Investigating Trauma Production of Traditional Aboriginal Weapons
In 2014, in Toorale National Park, New South Wales, the remains of an Aboriginal man (named ‘Kaakutja’ by the Baakantji people, meaning ‘older brother’) were excavated before they eroded down the bank of the Darling River. The remains had significant trauma to the right side of the cranium damaging the area surrounding the right orbit and frontal bone. The trauma was considered by the Traditional Owners to most likely be attributed to frontier conflict and it was suspected that Kaakutja had been killed by a bladed weapon. The archaeologists involved in the excavation agreed with this initial suggestion that the man had been killed during a violent frontier incident. However, carbon dating and OSL identified that Kaakutja was buried approximately 700 years ago, well before European contact. Therefore the dating excluded the possibility that the trauma was caused by a metal weapon. The types of weapons available to Aboriginal people prior to European contact included stone and hardwood weapons. Both these were capable of blunt and sharp force trauma, and were constructed in a variety of sizes and shapes. The aim of current research is to determine whether or not traditional Aboriginal hardwood weapons were capable of creating a similar trauma pattern to that seen in Kaaktuja’s remains. A series of experiments were conducted to establish if traditionally made Indigenous weapons could create similar trauma patterns.
About the Presenter
Brooke Hendry graduated from the University of Queensland in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts with an extended major in Archaeology and a major in Ancient History. Moved to Canberra to attend the Australian National University to complete a Graduate Certificate in Biological Anthropology, continuing on to complete a Masters Advanced degree in Biological Anthropology. Masters thesis focused on the ability of traditional Aboriginal hardwood weaponry to produce skeletal trauma. Member of the Golden Key Society since 2016.