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Wala-gaay Guwingal: A twentieth century Aboriginal culturally modified tree with an embedded stone tool


Spry, C and Hayes, E and Allen, K and Long, A and Paton, L and Hua, Q and Armstrong, BJ and Fullagar, R and Webb, J and Penzo-Kajewski, P and Bordes, L, Orange Local Aboriginal Land Council, Wala-gaay Guwingal: A twentieth century Aboriginal culturally modified tree with an embedded stone tool, Australian Archaeology, 86, (1) pp. 3-20. ISSN 0312-2417 (2020) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2020 Australian Archaeological Association

DOI: doi:10.1080/03122417.2020.1769912


Aboriginal culturally modified trees are a distinctive feature of the Australian archaeological record, generating insights into Aboriginal interactions with wood and bark, which rarely survive in archaeological contexts. However, they are under-studied, in decline and typically presumed to pre-date the 20th century. Here we investigate the origin of a scar with a stone tool embedded in the scar overgrowth, located in the Central Tablelands, New South Wales, on Wiradjuri Country. We consider three datasets for this purpose: the tree and scar features; macroscopic and microscopic characteristics of the embedded stone; and chronology and age of the tree and scar. The origin of the scar and its relationship with the stone tool are unclear. However, the results, together with documentary and oral evidence, suggest that Aboriginal people quarried the stone and probably used it as a wedge to lever bark from the tree, or to make a sign. The results provide a rare glimpse into the continuation of Aboriginal cultural practices and knowledge transmission in the second half of the 20th century.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:post-contact, culturally modified tree, stone tool technology, wooden technology, functional analysis, radiocarbon bomb-spike dating
Research Division:History, Heritage and Archaeology
Research Group:Archaeology
Research Field:Historical archaeology (incl. industrial archaeology)
Objective Division:Indigenous
Objective Group:Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage and culture
Objective Field:Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artefacts
UTAS Author:Allen, K (Dr Kathy Allen)
ID Code:142734
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:2
Deposited By:Geography and Spatial Science
Deposited On:2021-02-09
Last Modified:2022-08-29

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