Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Native Well I and II                

see Food Preparation

Macrozamia was being detoxified at this site 10,000 BP.

Native Well Quarry

At the Native Well site (Moorwood, 1981, 1984), as well as at other sites in the Central Queensland Highlands dating from the mid-Holocene, when the small tool industry first appeared in the deposit, accompanied by raw material use changes that were dramatic, with increasing use of fine-grained and microcrystalline silcrete and chert, as a response to the technological and functional requirements of the new tool types. Chert was the only raw material used at the Native Well Site, as no fine-grained silcrete was used (Moorwood, 1981), the authors suggesting it was probably because silcrete was more prone to edge fracturing and less efficient at working with hardwood, as a result of its relatively low tensile strength and fracture toughness.

According to the authors, the proliferation of backed artefacts, tula adzes and points that took place across Australia in the mid-Holocene has been interpreted as a technological response to reduce the risk that was associated with increased foraging, higher mobility and movement into regions that had previously been unoccupied, as a result of a drier environment, that was also unpredictable, beginning in the southern parts of Australia about 5,000-4,000 BP (Hiscock, 1994, 2002). The multipurpose composite tools that were being used at this time allowed the integration of small delicate standardised flakes into these reliable tools that could be maintained.

At about 70,000 BP a similar change in technology and raw material selection has been documented in southern Africa (Ambrose & Lorenz, 1992; Ambrose, 2002). The appearance of small blade technology and and backed microliths is suggested by the authors to be a response to the drier, unpredictable environment that was promoted by fine-grained raw materials being available that had mechanical properties that were suitable, that could be obtained either by trade or as a result of increased mobility, both residential and logistical.

For more detailed information and illustrations see Source 1

Sources & Further reading

  1. Josephine Flood, Archaeology of the Dreamtime, J.B. Publishing, 2004
  2. Webb, J.A. & Domanski, M, The Relationship Between Lithology, Flaking Properties & Artefact Manufacture for Australian Silcretes, Archaeometry, Oxford University, Archaeometry, 50, 4 (2008) 555-575  


Last updated 21/10/2016



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