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MORT CREEK SITE COMPLEX, CURTIS COAST: SITE REPORT
MELISSA CARTER, IAN LILLEY, SEAN ULM AND DEBORAH BRIAN
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit, University of Queensland,
Brisbane, Queensland, 4072, Australia
This paper reports the results of excavations conducted at the Mort Creek Site
Complex, located in the Rodds Peninsula Section of Eurimbula National Park on the
southern Curtis Coast, Central Queensland. Cultural and natural marine shell deposits
were excavated and analysed as part of an investigation of natural and cultural site
formation processes in the area. Analyses (includingforaminifera studies)demonstrate
a complex site formation history, with interfingering of cultural and natural shell
deposits (cheniers) in some areas of the site. Radiocarbon dating indicates that
Aboriginal occupation of the site was initiated before 2,000 cal BP, overlapping with
dates obtained for natural chenier deposits
Introduction
This paper details the results of excavations
undertaken during January 1995 at the Mort Creek
Site Complex on the Central Queensland coast. In
previous publications the site has been called 'Rodds
Peninsula' (Lilley et al. 1996) and the 'Rodds
Peninsula Site Complex' (Carter 1997). The site is
registered as Queensland State File Number KE:A41
and Queensland Museum Site Number S866.
The excavations had two primary aims. The first
was to distinguish areas of non-cultural deposit, such
as cheniers, from shell middens. The second aim was
to determine whether surface indications gave an
accurate picture of the nature and distribution of shell
deposits in the study area. In the laboratory, a further
research aim of these excavations was to test the
applicability of foraminifera analysis, a rnicroanalytical technique with the potential to help
distinguish cultural and natural marine shell deposits.
Site Location and Description
The Mort Creek Site Complex is located on the west
bank of Mort Creek, on the west coast of Rodds
Peninsula in the Rodds Peninsula Section of
Eurimbula National Park. The site is located 30krn
northwest of Round Hill Head and 36km northnortheast of the town of Miriam Vale (Latitude:
24"00145";Longitude: 151 "37'45 ";Easting: 360630;
Northing: 7343809). The deposits front the shallow,
open waters of Rodds Harbour to the south and west
and a large area of tidal mangroves and mudflats to
the east (Figures 1-2).
Three excavations, designated 'The Granites',
'White Patch' and 'A7', were conducted in an area
characterised by a complex of beach ridges, cheniers,
shell middens and tidal inlets, referred to collectively
as the Mort Creek Site Complex. The extent of shell
deposits is considerable, covering an area of
approximately 6ha (Lilley e t al. 1999). The Granites
excavation was located on a low ridge composed of
QAR 1999 Vol. 11
approximately l m of sand overlying microgranite
bedrock. The White Patch deposit was located to the
south of a small inlet in an area of sandy beach ridges
and cheniers. The excavation A7 was located to the
west of a branch of the inlet in an area of sandy ridges
with virtually no surface shell.
Excavation Aims and Methods
The shell deposits of the Mort Creek Site Complex
were initially reported by Burke (1993) as CC-067
(KE:A49) and CC-068 (KEA5O) during a heritage
management study of the Curtis Coast. She described
the area as an Aboriginal site of 'high significance'
(Burke 1993:Table 17). On the Queensland
Environmental Protection Agency Site Index Card
completed for site CC-067 (KE:A49), Burke notes
that "this shell midden appears to be interspersed with
a natural beach ridge. It was quite difficult to
determine if the midden was real or natural, it seems
to me that it is probably a mixture of both."
After exploratory field inspection in late 1994, a
team from the University of Queensland and the
Gurang Land Council Aboriginal Corporation
conducted preliminary archaeological surveys and
excavation on Rodds Peninsula between 22-28
January 1995 to assess the archaeological research
potential of the marine shell deposits in the area.
Detailed surface survey of the area confirmed
Burke's observations that while they may feature a
sparse surface veneer of humanly-deposited shell, the
shell ridges were clearly natural in origin (Lilley et al.
1999). Further intensive field survey located areas
exhibiting sparse scatterings of shell and others with
virtually no surface shell. In an attempt to distinguish
middens from areas of non-cultural deposit such as
cheniers, and to determine whether the surface
indications gave a true picture of the nature and
distribution of shell deposits in the area, the entire
region was investigated more thoroughly with a
program of subsurface testing (Lilley et al. 1997).
Rodds Harbour
p7H Mangroves
r;;-..;s1 S m m u d flats
----
Track
Contours are at 40 m intervals
Figure 1. Rodds Peninsula, showing the location of the Mort Creek Site Complex study area.
Carter, Lilley, Ulm and Brian
Figure 2. Mort Creek Site Complex, showing loeations of subsurface testing.
Initially the local topography was mapped with an
autoset level and stadia rod To gain broad
information on the extent and depth of the shell
deposits, a gfid of 38 x 75mm auger holes was drilled
across the study region at 50m intervals. The results
demonstrated that there were substantial subsurface
shell deposits over the entire area, including those
parts where surface shell was largely absent. To
assess the stratigraphy more accurately and to obtain
control samples of the deposits, three 5Ocm x 50cm
test pits were excavated in areas with different
surface expressions of shell.
The excavations were located to obtain a
representative sample of the range of shell deposits
observed over the entire study area. The Granites
excavation was situated in a locale which was
hypothesised to contain shell midden deposit. The
excavation known as White Patch was conducted in
aplace hypothesised to comprise natural beach ridges
and chenier deposits. Displaying no surface shell
material. the third site, known as A7, was excavated
to determine the cultural status of the dense
subsurface shell deposits which had been revealed by
augering.
The three test pits were excavated by trowel in
arbitrary 2-5cm excavation units within stratigraphic
units. Elevations were recorded at the beginning and
QAR 1999 Vol. 11
end of each excavation unit, using a local datum and
string line and level. Major finds were plotted in sim
in three dimensions and bagged separately. Most
excavated sediment was dry-sieved on site through
6mm and 3mm mesh, and sieve residues and samples
of fme material which passed through the screens
were retained for laboratory analysis. The basal
excavation units of A7 were wet-sieved in seawater
from the adjacent estuary as the moisture content of
the excavated sand prevented effective dry-sieving.
Bulk sediment samples, however, were taken prior to
wet-sieving. Control samples for foraminifera
analysis were collected from shelly intertidal deposits
on the west bank of Mort Creek and from a long
chenier fronting Rodds Harbour to the south.
Stratigraphy
The Granites
The Granites excavation was located on a low ridge
bordered by estuaries to the east and south (Figure 2).
Excavation at The Granites revealed three
stratigraphic units (SUs) overlying bedrock (Figure
5). The uppermost SU consisted of a layer of darkcoloured sand some 20-25cm deep and containing
large mud ark Anadara trapezia shells. fish bone,
charcoal and occasional stone artefacts. The second
S U comprised a layer of lighter-coloured sand of
White Patch
Located to the south of a small tidal inlet (Figure 2).
the White Patch test pit revealed a deposit consisting
entuely of densely-packed shell and shell fragments
(Figure? 3.6). Excavation demonstrated the presence
of four natural stratigraphic units (SUs). The
uppermost (SUI) consisted of dark-brown organic top
soil, densely packed with shell fragments and some
large shells including hercules club shell, mud ark
and land snail, and ranging from c. 10-20cm in depth.
SUII exhibited an increase in shell and shell grit, with
little soil. Sub-unit SUIIA of this layer was distinct,
containing shell and shell grit but characterised by a
grey soil matrix. SUIII contained densely-packed
shell with many large individuals, in a reddishcoloured sandy matrix. An absence of charcoal, bone
and stone artefacts was observed during excavation.
Also noted by the excavators were patches of oddsmelling, grey-coloured shell amid the more usual
pinky-brown coloured material. This was concluded
to be evidence for seawater penetration and mineral
precipitation. Based on these characteristics, White
Patch was determined to be entirely of natural origm,
and classified as chenier deposit.
A7
A7 is located to the west of a small tidal inlet in an
area with virtually no surface shell (Figure 2). Auger
Hole 7 (from which the name A7 derives) revealed a
dense shell layer some 10-15cm thick located
approximately 20cm below ground surface (Figures
4, 7). The presence of this layer was confinned by
excavation. As augering had indicated, the uppermost
stratigraphic unit (SUI) consisted entirely of soil and
root matter. SUU consisted of large shells,
predominantly mud ark (Anadara trapezia) and
commercial oyster (Saccostrea commercialis), in a
medium- to dark-brown soil matrix. Smaller shells
were also noted. The mauix of this unit was
substantially sandier and more yellow in colour than
the matrix observed in the stratigraphic unit above.
SUUl exhibited a decrease in the number of large
shells, with a noticeable increase in fragmented shell
and shell grit. The matrix of this unit consisted of an
orange-red sand. At this point in the excavation of A7
(c.90cm) the water table was reached. and excavation
ceased, as the base of the pit filled with water and the
sections threatened to collapse.
Although the A7 excavation looked like a shell
midden in that it contained abundant, seemingly sizeselected mud ark, as well as what field observation
suggested might be a shell artefact from the base of
the dense shell layer (Culbert 1996), classification
problems remained. The soil matrix of the deposit
appeared different from the dark, organic sediment
usually associated with middens (Lilley et al. 1999).
The deposit also contained little or no charcoal and
no other artefacts, andexhibited amuch wider variety
of shell species in a greater range of sizes than in The
Granites deposit. On the basis of this ambiguity, A7
was seen as a primary candidate for the application of
foraminifera analysrs to test its utility as an additional
aid in distinguishing middens from natural shell
deposits (Lilley et al. 1999).
Figure 3. White Patch showing densely-packed
cheder deposits (Photograph: I. LiUey).
Figure 4. A7 showing dense shell lens dominated
by large mud ark (Photograph: S. Ulm).
similar depth containing some shell. SUIU consisted
of densely-packed shell fragments some 25-30cm
deep. On the basis of conventional criteria used to
distinguish middens, namely the presence of larger
shells, bone, charcoal and stone artefacts, The
Granites excavation was concluded to have exposed
a shell midden overlying a chenier deposit resting on
microgranite bedrock. More detailed examination of
the shell assemblage indicated that there was a veneer
of culturallydeposited shell on top oh the basal
chenier (Carter 1997; Lilley et al. 1996). The natural
formation proved to be substantially older than the
cultural shells lying directly on its surface (see
discussion below).
Carter, Lilley. Ulm and Brian
-
10
-
20
-
-
Ocm
30
40
50
60
70
Figure 5. Northern and eastern stratigraphic profiles of The Granites.
