Australian Museum Journal Changing Perspectives in Australian Archaeology, part VII. Aboriginal use of backed artefacts at Lapstone Creek rock-shelter, New South Wales: an integrated residue and use-wear analysis

Shortform:
Robertson, 2011. Tech. Rep. Aust. Mus., Online 23(7): 83–101
Author(s):
Robertson, Gail
Year published:
2011
Title:
Changing Perspectives in Australian Archaeology, part VII. Aboriginal use of backed artefacts at Lapstone Creek rock-shelter, New South Wales: an integrated residue and use-wear analysis
Serial title:
Technical Reports of the Australian Museum (online)
Volume:
23
Issue:
7
Start page:
83
End page:
101
DOI:
10.3853/j.1835-4211.23.2011.1572
Language:
English
Date published:
17 June 2011
Cover date:
17 June 2011
ISSN:
1835-4211
Publisher:
The Australian Museum
Place published:
Sydney, Australia
Subjects:
ABORIGINES: AUSTRALIAN; ARCHAEOLOGY; CULTURE: INDIGENOUS
Digitized:
17 June 2011
Available online:
17 June 2011
Reference number:
1572
EndNote package:
EndNote file
Title page:
Title page (40kb PDF)
Complete work:
Complete work (797kb PDF)

Abstract

Early models of backed artefact use in Australia proposed that they were typically barbs or tips on spears or ceremonial/ritual objects. More recent models suggested their use as domestic tools, although often with the implication that backed artefacts had a single, dominant use. This paper presents the results of an integrated residue and use-wear analysis of a sample of backed artefacts from Lapstone Creek rock-shelter, an Aboriginal occupation site on the eastern escarpment of the Blue Mountains, New South Wales. The site, also known as Emu Cave, was excavated in 1936 by C.C. Towle, F.D. McCarthy and others, and the artefacts are currently housed in the Australian Museum, Sydney. Microscopic analysis of the backed artefacts revealed a range of craft and subsistence activities occurring at the site during the late Holocene. Evidence for the use of backed artefacts for bone-working and wood-working, as well as non-woody plant processing and possibly butchery was identified, with many artefacts also exhibiting evidence for hafting. Ochre, both red and yellow, was a recurrent residue, and animal hair was also observed. Backed artefacts were used as awls, knives, scrapers and incisors for the various tasks, indicating that they were multi-functional tools. This research makes a significant contribution to our knowledge of backed artefact use and provides insight into activities undertaken during a period of dramatic cultural and environmental change in the late Holocene.