;

98


• The largest quantity of shell was recovered from the upper half of the

excavation in XU1‐5, with a significantly smaller quantity in the lower half in

XU8‐12;

• The limited number of species identified in the BMB/116 excavated deposit

(n=26) is consistent with broader patterns of limited species diversity

previously established for the Point Blane peninsula study area;

• The entire BMB/116 assemblage was dominated by a single species (Marcia

hiantina), with some variability demonstrated in the second most commonly

occurring species, most evident in a comparison of the upper and lower

halves of the excavation;

• Comparison of the eight most commonly occurring species at BMB/116 and

the broader Point Blane peninsula study area (Clarke and Faulkner 2003)

demonstrate variability in the diversity of identified dominate species with

only two species – Marcia hiantina and Anadara granosa consistently recorded;

• Beach species dominate the entire BMB/116 archaeological shell assemblage

indicating this habitat as a key resource procurement zone throughout the

occupation of the site;

• Species from rocky foreshore and mangroves occur in much smaller

proportions throughout the deposit, suggesting these habitat areas were

much less depended on for marine resource procurement;

• Limited evidence for the possibility of localized environment change in the

area indicated an increase in the deposition of mangrove shell species in the

upper half of the excavation.

The identified archaeological features of the BMB/116 deposit allow for the

interpretation of a range of issues central to the main research aims of developing an

understanding of the resource procurement activities and deposition processes that

99


esulted in the formation of BMB/116, and characterization of BMB/116 within the

newly constructed contextual frame work for defining mounded shell midden

deposits. Based on the results presented above, interpretations of site origin,

occupation patterns, resource procurement activities, and coastal landscape change

for BMB/116 are presented.

The origin of BMB/116: Cultural or Natural?

Criteria for determining the natural and cultural origins of shell deposits has been

widely discussed and debated in archaeological literature (Bailey 1977; Bowdler 1983;

Claassen 1998:76; Attenbrow 1992; Carter 1997; Esposito 2005). Appendix 7 provides a

summary of the most common criteria used by archaeologists for distinguishing

between natural and cultural shell deposits (Attenbrow 1992). Through the

application of these criteria to the BMB/116 archaeological deposit and the results of

the present analyses, Clarke and Faulkner’s (2003) identification of BMB/116 as a

cultural shell deposit is unequivocally confirmed. The features which clearly

distinguish the site as cultural are:

• A restricted range of shellfish species sourced from three different coastal

habitats located in immediate proximity to the site;

• The dominance of the remains of one shellfish species (Marcia hiantina);

• Presence of consistently larger (adult) sized shells for all identified species,

while small (juvenile) shells are were rare;

• Overall limited quantity of shells measuring


• Radiocarbon dating suggests site occupation occurred prior to European

contact in the study area.

One notable aspect of the analysis of the faunal remains was the absence of fish

bone. The presence of fishbone is common in shell middens and is generally

considered to preserve well in these depositional contexts in Australia (Sullivan

1989:49). The absence of fish bone in the BMB/116 deposit is contrary to

associated oral history evidence, which suggests that the Lumatjpi Inlet was used

for fishing, freshwater collection and shellfish gathering for the last 30 years

(Clarke and Faulkner 2000 personal comments cited by Esposito 2005:11). Clarke

(pers. comm. 2009), however, comments that vertebrate faunal remains were

rarely found in shell middens in Blue Mud Bay and suggests that harsh

monsoonal conditions may impact on bone preservation in the study area.

The limited range of archaeological faunal remains in BMB/116 is also in contrast

to the wide selection of terrestrial and marine fauna used as subsistence

resources by the Yilpara community today (Chapter 3, Table 3.4) (Clarke and

Faulkner 2000 cited by Esposito 2005:11 on fishing in the inlet within living

memory). The paucity of bone identified in sites across the region supports

Clarke’s comment of poor preservation of archaeological vertebrate remains in

the study area. The absence of fishbone and other bone remains in BMB/116 is

interpreted as the possible result of taphonomic processes; however, further

investigations may be required to confirm the reasons for the absence of

archaeological vertebrate material across Blane peninsula. The small quantity

and range of the non‐shell remains identified during the analysis does not

warrant further description and consideration of these materials (see Appendix 4

for details).

101


BMB/116 formation and occupation pattern

The above analyses demonstrated that the majority of the shell assemblage (93%)

from BMB/116 was recovered from the upper half of the excavation, with very

little shell in the lower half. This deposition pattern indicates intensive site use

during the most recent phase of occupation which occurred sometime prior to

280 years BP. Due to the absence of a radiocarbon date from the middle of the

excavation (XU4 or XU5), which marks the likely transition from low intensity

site use to high intensity site use, interpretation of the timing of this transition is

not possible at present.

The small proportion of the archaeological shell (7%) in the lower half of the

excavation suggests that after initial site use, dated to 657 years BP, occupation

of the site was non‐intensive. The presence of large quantities of laterite in the

lower half of the excavation supports the interpretation of limited early site use,

as well as the natural accumulation of this material washed in from the nearby

laterite ridge. In comparison, smaller quantities of laterite were identified from

the upper half of the excavation, confirming a change in site use and site

contours (i.e. emergence of a mounded form of shell midden) (see Appendix 5

for %weights of laterite per XU).

The nature of the shell remains identified in the lower half of the excavation is

consistent with descriptions of the recorded stratigraphic features at BMB/116

(Clarke and Faulkner 2003:72). Restricted lenses of midden material were

recorded during excavation and can be observed in the stratigraphic profile (see

102


Figure 3.14). The consistent patterns observed throughout the assemblage in

shellfish species distribution (Table 6.3) and dominance of beach habitat species

(Table 6.7) confirms shell in the lower half of the excavation as in situ cultural

deposit and not the result of reworking (i.e. mixing with natural shell deposits).

This evidence suggests the nature of the earliest occupation was transitory, with

a small volume and restricted range of faunal resources deposited at the site

during this period.

The nature of the shell remains identified in the upper half of the excavation is

consistent with the stratigraphic descriptions of densely packed shell with a fine

matrix of light grey sediment (Clarke and Faulkner 2003:72). The large quantity

of shell (93%) is interpreted as representative of the most intensive phase of

occupation at BMB/116. The concentration of archaeological remains within

XU2‐4 indicates this as the most intensive period of the recent phase of site

occupation, with XU5 marking a major point of transition in site use (i.e.

commencement of a possible change in intra‐site occupation focus).

Both the site contour plan (Figure: 3.12) and cross section below (Figure: 6.2)

further inform on the impact of the nature of occupation on site formation. The

cross section indicates the site had three different areas of occupation focus.

Point A appears to be the largest occupation area and is representative of a small

scale conical mound profile. Focus point B appears mounded but smaller and

lower and has merged with Focus point A. Focus point C has a slightly raised

area and is more characteristic of a midden profile. Irish (in press) has recently

examined similar evidence of occupation focus areas in shell middens through

the identification of surface features, where subsequent excavation revealed a

distinctive pattern of hearths.

103


Figure 6.3: BMB/116 site cross section showing three areas of intra‐site occupation focus

(after Clarke and Faulkner 2003:76).

Resource procurement strategies

A

B C

The analysis of the BMB/116 marine shell assemblage revealed a dominance of

the species Marcia hiantina and a consistent dominance of shellfish procured

from beach habitats, including littoral sand and the intertidal zone. Today the

beach within the inlet is restricted to the eastern most margin of the inlet. The

clustering of seven sites (including BMB/116) in the mid northwestern section

of the inlet suggests the beach may have once extended further towards the

estuary than at present. The large sand bodies visible at both the eastern and

western margins of the inlet today (see Figure 3.9) are further evidence of the

remnant beach which is part of the modern coastal dune complex in the inlet

(see Table 3.2). This situation also implies that the mangrove habitat may have

once been restricted to the margins of the estuary on the western most point of

the inlet, where an isolated midden deposit has been recorded. This

interpretation and the dominance of the Marcia hiantina throughout the

BMB/116 excavated assemblage confirm the likelihood that the inlet may have

been targeted primarily for its availability of beach shellfish species.

104


The increase in the deposition of remains from mangrove shellfish species at

BMB/116 illustrated previously (Table 6.7), provides further evidence for recent

changes to the local site environment and shellfish habitats (prior to 280 years

ago). It is noted, however, mangrove resources remained only secondary to the

shell‐fishing economy with the beach continuing to be the main coastal habitat

targeted for shellfish throughout the period of site occupation.