Figure 6. Northern and eastern stratigraphic profiles of White Patch.
-
Ocm
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
- no
Figure 7. Northern and western stratigraphic profiles of A7.
QAR 1999 Vol. 11
Table 1. Radiocarbon dates for the Mort Creek Site Complex.
Square
XU
Depth
(cm)
Lab.No.
Sample
Weight
(g)
14CAge
Calibrated Agels
The Granites
11M
45.5-52.1
Wk-3941
shella
71.3
2680 + 60
2598(2339)2188
The Granites
11C
45.5-52.1
Wk-3940
shellb
66.7
3260 + 70
3304(3075)2865
White Patch
4
12.8- 18.4
Wk-3942
--
I
I
White Patch
a
10
I
37.6-44.8
Wk-3943
2440 + 80
shella
1
I
shell"
2307(2071)1861
I
I
74.8
-
2570 + 60
2358(2273)2057
Anadara trapezia
Mixed shell consisting of Saccostrea sp., Polynices sp., Nerita chamaeleon, Placamen calophyllum, Fragum
hemicardium, Gafrarium australe, Cymatium sp., Corbula sp., Antigona chemnitzii, Trisidos tortuosa, Tapes dorsatus,
Meropesta sp., Pinctada sp., Trichomya hirsuta, Bembicium auratum, Calthalotia arruensis and Anadara trapezia.
Chronology
Radiocarbon dates from the deposits at the Mort
Creek Site Complex suggest Aboriginal occupation in
this region before 2,300 cal BP (Lilley et al. 1996)
(Table 1; see Ulm and Lilley this vo1ume:Appendix
C for full details). Conventional radiocarbon ages are
corrected for '3C/12Cfractionation and were calibrated
using the CALIB (v3.0.3~) computer program
(Stuiver and Reimer 1993). Dates on marine shell
samples were calibrated using the marine calibration
dataset of Stuiver and Braziunas (1993) with a AR
correction value of -5 + 35. The calibrated ages
reported span the 20 calibrated age-range. This AR
value is based on open ocean values established by
Gillespie and Temple (1977, see also Gillespie and
Polach 1979). Although the Mort Creek Site Complex
is located on a creek margin, the Mort Creek estuary
can essentially be considered as part of the extensive
Rodds Harbour which has a high tidal range and
consequent high tidal flushing. The local marine
reservoir effect is, therefore, likely to be similar to the
open water value of -5 * 35 (Spennemann and Head
1996).
All samples are of the mud ark Anadara trapezia
except Wk-3940, which is a mixed sample of several
bivalve species. As Anadara is an aragoniticsecreting organism, all radiocarbon samples were
subject to x-ray diffraction analysis (XRD) by the
Waikato Radiocarbon Laboratory prior to dating to
test for possible recrystallisation. Several samples
submitted for determination from The Granites were
rejected on this basis.
The Granites XU1 1C (Wk-3940) dates the surface
of a buried chenier ridge while The Granites XU1 1M
(Wk-3941) dates suspected midden material lying
directly on top of the chenier. The shells were
separated on the basis of colour staining and the
colour and texture of the matrix adhering to the
specimens of shell (Lilley et al. 1996:39). Like the
shell from the White Patch chenier, The Granites
chenier was characterised by pink-tinged shell and
clean yellow sand, whereas shell from the midden
deposit was defined by a lack of pink colouration of
the shell and by the fine, dark, organic sediment
adhering to it (Lilley et al. 1999).
The two White Patch determinations (Wk-3942
and Wk-3943) date the chenier deposit southwest of
The Granites, suggesting that it was forming while
the lower Granites midden was being deposited on the
surface of chenier formed centuries earlier. The dates
obtained from A7 indicate formation of this deposit
between c.2,400-2,800 cal BP. The apparent
inversion of the date from XU9 (Wk-3938) may
simply indicate rapid formation of the deposit as all
three determinations overlap at the two sigma
calibrated age-range. Thus the radiocarbon dates
suggest an overlap in the formation of cultural and
natural shell deposits in the study area. This
interfingering of chronology adds further ambiguity
to the status of A7.
Analytical Premises and Procedures
The problem in the Mort Creek investigations thus
became one of accurately distinguishing chenier
material from shell midden deposit and deciphering
the depositional history of each excavation.
In Australian coastal archaeology there exists a
substantial list of criteria which are conventionally
Carter, Lilley, Ulrn and Brian
used to distinguish the nature and formation of
cultural and natural shell formations (e.g. Attenbrow
1992; Bailey 1994; Gill 1954; McNiven 1996). Some
of these criteria include the presence or absence of
cultural materials such as charcoal, bone and stone
artefacts and evidence for size selection in so-called
'economic' species. For some time, however, it has
been recognised that these criteria are not always
reliable in accurately distinguishing midden shell
deposits from natural shell deposits such as cheniers
(Bailey 1994; O'Connor and Sullivan 1994; Rowland
1994; Sullivan and O'Connor 1993). More recently,
the technique of foraminifera analysis has been used
to aid in the identification of cultural shell deposits
(Gill et al. 1991; Lilley et al. 1999; McNiven 1996).
Foraminifera Analysis
Foraminifera (forams) are microscopic organisms that
have calcium carbonate exoskeltons known as 'tests'.
They are ubiquitous and abundant in marine
environments. By assessing their abundance in shell
deposits, archaeologists can determine the degree to
which seawater was involved in the formation of a
shell deposit. Theoretically, this enables natural shell
accumulations, middens re-worked by seawater and
in situ shell midden deposits to be distinguished. The
technique has been applied to archaeological deposits
on only three occasions, initially by Gill etal. ( I 991),
then by McNiven (1996) and most recently by Lilley
et al. (1999). Gill et al. (1991) recognised that the
presence or absence of foraminifera in coastal shell
deposits could provide insights into the influence of
the sea on site formation. As forams are abundant in
seawater, they tend to be extremely common in
sediment laid-down or re-worked by wave action
(McNiven 1996). Hence, it was hypothesised,
foraminifera tests should be present in any deposit
laid down or re-worked by seawater, but not in
middens which have not been inundated by seawater
(Gill et al. 1991). Lilley et al. (1999) note, however,
that foraminifera may be present in the matrix of an
in situ midden which was deposited on, or covered
by, wind- or water-borne marine sediment or where
seawater has been transported to the site by humans.
If this were the case, they suggest that although
forams will be present, they should be very
considerably fewer in number in midden deposits
than in natural marine sediments.
Thus, various hypotheses had to be tested
regarding the application of foraminifera analysis to
the Mort Creek Site Complex deposits. First, to
provide initial confirmation of the utility of the
technique, Lilley et al. (1999) had to demonstrate that
control samples obtained from the beach, the chenier
ridge samples and the material excavated at White
Patch contained foraminifera, while a sample
QAR 1999 Vol. 11
obtained from the midden at The Granites did not.
Second, assuming confirmation of the effectiveness
of the technique in these relatively unambiguous
cases, the status of A7 as a midden could be tested by
determining whether or not it contained foraminifera
(Lilley et al. 1999).
As anticipated, the sediment from the control
samples and White Patch revealed abundant
foraminifera, while that from the upper, definitelycultural unit of The Granites contained none. The
results were taken "as preliminary confirmation of the
validity of foraminifera1 analysis as a test of the
human origins of shell deposits in the study area"
(Lilley et al. 1999:13). The sediment analysed from
A7 (extracted from XU5) also had no observable
foraminifera content. On the basis of this finding,
coupled with the results from the other samples, the
presence of a suspected shell artefact (Culbert 1996)
and the apparently size-selected Anadara trapezia
shells in the excavation, A7 was concluded to be a
midden (Lilley et al. 1999).
To test further these preliminary conclusions, an
in-depth analysis of material from each excavation
was conducted (Carter 1997). This investigation
employed two of the major criteria used in Australian
midden studies - species diversity and intra-specific
size. These criteria respectively specify that shell
middens will contain a restricted range of species,
predominantly of larger sizes, whilst natural
accumulations such as cheniers will contain a large
number of species, and exhibit a larger proportion of
small shells.
Sampling
Sampling was necessary owing to the large amount of
material extracted from the excavations. The two
elements which influenced the sampling strategy were
the time available for analyses and the nature of the
deposits themselves. The Granites deposit consisted
of 13 excavation units, all of which were sorted and
analysed. There were 10 excavation units (XUs) dug
at White Patch. Owing to the large volume of shell
that was recovered, the sample of material sorted
from this test pit included all coarse (6rnrn) sieve
residues from XUs 1 , 5 and 8. These XUs represent a
sample of each of the three different depositional
units observed during excavation (Figure 6). Owing
to the great bulk of fine sieve (3mm) residues
collected, sorting of a 100% sample was not feasible.
Consequently, a random sample of 100g of fine sieve
residue from each of the three selected White Patch
XUs was chosen for analysis. The excavation at A7
consisted of 14 XUs. No material at all was retained
by the field crew from XUs 1-2, as these units
contained only sand. The remaining 12 units were all
analysed. All coarse sieve (6mm) residues were
sorted. All fine sieve residues were analysed with the
exception of residues in excess of 100g, where only
a lOOg sample was studied.
frequency of right or left umbos or valves. For
gastropods, apertures or opecular openings were used
as diagnostic elements of individual specimens. Table
2 defines the classifications of shellfish remains
devised for analysis of molluscan remains.
For each site and for each excavation unit, the
size-classing of individuals was conducted for all
species. This was carried out using only whole shells
(see Table 2). Seven categories of size-classes were
employed: 0-lOmm, 11-20mm, 21-30mrn, 3 1-40mm,
41-50mm and >60mm. Shells were categorised using
a size chart drawn on lmm graph paper.
A limited analysis of non-molluscan remains from
each of the deposits was also conducted. Small
quantities of fish bone, stone artefacts and ochre were
identified in the top half of The Granites. White Patch
contained a single unburnt fish vertebra and very
small crab remains as well as unmodified stone and
coral fragments. A7 contained small quantities of fish
bone in XUs 3-4. Both The Granites and A7
contained small quantities of charcoal. Carter (1997)
provides details. A summary of analytical results for
each excavation square is presented here as Appendix
B-D.
Laboratory Procedures
Owing to several methodological requirements for the
sizing of individual shells within species (intraspecific size selection), the NISP (Number of
Identified Specimens) and weight methods were
rejected for the calculation of relative shellfish
abundances (see Carter 1997 for more detailed
information regarding methodology). MNI (Minimum
Number of Individuals) was the method selected for
characterizing shell abundance. The rationale for this
selection is sumrnarised by Bowdler (1983: 140).
