Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Karta Culture on mainland Australia                                                                                    

Tools of the Kartan type have been found over an area of about 100,000 km2 of South Australia and nearby coastal islands. Sites have been found, none of which was stratified, on Fleurieu Peninsula, Yorke Peninsula and Eyre Peninsula. Crude, heavily weathered stone tools were found at Hallett Cove. About 400 Kartan core tools have been found at this site that weighed up to 5.5 kg. The Kartan tools found in the sites around Hallett Cove, pebble choppers, horsehoof cores and hammer stones, were all made of locally obtained siltstone. The nearest site where better quality raw material, fine-grained quartzite pebbles, were situated, at the foot of the cliff, are believed to have been covered by a talus slope during the Pleistocene, when the sea level was low, the nearest source for such material available at the time being on the shore, which was much further away at the time.

Roonka Flat is another site where tools from the Kartan industry have been found.

Study of the industries of the Australian core tool and scraper traditions has indicated that the Kartan industry to be more archaic in 2 characteristics, its large size and high ratio of core tools to scrapers. The core tools of the Kartan industry are much larger and heavier than those from any other industry, and there are many more of them compared with smaller tools. Kartan  tools were made of many different raw materials, so it is considered their size does not relate to the raw material used. The waisted tools of the Kartan industry are believed to be of great age. They are even larger than the core tools from the same industry, averaging about 1.837 g compared to 882 g for the Kartan core tools. (Flood, 2004). Another feature that is believed to indicate great age is that the waisted tools are usually bifacially flaked crudely, while the Karan tools are flaked unifacially. It is believed they may have either been hafted or used in a 2-hand grip.

The area around the mouth of the Murray River, and the northeast coast of Queensland have the highest known concentrations of Kartan Culture sites. It has been suggested that the reason these 2 localities are the main sites of known the Kartan Culture is that they are both on high ground, remnants of the continental shelf that are not presently submerged, suggesting that most sites from this age may be under the sea. A suggested reason for the concentration of Kartan culture on Kangaroo Island is that it is part of the continental shelf that is still above water and that is near the mouth of the Murray River, Australia's largest river.


Sources & Further reading

  1. Flood, Josephine, 2004, Archaeology of the Dreamtime, JB Publications.


Author: M. H. Monroe
Last updated: 20/10/2009


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