The results produced from the analyses of the BMB/116 excavated deposit have

provided a useful body of data for a comparison with another archaeological

site recorded in the Point Blane peninsula study area.

BMB/84: A comparison to BMB/116

The site of BMB/84 has been selected for comparative analysis for two key

reasons. Firstly, BMB/84 is located 500m to the east of BMB/116 in the Lumatjpi

inlet providing close spatial proximity between the two sites. Secondly, the sites

have a broadly similar radiocarbon chronology and demonstrate

contemporaneous occupation between the approximate period 480 – 280 cal yrs

BP. This provides an excellent opportunity to compare two archaeological

midden sites within the same local area and which presumably formed under the

same environmental conditions. The identification of similarities and/or

differences in the two sites may provide a broader view of occupation patterns

within the inlet, as well as to assist in establishing the defining features or

characteristics for distinguishing between shell mounds and shell middens in

Point Blane peninsula study area.

105


BMB/84 is described as a midden complex, comprising dense concentrations of

shell extending 320m x 75m along a sandy ridge behind the mangrove (Clarke

and Faulkner 2003: 70‐71). The site complex is dispersed over 16,000m² with

concentrated shell deposits covering an area of 1,500m². Significantly, the site

complex contains both cultural and natural shell deposits. A summary of the

main features of BMB/84 and the key similarities and differences with BMB/116

are provided below and in Table 6.8:

• The BMB/84 site complex is much larger than the isolated deposit at

BMB/116, indicating differences in the nature of site use and deposition

patterns of remains;

• The presence of naturally deposited shell within the BMB/84 site complex

indicates different environmental processes may have been affecting the

two areas during the period of past occupation and use. The location of

BMB/84 closer to coast may have exposed the site storm surge, resulting in

the intermixing of natural and cultural shell deposits;

• BMB/84 has broader species diversity than BMB/116. This is interpreted

as the result of the presence of natural shell deposits at BMB/84, which by

contrast are absent from BMB/116;

• In spite of broader species diversity, BMB/84 demonstrates similar

proportions of shells from beach, rocky foreshore and mangrove habitats

identified at BMB/116, therefore demonstrating similar patterns in

procurement strategies and resource selection preferences;

• BMB/84 is characterized by the distribution of a number of concentrated

ground level midden deposits of a range of dimensions within a larger

area of scattered surface shell. The results of radiocarbon of the

concentrated shell deposits suggest that occupation may have been

periodic and unfocused over a large area (over 16,000m²);

106


• In contrast, the results of the BMB/116 analyses indicate that occupation at

this site was both spatially and temporally contained, resulting in the

concentrated deposition of the remains of marine shell raised above

ground level to a >70cm.

Table 6.9 Comparison of physical features of BMB/116 and

BMB/184

BMB/116 BMB/84

Date range 657‐281 cal BP 482‐ modern cal BP

Extent of

occupation

380 years 482 years

Profile mounded flat

Cross section irregular N/A

Areal shape oval irregular

Dimensions L 27.6m x W

11.5m

L 320 x W 50

‐ height .70m N/A

‐ depth ‐ 50cm

‐ area 317.4m² 16,000 m²

‐ volume 149.18 N/A

Surface or

subsurface

surface Surface to subsurface

Continuous

/discontinuous

continuous discontinuous

Dominant

species

Other content

visible

Marcia

hiantina

Anadara

granosa

stone flake ‐

Marcia hiantina

Isognomon isognomom

A range of distinct physical and material differences are apparent between

BMB/116 and BMB/84. It is suggested that BMB/84 represents a location where

ongoing spatial and temporal variability in site use resulted in a broadly

dispersed pattern of archeological shell deposits, with some limited and possibly

107


short term concentration of depositional activities. In contrast, the nature of the

archeological deposit at BMB/116 indicates that activities were spatially

concentrated at the site, and even more specifically focused within the

boundaries of the deposit itself (refer to above description of site contours and

Figure 6.3). Several reasons may exist for these differences in the nature of site

use and deposition patterns at BMB/116 and BMB/84. One simple possibility is

the availability of shade, a breeze or shelter from wind – three attractive features

which happen to characterize the BMB/116 site location. Excavation and analysis

of BMB/84 (Esposito 2005) sought to determine the degree of mixing and

reworking of the cultural shell deposits in this area. The four test excavations

produced mixed results with both cultural and natural deposits identified at

varying XU levels, with a remixing of the natural beach ridge evident. It is

possible that natural processes are partly responsible for the natural and form of

the shell deposits recorded in at this site. Importantly, however, both this

comparison and the interpretation of the BMB/116 profile as demonstrating both

mounded and non‐mound forms clearly demonstrate the requirement for a

review of the site classification process applied to the archaeological deposits on

the Point Blane peninsula.

A review of mound site data on Point Blane peninsula

With the aim of assessing the efficacy of the newly identified criteria for

classifying shell mounds a review of the dimensions of shell mound sites

recorded in Point Blane Peninsula was undertaken. Due to the inherent

constraints of this dissertation, however, only the height requirement criterion

will be assessed here. Appendix 9 provides a list of the compiled data on the

length, width and height, as well as age range and dominant archaeological

108


material for shell mound sites recorded in the study area. A further aim of this

data review is to assess the implications of the newly established height

criterion for the existing classification of shell mound sites across Point Blane

peninsula. As outlined previously in Chapter 4, a minimum height of 75cm

was determined as an important criterion for the classification of shell mounds.

This specific height is interpreted as demonstrating a distinct change between

the lowest point and the highest point of a site represented by the deposit

profile.

The data compiled in Appendix 9 demonstrates that 28 out of 60 shell mound

sites recorded on the Point Blane peninsula have a height of less than 75cm.

This outcome therefore indicates that under the new classificatory frame work

for identifying shell mounds, and specifically the height criterion, the initial

mound’ classification of these sites requires reconsideration. Based on this

outcome, the final section of this chapter provides a reassessment of the

original classification of BMB/116 as a shell mound.

BMB/116: Mound or midden?

As described above the BMB/116 deposit is interpreted as exhibiting both

mounded and non‐mounded profiles. This newly established variable nature

of the deposit profile is contrary to the original fieldwork classification of the

site as a shell mound (Clarke and Faulkner 2003). A further review of the field

data recorded for BMB/116 (refer Table 6.9, Appendix 10) highlights the

following key features of the site profile:

• The site does not demonstrate one central high point;

109


• The recorded height of 70cm is under the minimum determined height

of 75cm;

• The site cross section or profile is irregular, and hence does not conform

to classificatory criteria of conical or hemi‐spherical.

The resulting interpretation is that BMB/116 is not classified as a shell mound.

Although the review of the defining attributes of shell mounds demonstrated

BMB/116a age range, dominate shell species and location; anomalous for a shell

mound on the Point Blane peninsula, are within the demonstrated range of

attributes for mound sites in Australian. This study demonstrated these

characterizing attributes do not form the basis for site classification. Only by

the application and analysis of the midden forms of Profile and Dimension can

mounded and non‐mounded middens be differentiated. The above analysis of

BMB/116 clearly demonstrate BMB//16 is a midden not a mound. Significantly,

however, the reclassification of this site as midden provides resolution to the

anomalous status of this site identified at the outset of this study (Chapter 1).

With the addition of BMB/116 to the catalogue of midden sites recorded on the

Point Blane peninsula, all shell mounds in the study area are restricted to the

western wetland margins. This new result not only has significant implications

for the previous interpretations of site patterns distribution, but for

interpretations of the past cultural processes and behaviors responsible for

their formation.

Conclusions

The results of the analysis of the excavated BMB/116 shell assemblage,

including an investigation of species diversity, dominate species and shellfish

110


habitat, provided useful data for the interpretation of site origin, formation and

past procurement strategies. This data provided useful comparison with

BMB/84 to determine similarities and differences across shell deposits within

broadly similar spatial and temporal contexts in the Point Blane peninsula

study area. The results demonstrated key differences in the form,

concentration and extent of shell deposits at the two sites, suggesting

variability in the depositional processes (and possibly taphonomic processes)

through which they were produced.

Based on the application of the newly identified height requirement for

defining shell mounds, a review of the site dimensions of shell mounds

recorded during fieldwork on the Point Blane peninsula revealed the need for

reassessment of the original site classifications. This was further confirmed by

the final diagnosis of BMB/116, which established that contrary to its original

classification as a shell mound, the site may more accurately be defined as a

shell midden. Further implications and the significance of the outcomes of this

study for the discipline of Australian coastal archaeology are discussed in

Chapter 7.