For each sampled excavation unit from each area,
all molluscs were identified and analysed according
to species. Each shell was identified using specific
diagnostic features, such as the umbo or hinge of a
bivalve and the columella (the inner lip of the anterior
opening) of gastropods. MNI calculations for each
species were conducted using specific structural
elements or parts of a shell. Bivalve MNIs, for
example, were calculated by counting the highest
Table 2. Categories of shellfish remains for the analysis of molluscan remains.
I Shell Type I
Definition
1 BIVALVES
I Whole shell I A valve completely (100%)intact displaying the entire valve and umbo
I Broken shell 1 Any valve which is not completely intact but displays ,508 of the umbo
1 Fragment I Any part of the valve which displays 4 0 % of the umbo
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
I
I
I
I
I
OYSTERS and like species
I
I
I
A base or lid completely (100%)intact displaying the hinge
I
A base or lid which is not completely intact but displays >50% of the hinge
I
Any part of the valve which displays 4 0 % of the hinge
Fragment
LARGE GASTROPODS"
Any shell which is completely 100% intact and displays the aperture
Broken shell
Any part of the shell which displays an aperture >50% complete
Fragment
Any part of the shell which displays 4 0 % of the aperture
I
Any shell which is completely intact (100%)a n d o r displays 100% of the opercular opening and anterior margin
I
Any part of the shell which displays an opercular opening and anterior margin >SO% complete
Broken shell
I
Fragment
1 Any part of the shell which displays an opercular opening and anterior margin 4 0 % complete
I
" Includes the whelks (e.g. Pyrazus ebeninus, Cerithidae sp. etc., and also Nassirius sp.)
Includes the small species such as Nerites and cap-shaped gastropods (e.g. Austrocochlea sp., Thalotia sp.).
92
Carter, Lilley, Ulm and Brian
Table 3. Number of species per analysed XU in The Granites, White Patch and A7 (NA=Not Available).
Results of Analysis
Species Diversity
The criterion of species diversity refers to the number
of species of shellfish contained in each analysed
excavation unit in each site (Table 3; see Appendix A
for a complete list of identified species).
XUs 1-11 at The Granites contained a small
number of species. This is a typical feature of shell
midden deposits (Attenbrow 1992; Bailey 1994;
Bowdler 1983). The dominant species identified are
commonly found in middens, such as mud ark
(Anadara trapezia), commercial oyster (Saccostrea
commercialis), hairy mussel (Trichomya hirsuta) and
hercules club shell (Pyrazus ebeninus). These species
occur in mud and estuarine habitats (Coleman 1992).
XU1 I , however, displays a greater species
diversity in comparison to the low numbers identified
in the upper XUs. Further, XUs 12-13 contain very
large numbers of species. In addition to the four
species mentioned above, these units contained the
small bivalves Garji-arium australe and Corbula sp.,
which inhabit littoral muddy sand environments
(Lamprell and Whitehead 1992) and small gastropods
including Calthalotia arruensis and Neritidae sp.
which occur in inshore muddy rocks and mangrove
swamps (Coleman 1992; Dance 1992). These very
small individual molluscs are unlikely to have been
targeted as food resources (cf. Rowland 1994). These
results strengthen the
that at this location,
midden deposits rest directly on top of natural chenier
deposits.
The species identified in White Patch, the deposit
concluded unequivocally to be chenier, numbered
over 50 in each of the three excavation units
analysed. The material comprised a large assortment
of bivalves and gastropods from a range of habitats
including littoral sand, rocky intertidal shores, mud
flats, mangrove swamps and intertidal sand flats
(Coleman 1992; Dance 1992; Lamprell and
Whitehead 1992). The presence of such species
diversity in White Patch, a feature not found in the
undoubted upper shell midden at The Granites,
provides additional confirmation that this deposit is
a natural chenier formation.
Analysis of A7, the ambiguous deposit, revealed
some interesting results. Only one excavation unit
QAR 1999 Vol. 11
(XU3) exhibited a species diversity which is typical
of cultural deposits, as exemplified in this case by the
upper units of The Granites. This unit contained only
10 species including Anadara trapezia, Saccostrea
commercialis and Trichomya hirsuta. Each of the
remaining units, however, exhibited much greater
species diversity (between 30 and 52 species), more
typical of natural shell deposits such as White Patch.
The identified species include a wide range of
bivalves and gastropods from a range of habitats
including rocky shores, shell debris and mangroves,
though mostly from littoral sand. However, there is
notable variation in the species diversity of A7, and
overall, fewer species were identified in this deposit
than in White Patch. The results of species diversity
analysis clearly underline the intriguing nature of A7.
Intra-Specific Size Selection
The second criterion for analysis of excavated shell
used here is the size selection of species contained in
the deposits. For each analysed excavation unit of
each site, all whole shells were size-classed into the
categories mentioned above. Figure 8 illustrates the
results of this analysis. Results presented for the The
Granites are twofold. XUs 1-11 comprise mostly
shells measuring between 3 I-40mm (54.87%). Shells
measuring 41-50mm form the second largest
proportion of molluscan remains. The size-classes 01Omrn and 21 -3Omm comprise less than 10% of the
deposit, whilst material belonging to 11-20mrn
constitutes less than 15%. Overall, most shells
excavated from these units are large individuals
measuring greater than 3 lrnm. Shells of this size are
generally classified by Australian researchers as
'economic', or elsewhere defined as 'medium to large
adults' (Attenbrow 1992).
Results of size selection analysis of XUs 12-13 of
The Granites, however, demonstrate something quite
different (Figure 8, 9). In these lower units, the
majority of the shell assemblage consists of
individuals measuring 11-20mm (53.84%), followed
by those measuring 21-30mm (14.94%). Individuals
classed above 31mm constitute less than 20% of the
shell deposit. These results clearly confirm the
existence of a chenier at the base of The Granites
excavated deposit.
As illustrated in Figure 8, analysis of size
selection in White Patch revealed results
diametrically opposite to those from XUs 1- 11 in The
Granites. In White Patch, over 60% of shell was sizeclassed 11-20mm. The second largest proportion of
shell measures to the smallest size-class, O-lOmm
(24.75%). The remaining size-classes (21-30mm, 3 140mm, 41-5Omm, 5 1-6Ornm and >60mm) together
constitute less than 10% of the shellfish remains in
the square. These results are very similar to those
from the lower units of The Granites excavation. On
the basis of these findings, the preliminary conclusion
concerning the natural origin of White Patch is
confirmed.
The size-class analysis of individuals from A7
produced ambiguous results. As Figure 8 shows,
although the most common size-class is O-lOmm
(26.52%), there is little variation between the four
smallest size-classes, with 1l-20rnm, 21-30mm and
3 1-40mm occurring in similar proportions to the 0lOmm size-class (22.67%, 21.15% and 20.8 1%
respectively). The remaining size-classes (4 1-5Omm,
5 1-60mm and >60mm) each constitute less than 10%
of individuals in the A7 excavation. Thus, based on
the results of intra-specific size selection, A7 appears
to be more similar to White Patch than to The
Granites (XUs 1-1I), in that it contains a majority of
small, perhaps juvenile, shells. As noted, however,
the proportions at which shells measuring 1l-20mm,
21-30mm and 3 1-40mm occur in A7 are almost equal
to the proportions of shells O-lOmm. This feature is
not apparent in White Patch or The Granites shell
assemblages.
Figure 9 illustrates the size-class distribution of
selected excavation units of The Granites. XUs 4-10
are not included as they contained negligible
quantities of shellfish remains (see Appendix D). In
XUs 1-3 the size-class 3 1-40mm contains the highest
number of individuals. In XUs 2-3 the size-class 3140mm contains significantly more individuals than
the class 41-5Omm. XU 11, on the other hand, exhibits
a considerable difference in size selection in
comparison with the top units. In this lower unit, the
size-class of 11-20mm contains the most individuals,
followed by the smallest size-class, O-lOrnm. The
remaining, larger size-classes each contain less than
10 individuals. A broader species-diversity in XU1 1
of The Granites was indicated earlier, and interpreted
as confirmation that this unit contains both cultural
and natural shell deposits (see Table 3). Evidence for
a more varied intra-specific size selection in this XU
further supports this interpretation. XUs 12-13,
however, are clearly dominated by individuals
measuring 11-20mm. This distribution in size-classes
is exhibited by the White Patch chenier. These results
confirm the lower units in The Granites as chenier.
The analysis of the intra-specific size selection in
A7 produced some intriguing results (Figure 10).
First, the top half of the excavation (XUs 3-7) is
dominated by larger individuals measuring 3 1-40mm.
Intra-specific size selection in XUs 1-3 of The
Granites also exhibits this feature. Unlike these units
of The Granites, however, the top of the A7 deposit
evinces a gradual increase with depth of individuals
less than 30mm in size.
Second, in XU7 the smallest size-classes,
particularly O- lOmm and 11-20mm, occur in almost
equal numbers to that in the 31-40mm size-class.
XU8, however, indicates a distinct changeover, being
clearly dominated by individuals measuring O- lOmm.
Third, apart from XU12, the remaining units of A7
are dominated by shells measuring O- 1Omm and 1120mm. Thus the bottom half of the excavation
appears to be similar in terms of shell size to material
found in White Patch. In contrast, however, XU12 is
dominated by shells of the larger size-classes, 2130mm and 3 1-4Ornm.
Summary
Based on the results obtained from the analysis of
species diversity and intra-specific size selection in
The Granites and White Patch, their origins and
depositional contexts were determined. The majority
of excavation units in The Granites contained shell
midden deposit, with the bulk of cultural material
occuring in the upper section of the excavation. As
field observations suggested, the lower units
comprised of a thin layer of cultural shellfish remains
resting directly on top of a natural chenier formation.
The analysed excavation units of White Patch
undoubtedly confirmed its natural origin, comprising
hundreds of juvenile shells representing a diverse
range of species.
The results of analysis also clearly defined the
complex nature of A7. This deposit consists of both
in situ shell midden and chenier deposit and reworked deposits. Based on the results of both criteria
of analysis, the following depositional content of A7
is proposed:
XU3 - in situ shell midden;
XUs 4-6 - mixed deposit containing mostly
cultural shell midden material;
XU7 - mixed deposit containing mostly chenier
material;
XUs 8-1 1 in situ chenier;
XU12 - mixed deposit containing mostly chenier
material; and,
XUs 13-14 chenier.
This intricate depositional content of A7 has
implications for the results and efficacy of
foraminifera analysis.
Carter, Lilley, Ulm and Brian
Figure 8. %MNI for size-classes in A7, White Patch and The Granites (XUs 1-11 and XUs 12-13).
