Title: Hidden Beyond View: A Historical Zooarchaeology of Coerced Labour on Australia’s 19th Century Remote Frontier.


The use of Aboriginal divers on the pearling luggers of late 19th century northwest Australia attracted allegations of slavery, coercion, and physical mistreatment. However, surviving accounts of the conditions experienced by these divers are limited to the written documents of contemporary colonial men, often far from the frontier. This talk discusses a rare instance of an archaeological record for the interactions between divers and the pearlers who relied on their labour. At the Bandicoot Bay archaeological site, Barrow Island, I explore what the findings of documentary and zooarchaeological analysis together suggest about how its occupants negotiated their unique relationship of labour.

About the Presenter

Tom is a current honours student at the University of Queensland, having recently completed a Bachelor of Arts with Extended Major in archaeology at the same institution. His research interests include Australian zooarchaeology, colonialism, taphonomy, and the applications of imaging technologies for archaeology. Tom also occupies a part-time role as an archaeologist with OzArk Environmental and Heritage Management.

Title: Use-wear and residue analysis of flaked lithics from Madjedbebe

Short abstract

Madjedbebe is a site in the Northern Territory with the earliest and longest archaeological evidence of human occupation of Australia, dating back 65,000 years. With a rich assemblage of flaked and ground stone tools as well as other cultural and symbolic materials, the site has huge potential to provide insight into long-standing debates about how Australia’s colonising Indigenous population adapted to new landscapes and how this changed through time. In this talk, I discuss how I employed use-wear and residue analysis during my honours to examine the role of quartz artefacts at Madjedbebe to understand how people managed resources at the site. I will also go into my current project which aims to incorporate elemental and vibrational analytical techniques alongside optical microscopy to provide information on activities at the site such as wood working, animal processing (particularly in the earliest occupation layers, where faunal remains are absent or unidentifiable), pigment manufacture, and whether artefacts were hafted in composite tools, which is an indicator of flexible and adaptive behaviour.

About the Presenter

Kathy is a PhD candidate at the University of Queensland currently studying the function of the flaked stone artefacts from Madjedbebe. Her research interests are use-wear and residue analysis of lithics and archaeological applications of analytical radiation techniques.


About Archaeology Working Papers

The Working Papers in Archaeology seminar series provides a forum for dissemination of archaeological research and ideas amongst UQ archaeology students and staff. All students are invited to attend the series and postgraduate students, from honours upwards, are invited to present their research. The aim is to provide opportunities for students, staff and those from outside UQ, to present and discuss their work in an informal environment. It is hoped that anyone interested in current archaeological directions, both within and outside the School and University, will be able to attend and contribute to the series.