Dynamics of dispersion revisited? Archaeological context and the study of Aboriginal knapped glass artefacts in Australia

01st December 2008

Figure5Gibbs and Harrison

Knapped glass artefact scatter showing remains of worker’s cottages (published in Australian Archaeology 67:64).

Martin Gibbs and Rodney Harrison

The archaeological study of Aboriginal knapped glass artefacts in Australia has focused almost entirely on glass tool production, and more particularly, on the technology of glass tool production (as opposed, for example, to the social context of glass tool production). In this paper, we suggest the value of an approach which foregrounds context in an attempt to point towards new directions for knapped glass artefact studies in Australia. We make reference to qualitative field observations of Aboriginal knapped glass artefacts located on early copper and lead mining settlements from mid-Western Australia, and return to pioneering work done by Denis Byrne in the same region on silcrete artefacts to illustrate our argument. In doing so, we note the ways in which these studies demonstrate historically changing approaches to the archaeological record by archaeologists from the University of Western Australia, and our own work as Sandra Bowdler’s students in the late 1980s and late 1990s respectively.

Martin Gibbs and Rodney Harrison
Dynamics of dispersion revisited? Archaeological context and the study of Aboriginal knapped glass artefacts in Australia
December 2008
67
61-68
Article
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