The ritual dugong bone mounds of Koey Ngurtai, Torres Strait, Australia: investigating their construction

Skelly, Robert and David, Bruno and McNiven, Ian J. and Barker, Bryce (2011) The ritual dugong bone mounds of Koey Ngurtai, Torres Strait, Australia: investigating their construction. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, 21 (1). pp. 32-54. ISSN 1099-1212


The islands of Western Torres Strait, between Papua New Guinea and Australia, saw the emergence of ritual dugong bone mounds approximately 400 years ago. These mounds were used as a means to commune with, and as an aid for the hunting of, dugongs. This paper explores the bone contents of three dugong bone mounds on the small, uninhabited island of Koey Ngurtai as a means to determine their construction and in doing so to explore the historical emergence of ritual bone mounds associated with dugong hunting magic; and thereby to historicise ethnographically known cultural practices in Torres Strait

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: NOTE: Article first published online: 30 SEP 2009
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Arts - School of Humanities and Communication
Date Deposited: 29 Apr 2010 07:50
Last Modified: 08 Jul 2014 05:47
Uncontrolled Keywords: dugongs; ritual mounds; Torres Strait; Koey Ngurtai
Fields of Research : 05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050201 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Environmental Knowledge
21 History and Archaeology > 2101 Archaeology > 210101 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Archaeology
06 Biological Sciences > 0603 Evolutionary Biology > 060302 Biogeography and Phylogeography
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding > 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1002/oa.1104

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