Figure 9. MNI for size-classes in selected XUs of The Granites.
.0?0
.,,mo27-a o3L.C
.., .rrm.*
ul
Figure 10. MNI for size-classes in analysed XUs of A7.
QAR 1999 Vol. l l
Discussion
Foraminifera Analysis
For each of the Mort Creek Site Complex
excavations, foraminifera analysis was conducted
using only one sediment sample, representing only
one stratigraphic unit from each locality. For White
Patch and The Granites, the results obtained by
foraminifera analysis were sufficient to affirm the
preliminary conclusions established through the more
conventional criteria of identification, because each
of these deposits was relatively homogenous. On the
other hand, the results for A7 may be regarded as
equivocal, as this deposit exhibited marked
heterogeneity in the vertical structure of the deposit.
Thus, any diagnosis based on one sediment sample
from one excavation unit in A7 is problematic and
insufficient (Carter 1997;Lilley etal. 1999).Analysis
of numerous sediment samples taken throughout the
deposit may have provided some insight into the
complicated nature of A7 which is illustrated by the
rewlts of more conventiondl criterid of analysis.
Coastal Processes and Site Formation
A major aim of the Gooreng Gooreng Cultural
Heritage Project is to establish the degree to which an
apparent concentration of sites along estuaries and
their absence on ocean beaches "reflects past
Aboriginal behaviour, recent geological processes or
patterns of archaeological research (Lilley and Ulm
1995:12).The findings detailed in this report suggest
that all three factors may be influential.
Chenier deposits are relatively common on
northern Australiancoasts, including those in Central
Queensland (Chappell and Grindrod 1984).They are
generally mid-to-late Holocene features, having
developed following the post-glacial rise in sea-level
about 6,000 BP (Chappell and Grindrod 1984;
O'Connor and Sullivan 1994; Short 1989). Owing to
their elevation and adequate drainage, cheniers are
often interpreted as occupation locations preferred by
Aborigines over poorly-drained, low-lying coastal
plains (Chappell and Grindrod 1984; Sullivan and
O'Connor 1993). Accordingly, the discovery of
middens overlying chenier? is not uncommon in
coastal investigations (e.g. Beaton 1985; Lilley er al.
1999; O'Connor and Sullivan 1994). The presence of
midden deposits on top of chenier formations in both
The Gran~tes and A7 is testimony to this
archaeological phenomenon in the study area. The
Mort Creek Site Complex deposits indicate that after
cheniers were deposited they were occupied by
Aboriginal people, sometimes for only relatively
short periods of time, after which further cbenier
material was laid down.
The archaeological investigations reported here
confirm that the interaction between humans and
environment is multi-dimensional and complex and
can result in localised co-existence and inter-mixing
of natural and cultural shell deposits. This has often
led to the misidentification of shell deposits by
archaeologists (Bonhomme and Buzer 1994; Sullivan
and O'Connor 1993:776). Our results suggest
considerable work is required on a local, case-by-case
basis to minimize such problems.
Conclusions
On the basis of this study, several observations can be
offered regarding the nature and distribution of shell
deposits in the Rodds Peninsula area:
1. There are extensive natural marine shell deposits in
the area, mostly in the form of cheniers. Analysis of
excavated deposits reveal that they contain a wide
range of marine bivalve and gastropod species,
predominantly of small and juvenile sizes. These
natural deposits may also contain large proportions of
commercial oyster (Saccostrea commercialis).
Cheniers occur in both surface and subsurface
contexts;
2. There are undisturbed shell middens in the region.
These may be exposed on the surface or occur as subsurface deposits completely covered by sediment. The
deposits will generally contain a restricted range of
species dominated by larger individuals. The mud ark
(Anadara trapezia) may occur as the dominant
species. Other cultural remains such as charcoal, fish
bone, and stone artefacts may also be present in small
amounts. Undisturbed shell middens may occur
directly on top of cheniers, in such a way that midden
material lies amongst natural shell; and,
3. There are re-worked or mixed shell middens in the
area. These also may be exposed or occur below the
surface. The deposits will contain a greater diversity
of species and an increase in the number of small or
juvenile shells. Mud ark (Anadara trapezia) may still
occur as the dominant species. Charcoal, fish bone
and stone artefacts will rarely be present. Re-worked
shell middens may also occur on top of cheniers.
Acknowledgments
We thank Ron Johnson (Sr) and Ron Johnson (Jr),
representing the Gurang Land Council Aboriginal
Corporation, for collaborating in the Mort Creek
fieldwork under trying conditions. We are particularly
grateful to John Jell (University of Queensland), who
advised us on protocols for foraminifera examination
and to Colin Campbell (Australian National
University) who suggested numerous useful
references on the topic. Ian McNiven (University of
Melbourne) suggested that we look for forams in our
middens in the first place. John Richter participated
Carter. Lilley. Ulm and Brian
in the excavations and drew Figures 1-2 and 5-7.
Thanks are also due to Thora Whitehead and Terry
Carless (Invertebrate Zoology, Queensland Museum)
for identifying numerous shells that defied our
reference collection. Funding for fieldwork was
provided by the National Estate Grants Program and
the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit
at the University of Queensland. Both the Department
of Sociology, Anthropology and Archaeology and the
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit at
the University of Queensland provided laboratory
facilities for this research. Jill Reid (Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit, University of
Queensland) checked data tables and commented on
several drafts.
References
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Bailey, G. 1994 The Weipa shell mounds: Natural or
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(eds), Archaeology in the North: Proceedings of the
1993 Australian Archaeological Association
Conference, pp.107-129. Darwin: North Australia
~esearch'unit,Australian National University.
Beaton, J.M. 1985 Evidence for a coastal occupation timelag at Princess Charlotte Bay (North Queensland) and
implications for coastal colonisation and population
growth theories for Aboriginal Australia. Archaeology
in Oceania 20(1): 1-20.
Bonhornrne, T. and S. Buzer 1994 Holocene Shell Middens
of the Central Coast of New South Wales: An
Investigation of the Management Problems Concerning
Coastal Shell Middens. Unpublished report to the New
South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service,
Sydney.
Bowdler, S. 1983 Sieving seashells: Midden analysis in
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Field Archaeology: A Guide to Techniques, pp. 135144. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal
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Burke, C. 1993 A Survey of Aboriginal Archaeological
Sites on the Curtis Coast, Central Queensland.
Unpublished report to the Queensland Department of
Environment and Heritage, Rockhampton.
Carter, M. 1997 Chenier and Shell Midden: An
Investigation of Cultural and Natural Shell Deposits at
Rodds Peninsula, Central Queensland Coast.
Unpublished B.A. (Hons) thesis, Department of
Anthropology and Sociology, University of
Queensland, Brisbane.
Chappell, J. and J. Grindrod 1984 Chenier plain formation
in northern Australia. In B. Thom (ed.), Coastal
Geomorphology in Australia, pp. 197-23 1. Sydney:
Academic Press.
Coleman, N. 1992 What Shell is That? Sydney: Ure Smith
Press.
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Culbert, N. 1996 An Analysis of a Suspected Shell
Artefact from Rodds Peninsula, Central Queensland
Coast. Unpublished report submitted for AY269
Independent Study 1, Department of Anthropology and
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Gill, E. 1954 Aboriginal kitchen middens and marine shell
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Gill, E., J. Shenvood, J. Cann, P. Coutts and C. Magilton
1991 Pleistocene shell beds of the Hopkins River,
Warrnambool, Victoria: Estuarine sediments or
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P. Kershaw (eds), The Cainozoic in Australia: A
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Gillespie, R. and H.A. Polach 1979 The suitability of
marine shells for radiocarbon dating of Australian
prehistory. In R. Berger and H.E. Suess (eds),
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Lamprell, K. and T. Whitehead 1992 Bivalves ofAustralia.
Vol. 1. Bathurst: Crawford House Press.
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preliminary results of the archaeological program.
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Lilley, I., S. Ulm and D. Brian 1996 The Gooreng Gooreng
Cultural Heritage Project: First radiocarbon
determinations. Australian Archaeology 43:38-40.
Lilley, I., D. Brian and S. Ulm 1999 The use of
foraminifera in the identification and analysis of marine
shell middens: A view from Australia. In M-J.
Mountain and D. Bowdery (eds), Taphonomy: the
Analysis of Processes from Phytoliths to Megafauna,
pp.9-16. Research Papers in Archaeology and Natural
History 30. Canberra: Archaeology and Natural History
Publications, Research School of Pacific and Asian
Studies, Australian National University.
Lilley, I., M. Williams and S. Ulm 1997 The Gooreng
Gooreng Cultural Heritage Project: A Report on
National Estate Grants Program Research, 1995-1996.
2 vols. Brisbane: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Studies Unit, University of Queensland.
McNiven, I. 1996 Mid- to late Holocene shell deposits at
Hibbs Bay, southwest Tasmania: Implications for
Aboriginal occupation and marine resource
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Forests Archaeological Project: Site Descriptions,
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Bundoora: School of Archaeology, La Trobe
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O'Connor, S. and M. Sullivan 1994 Distinguishing
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Stuiver, M. and T.F. Braziunas 1993 Modeling
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and revised CALIB 3.0 I4C age calibration program.
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Carter, Lilley, Ulm and Brian
Appendix A. Mort Creek Site Complex, Shell Species per Squarea.
Species Name
CommonNarne
Flavum heart cockle
Acrosterigma
reeveanum
I
I
Habitat
I muddy sand
1
I
I
I
I
Acrosterigma
rosemariensis
-
A7
X
I
littoral sand
-
Aji-ocardium skeeti
coral sand
X
Anodontia bullula
coral sand
X
Anodontia endentula
littoral mangroves
X
Anodontia pila
littoral mangrove areas
Anadara granosa
Cockle
mangroves
Anadara
rotundiscostata
Cockle
mangroves
Anadara trapezia
Mud ark
Antigona chemnitzi
-
Antigona lamellaris
Austrocochlea
constricta
Ribbed periwinkle
Austrocochlea sp.
Periwinkle
I mudestuary
I littoral sand
1 littori1 sand
I
I
I
I
estuary
I rocky shores
Azorinus minutus
X
X
x
X
littoral sand
--
Bembicium auratum
Gold-mouthed topped
shell
Bendeva hanleyi
Hanley's oyster drill
Calthalotia arruensis
Periwinkle
I rocky shoreslmangroves I
I rocky shores
I
-
Cardita incrassata
X
rocky intertidal shores
X
X
--
Thickened cardita
rockylcoral shores
Cerithium anticipata
Sand creeper
sand
Cerithium cingulata
Sand creeper
sand
X
-
Chlamys sp.
