Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Rocky Cape South Cave

This is a sea cave cut into the quartzite cliffs at Rocky Cape on northwest coast Tasmania. It contains a large roofed shell midden 3.5 m deep, dated to about 8,000 to 3,800 years ago.

The midden is well stratified and is rich in stone artefacts and animal bones. There is also an alcove at the back of the cave that was blocked off from the main cave about 6,800 years ago as the midden accumulated . This small cave was found as it was when last used, big abalone shells were stacked around the walls and in the middle, the floor had been cleared to make room for the occupants to sit around the fire. There were 5 small ashy fires near the walls, apparently for heating, being close to the walls where they would have gained maximum amount of reflection of the heat. In the alcove were found discarded stone tools, as well as bone remains, mostly of seals, as well birds, small mammals, some fish, shells of rocky coastal species, a lily tuber, bracken fern stems, split sections of grass tree pith. Charcoal from this floor dated to between 6,500 and 7,000 years ago. There was a mortar with a pestle still on top, apparently left there for the next visit that never eventuated.

Faeces in the refuse proved to be from Tasmanian devils that probably scavenged there when the cave was unoccupied.

It is believed the occupants of this cave may have moved to Rocky Cape North Cave when the refuse got too high in the cave.

Bone and Stone use at Rocky Cape

Sources & Further reading

Josephine Flood, Archaeology of the Dreamtime, J.B. Publishing, 2004


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                                                                                           Author: M.H.Monroe  Email:     Sources & Further reading