Learn about cultural change through time discovered in archaeological deposits.

The importance of the Emu Cave excavation in 1935 and 1936 is that it presented the material evidence to identify two distinctive cultural periods in Aboriginal prehistory. Frederick McCarthy, who recognised this cultural sequence, said that the change ‘involved entire abandonment of the Bondi point, the greater use of the Elouera adze-flake, knives and trimming flakes, and the adoption of the edge-ground axe and Bulga-knife’. Aside from peculiar names and technical descriptions that may puzzle a lay person, the two periods were marked by different sets of stone artefacts visible in the cave deposits. The cross-section drawing of the Cave from McCarthy’s publication (1948) gives a perfect visual summary of this cultural sequence.

The lower, Bondaian layer, is characterised by the presence of Bondi points. These points are absent in the upper Eloueran layer, which has a greater abundance of adze-flakes, other flake artefacts and, in addition, entirely new tools such as the Bulga-knife and the edge-ground stone axe. This sequence, with a different degree of clarity, was observed on other archaeological sites in the Sydney region at the time.

Later McCarthy recognised, and added to his scheme, a new, older phase which he called Capertian, named after an archaeological site at Capertee on the western side of the Blue Mountains. The Eastern Regional Sequence was afterwards variously modified through more intensive research and the contribution of the new generation of archaeologists. However it served its purpose as the early chronological framework, used as a handy guide to distinguish cultural succession and the concrete physical markers of changes through time.

A few years back archaeologists Peter Hiscock and Val Anttenbrow offered, in their book (2005), an important revision of Eastern Regional Sequence. Read about the book http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb1398/is_3_41/ai_n29303152/ 


McCarthy, E.D. 1948 The Lapstone Creek excavation: two culture periods revealed in eastern New South Wales. Records of the Australian Museum 22(1):77-79.

This narrative and related images were prepared by the combined effort of work experience student Simona El-khawand, volunteer Penny Zylstra and Stan Florek