X
rockslcoral
I shell and coral debris I
Chama fibula
X
C h a m limbula
rock platformslcoral
platforms
C h a m pulchella
shell debris
X
C h a m sp.
shell debris
X
rocky reefs
X
Chicoreus denudatus
Denuded murex
-
Corbula cf: crassa
--
sandmud
1
I
I
Corbula mncgillivrayi
unknown
X
Corbula sp.
sandmud
X
Cycladicama
sphaericula
littoral mud
X
Cvnraea lamarckii
QAR 1999 Vol. l l
I Lamarck's cowrie
1
mudds r o c h inshore
I
X
While Patch
I The Granites
I
Species Name
I
CommonName
Habitat
I
A7
I White Patch
Cypraea sp.
rocks/coral
Darnicar tenebrica
unknown
X
X
sandy mud
X
X
intertidal rocks
X
X
Didirnacar sculptilis
unknown
X
Donax cuneatus
littoral sand
Dentaliidae sp.
Tusk shell
I
X
I
Limpet
I
I Donax deltoides
I
Donax faba
X
I
littoral sand
Donax veruinus
X
I
I
I
X
littoral sand
I
Ennucula superba
I
X
littoral sand
1
Dosinia sculpta
I
I
I sand
Pipi
I
I
I
Diodora sp.
I
The Granites
X
I
I
X
littoral mud
I
I
Epitonium scalare
X
Precious wentletrap
I
Euchelus atratus
Turban shell
Eunaticina papilla
X
rockslcoral reefs
I
Papilla moon
X
inshore sand
I Exotica balansae
I littoral sand
Exotica murrayi
coral sand
Fissidentalium
vennedei
unknown
X
X
I
I
X
I
X
X
muddy sand
X
X
X
Gafrariurn australe
littoral muddy sand
X
X
X
Glycyrneris
crebreliratus
sand
Glycyrneris holsericus
littoral sand
X
Fragurn hernicardiurn
Half-cockle
X
Gyrineurn pusillurn
Purple-mouthed
Kookaburra shell
rocky shores/coraI
debris
X
Haustellurn haustellurn
Snipes head murex
sandy mud
X
unknown
X
unknown
X
Indeterminate
gastropod A
gastropod B
I
Isanda coronata
I
I
I lrognornon sp.
I Pearl shell
I Leporimetis spectabilis I
I
I LepsieUa vinosa
x
I
1
1
litttoral mud
-
-
littoral sand
X
intertidal rocks
X
-
Leptonacea sp.
Liotina peronii
1
unknown
unknown
Wheel shell
I
x
I
rocky shoresldead coral
I
Lippistes blainvillei
littoral sand
I
X
I
X
unknown
Mactra antecedens
X
X
-
100
Carter, Lilley, Ulm and Brian
I
Species Name
Common Name
A7
Habitat
I
I
I
Mactra contraria
littoral sand
X
"Mactra" pellucida
littoral sand
X
Mactra cf: pusilla
I Mactra cf: sericea
I
I littoral sand
The Granites
I
X
X
littoral sand
I
White Patch
I
I
I
1
X
I
I
X
I
I
- -
Marcia hiantina
littoral sand
X
mud flats
X
Meropesta nicobarius
littoral sand
X
Mocoma candida
sublittoral sand
X
Melo amphora
I Baler shell
-
Monilea callifera
Top shell
rocky shores
Morula marginalba
Mulbeny shell
rocky reefs
Myadora sp.
I
unknown
Nassarius arcularius
I
inshore sand and mud
X
I
I
I
1
I
x
1
Nassarius coronatus
Acorn dog whelk
sandy flats
X
X
Nassarius dorsatus
Unicolour dog whelk
muddy sand
X
X
X
Nerita chamaeleon
Nerite
rocky shores
X
X
X
Nerita squammata
Nerite
rocky shores
X
X
X
Nerita sp.
Nerite
rocky shores
X
Nuclana blainvillei
unknown
Nuclana cf: electilis
unknown
Ophicardelus sp.
mangrove swamps
Ostrea sp.
intertidal mud
Paphia crassisulca
littoral sand
Paphia gallus
littoral sand
I
I
Paphia elongata
Pinctada fucata
I
Southern pearl shell
I
Pinctada sp.
X
beach sand
I
(
X
unknown
Mysella
X
I
Scallop
X
I
muddy flats
I
X
Pitar bullatus
littoral sand
X
Pitar coxeni
littoral sand
X
Pitar inconstans
littoral sand
X
Pirar nipponica
I
I
X
X
I
X
I
Placamen calophyllutn
littoral sand
X
X
Placamen tiara
littoral sand
X
X
Plagiocardium serosum
Hairy cockle
muddy sand
X
X
Plicatzcla sp.
Plicate oyster
rocks/coral
X
X
QAR 1999 Vol. 11
I
I
littoral sand
Pitar subpellucidae
X
X
littoral sand
I
I
I
101
II
1
Species Name
Polinices conicus
I Polinices mestamoides
CommonNarne
1
I Moon shell
I Moon shell
Habitat
intertidal sand flats
I
A7
I
I
Hercules club whelk
Pyrazus ebeninus
White Patch
I
X
X
littoral sand/coral reefs
Moon shell
1
I
intertidal sand flats
X
unknown
X
X
X
sand
X
X
mangroveslmud flats1
rocky reefs
X
X
littoral rocks/ shell
debris
X
littoral sand
X
Solecurtus sp.
littoral sand
X
Spisula trigonella
littoral sand
Spisula sp.
littoral sand
Striarca saga
unknown
Tapes dorsatus
littoral sand
Tawera subnodulosa
littoral sand
I
Saccostrea
commercialis
Oyster
The Granites
X
I
mangrove swamps
Rhinoclavis asper
1
X
X
X
-~
I Tellina gemonia
I Tellina radians
I Tellina robwta
I Tellina serricostata
X
X
I
I littoral sand
X
I
X
I
I littoral sand
I littoral sand
I Tellina tenuilamellata
I Terebra subulata
I Teiebra sp.
X
-
I
I
X
littoral sand
Auger shell
Thalotia sp.
littoral sand
Periwinkle
X
X
X
X
rocky shores
I
bicarnatum
Trapezium
sublaevigatum
crevices in coral
boulders
X
X
I
tidal estuary
X
X
littoral sand
X
X
Hairy mussel
Trisodos tortuosa
Turritella terebra
Waxen screw shell
sandy mud
X
Velacumantis australis
Australian mud whelk
estuary/mangroves
X
littoral sand
X
Vepricardium
multispinosum
X
I
oyster clumps/littoral
shell debris
Trichomya hirsuta
X
I
I
X
X
-
Xanthomelon
pachastyla
a
I
I
I
I
I
X
littoral sand
I
X
X
littoral sand
I
X
X
Land snail
land
X
X
Species identified in The Granites include XUs 1-3 and XU1 1. XUs 4-10 and 12-13 are not included so as to allow a
comparison between the number of species identified in midden and chenier and in mixed deposits.
102
Carter, Lilley, Ulm and Brian
Appendix B. Mort Creek Site Complex, A7, Excavation Data and Dominant Materials.
Depth (cm)
1 8.04
"
Saccostrea commercialis
Anadara trapezia
Trichomya hirsuta
see Appendix A
NA Not available
Appendix C. Mort Creek Site Complex, White Patch, Excavation Data and Dominant Materials.
-
XU
"
Mean XU
Depth (cm)
Oyster"
(g)
Mud Arkb
(g)
Musselc
(g)
Other
Shelld(g)
Charcoal
(g)
Bone
(g)
Artefactual
Stone (g)
1
1.16
531.1
156.4
0.2
455.7
0
0
0
5
21.82
938.2
315.7
19.3
1917.3
0
0
0
8
34.92
1682.3
620.9
0.9
1956.7
0
0
0
Saccostrea commercialis
Anadara trapezia, Anadara granosa and Anadara rotundiscostata
Trichomya hirsuta
see Appendix A
QAR 1999 Vol. 11
Appendix D. Mort Creek Site Complex, The Granites, Excavation Data and Dominant Materials.
Charcoal
(g)
1.2
Bone
(g)
Artefactual
Stone (g)
3.7
14.2
" Saccostrea commercialis
Anadara trapezia and Anadara rotundiscostata
Trichomya hirsuta
see Appendix A
NA Not Available
Carter, Lilley, Ulm and Brian
EURIMBULA SITE 1, CURTIS COAST: SITE REPORT
SEAN ULM, MELISSA CARTER, JILL REID AND IAN LILLEY
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit, University of Queensland,
Brisbane, Queensland, 4072, Australia
This site report presents an account of archaeological excavations undertaken at
Eurimbula Site 1, a large open midden site complex located in Eurimbula National
Park on the southern Curtis Coast, Central Queensland. Excavations yielded a cultural
assemblage dominated by mud ark (Anudaru trapezia) and commercial oyster
(Saccostrea commercialis) and incorporating small quantities of stone artefacts, fish
bone and charcoal. Densities of cultural material were found to decrease markedly with
distance from the creek. Analyses of excavated material demonstrate extensive low
intensity use of the site from at least c.3,200 cal BP to the historical period.
Introduction
This report details the results of limited test
excavations undertaken at Eurimbula Site 1 between
1-6 April 1995. Excavations were conducted as part
of the archaeological component of the Gooreng
Gooreng Cultural Heritage Project (see Lilley and
Ulm 1995, this volume).
The major objective of these excavations was to
establish the connection between a prograding beach
ridge formation and the deposition of cultural
materials. In particular, data were collected to
determine whether pre-European Aboriginal
settlement patterns in the area were focussed on the
estuary or the ocean beach; if the latter, the focus of
settlement would be expected to move northward as
beach ridges developed in that direction.
Site Location and Description
Eurimbula Site 1 is a large, stratified, midden
complex intermittently exposed for some 2km in a
steep erosion face on the western bank of Round Hill
Creek, which forms the eastern border of Eurimbula
National Park (Figure 1). The approximate centrepoint of the site is located 4km southwest of Round
Hill Head and 34km northeast of the town of Miriam
Vale (Latitude: 24" 11'54"; Longitude: 151 "5 1'34";
Easting: 384166; Northing: 7323343). The site
complex is registered as Queensland State File
Numbers KE:A49-KE:A54 (inclusive) and
Queensland Museum Number S864.
The site is approximately 2krn long (north-south)
and up to lOOm wide (east-west), although surface
exposures of shell are predominantly confined to a
50m-wide band adjacent to the creek. The site thus
covers a minimum area of 100,000m'. It is formed on
and in a series of Holocene beach ridges and swales
which run roughly parallel to the modem coastline.