The previously identified anomalies of BMB/116 age and shell species was

determined to be within the range of shell mound attributes identified across

NSW, QLD, NT and WA. The form of the site was reclassified as a shell

midden answering the question of why was only one shell mound identified on

the coastal margins of Point Blane Peninsula.

Comparison of BMB/116 data with BMB/84 data

111


Introduction to BMB/84

Discussion

Hypothesis: Interpretation of site use in the Lumatjpi Inlet.

Introduction to field data analysis

Size analysis of shell mounds on Blane Peninsula

Comparison with BMB/116

Interpretation of field data analysis

Chapter 7

Conclusion, implications and future research

112


This chapter presents the major conclusions of this study drawing on the

achievements of the three major research aims. In addition a number of future

research directions are identified for BMB/116 and the Point Blane peninsula, and

a new research project on Australian shell middens.

Conclusions

This study’s research was developed within the broad frame work of an

examination of identifying what criteria could be applied to distinguish between

mounded and non‐mounded forms of shell middens. Early research for this

study identified inconsistencies in the way Australian archaeologists described

and classified shell mounds and that no formal criteria for classifing mound sites

had been developed. Within this frame work a case study was undertaken of

analysis and interpretation of an anomalous coastal shell mound BMB/116

located on the Point Blane peninsula. A critical review of the archaeological

literature examined the characterizing attributes of shell mounds which

importantly established a wider range of site age and dominate species for shell

mound sites and identified they could be located anywhere shell middens

occurred. The research identified the commonly discussed Anadara mounds

were not a suitable representative model for mound sites across Australia. The

wider range of shell mound attributes provided a new context to review the

anomalous attributes of BMB/116 and determined they fell within the identified

parameters of the range of attributes of Australian shell mounds.

The review also undertook to review the key features of midden form attributes

and identified Profile and Dimension as offering an accurate and reliable means

113


for distinguishing between mounded and non‐mounded forms of shell middens.

From this base a definition of criteria for describing and classifing shell mounds

was developed and presented. These bodies of research provided a new context

for evaluating BMB/116 and resolve the question of its anomalous status.

To fully understand and evaluate BMB/116 a detailed analysis of the excavated

assemblage was undertaken. This identified the characterizing nature of the

shell assemblage and a more complete understanding of the depositional

processes was achieved. The recording of a comprehensive dataset provided the

basis for comparison of BMB/116 with another site recorded in the immediate

study area (BMB/84). This comparison highlighted the contained spatial and

temporal nature of BMB/116. The interpretation of the two sites suggested

different behavioral and taphonomic circumstances affected the differing

formation of the two sites. Three occupation focus points were also identified in

BMB/116s profile which were interpreted has having both mounded and non‐

mounded characteristics. This point clearly demonstrated a review of sites

classification was required.

The application of the new classificatory criteria of Profile and Dimension to

BMB/116 identified the site did not met either criteria’s requirements for mound

classification. This resolved the final anomalous question of BMB/116 being the

only mound site located on the coastal margins of the peninsula. The

reclassification of BMB/116 establishes all mound sites on the Point Blane

peninsula are located on the wetland margins. This result has significant

implications for the pervious criteria used to classify mound sites in this region

and impacts on interpretations of mound site pattern distribution on the

114


peninsula. Further, the implications impact on the classification of mound sites in

a wide range of previous research.

Implications

The implications of the new classificatory criteria for shell mounds were tested

against field data complied from Point Blane peninsula. The criteria of

dimension were tested as data on profile was not available. The results suggested

30% of the mound sites on Point Blane peninsula would be identified for a

review of their site classification. This suggests a major review of previously

classified mound sites is required. The implementation of this new frame work

for classifing mound sites will produce results that will provide a direct way to

elucidate variation in the archaeological record as demonstrate in the site

comparison between BMB/116 and BMB/84. The criterion will provide a more

reliable platform for comparing regional and national archaeological data. Only

then will a clearer understanding emerge of these elusive forms of middens in

Australian coastal archaeology.

Future research

This study identified a range of future research directions that would further

develop the work undertaken in this study. The other research directions extend

beyond this study to contribute to coastal archaeology as a discipline. Future

research directly related to this study includes

• The further development of the Field Recording Form and an

accompanying data base of mound profile images.

115


• The compiling of a data base of mound profiles would also warrant an

investigation in mound profile variations to determine if a wider range of

profile cross‐sections could be included in those identified as mounded in

form.

• The examination of the survival of fish bone in midden sites in the study

area to determine if taphonomic or cultural reasons can explain the

absence of fish bone from midden sites.

• Further dating of marine shell from BMB/116 UX 5 and UX 8 to determine

the chronology of the identified changes in site use.

Point Blane peninsula would also provide the ideal study region for a range of

future research;

• The wider testing of the new classificatory criteria for shell mounds.

• The study of types of shell mound sites as framework for identifying a

wider range of categories of shell mounds.

Finally a major new research direction would focus on the examination of

mound site surface areas to indentify surface features, and patterns of intra‐site

occupation focus points. Excavation would be targeted at occupation focus

points to determine if surface occupation points are replicated across the

stratigraphy of the excavation.

This study has identified that archaeological criteria are critical to the

classification of any site. Shell mounds are widely known as distinctive markers

of coastal archaeological landscapes however this study has demonstrated wide

variation exists in mound site dimensions and profiles making site identification

complex. The application of this study’s new classificatory frame work for

116


mound sites has resolved these difficulties and will introduce consistency into

the identification of mound sites in future research.

117


Appendix 1.1

Shell mound attribute research data

118


Location Location

geograph

y

Weipa

(Bailey 1977)

Darwin

Harbour

)Burns 1999

Bourke 2004)

Mari‐

aMaramay

Croker Island

(Mitchell

1993)

Port

Headland

(Harrison

2009(

Richmond

River Ballina

(Bailey 1975)

Point Blane

peninsula

(Clarke &

Faulkner

2003)

Nickol Bay

WA

Nichol 2.

(Clune 2002)

Pambula

Lake

(Sullivan

Date all

BP

Estuarine 3510‐710 Anadara

granosa

Mud flats 1601‐446 Anadara

granosa

Island 3000‐2000 Gafrarium

tumidum

Estuarine 3410‐2910

5250‐4400

1280‐1030

Dom Species Formation Dimensions

Anadara

granosa

River 1746‐250 Sydney Rock

Oyster

Wet

Lands

& mud

flats

2173‐281 Anadara

granosa

late sites

Marcia hiantina

Coast 4250 Anadara

granosa

Estuarine Ostrea angasi

(mud oyster)

2 phases

1st surface

scatter

2nd mounded

L110m x W45m x

H3m

Max H 10m

majority H


1982)

Severs Beach

(Sullivan

1982)

Pambula

Lake

(Sullivan

1982)

Coast 4000sqm

cluster of sites

1m to 10m

diameter

>1.50m D

Esturine 2700‐ 90 Upper midden

Mytilus

planulatus

Lower

Ostrea angasi

Two

phases

120


Clybucca

Andersons

Inlet

(Register of

the National

Estate

www.heritag

e.gov.au(

Northern

Kimberly

(O’Connor

1996)

Blyth River

BR Kula Kula

Mounds

Yuluk Yulluk

mounds

(Meehan

1982:166)

Howard

River East

Darwin

(Hiscock &

Faulkner

2006)

River 5000‐2000 Upper

Cassogstrea

Commercialis

Lower

Anadara

trapezia

Coast 4200‐

present

River

Inland

up to 5

km

Upper

Anadara

Lower

Tapes hiantina

Dosinia

juvenilis

Coecella

horsfieldi

Two

phases

Two

phases

N/A

N/A

N/A

Continuous

midden complex

350Klm. irregular

depth isolated

mounds

Large Weipa like

mounds

30m diameter x

5m H

N/A

N/A

1800‐ 600 Anadara N/A 1m to 90m L

.20m to 7m H

121


Apendix 1.2

Shell midden terminology research data

122


Term Reference Source

Shell matrix sites Forchhammer et al. 1851‐157 Claassen 1998

Shell matrix level of – Single dump

Lens

scatter

Ambrose 1967 Claassen 1998:6

Shell‐bearing habitation site Claassen 1991 Same

Base site mound Beaton 1985

Meehan 1982

Cited by Roberts 1994

Composite mound site Cribb 1996 Cited by Bourke 2004

Shell bearing site Widmer 1989 Claassen 1991

Shell‐bearing midden site Claassen 1991 Same

Kjokkenmodding

Danish Government

Claassen 1998

Kitchen Midden

Study group 1848.

