The social archaeology of indigenous Australia

McNiven, Ian J. and David, Bruno and Barker, Bryce (2006) The social archaeology of indigenous Australia. In: The social archaeology of Australian indigenous societies. Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, Australia, pp. 2-19. ISBN 0855754990

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In some respects lack of relevant imagery for what ancient Indigenous Australians did in the past reflects a general ignorance of the fruits of archaeological research and poor public education (Balme & Wilson 2004). But we also suggest that the problem lies elsewhere. We contend that the issue is not so much about selling the 'product' of archaeological research as about the nature of the 'product' being produced by archaeologists. We cannot expect the public to easily imagine the rich and varied lives of Aboriginal peoples living 1000, 5000, 10 000 or even 40 000 years ago if archaeology always focuses on diet and stone tools and changing adaptations to different environments through time and across space. The history of 'hunter-gatherer' societies is like the history of any society. It concerns the ways that people interacted with each other in the past, and about ways people structured - and were structured by - their social and ecological settings.
This 'social' archaeology is an explicit attempt to access a peopled past through the material remains of that past. This book explores such social archaeologies and the varied ways of understanding the history of Indigenous Australian through archaeological practice. In doing so, it honours the work of Harry Lourandos who, for some thirty years, has been pivotal to the establishment of a social archaeology in Australia.

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Item Type: Book Chapter (Commonwealth Reporting Category B)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Information about this work at
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Arts - Department of Humanities and International Studies
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2007 01:09
Last Modified: 23 Mar 2018 04:40
Uncontrolled Keywords: social archaeology; indigenous Australians
Fields of Research : 21 History and Archaeology > 2101 Archaeology > 210101 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Archaeology
21 History and Archaeology > 2103 Historical Studies > 210301 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History
22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2202 History and Philosophy of Specific Fields > 220208 History and Philosophy of the Social Sciences
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9503 Heritage > 950302 Conserving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage

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