These features are formed by massive amounts of
sandy sediments delivered to the coastal region by the
rivers of Central Queensland. Hopley (1985:76-77)
defines the area as a depositional coastline,
QAR 1999 Vol. 1 1
characterized by a series of beach ridges trailing
northwards from the northern side of almost every
estuary of note (see also Rowland 1987). The beach
ridges of Eurimbula are most likely swash-built,
owing to the fact that they are oriented parallel to the
ocean and occur in sets of 5-25 ridges (Tanner
1995:150).
The site was briefly described by Godwin (l990),
who noted the archaeological potential of the site as
a large stratified deposit not common in the area.
Burke (1993) subsequently recorded the site complex
in more detail during a heritage management study of
the Curtis Coast, identifying 20 separate sites (CC112A, CC-113A, CC-114-CC-131) which were
subsequently conflated into six sites when registered
by the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency
(KE:A49-KE:A54).
In the site cards lodged with the Queensland
Environmental Protection Agency, Burke noted
scattered mud ark and oyster shell and occasional
whelks in various densities and locales along the
creek bank. Material was noted within 40m of the
creek bank and up to 30cm below the surface of the
exposed erosion bank. A single stone artefact was
recorded: a large, granitic core, which was thought to
derive from the Round Hill Head headland.
Excavation Aims and Methods
The archaeological investigations at Eurimbula Site
1 were designed to complement earlier coastal work
conducted at the Mort Creek Site Complex on Rodds
Peninsula, located some 31km northwest of
Eurimbula Site 1 (see Carter 1997; Carter et al. this
volume; Ulm and Lilley this volume).
A detailed examination of the surface of the entire
site area adjacent to Round Hill Creek was
undertaken before final selection of the areas to be
excavated. This survey generally confirmed the
results of previous studies, with scatters of surface
shell and stone artefacts found to be concentrated at
the southern end of the site.
----
---
Mangroves
SandlMud flats
TracWRoad
Transect
Figure 1. Round Hill Creek, showing the location of Transects A, B and C at Eurimbula Site 1.
106
Ulm, Carter, Reid and Lilley
TRANSECT C
TRANSECT B
TRANSECT A
Irn
Erosion face
0
Excavation
r.
(2 Turkey mound
Contours are at 0.1 rn intervals
Figure 2. Location of test pits along Transects A, B and C at Eurirnbula Site 1, showing topography in
the immediate area of the transects.
QAR 1999 Vol. 11
Detailed survey of the erosion bank revealed
quantities of shell and occasional stone artefacts
which had fallen out of the bank owing to
undercutting wave action (Figure 14). Amongst the
larger artefacts were several water-rounded
microgranite hammerstones exhibiting impact-pitting.
The closest known source of microgranite is Bustard
Head, some 20krn to the northwest. Several large
artefacts manufactured on pyroclastic rhyolite were
also noted. Several of these display distinct bevelling
along one margin and are roughly triangular in crosssection. These artefacts appear morphologically
similar to the 'bevelled-pounders' found further
south, which are functionally associated with
processing of the root of the fern Blechnum indicum
(Gillieson and Hall 1982; McNiven 1992; Richter
1994). Although pyroclastic rhyolite is available on
the east bank of Round Hill Creek (lkm east), only
two quarries have been identified: a minor extraction
site on Round Hill Head 4km to the northeast
(Rowland 1987), and a massive quarry on the south
bank of Middle Creek 1lkrn to the northwest (Reid
1998). Visibility away from creek margins was
limited owing to dense vegetation cover, although
erosion banks and clearings were examined in detail.
After survey had determined the general extent of
the site complex, three excavation transects were
selected for test excavation, towards the northern and
southern ends and in the centre of the site complex
respectively (Figure 1). In total, nine 50cm x 50cm
test pits were excavated at 25m intervals along three
transects placed approximately at right angles to the
erosion face (Figure 2). The test pits were located
across the site area in this way in an attempt to
characterize the broad patterns of variation in
subsurface deposits.
The general topography of the immediate area of
each excavation transect was mapped using an autoset
level and stadia rod. The 50cm x 50cm pits were
excavated in generally small (2-5cm) arbitrary
excavation units (XUs) within stratigraphic units
(SUs). Elevations were recorded at the beginning and
end of each excavation unit, using a local datum and
a string line and level. Most excavated sediment was
weighed in buckets on a tared spring-balance. All
sediments were dry-sieved through 6mm (coarse) and
3mm (fine) nested screens. Some basal units,
however, required wet-sieving owing to the high
moisture content of the excavated sediments. This
was conducted in the tidal creek adjacent to the site.
All sieve residues were retained and bagged in the
field, with the exception of large roots, which were
weighed and discarded in the field. Sediment samples
(c.200g) were taken from each excavation unit from
the material which passed through the 3rnm sieve.
Coarse and fine sieve fractions from each excavation
unit were bagged separately in the field but later
combined for the purposes of laboratory analysis.
In addition to the excavations, a limited surface
collection was made of a dense mud ark exposure
adjacent to Square E7 to obtain a termination date for
use of this area (Table I ) and a small bulk sample was
taken from a discrete shell lens exposed in the west
section of Square E l to obtain samples for
radiocarbon dating (Figure 3, 12-13).
Stratigraphy
El
Square E l , located closest to the creek on Transect A,
comprised three stratigraphic units (Figure 3). SUI
consisted of dark brown hurnic soil containing many
rootlets. Occasional scattered charcoal and mud ark
(Anadara trapezia) and oyster (Saccostrea
commercialis) valves were recovered from this unit.
SUII consisted of loosely consolidated light browngrey sand with many small rootlets and included a
discrete lens of mud ark in the southwest corner at 3040cm in depth. SUIII, however, marked a
stratigraphic change to a light-brown sandy matrix.
Occasional stone artefacts were noted in this unit.
Excavation terminated at a maximum depth of c.70cm
below ground surface in culturally-sterile sediments.
E2
Square E2 contained three stratigraphic units (Figure
4). SUI comprised a dark brown hurnic layer
containing large amounts of blocky charcoal. SUII
represented a loosely consolidated, grey-white sand
layer. Some shell occurred in this layer. The final
S u m consisted of a brown-yellow sand with small
amounts of shell and rootlets.
E3
This test pit was the furthest from the creek along
Transect A and contained only two stratigraphic units
(Figure 5). SUI consisted of a dark brown, sandy
loam containing some organic material such as leaf
and bark litter. SUII comprised light brown, loosely
consolidated sand, with some shell, including land
snail, charcoal and stone artefacts occurring
throughout. Several cavities were encountered during
excavation of SUII, presumably resulting from animal
burrowing.
E4
Square E4, the test pit closest to the creek along
Transect B, did not reveal any definable stratigraphic
changes (Figure 6). This pit comprised light brown
sand, with darker moist patches occurring throughout
the deposit. Rootlets occur throughout with very little
shell material recovered. Very sparse shell, charcoal,
bone and stone artefacts present.
Ulm, Carter, Reid and Lilley
Figure 3. Northern and western stratigraphic
profiles for Square El.
Figure 4. Northern and western stratigraphic
profides for Square E2.
m
SUI
Dark mow, mlcr.1
Figure 5. Northern and western stratigraphic
profiles for Square E3.
\
wi
Figure 6. Northern and western stratigraphic
profiles for Square E4.
-
SW
Roolr
10
.20
.
..
...
..
. ..
..
..
..
-.
...
..
..
,.
......
....
....
....
.. . . .
SUll
.
-
40
Figure 7. Northern and western stratigraphic
profiles for Square E5.
- M
SUll
.
. .. .. ..
. .
. . . .. . . .
.
. .. .. .. . . . . .. ... .
.
Osm
-
I0
-
m
- 30
- 40
Figure 8. Northern and western stratigraphic
profiles for Square E6.
-
Ocm
-
10
- 20
- 30
Figure 9. Northern and western stratigraphic
profiles for Square E7.
QAR 1999 Vol. 1 1
Figure 10. Northern and western stratigraphic
profdes for Square E8.
Figure 11. Northern and western stratigraphic
profiles for Square E9.
E5
E5 contained two stratigraphic units (Figure 7). SUI
comprised a thin, dark-brown humic layer containing
many small and matted rootlets. Some blocky
charcoal was also present in this unit. SUII consisted
of a light brown sandy layer with very small amounts
of shell and less charcoal than in the initial SU.
Figure 12. General view of completed excavation
showing shell lens mid-way down the profile,
Square El, facing west (Photograph: S. Ulm).
E6
Square E6 also comprised two stratigraphic units
(Figure 83. SUI contained a fine, mottled grey sand,
with decaying wood material and rootlets occurring
throughout. SUII comprised a dark orangey-brown
sand matrix with many roots still occumng. Charcoal
is well represented throughout, but there is only very
sparse shell material.
E7
E7, the excavation closest to the creek along Transect
C, comprised two stratigraphic units (Figure 9). SUI
consisted of a light brown sand with blocky charcoal,
some mud ark and rootlets occumng throughout. SUII
comprised a similar light brown sandy matrix,
although less shell and root material was noted.
Figure 13. Close-up view of mud ark (Anndaro
trapezia) lens, Square El, XU10, facing west
(Photograph: S. Um).
E8
Three stratigraphic units were observed in Square E8
(Figure 10). SUI consisted of a dark coloured humic
layer characterized by large amounts of rootlets and
organic matter. SUII comprised poorly consolidated
light brown sand. SUlII consisted of moist yellow
sand and contained only small amounts of charcoal.
E9
The final test pit, E9, situated furthest from the creek
along Transect C, exhibited two stratigraphic units
(Figure 11).SUI consisted of a moist, grey-brown soil
matrix containing many rootlets and a small amount
of charcoal 10-18cm deep. SUII consisted of an
unconsolidated brown-yellow soil matrix, containing
only minute pieces of charcoal. The base of SUII was
not reached before excavations were terminated.
Figure 14. General view of massive bank erosion
at the southern end of Eurimbula Site 1 fronting
Round Hill Creek (Photograph: S. Ulm).
dlm, Carter, Reid and Lilley
Table 1. Radiocarbon dates for Eurimbula Site 1.
Lab. No.