Brough Smyth 1878 (Aust)

Rowland 1994

Shell midden Waselkov 1987

Same

Sullivan 1989

Same

Clarke & Faulkner 2003 Same

Bowdler 1983

Same

Coastal midden Woodroffe et al 1988 Same

Circular shaped midden Bourke 2004 Same

Doughnut shaped midden Bourke 2004 Same

Paleochannel midden Woodroffe et al 1985 Same

Midden scatter Woodroffe et al 1985

Bailey 1975

Beaton 1985

Cited by Roberts 1994

Shell scatter Bourke 2004

Same

Sullivan 1989

Same

Surface scatter Woodroffe et al 1985 Same

High‐density shell middens

Low‐ density shell scatters

McNiven 1992 (JFA)

Same

Shell midden mound Sullivan 1989 Same

Midden mound Woodroffe Et al 1985

Beatob 1985

Meehan 1982

Cribb 1986b

Bourke 2004

Cited by Roberts 1994

Shell mound Cribb 1991

Same

Burns 1994

Same

Faulkner 2006

Same

Meehan 1982

Same

Surface mound Woodroffe et al 1988 Same

Shell‐heap C Darwin 1839 Claassen 1998

Conical shell heap Bailey 1975

Meehan 1982

Cribb 1986

Beaton 1985

Cited by Roberts 1994

Mounds of shell

Rings of shell

Claassen 1998:6 Same

U shaped shell mound Frankland 1990 Rowland 1994

Mudflat mound Woodroffe et al 1985 Cited by Roberts1994

123


Elongated mound

Bailey 1975

Cribb 1986b

Bourke 2004 Same

Earth mound Stocker 1971

Crib 1986B

Cited by Roberts 1994

Bourke 2004

Same

Geomorphological mound Bailey 1975 Cited by

Roberts 1994

Large domed shell mound Beaton Cited by Sullivan & O’Connor

1993

124


Appendix 1.3

Shell midden & mound site dimensions research data

125


Site description & location Dimensions Reference

Scotland

Large midden,

Limfjord Northern Jutland

Midden, Limfjord Northern

Jutland

5 open air middens,

Oronsay Island Scotland

Cave midden

Ulva Island Scotland

Occupation area shell midden

Fife Scotland. Site B

North America

Shell midden,

Mashomack Preserve

Four small open middens,

Potowomut Neck, Rhode Island

State

Coastal shell midden,

British Camp

Extensive shell midden, Glenrose

Cannery Site

Japan

Circular shell mound

Natsushima

7 shell middens in a horseshoe

shape, Kidosaku Site

All of the above from Irish 1997

Australia

Large open midden,

Bass Point NSW

Open site mounded shell midden,

Pambula Lake NSW

Large shell midden home base

site, Matai Community

Arnhem Land

Anabarra territory shell middens

Large shell mounds

140m x 20m x1.90m Anderson & Johansen

1986:35

8m x 12m x 0.40m Same

30m L x 0.06m D Russell et al 1995

170m2 x 0.35m D Same

30m x 3.50m x 0.50‐0.78m Coles 1971

16sqm x 0.15m D Lightfoot 1985

Size not recorded, small

1‐2sm

Kerber 1985

300m x 4.00m D Stein 1992

200m x 60m x 2 ‐ 5.50m Matson 1976

15m diameter x 1.50m D Aikens 1982

200‐400m x 0.02‐.40m D Koike 1996

100m x 40m x 0.40m Bowdler 1976

30m x 20m x 0.90m Sullivan 1984

35sqm x 1.00m D

Scatters to 1.00m D

30m diameter x up 5m H

Meehan 1982

126


Australia additional site sizes by

Alexander

Small mounds adjacent to large

mounds

Lueng, Mission River Qld

13 Shell mound cluster

Lueng, Mission River Qld

Shell mound clusters < 15 mounds

Shell mounds

Weipa Qld

Overlapping mounds

Shell mound

Hey River Weipa

Shell mound

Agnes Waters Qld.

Linear midden

Small midden dumps

Doughnut middens

North West Tasmania Nelson Bay

area

Roughly circular mounds

Croker Island Arnhem Land

Shell mound

Band of shell

Band of shell midden

Port Hedland W. A.

Shell midden mounds

Richmond River NSW

0.03m

0.05m H 4.00m H

5.00m H

600sqm area

Mounds< 0.05m H

2 – 6m H

5m diameter x 13m H

mounds < 0.20 D

245m x 40m x 7.50H

23m x 17m x 1.50H

Morrison 2003

Archaeology in Oceania

Morrison 2003

Archaeology in Oceania

Morrison 2003

Archaeology in Oceania

Bailey et al 1994

16m x 20m x >1m Rowland 1994

1.5 km x 0.7 km x 1‐15cm

H

1‐3m diameter x 20‐30cm

H

13m external diameter x

5m internal diameter x

40cm H

10m x 12m x 1.10m

9m x 8m 0.80m

26m x 24m x 0.80m

77m x 18m x 0.10m

246m x 196m x 0.10m

148 x 133m x 0.10m

D. Ranson 1978

Aus Arc, no8, 149‐158

S. Mitchell 1993

Harrison 2009

400m x ….. x 4.00H Bailey 1975

127


Appendix 2 .1

Laboratory recording form shellfish analysis

128


BLUE MUD BAY PROJECT: SHELLFISH ANAYLSIS

Site BMB/116 Excavation Unit

BMB/116B

Spit No Date sorted

Total shell weight sorted >6mm

BIVALVES Shell weight Shell counts

Species Total

wgt

Anadara antiquate

Marcia hiantina

Polymosoda erosa

Gafrarium tumidum

Fuliva tenvicostata

Veneridae (Fam)

Septifer Mussel

Unidentified

Frag wgt Whole

shell

wgt

Umbo to

70%shell

Umbo to

70%

shell

OYSTER Shell weights Shell counts

Chama fibula

Saccostrea culcullata

Pinctada

margaritifera

Isognomon

ephippium

Unidentified

OTHER

MARINE

LIFE

Barnacles

Worm tubes

Coral

Crab

Total

wgt

Total

wgt

Frag wgt Lid wgt Bases

wgt

No of

70% lids

No of

70%

bases

Shell weights Shell counts

Frag wgt Whole

wgt

No of

specimns

Whole shells MNI

No of beaks MNI

MNI

129


GASTROPODS

Terebralia Paustris

Telescopium Telescopium

Strombus s.p.

Nerita s.p.

Terrestrial snail

Unidentified gastropods

Total

wgt

Shell weights Shell counts

Frag

wgt

Whole

shell

Wgt

70%

shell

wgt

No 70%

shells

No

whole

shells

SPECIES


Appendix 2.2

Laboratory recording form Non‐mollusc analysis

131


Site BMB/116 Date sorted 24.8.09

Excavation unit BMB/116 B

Total weight of non‐mollusc material

Total weight of rubble

Spit No

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

Total

total as

% of

TP

Bucket

weight

Bulk

weight

Bkt

wgt

less

bulk

wgt

Material weights

Non‐

mol

material

total

wgt Rubble Plant Charcoal

Spit as

% of

test pit

132


Appendix 2.3

Recording form mound formation analysis

133


BLUE MUD BAY PROJECT: MOUND FORMATION ANALYSIS

SHELL MOUND BMB/116

TEST PIT NO………

6MM ANALYSIS

Honour Project for USYD

2009

Date

sorted………………………..

.

