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Time to Quarry: The Archaeology of Stone Procurement in Northwestern New South Wales, Australia

Trudy Doelman
Publication Year:
200pp. Illustrated throughout with maps, plans, figures, drawings and photographs
ISBN 10:
BAR number:


The quarry has been considered a cornerstone in understanding lithic production systems. However, the methodological problems associated with the investigation of a quarry assemblage often leads to inadequate recording. The lack of detailed quarry research in Australia focusing on non-axe quarries has meant that they are poorly understood and for this reason a plethora of potentially valuable research regarding the role of the quarry in the organisation of lithic technology is virtually absent. There is a real need to develop quarry studies in Australia and worldwide. It is hoped that this study aides in the expansion of quarry research by providing a sound methodological and analytical approach to the study of quarry assemblages. A detailed technological and spatial analysis of quarries and occupations sites was used to determine the organisational strategies used to acquire and reduce the stone resources available in the arid zone margin of New South Wales, Australia, and identify the reasons why theseparticular strategies were employed during the late Holocene. Comparisons are made between quarried and non-quarried stone to identify their 'role' in the organisation of lithic technology. The theoretical framework incorporates aspects of non-site distributional archaeology. The individual artefact is the basic methodological and theoretical building block from which greater scales of variation in the distribution and composition of the archaeological record can be examined. This examination uses the concept of 'risk' as the heuristic device with which to explore the costs and benefits of employing different technological strategies. Hence the form of an artefact, its position in space and its time in the cultural system, are the key components of this study. By using a combination of these approaches it is possible to identify not only the many factors that contribute to the formation and distribution of stone resources but also the ways Aboriginal people organised their stone technology during the late Holocene.