Sample
Weight
(g)
Wk-5601
charcoal
2.5
220 i 80
430(272,178,149,9,0*)0*
71.1
2390i60
2170(1997)1842
1600 + 160
1821(1412)1167
3020 + 70
3352(3200,3197,3154)2943
shella
Near E7
I surface I
charcoal
2.1
charcoal
10.3
14CAge
Calibrated Agds
0
Anadara trapezia
0* Represents a 'negative' or 'modem' age BP.
a
margins of the creek (see Olsen 1980:17) may have
Chronology
significantly altered I4C activity within the estuarine
Five radiocarbon determinations have been obtained
environments.
from the excavations at Eurimbula Site 1 (Table I ;
The dates obtained on the paired samples from
see Ulm and Lilley this vo1ume:Appendix C for full
Square E l exhibit an apparent difference of 790 I4C
details). Samples Wk-3944 and Wk-3946 are based
years (Table 1). The expected maximum difference
on the estuarine bivalve Anadara trapezia.
Conventional I4C ages are corrected for ' 3 ~ / ' 2 ~was 450 * 35 years identified by Gillespie and Polach
(1979) for open ocean waters along the east
fractionation and were calibrated using the CALIF3
Australian coast reduced by the input of atmospheric
(v3.0.3~)computer program (Stuiver and Reimer
14
C into the estuary and hence shell structures,
1993). Determinations based on charcoal samples
theoretically resulting in a date closer to the value
were calibrated using the bi-decal atmospheric
obtained on the terrestrial charcoal. The most
calibration curve based on the datasets of Pearson and
probable explanation for this wide discrepancy is a
Stuiver (1993) and Stuiver and Pearson (1993) with
lack of a close temporal association between the shell
no laboratory error multiplier. Forty years were
and charcoal samples selected for radiocarbon
subtracted before calibration to correct for I4C
determination. Although the apparently discrete shell
variations between northern and southern
lens from which the samples derive appeared to be a
hemispheres. Dates on marine shell samples were
secure stratigraphic context, it is possible that bulk
calibrated using the marine calibration dataset of
sampling of the lens from the section resulted in
Stuiver and Braziunas (1993) with a AR correction
contamination by more recent charcoal fragments.
value of -5 k 35. The calibrated ages reported span
Alternatively, this apparent anomaly may be
the 20 calibrated age-range.
accounted for by percolation of small charcoal
Dates on a shelllcharcoal sample pair (Wk-3944
fragments down the profile to become subsequently
and Wk-5215) from Square E l were obtained in an
incorporated in the shell lens. It is unlikely that
attempt to determine the local marine reservoir effect
densely-packed shell valves with large surface areas
in the Round Hill Creek estuary. The object was to
such as that contained in the lens have moved far in
assess the potential influence of localised variations
the deposit (see Hughes and Lampert 1977).
in marine reservoir effect in determining the accurate
Despite this problem, Eurimbula Site 1 has been
radiocarbon age of marine shell specimens in
shown to date from the end of the pre-European
archaeological deposits in the area. Studies of marine
period to at least 3,200 years ago (Lilley et. a1 1996).
reservoir effect in enclosed embayments and estuaries
The top units of Square El date to the last 200-300
elsewhere have demonstrated considerable variability
years, which accords with the recent date for surface
in I4C activity through space and time, suggesting
shell collected near Square E7. Owing to the location
significant variation in terrestrial carbon input and
of the excavations towards the seaward and thus more
exchange with the open ocean (e.g. Kennett et al.
recently-formed edge of a prograding shoreline, these
1997; Little 1993). Local reservoir effects are
findings suggest survey and excavation of older beach
potentially a major factor in dating shell material
ridge deposits to landward may locate material dating
from the Round Hill Creek estuary, as terrestriallyto at least the time of sea-level stabilization
derived carbon mobilized in freshwater run-off from
6,000-7,000 years ago.
the extensive wetlands bordering the southwestern
QAR 1999 Vol. 11
Laboratory Procedures
Prior to analysis of the excavated material, the 6rnrn
and 3mm sieve residues were combined and wetsieved in freshwater. There are two main reasons for
this procedure. First, apart from Square E l , there was
very little residue retained for each excavation in
either the fine or coarse sieves, obviating the need for
selective laboratory sampling. In some cases, 3rnrn
sieve residues were not retained in the field if they
consisted solely of modern organic material (i.e.
roots). Second, some of the excavated material was
still damp from wet-sieving in the field.
The excavated assemblage from Square E l was
analysed as part of an undergraduate independent
study (Reid 1997). Owing to the large quantity of
material recovered from this pit, Reid (1997) sorted
and analysed the fine and coarse sieve residues
separately. For the purpose of this report, however,
the fine and coarse sieve residue data reported in Reid
(1997) were combined for each excavation unit to
facilitate analytical comparability.
Excavated material was sorted into the following
categories: organic material (i.e. roots, leaf litter,
seeds etc), shell species, fish bone, charcoal, scats,
insect remains, non-artefactual stone, artefactual
stone and ochre. Raw data for the main cultural
materials recovered are presented in Appendix A-I.
Weight was selected to characterize the relative
abundance of cultural remains across the site
complex. The nature of the excavated shell
assemblages was the major rationale for the selection
of this method of quantification. Apart from E l , all
the excavations contained relatively small amounts of
highly fragmented shell material. Owing to the
fragmented nature of the mollusc remains and the low
representation of diagnostic features, such as hinges
or umbos, weight was viewed as the most informative
and efficient method of analysis.
CULTURAL REMAINS
Vertebrate Fauna
Very small numbers of fish bone were recovered,
comprising the only vertebrate remains identified.
The largest quantity of bone was evidenced in E l ,
which contained 0.9g of burnt fish bone (Figure 15).
Square E2 contained only 0.3g, E3 contained O.lg
and E4 contained 0.6g (Figures 16-18). No bone was
identified in Squares E5-E9.
Shell
As surface observations indicated, the two dominant
mollusc species excavated at Eurimbula Site 1 were
commercial oyster (Saccostrea commercialis) and
mud ark (Anadara trapezia). The largest proportion
of shell material was recovered from E l , which
contained just over 2kg of oyster and mud ark
combined (Figure 15).These two shell species exhibit
a distinctly bi-modal vertical (temporal) distribution.
The earlier deposits show a dominance of mud ark,
whilst the later units illustrate a shift to exploitation
of oyster. This bi-modal trend in the distribution of
mollusc species is also apparent in E2 and E3, and
may be the result of changed mollusc habitat
conditions. Mud ark are found just below the surface
of muddy substrates in estuaries, while oyster
generally prefer clear water and a rocky substrate or
mangrove roots. Reid (1997:17) hypothesised that
there may have been a recent change in habitat
conditions more favourable to oyster, replacing the
earlier populations of mud ark (Shanco and Tirnrnins
1975). However, the mud ark valves dated from near
E7 suggest a recent age. Small quantities of mud ark
are also represented in the upper undated deposits of
E3, E4 and E7. E2 contained a total of 182.98 of
oyster and mud ark (Figure 16), whilst E3 contained
a total of 217.68 (Figure 17).
E7 contained a combined total of 217.68 of mud
ark and oyster (Figure 21). The remaining squares
(E4, E5, E6, E8, E9) contained a combined total of
less than 50g for these species (Figures l8-20,22-23).
Generally, the bulk of shell excavated appears in the
pits excavated along Transect A and in those closest
to the bank of the creek in the other transects.
Stone Artefacts
In total 61 stone artefacts were recovered from the
nine squares excavated at Eurimbula Site 1. Stone
artefacts were recovered from only four of the nine
test pits (El, E2, E3 and E4), and represent a range of
artefact types including flakes, flaked pieces and
broken flakes as well as a single backed artefact
(Table 2). Figures 15-18 illustrate the proportion of
artefactual stone in comparison to the total
assemblage. Five raw materials are represented in the
assemblage: quartz (both white and clear), quartzite,
pyroclastic rhyolite, silcrete and a coarse sandstone.
While quartz and pyroclastic rhyolite occur locally,
the remaining raw materials are non-local suggesting
the movement of stone into the area. These materials
had to be transported to the site from elsewhere,
possibly from the coastal ranges to the west. Overall,
pyroclastic rhyolite was the dominant raw material
comprising 47.5% (n=29), although quartz was also
well represented with 34.5% (n=21). The fact that
both raw materials are found locally does not make
their dominance surprising.
Square E 1 contained 35 stone artefacts, distributed
throughout the excavated deposit with the majority
consisting of flaked pieces. Pyroclastic rhyolite was
the dominant raw material (77%). Other raw materials
present include quartz, sandstone and silcrete. A
variety of stone artefact types are represented in this
Ulm, Carter, Reid a n d Lilley
square includmg flaked pieces, two flakes and a
single broken flake. A flake made on pyroclastic
rhyolite was found towards the upper units of the
excavation, while the flake made from silcrete was
found towards the basal units of the excavation (see
discussion below). Neither flake was large with
maximum dimensions not exceeding 5mm. The
broken flake made from pyroclastic rhyolite was
transversely snapped and recovered from middle
excavation units. Maximum dimensions of the stone
artefacts range between 3mm and 39mm with an
average maxlmum dmension of 9.5mm.
Square E2 contamed 10 stone artefacts and
displays a similar dominance of flaked pieces to
Square E l . Despite this initial similarity, there is a
greater variety of raw materials represented at Square
E2 and the distribution of raw materials is more even.
Quartz is the dominant raw material (40%), followed
by silcrete, sandstone, pyroclastic rhyolite and
quartzite. With the exception of a single backed
artefact, all artefacts are flaked pieces. The backed
artefact was found in the second bottom excavation
unit and is made from a creamy-yellow silcrete with
maximum dimensions of 25mm x 9.5mm x 4mm.
Every edge of this artefact has been modified, with 15
flake scars present on the 'back' of the artefact. The
average maximum dimensions for artefacts from
Square E2 is 16mm.
Square E3 contained 13 stone artefacts consisting
ent~relyof flaked pieces. Quartz, both white and
clear, is the dominant raw material (92%) with only
one artefact made from silcrete. The majority of
artefacts found from Square E3 are from the basal
excavation units, with just three artefacts recovered
from the upper excavation units. The silcrete flaked
piece was found in the second bottom excavation
unit. The vertical provenience of this artefact is
similar to other non-local raw materials found at the
Table 2. Stone artefacts from Eurimbula Site 1.
OAR 1999 Vol. l 1
site. The maximum dimensions of artefacts range
from 3mm to 26mm.
Square E4 contained three stone flaked pieces.
Two artefacts are manufactured from an extremely
coarse and weathered sandstone with a dark reddishbrown cortex and a creamy to white pock-marked
interior surface. One artefact from this square is made
from pyroclastic rhyolite. All artefacts were found in
the upper to middle units of the excavation. The
maximum dimensions of these artefacts range from
5mm to 39mm.
