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

Rosendahl, Daniel and Lowe, Kelsey M. and 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. ISSN 0305-4403


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.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Files associated with this item cannot be displayed due to copyright restrictions.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 27 Jun 2017 04:45
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2017 04:45
Uncontrolled Keywords: Archaeological geophysics; Coastal archaeology; Gulf of Carpentaria; Human-environment interaction; Island archaeology; Magnetic susceptibility; Northern Australia; Shell mounds; Chronology; General and chronology;
Fields of Research (2008): 21 History and Archaeology > 2101 Archaeology > 210101 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Archaeology
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9503 Heritage > 950307 Conserving the Historic Environment
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