SHELL SPECIES‐ A = Anadara granosa, G = Gafrarium tumidum, I = Isognomon

ephippium, M = Marcia hiantina, S = Saccostrea culcullata

SPIT LEVELS → 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Shell wgt grams

< 6mm

Shell wgt grams


Calculated

sediment

weight

Page 2 Mound analysis by %

Spit 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Dom non‐

mollusc

material

% of excavated

remains in spit

% of shell in

excavated

remains

% of rubble in

excavated

remains

% of sediment

to spit

% of spit wgt to

test pit

135


Appendix 3.1

Laboratory recorded data: Shellfish analysis excavation

units 1‐12

136


BLUE MUD BAY PROJECT: SHELLFISH ANALYSIS

Site BMB/116 Excavation Unit

BMB/116B

Spit No 1 Date sorted 24.08.09

Total shell weight sorted >6mm 1566.00 grams

BIVALVES Shell weight Shell counts

Species Total

wgt

Frag wgt Whole

shell wgt

Umbo to

70%shell

Umbo to

70% shell

Whole

shells

Anadara granosa 450.50 251.50 199.00 8 15 11

Marcia hiantina 854.00 610.00 244.00 88 28 58

Polymosoda erosa 23.00 5.00 1 1

Gafrarium tumidum 1.50 1.50 ‐

Fuliva tenvicostata ‐

Veneridae (Fam) ‐

Septifer Mussel 1.50 1.00 0.50 3.00 2.00 ‐

Unidentified ‐

OYSTER Shell weights Shell counts

Total

wgt

Frag wgt Lid wgt Bases

wgt

No >70%

lids

No >70%

bases

No of

beaks

Chama fibula ‐

Saccostrea culcullata

49.50 24.00 25.50 5 1 5

Pinctada

margaritifera 2.00 2.00 ‐

Isognomon

ephippium 101.50 89.50 12.00 3 ‐

Unidentified


OTHER

MARINE

LIFE

Total

wgt

Shell weights Shell counts

Frag wgt Whole

wgt

No of

specimen

s

Barnacles 3.00 1.50 1.50 1 ‐

Worm tubes ‐

Coral ‐

Crab ‐

GASTROPO

DS

Total

wgt

Shell weights Shell counts

Frag wgt Whole

shell Wgt

70%

shell wgt

No 70%

shells

No whole

shells

MNI

MNI

MNI

no mouths MNI

Terebralia Paustris

Telescopium

Telescopium ‐

Strombus s.p.

Nerita s.p.


38.00 22.00 16.00 5 5

Terrestrial snail 0.50

0.50 ‐

137


Unidentified

gastropods

SPECIES


BLUE MUD BAY PROJECT: SHELLFISH ANAYLSIS

Site BMB/116 Excavation

Unit BMB/116B

Spit No 2 Date sorted

24.8.09

Total shell weight sorted >6mm 3321.90gms

BIVALVES Shell weight Shell counts

Species Total

wgt

Frag wgt Whole

shell wgt

Umbo

to

70%shel

l

Umbo <

70% shell

Whole

shells

Anadara granosa 299.00 279.00 17.00 3.00 3 17 10

Marcia hiantina 2034.00 1298.00 310.00 426.00 356 84 220

Polymosoda erosa 10.00 10.00 ‐

Gafrarium

tumidum

1.50 1.50 ‐

Fuliva

tenvicostata


Veneridae (Fam) ‐

Septifer Mussel 2.00 0.50 1.50 1.00 1

Unidentified ‐

OYSTER Shell weights Shell counts

Total

wgt

Frag wgt Lid wgt Bases

wgt

No of

70% lids

No of

70%

bases

No of

beaks

Chama fibula

Saccostrea

3.50 3.50 1 1

culcullata

Pinctada

62.50 22.50 40.00 3 1 3

margaritifera

Isognomon

4.50 4.50 ‐

ephippium 44.50 44.50 ‐

Unidentified 20.00 20.00 ‐

OTHER

MARINE

LIFE

Total

wgt

Shell weights Shell counts ‐

Frag wgt Whole

wgt

No of

specimn

Barnacles 1.00 1.00 ‐

Worm tubes ‐

Coral ‐

Crab ‐

GASTROP

ODS

Total

wgt

Shell weights Shell counts

Frag wgt Whole

shell

Wgt

70%

shell

wgt

No 70%

shells

No

whole

shells

MNI

MNI

MNI

no mouths MNI

139


Terebralia

Paustris

Telescopium

12.00 12.00 ‐

Telescopium 3.50 3.50 ‐

Strombus s.p. ‐

Nerita s.p. 21.00 14.50 6.50 2 2

Terrestrial snail 0.40 0.40 ‐

Unidentified

gastropods

SPECIES


BLUE MUD BAY PROJECT: SHELLFISH ANAYLSIS

Site BMB/116 Excavation Unit BMB/116B

Spit No 3 Date sorted 24.8.09

Total shell weight sorted >6mm 3115.05 gms

BIVALVES Shell weight Shell counts

Species Total wgt Frag wgt Whole

shell wgt

Umbo to

70%shell

Umbo to

70% shell

Whole

shells

Anadara granosa 167.00 106.50 60.38 0.12 7 6 6

Marcia hiantina 1750.50 971.50 465.00 314.00 374 98 236

Polymosoda erosa 38.50 32.50 6.00 1 1

Gafrarium tumidum 14.50 9.50 3.50 1.50 1 1 1

Fuliva tenvicostata ‐

Veneridae (Fam) ‐

Septifer Mussel 8.00 5.00 1.50 1.50 7 6 6

Unidentified ‐

OYSTER Shell weights Shell counts

Chama fibula

Total wgt Frag wgt Lid wgt Bases wgt No of

70% lids

No of

70%

bases

Saccostrea culcullata 97.50 63.00 34.50 3.00 2.00

Pinctada margaritifera

Isognomon ephippium 164.00 96.50 67.50 21.00

Unidentified

OTHER

MARINE LIFE

No of

beaks

Shell weights Shell counts ‐

Total wgt Frag wgt Whole

wgt

No of

specimns

Barnacles 0.50 0.50 ‐

Worm tubes ‐

Coral 0.05 0.05 ‐

Crab 4.00 4.00 5.00 ‐

141

MNI

MNI


3


1


MNI


GASTROPODS

Shell weights Shell counts

Total wgt Frag wgt Whole

shell Wgt

70% shell

wgt

No 70%

shells

No whole

shells

no mouths MNI

Terebralia Paustris 12.50 12.50 ‐

Telescopium

Telescopium

5.00 5.00

Strombus s.p. 1.00 1.00 1.00

Nerita s.p. 18.00 18.00

Terrestrial snail 0.50 0.50 ‐

Unidentified 12.00 12.00 ‐

SPECIES


BLUE MUD BAY PROJECT: SHELLFISH ANALYSIS

Site BMB/116 Excavation Unit BMB/116B

Spit No 4 Date sorted 24.8.09

Total shell weight sorted >6mm 3960.30 gms All material Pre wash weight

4982.25

BIVALVES Shell weight Shell counts

Species Total

wgt

Frag wgt Whole

shell wgt

Umbo to

70%shell

Umbo to

70%

shell

Whole

shells

Anadara granosa 254.00 97.00 145.00 12.00 5 14 9

Marcia hiantina 2089.00 1368.50 536.50 185.00 195 196 195

Polymosoda erosa ‐

Gafrarium tumidum 40.50 7.00 33.50 1.00 1 12 6

Fuliva tenvicostata ‐

Veneridae (Fam) 5.00 1.50 3.50 3 3

Septifer Mussel 37.50 33.50 2.50 1.50 13.0 5 9

Unidentified poss

Anadara granosa

14.50 4.50 10.00 3

OYSTER Shell weights Shell counts

Chama fibula

Total

wgt

Frag wgt Lid wgt Bases wgt No of 70%

lids

No of

70%

bases

Saccostrea culcullata 156 76.5 79.5 15 2

Pinctada margaritifera

Isognomon ephippium 245 159.5 85.5 42

No of

beaks

Unidentified 61.5 61.5 ‐

OTHER

MARINE LIFE

Total

wgt

Shell weights Shell counts

Frag wgt Whole

wgt

No of

specimens

Barnacles ‐

Worm tubes ‐

Coral ‐

Crab ‐

143

MNI

2

MNI


15


21

MNI


GASTROPODS Total

wgt

Shell weights Shell counts

Frag wgt Whole

shell

Wgt

70% shell

wgt

No 70%

shells

No

whole

shells

no mouths MNI

Terebralia Paustris 63.50 63.50 ‐

Telescopium Telescopium 18.00 18.00

Strombus s.p.

