Rock of ages: South Molle Island quarry, Whitsunday Islands: use and distribution of stone through space and time.
, Oxford, England
There is evidence to suggest that the South Molle Island stone quarry in the Whitsunday Islands, central Queensland coast, has been used by the indigenous inhabitants of the region from at least 9,000 BP to the present. Distribution of stone from the quarry extends for at least 170km along the coast, from Abbott Point in the north to the Repulse Islands in the south. A comprehensive technological characterisation of the quarry has demonstrated that a range of manufacturing behaviours was conducted on-site, from the initial extraction of the raw material, through to the final stages of artefact retouch. The systematic production of backed artefacts is included among this suite of technological practices. This research has demonstrated that the antiquity of backed artefacts and the timing of high production rates of backed artefacts occurs earlier in the Whitsunday region than elsewhere in southern Australia. In the Whitsunday Islands backed artefact production has been shown to be present from the beginning of the Holocene and to have been an important technological element in the early Holocene. Another understanding of backing technologies in Australia can be developed in light of this recognition of regional variation.
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