Archaeology News and Reviews

AAA conference is here again

It’s conference season again here in Australia and all of the major anthropology and archaeology organisations have held or will soon hold their annual conferences. The only one I’ll be attending is the Australian Archaeology Association (AAA) in December at Bateman’s Bay on the New South Wales south coast and which is being hosted by the Australian National University. It’s become something of an annual tradition for me and I usually try and contribute something – as I did in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

I’m presenting a paper and a poster this year, and have posted both abstracts below as part of my ongoing efforts here to self archive my work. Both are collaborative projects; the first is a paper with Dr Justin Shiner on some preliminary results of excavations of earthen mounds we excavated a couple of years ago at Weipa, which we hope to submit for publication early next year. The second is a poster with Dr Nicky Horsfall which explores some issues associated with  heritage management near Cape Flattery on south eastern Cape York. I have a half written blog post on this, which I’ll try and get onto over the coming weeks. I’m also co-convening a session with Oliver Brown on behalf of the Australian Association of Consulting Archaeologists (Session 15 – abstract here).

I’m not sure if I’ve written about this before, but last year a new Executive Committee was elected by the membership, which traditionally happens every two years. Dr Lynley Wallis (UQ) is now President, Andrew Border Secretary, Dan Rosendahl membership secretary and I was nominated as Treasurer (see full details here). So we have quite a bit to get organised in terms of preparing for the Annual General Meeting.  One of our major projects is to redevelop our existing website in line with this brief, and so we’ll hopefully be able to present some options for members to vote on.

In any case, it should be a hectic but enjoyable 4 days in what appears to be a very nice part of the world.


Shifting sands: archaeology and heritage management in the Cape Flattery dunefields, eastern Cape York (Poster)

EDIT, 26 November: unfortunately we won’t be presenting this poster this year.

Dr Mick Morrison1, Dr Nicky Horsfall2,

1. Department of Archaeology,Flinders University; 2. Consulting Archaeologist, Edge Hill, Cairns; 3. Nguurruumungu Clan Group, Cape Flattery; 4. Diingal Clan Group, Cape Flattery.

The Cape Flattery region on eastern Cape York is renowned for its extensive dunefields comprised of silica rich sands. While the vast majority of the area is listed on the National Heritage Register for its natural heritage values, one isolated sand mining operation continues. This paper addresses two issues. First, it highlights the contribution of consulting archaeology to understanding what is, in archaeological terms at least, a relatively poorly understood region. Second, it explores a range of issues relevant to identifying, assessing and managing archaeological places within these complex and dynamic landscapes. Of particular note at Cape Flattery is the way in which archaeological deposits are shaped and reshaped by the dynamic nature of the landscape itself particularly in regard to the ways very large dunes form, move and are dispersed as a result of wind action. This ongoing research is being supported by Cape Flattery Silica Mines, Cairns.

Preliminary results of investigations of earthen mounds at Weipa, western Cape York Peninsula.

Michael Morrison1 and Justin Shiner2

1. Department of Archaeology, Flinders University; 2.  Specialist Archaeologist, Rio Tinto-Alcan
Recent research and cultural heritage management activities near Weipa  on western Cape York Peninsula has identified numerous low earthen mounds. These bear strong similarities in appearance to published descriptions of anthropogenic mounds from coastal Arnhem Land, in the Northern Territory. They are frequently associated with low density surface deposits of stone artefacts and marine shell, and are found on narrow, seasonally waterlogged alluvial plains near tidal creeks. They have also been identified on a post-contact mission site in association with surface deposits of historic material and remains of built structures. This paper presents preliminary results of excavations and radiocarbon dating of some of these mounds and considers whether they were formed by people, or alternatively, represent natural processes of accumulation, including formation by the scrub hen, Megapodius reinwardt.

Post image by : Christian Senger, Conference Time…, June 28, 2009,

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