Nerita s.p. 19.00 14.00 5.00 2. 2

Terrestrial snail 2.00 2.00

Unidentified ‐

SPECIES


BLUE MUD BAY PROJECT: SHELLFISH ANAYLSIS

Site BMB/116 Excavation Unit BMB/116B

Spit No 5 Date sorted 26.8.09

Total shell weight sorted >6mm 786.50 gms

BIVALVES Shell weight Shell counts

Species Total wgt Frag wgt Whole

shell wgt

Umbo to

70%shell

Umbo to

70% shell

Whole

shells

Anadara granosa 4.50 4.50 ‐

Marcia hiantina 504.00 274.00 168.00 62.00 96 62 79

Polymosoda erosa 5.00 5.00 ‐

Gafrarium tumidum 7.50 7.50 ‐

Fuliva tenvicostata ‐

Veneridae (Fam) ‐

Septifer Mussel 10.50 6.00 2.50 1.50 12 8 10

Unidentified poss

Anadara granosa

13.50 5.00 8.50 4 2

OYSTER Shell weights Shell counts

Total wgt Frag wgt Lid wgt Bases wgt No of

70% lids

No of

70%

bases

No of

beaks

Chama fibula ‐

Saccostrea culcullata

Pinctada margaritifera

Isognomon ephippium

46.50 38.50 8.00 1

141.50 138.00 32.50 27.00

Unidentified ‐

OTHER

MARINE LIFE

Shell weights Shell counts

Total wgt Frag wgt Whole

wgt

No of

specimns

Barnacles 0.50 0.50 2.00 ‐

Worm tubes ‐

Coral ‐

Crab ‐

145

MNI

MNI

1


13

MNI


GASTROPODS

Shell weights Shell counts

Total wgt Frag wgt Whole

shell Wgt

70% shell

wgt

No 70%

shells

No whole

shells

no mouths MNI

Terebralia Paustris 18.00 18.00 ‐

Telescopium

Telescopium ‐

Strombus s.p. ‐

Nerita s.p. 6.50 6.50 ‐

Terrestrial snail 1.50

Unidentified gastropods

1.50 ‐

SPECIES


BLUE MUD BAY PROJECT: SHELLFISH ANAYLSIS

Site BMB/116 Excavation Unit BMB/116B

Spit No 6 NOT EXCAVATED Date sorted

Total shell weight sorted >6mm

BIVALVES Shell weight Shell counts

Species Total wgt Frag wgt Whole

shell wgt

Anadara granosa

Marcia hiantina

Polymosoda erosa

Gafrarium tumidum

Fuliva tenvicostata

Veneridae (Fam)

Septifer Mussel

Unidentified

Umbo to

70%shell

Umbo to

70% shell

OYSTER Shell weights Shell counts

Chama fibula

Saccostrea culcullata

Pinctada margaritifera

Isognomon ephippium

Unidentified

OTHER

MARINE LIFE

Barnacles

Worm tubes

Coral

Crab

Total wgt Frag wgt Lid wgt Bases wgt No of

70% lids

No of 70%

bases

Shell weights Shell counts

Total wgt Frag wgt Whole

wgt

No of

specimns

Shell weights Shell counts

Whole

shells

No of

beaks

147

MNI

MNI

MNI


GASTROPODS

Terebralia Paustris

Telescopium

Telescopium

Strombus s.p.

Nerita s.p.

Terrestrial snail

Unidentified gastropods

Total wgt Frag wgt Whole

shell Wgt

70% shell

wgt

No 70%

shells

No whole

shells

SPECIES


BLUE MUD BAY PROJECT: SHELLFISH ANAYLSIS

Site BMB/116 Excavation Unit BMB/116B

Spit No 7 NOT EXCAVATED Date sorted

Total shell weight sorted >6mm

BIVALVES Shell weight Shell counts

Species Total wgt Frag wgt Whole shell

wgt

Anadara granosa

Marcia hiantina

Polymosoda erosa

Gafrarium tumidum

Fuliva tenvicostata

Veneridae (Fam)

Septifer Mussel

Unidentified

Umbo to

70%shell

Umbo to

70% shell

OYSTER Shell weights Shell counts

Chama fibula

Saccostrea culcullata

Pinctada margaritifera

Isognomon ephippium

Unidentified

OTHER MARINE

LIFE

Barnacles

Worm tubes

Coral

Crab

Total wgt Frag wgt Lid wgt Bases wgt No of 70%

lids

No of 70%

bases

Shell weights Shell counts

Total wgt Frag wgt Whole

wgt

No of

specimns

Shell weights Shell counts

Whole

shells

149

MNI

No of beaks MNI

MNI


GASTROPODS

Terebralia Paustris

Total wgt Frag wgt Whole

shell Wgt

Telescopium Telescopium

Strombus s.p.

Nerita s.p.

Terrestrial snail

Unidentified gastropods

70% shell

wgt

No 70%

shells

No whole

shells

SPECIES


BLUE MUD BAY PROJECT: SHELLFISH ANAYLSIS

Site BMB/116 Excavation Unit BMB/116B

Spit No 8 Date sorted 29.8.09

Total shell weight sorted >6mm 311.75 gms

BIVALVES Shell weight Shell counts

Species Total wgt Frag wgt Whole

shell wgt

Umbo to

70%shell

Umbo to

70% shell

Whole

shells

Anadara granosa 2.50 2.50 ‐

Marcia hiantina 156.50 67.00 66.00 23.50 31 29 30

Polymosoda erosa ‐

Gafrarium tumidum 23.50 4.00 17.00 2.50 4 7 5

Fuliva tenvicostata ‐

Veneridae (Fam) ‐

Septifer Mussel 2.70 2.50 0.20 2 1

Unidentified ‐

OYSTER Shell weights Shell counts

Total wgt Frag wgt Lid wgt Bases wgt No of 70%

lids

No of

70%

bases

No of

beaks

Chama fibula


Saccostrea culcullata

Pinctada margaritifera

66.00 5.50 12.00 48.50 4 5

5


Isognomon ephippium 7.50 7.50


Unidentified 7.50 7.50 ‐

OTHER

MARINE LIFE

Shell weights Shell counts

Total wgt Frag wgt Whole

wgt

No of

specimens

Barnacles ‐

Worm tubes

Coral ‐

Crab ‐

151

MNI

MNI

MNI


GASTROPODS Total wgt Frag wgt Whole

shell Wgt

Shell weights Shell counts ‐

70% shell

wgt

No 70%

shells

No whole

shells

no mouths MNI

Terebralia Paustris

Telescopium Telescopium

Strombus s.p.

Nerita s.p. 5.00 4.00 1.00 1

Terrestrial snail 1.50 1.50

Unidentified gastropods 5.50 5.50

SPECIES


BLUE MUD BAY PROJECT: SHELLFISH ANALYSIS

Site BMB/116 Excavation Unit BMB/116B

Spit No 9 Date sorted 26.8.09

Total shell weight sorted >6mm 222.50 gms

BIVALVES Shell weight Shell counts

Species Total

wgt

Frag

wgt

Whole

shell wgt

Umbo to

70%shell

Umbo to

70% shell

Whole

shells

Anadara granosa 3.0 1.0 2.0 1 1

Marcia hiantina 144.5 53.5 65.5 25.5 38 33 35

Polymosoda erosa ‐

Gafrarium tumidum 15.0 8.5 3.5 3.0 3 2 3

Fuliva tenvicostata ‐

Veneridae (Fam) ‐

Septifer Mussel ‐

Unidentified ‐

OYSTER Shell weights Shell counts

Chama fibula

Total

wgt

Frag

wgt

Lid wgt Bases wgt No of 70%

lids

No of

70%

bases

Saccostrea culcullata 23.0 11.5 3.5 8.0 1 1

Pinctada margaritifera

Isognomon ephippium 4.5 4.5

No of

beaks

Unidentified ‐

OTHER

MARINE LIFE

Total

wgt

Frag

wgt

Shell weights Shell counts

Whole

wgt

No of

specimens

Barnacles 0.50 0.50 ‐

Worm tubes ‐

Coral ‐

Crab ‐

153

MNI

MNI


1



MNI


GASTROPODS Total

wgt

Frag

wgt

Shell weights Shell counts

Whole

shell Wgt

70% shell

wgt

No 70%

shells

No whole

shells

no mouths MNI

Terebralia Paustris 5.00 5.00 ‐

Telescopium Telescopium

Strombus s.p.

