Integrating geoarchaeology and magnetic susceptibility at three shell mounds: a pilot study from Mornington Island, Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia

Article


Rosendahl, Daniel, Lowe, Kelsey M., Wallis, Lynley A. and Ulm, Sean. 2014. "Integrating geoarchaeology and magnetic susceptibility at three shell mounds: a pilot study from Mornington Island, Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia." Journal of Archaeological Science. 49 (1), pp. 21-32. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2014.04.017
Article Title

Integrating geoarchaeology and magnetic susceptibility at three shell mounds: a pilot study from Mornington Island, Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia

ERA Journal ID1739
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsRosendahl, Daniel (Author), Lowe, Kelsey M. (Author), Wallis, Lynley A. (Author) and Ulm, Sean (Author)
Journal TitleJournal of Archaeological Science
Journal Citation49 (1), pp. 21-32
Number of Pages12
Year2014
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
ISSN0305-4403
1095-9238
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2014.04.017
Web Address (URL)http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305440314001526?via%3Dihub
Abstract

In coastal areas of the globe, open shell matrix sites are commonly used to establish regional chronologies of human occupation and identify patterns of cultural change, particularly for the Holocene, post-sea-level stabilisation period. Despite this, many basic sedimentary analyses that are routinely applied to rockshelter deposits (e.g. geophysical characterisation, particle size etc) are rarely applied to these sites. Magnetic susceptibility, occasionally used in rockshelters, has never been used to investigate shell matrix sites in Australia, despite several international studies identifying its efficacy for other types of open sites. This paper reports a pilot project applying a range of conventional sedimentary and archaeological analyses, as well as magnetic susceptibility at three anthropogenic shell mounds on Mornington Island, Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia. Results are compared to, firstly, assess site integrity and, secondly, to ascertain whether magnetic signatures are related to cultural or natural site formation processes. The results establish that the mounds were repeatedly visited, despite the archaeological evidence, including radiocarbon ages, suggesting effectively 'instantaneous' deposition. This has important implications for studies of other shell mounds where the limitations of radiocarbon dating precision may also mask multiple deposition events.

KeywordsArchaeological geophysics; Coastal archaeology; Gulf of Carpentaria; Human-environment interaction; Island archaeology; Magnetic susceptibility; Northern Australia; Shell mounds; Chronology; General and chronology;
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020450101. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander archaeology
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Byline AffiliationsJames Cook University
University of Queensland
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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