Nerita s.p. 5.00 5.00 ‐

Terrestrial snail

Unidentified gastropods

SPECIES


BLUE MUD BAY PROJECT: SHELLFISH ANALYSIS

Site BMB/116 Excavation Unit BMB/116B

Spit No 10 Date sorted 27.8.09

Total shell weight sorted >6mm 340.00 gms

BIVALVES Shell weight Shell counts

Species Total wgt Frag wgt Whole

shell wgt

Umbo to

70%shell

Umbo to

70% shell

Whole

shells

Anadara granosa ‐

Marcia hiantina 212.50 63.50 122.50 26.50 39 60 49

Polymosoda erosa ‐

Gafrarium tumidum 31.50 18.00 13.50 6 3

Fuliva tenvicostata ‐

Veneridae (Fam) 0.50 0.50 1 1

Septifer Mussel 2.00 0.50 1.50 1 1

Unidentified ‐

OYSTER Shell weights Shell counts

Total wgt Frag wgt Lid wgt Bases wgt No of

70% lids

No of

70%

bases

No of

beaks

Chama fibula ‐

Saccostrea culcullata 32.50 12.00 13.00 7.50 5.00 1

5

Pinctada margaritifera


Isognomon ephippium 5.50 5.50

Unidentified



OTHER

MARINE LIFE

Shell weights Shell counts

Total wgt Frag wgt Whole

wgt

No of

specimen

Barnacles ‐

Worm tubes ‐

Coral ‐

Crab ‐

155

MNI

MNI

MNI


GASTROPODS

Shell weights Shell counts

Total wgt Frag wgt Whole

shell Wgt

70% shell

wgt

No 70%

shells

No whole

shells

no mouths MNI

Terebralia Paustris 8.50 8.50 ‐

Telescopium

Telescopium

Strombus s.p. ‐

Nerita s.p. 4.50 3.00 1.50 2 2

Terrestrial snail

Unidentified gastropods

SPECIES


BLUE MUD BAY PROJECT: SHELLFISH ANALYSIS

Site BMB/116 Excavation Unit BMB/116B

Spit No 11 Date sorted 27 .8 .09

Total shell weight sorted >6mm 128 gms

BIVALVES Shell weight Shell counts

Species Total wgt Frag wgt Whole

shell wgt

Umbo to

70%shell

Umbo to

70% shell

Whole

shells

Anadara granosa 15.00 9.00 6.00 2. 1

Marcia hiantina 54.00 39.00 7.00 8.00 25 5 15

Polymosoda erosa ‐

Gafrarium tumidum 15.00 4.50 7.00 3.50 3 3 3

Fuliva tenvicostata ‐

Veneridae (Fam) ‐

Septifer Mussel 2.00 1.50 0.50 6 3

Asaphis violascens 4.50 0.50 4.00

OYSTER Shell weights Shell counts

Chama fibula

Total wgt Frag wgt Lid wgt Bases wgt No of

70% lids

Saccostrea culcullata 15.00 11.00 4.00 2

Pinctada margaritifera

Isognomon ephippium 2.50 2.50

No of

70%

bases

No of

beaks

Unidentified ‐

157

MNI

1

MNI


2



OTHER

MARINE LIFE

Shell weights Shell counts

Total wgt Frag wgt Whole

wgt

No of

specimen

Barnacles ‐

Worm tubes

Coral ‐

Crab 0.18 ‐

GASTROPODS

Shell weights Shell counts

Total wgt Frag wgt Whole

shell Wgt

70% shell

wgt

No 70%

shells

No whole

shells

158

MNI

no mouths MNI

Terebralia Paustris 4.00 4.00 ‐

Telescopium Telescopium

Strombus s.p. ‐

Nerita s.p. 3.00 3.00 ‐

Terrestrial snail ‐

Unidentified gastropods

SPECIES


BLUE MUD BAY PROJECT: SHELLFISH ANALYSIS

Site BMB/116 Excavation Unit BMB/116B

Spit No 12 Date sorted 27.8.09

Total shell weight sorted >6mm 13.00 gms

BIVALVES Shell weight Shell counts

Species Total wgt Frag wgt Whole

shell wgt

Umbo to

70%shell

Umbo to

70% shell

Whole

shells

Anadara granosa 1.00 1.00 ‐

Marcia hiantina 7.50 3.50 4.00 4 2

Polymosoda erosa ‐

Gafrarium tumidum 1.00 1.00 2 1

Fuliva tenvicostata

Veneridae (Fam)

Septifer Mussel

Unidentified

OYSTER Shell weights Shell counts

Chama fibula

Saccostrea culcullata

Pinctada margaritifera

Isognomon ephippium

Total wgt Frag wgt Lid wgt Bases wgt No of

70% lids

No of

70%

bases

No of

beaks

Unidentified 1.00 1.00 ‐

OTHER

MARINE LIFE

Shell weights Shell counts

Total wgt Frag wgt Whole

wgt

No of

specimen

159

MNI

MNI





MNI


Barnacles ‐

Worm tubes

Coral ‐

Crab ‐

GASTROPODS

Shell weights Shell counts

Total wgt Frag wgt Whole

shell Wgt

70% shell

wgt

No 70%

shells

No whole

shells

no mouths MNI

Terebralia Paustris

Telescopium

Telescopium ‐

Strombus s.p. ‐

Nerita s.p. ‐

Terrestrial snail

Unidentified gastropods

SPECIES


Appendix 4 .1

Laboratory recorded data: non‐ molluscan analysis

161


BLUE MUD BAY PROJECT: NON-MOLLUSC ANALYSIS

Site BMB/116 Date sorted

24.8.09

Excavation unit BMB/116 B

Total weight of non-mollusc material

Total weight of rubble

Spit

No

Bucket

weight

Bulk

weight

1 6,000.00 1,500.0

0

2 12,000.0

0

3 11,000.0

0

4 20,000.0

0

1,400.0

0

1,300.0

0

1,000.0

0

Material weights in grams

Bkt wgt

less

bulk wgt

Total

nonmol

wgt

Rubbl

e

Plant Charco

al

Nonmol

as

% of

Bkt

less

bulk

wgt

4,500.00 58.77 55.50 3.27 0 1.31

10,600.0

0

106.30 104.00 0.25 2.05 1.00

9,700.00 204.27 192.00 1.72 10.55 2.11

19,000.0

0

767.45 756.00 4.23 7.22 4.04

5 9,500.00 1,200.0

0

8,300.00 470.00 461.00 6.00 3.00 5.66

6 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00

7 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00

8 8500.00 1200.00 6900.00 542.00 536.00 5.00 1.00 7.86

9 12,500.0

0

10 16,000.0

0

11 16,000.0

0

1,500.0

0

1,300.0

0

14,00.0

0

11,000.0

0

14,700.0

0

14,600.0

0

648.50 644.00 4.00 0.50 5.90

903.00 899.50 3.00 0.50 6.14

887.00 884.00 1.50 1.50 6.08

162


12 9,500.00 1,000.0

0

Tot 121,000. 12,800.

al

00 00

Total as % of

TP

8,500.00 615.00 614.00 1.00 0.00 7.24

108,200.

00

5,261.

09

Appendix 5.1

Mound formation data analysis

5,146.

00

29.97 26.32 Averag

e 4.96

%

4.86% 4.75% 0.03% 0.02%

163


BLUE MUD BAY PROJECT: MOUND FORMATION ANALYSIS

SHELL MOUND

BMB/116 Honour Project for USYD 2009

TEST PIT NO BMB/116B

6MM ANALYSIS

Date 5. 10. 09

SHELL SPECIES‐ A = Anadara granosa, G = Gafrarium tumidum, I = Isognomon

ephippium, M = Marcia hiantina, S = Saccostrea culcullata

SPIT

LEVE

LS →

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Shell 156 332 311 3960 789. 0.0 0.0 311. 222. 340. 128. 13.0

wgt

in

gram

s <

6mm

6.00 1.90 5.05 .00 05 0 0 75 50 00 00 0

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


wgt

Dom

shell

MNI

2nd

dom

shell

sp

2nd

dom

shell

wgt

2nd

dom

shell

MNI

Other

marin

e wgt

Rubb

le

wgt

Plant

wgt

Charc

oal

wgt

Dom

non‐mol

material

by wgt

& MNI

Total

excav

ated

remai

ns

wgt

Calcu

58 220 236 195 79 0 0 30 35 49 15 2

A A A A I 0 0 S S S A,

G, S

450.

50

299.

00

167.

00

254.

00

141.

50

0.0

0

0.0

0

66.0

0

23.0

0

32.5

0

15.0

0

each

11 10 6 9 27 0 0 5 1 3 A=2,

G‐3,

S=2

3.00 1.00 4.55 0.50 0.00 0.0

0

55.5

0

104.

00

192.

00

756.

00

461.

00

0.0

0

3.27 0.25 10.5 7.22 3.00 0.0

5

0

0.00 2.05 2.11 4.04 5.66 0.0

0

0.0

0

0.0

0

0.0

0

0.0

0

A,

G

1.00

eac

h

A=0

,

G=1

0.50 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00

536.

00

M M M M M 0 0 Ru

bbl

e

162

4.77

287

5.23

342

9.20

717

0.8

323

2.21

646

7.79

4639

.26

1436

0.74

125

9.05

674

3.19

0.0

0

0.0

0

0.0

0

0.0

0

644.

00

899.

50

884.

00

614.

00

1.00 4.00 3.00 1.50 1.00

7.86 5.90 6.14 6.08 7.24

856.

61

604

3.39

Rub

ble

876.

40

1012

3.60

Rub

ble

1248

.64

1345

1.36

Rub

ble

1019

.58

1358

0.42

Ru

bbl

e

627.

74

787

2.26

165


lated

sedi

ment

weig

ht

Page 2 Mound analysis by %

% of

excav

ated

remai

ns in

spit

% of

shell

in

excav

ated

remai

ns

% of

rubbl

e in

excav

ated

remai

ns

% of

sedi

ment

to

spit

% of

spit

wgt

to

Test

pit

36

%

96

%

32

%

97

%

33

%

95

%

24% 19

%

83% 51

%

3% 2% 2% 16% 36

%

64

%

4.20

%

68

%

9.80

%

67

%

8.90

%

76% 81

%

17.6

0%

7.60

%

0 0 12% 8% 8% 7% 7%

0 0 36% 25% 27% 13% 1%

0 0 63% 74% 72% 87% 98%

0 0 88% 92% 92% 93% 93%

0.0

0%

0.0

0%

6.40

%

10.2

0%

13.6

0%

13.5

0%

7.80

%

166


Appendix 6.1

Shellfish frequency analysis as a % of excavation unit

167


Table 6.5 % Shellfish frequency as a % of excavation unit

Excavation

units→

Taxon

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Anadara

granosa

29% 9% 5% 6%


Appendix 7.1

Criteria for assessing shellfish deposits

(Attenbrow 1992:4)

169


Range and number of shellfish species present

o Percentage frequency of each shellfish species

o Habitat of shellfish

o Size of shell within individual species

o Presence or absence of

Non‐economic species or articulated shells

Water worn shells

Burnt or blackened shells

Non‐molluscan fauna

Pumice and marine shell grit

Charcoal, burnt wood, hearth stones

Marine species not utilized by Aboriginal people eg coral

Pitted stones

Stratification

o Location of the deposit in the soil profile and in the landscape

o Recent non‐Aboriginal activities in the vicinity of the deposit.

o Radiocarbon date

170


Appendix 8.1

Point Blane peninsula mound dimension data

171


Shell mound dimensions field data from Point Blane Peninsular

Site code Lengt Widt Heig Date Dominant

h h ht

Component

BMB/24 22.70 10.50 0.62 Anadara Gran

BMB/25 18.20 15.60 0.90 Anadara Gran

BMB/26 34.60 33.00 2.46 Anadara Gran

BMB/27 23.00 22.00 0.50 Anadara Gran

BMB/28 28.00 28.00 2.60 Anadara Gran

Dated BMB/29 23.60 21.00 1.07 2014

calBP‐

2326

calBP

Anadara Gran

BMB/30 27.70 21.80 1.56 Anadara Gran

BMB/34 15.40 14.00 0.56 Anadara Gran

BMB/35 12.70 8.80 0.54 Anadara Gran

BMB/36 10.30 7.50 0.42 Anadara Gran

BMB/39 11.90 11.10 0.50 Anadara Gran

BMB/40 10.30 9.30 0.54 Anadara Gran

BMB/41 15.00 13.40 0.61 Anadara Gran

BMB/42 13.80 9.50 0.44 Anadara Gran

BMB/43 14.10 12.10 0.56 Anadara Gran

BMB/44 16.70 12.80 0.67 Anadara Gran

Dated BMB/45 22.70 11.40 0.35 550

calBP‐

624 calBP

Anadara Gran

BMB/46 44.50 19.30 0.66 Anadara Gran

BMB/47 30.60 19.00 0.77 Anadara Gran

172


Smallest

mound

BMB/48 52.70 14.30 0.89 Anadara Gran

BMB/49 32.20 13.00 0.62 Anadara Gran

BMB/50 21.40 7.20 0.35 Anadara Gran

BMB/51 29.70 10.50 1.32 Anadara Gran

BMB/52 17.50 14.00 0.57 Anadara Gran

BMB/53 38.00 19.00 3.29 Anadara Gran

BMB/54 25.00 18.00 1.14 Anadara Gran

BMB/56 5.80 4.50 N/A Anadara Gran

BMB/57 32.20 28.00 1.19 Anadara Gran

BMB/58 11.80 11.20 0.32 Anadara Gran

BMB/60 13.60 10.00 0.33 Anadara Gran

Dated BMB/61 13.00 10.90 0.29 1046

calBP‐

1264

calBP

Anadara Gran/

Silcrete

BMB/62 12.80 12.20 0.39 Anadara Gran

BMB/63 16.40 10.40 0.44 Anadara Gran

BMB/64 31.50 17.80 1.24 Anadara Gran

BMB/65 16.10 12.5

0

0.88 Anadara Gran

Dated BMB/71 19.80 19.40 1.08 1253

calBP‐

1519

calBP

Dated

Largest

mound

Anadara

Gran/Silcrete

BMB/72 17.50 13.50 0.35 Anadara Gran

BMB/73 19.00 13.50 0.63 Anadara Gran

BMB/74 16.30 15.60 0.39 Anadara Gran

BMB75 16.40 14.50 0.41 Anadara Gran

BMB/77 20.00 18.60 0.76 Anadara Gran

BMB/78 41.00 15.40 0.84 Anadara Gran

BMB/81 354.0

0

30.00 0.69 482

calBP‐

modern

Anadara Gran

BMB/82 60.50 38.00 1.82 Anadara Gran

BMB/91 28.80 29.50 0.47 Anadara Gran

BMB/92 20.00 13.00 0.86 Anadara Gran

Dated BMB/93 23.00 14.60 0.49 surface

1825

Anadara Gran

173


BMB/95 36.00 21.50 0.74

calBP

Anadara Gran

BMB/97 17.50 11.40 0.57 Anadara Gran

BMB/98 15.70 13.30 0.34 Anadara Gran

BMB/99 41.00 32.50 1.43 Anadara Gran

BMB/101 25.10 25.00 0.61 Anadara Gran

BMB/105 20.40 14.40 0.63 Anadara Gran

BMB/106 29.60 27.30 1.65 Anadara Gran

BMB/107 24.20 21.70 0.99 Anadara Gran

BMB/108 27.40 26.40 1.12 Anadara Gran

BMB/109 31.00 21.50 1.04 Anadara Gran/

Silcrete

Dated BMB/116 27.60 11.50 0.47 281

calBP‐

657 calBP

Anadara anti/

Quartzite

174


Appendix 9.1

Field recording form for shell middens

175


Part 1 Shell midden recording and identification

Field recording sheet

Project name

Recorders name Date

GPS or map coordinates Site no:

Location & description

Coast / estuary / inland

Aspect

Landform

Site visibility

Isolated / cluster

Midden description

Continuous / discontinuous

Contained

Shell scatter

Above ground‐ below ground

Other

Arial shape

Oval

Circular

Irregular

Linear

Doughnut

Profile

Mounded

Non‐mounded

Flat

176


Irregular

Profile Cross section

Conical

Hemi‐spherical

Flat

Undulating / irregular

Researchers own sketch

Dimensions (for both the site, e.g. mound cluster area, and individual deposit

Eg shell mound)

Overall site area length

Overall site area width

Deposit length

Deposit width

Maximum depth

Minimum depth

Maximum height

Minimum height

Estimated volume

Context

Substrate

Matrix

Colour

Interbedded lenses or layers

Overlying sediments

Shell species present

177


Dominate species

Secondary species

Changes in shell species visible in stratigraphy

Other visible contents

Bone

Stone

Plant material

Charcoal

Hearths

Stone artefacts

Other

Site disturbances

See reverse side of sheet for examples of mound profiles (Section still under

development)

178


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Personal comments

Dr A, Clarke. February ‐ August 2009.

Re ‐ The Lumatjpi Inlet’s fresh water supply.

Re ‐ Excavation reports.

Re ‐ Survey photographs

Re ‐ Bone survival in sites in the BMB region.

Re ‐ Excavation methods

Dr M, Carter. April‐ August 2009.

Re ‐ Establishing shell reference collection.

Re ‐ Shell identification and analysis methods.

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