Clearly the dominant raw material type found at
Eurimbula S ~ t 1e was pyroclastic rhyolite, compnslng
47.5% of the entlre assemblage. Pyroclastic rhyol~te
dormnates the headlands of the qtudy area, such a5
Round Hill Head, and provided the closest source of
this material. Quartz has been found throughout these
headlands also. Quartz constitutes the second most
abundant raw material used at the site at 34.5% of the
assemblage. Artefacts made on non-local stone make
up 18% of the lithic assemblage. Flaked artefacts
dominate the assemblage in artefact types with 95%
ofthe entire assemblage, while formal tool types were
not commonly found.
Stone artefacts are concentrated at the southern
end of the site in the v~cinityof Transect A. In fact,
E l contains over half of the lithic assemblage
recovered from the entlre site. S~gn~ficantly,
there
was a general pattern for non-local raw material to be
located towards the basal units of excavation. This
pattern was noted in Squares El, E2 and E3. Owing
to the general location of these raw material types in
the excavations and based on the limited dating of the
site, it seems likely these artefacts are generally older
than artefacts produced on local stone sources. This
may indicate a change in raw material focus in the
lock area and identifies an important change
resource use that requires further investigation.
Figure 15. Cultural remains in Square El.
Figure 16. Cultural remains in Square E2.
rnGwmrnhwMD'2-
OBmernSlone
Figure 17. Cultural remains in Square E3.
Ulm, Carter, Reid and Lilley
E x u n t i a UnH (XU)
Figure 18. Cultural remains in Square E4.
Figure 19. Cultural remains in Square E5.
( 6 -
Figure 20. Cultural remains in Square E6.
QAR 1999 Vol. 11
Figure 21. Cultural remains in Square E7.
Figure 22. Cultural remains in Square ES.
Figure 23. Cultural remains in Square E9.
Ulm, Carter, Reid and Lilley
Charcoal
The largest quantity of charcoal recovered was from
E5, weighing a total of 197.98 (Figure 19). The bulk
of this deposit, however, was from XU9, where the
excavation of a burnt root was recorded, suggesting
that the apparent charcoal peak is largely natural in
origin. E l contained the second largest quantity of
charcoal, with a total of 190.4g (Figure 15). The
general trend in charcoal recovered from the
excavations revealed a decrease in quantity as
distance from the creek increases.
Discussion
As Figures 15-17 indicate, the largest concentration
of cultural material recovered by the excavations
occurs in Squares E l , E2 and E3 along Transect A.
Although small quantities of cultural material occur
in the remaining pits, there appears to be a general
decrease in quantity and diversity seaward. E4 and E7
(Figures 18, 21), however, do contain substantial
quantities of cultural remains in comparison to the
other pits of Transect B and C. This evidence
suggests that occupation was concentrated along the
creek margin, immediately adjacent to the diverse
resources it offered. The presence of bevelled-edged
implements morphologically similar to those
functionally associated with plant food processing in
southeast Queensland suggests that a range of
subsistence activities took place at the site. The
concentration of cultural remains along Transect A
may also reflect a conscious subsistence strategy.
This transect is situated close to a variety of
environmental zones, including open forest habitats,
extensive estuarine mangrove communities and tidal
flats at the southern end of Round Hill Creek and
freshwater swamps to the southwest (Olsen 1980;
QDEH 1994). The diversity of resources offered by
these environments may have been a factor in the
more intensive occupation in the area of this transect.
Conversely, evidence for the decrease in cultural
material seaward from this transect may simply be
related to variability in local resource availability,
with a reduction in the area of intertidal flats towards
the ocean.
Conclusion
The results of analysis suggest that at Eurimbula Site
1 there is no obvious connection between the
deposition of cultural remains and the formation of
beach ridges. The quantity and location of cultural
remains recovered in the excavations, however,
strongly suggest that resource availability was a
major factor in structuring local settlement patterns
and hence deposition of cultural material. Regardless
of whether the beach ridges at Eurimbula were
continuous formations or the products of episodic
QAR 1999 Vol. 11
progradation, evidence suggests that the
geomorphological occurrences of the last 3,000 years
did not affect subsistence patterns which were
strongly focussed on Round Hill Creek rather than the
ocean beach.
Acknowledgments
We thank our field assistants for all their hard work
on the excavation: Deborah Brian, Chris Clarkson,
Leo Miller, Catriona Murray, John Richter, Deb Vale.
Hilton (Charlie) Johnson and Ron Johnson (Jr) of the
Gurang Land Council Aboriginal Corporation also
assisted throughout the excavations. Other Gooreng
people visited the site during the excavations and we
thank Michael Williams, James Williams and Cedric
Williams for their support. We also thank John
Richter for drawing the figures. Thanks to Des
Mergard and family of 1770 Charter for transporting
us to the site in their LARC. Funding for fieldwork
was provided by the National Estate Grants Program
and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
Unit at the University of Queensland.
References
Burke, C. 1993 A Survey of Aboriginal Archaeological
Sites on the Curtis Coast, Central Queensland.
Unpublished report to the Queensland Department of
Environment and Heritage, Rockhampton.
Carter, M. 1997 Chenier and Shell Midden: An
Investigation of Cultural and Natural Shell Deposits at
Rodds Peninsula, Central Queensland Coast.
Unpublished B.A. (Hons) thesis, Department of
Anthropology and Sociology, University of
Queensland, Brisbane.
Carter, M., I. Lilley, S. Ulm and D. Brian this volume Mort
Creek Site Complex, Curtis Coast: Site report.
Queensland Archaeological Research 11.
Gillespie, R. and H.A. Polach 1979 The suitability of
marine shells for radiocarbon dating of Australian
prehistory. In R. Berger and H.E. Suess (eds),
Radiocarbon Dating: Proceedings of the Ninth
International Conference, Los Angeles and La Jolla
1976, pp.404-421. Berkeley: University of California
Press.
Gillieson, D.S. and J. Hall 1982 Bevelling bungwall
bashers: A use-wear study from southeast Queensland.
Ausrralian Archaeology 14:43-61.
Godwin, L. 1990 Cultural heritage. In J. McCosker,
Eurimbula National Park Draft Management Plan.
Unpublished report to the Queensland Department of
Environment and Heritage, Rockhampton.
Hopley, D. 1985 The Queensland coastline: Attributes and
issues. In J.H. Holmes (ed.), Queensland: A
Geographical Interpretation, pp.73-94. Brisbane:
Booralong Publications.
Hughes, P.J. and R.J. Lampert 1977 Occupational
disturbance and types of archaeological deposit.
Journal of Archaeological Science 4:35-40.
Kennett, D.J., B.L. Ingram, J.M. Erlandson and P.L.
Walker 1997 Evidence for temporal fluctuations in
marine radiocarbon reservoir ages in the Santa Barbara
Channel, southern California. Journal of
Archaeological Science 24: 1051- 1059.
Lilley, I. and S. Ulm 1995 The Gooreng Gooreng Cultural
Heritage Project: Some proposed directions and
preliminary results of the archaeological program.
Australian Archaeology 41 :11-15.
Lilley, I. and S. Ulm this volume The Gooreng Gooreng
Cultural Heritage Project: Preliminary results of
archaeological research, 1993-1997. Queensland
Archaeological Research 11.
of the Archaeological Record of the Eurimbula Shell
Midden Complex, Central Queensland Coast.
Unpublished report submitted for ID232: Independent
Project in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
I, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit,
University of Queensland, Brisbane.
Reid, J. 1998 An Archaeological Approach to Quany
Studies: A Technological Analysis of the Ironbark Site
Complex, Southern Curtis Coast, Australia.
Unpublished B.A. (Hons) thesis, Department of
Anthropology and Sociology, University of
Queensland, Brisbane.
Richter, J. 1994 A Pound of Bungwall and Other
Measures. Unpublished B.A. (Hons) thesis, Department
of Anthropology and Sociology, University of
Queensland, Brisbane.
Lilley, I., S. Ulm and D. Brian 1996 The Gooreng Gooreng
Cultural Heritage Project: First radiocarbon
determinations. Australian Archaeology 43:38-40.
Rowland, M. 1987 Preliminary Archaeological Survey of
Coastal Areas of the Bundaberg 1:250,000 sheet (KE).
Unpublished report to the Queensland Department of
Environment and Heritage, Brisbane.
Little, E.A. 1993 Radiocarbon age calibration at
archaeological sites of coastal Massachusetts and
vicinity. Journal of Archaeological Science 20:45747 1.
Shanco, P and R. Tirnmins 1975 Reconnaissance of
southern Bustard Bay tidal wetlands. Operculum
October: 149-154.
McNiven, I. 1992Bevel-edged tools from coastal southeast
Queensland. Antiquity 66:701-709.
Stuiver, M and T.F. Braziunas 1993 Modeling atmospheric
I4Cinfluences and 14Cages of marine samples to 10,000
BC. Radiocarbon 35(1): 137-189.
Pearson, G.W. and M. Stuiver 1993 High-precision
bidecadal calibration of the radiocarbon time scale,
500-2500 BC. Radiocarbon 35:25-33.
QDEH 1994 Curtis Coast Study: Resource Report.
Rockhampton: Department of Environment and
Heritage.
Olsen, H.F. 1980 Estuarine resource inventory and
evaluation for the coastal strip between Round Hill
Head and Tannum Sands, Queensland. In H.F. Olsen,
R.M. Dowling and D. Bateman 1980 Biological
Resources Investigation (EstuarineInventory), pp. 1-44.
Queensland Fisheries Service Research Bulletin 2.
Brisbane: Queensland Fisheries Service.
Stuiver, M. and G.W. Pearson 1993 High-precision
bidecadal calibration of the radiocarbon time scale, AD
1950-500 BC and 2500-6000 BC. Radiocarbon 35:l23.
Stuiver, M and P.J. Reimer 1993 Extended I4C data base
and revised CALIB 3.0 I4C age calibration program.
Radiocarbon 35(1):215-230.
Tanner, W. 1995 Origins of beach ridges and swales.
Marine Geology 129: 149-16 1.
Ulm, S. and I. Lilley this volume The archaeology of the
southern Curtis Coast: An overview. Queensland
Archaeological Research 11.
Reid, J. 1997 Results and Analysis of E l : An Investigation
Ulm, Carter, Reid and Lilley
Appendix A. Eurimbula Site 1, Square El, Excavation Data and Dominant Materials.
ArteIituaI
Stone (g)
Organic
Material (g)
NA
<O. 1
a
0.5
71.0
Saccostrea commercialis
Anadara trapezia
Appendix B. Eurimbula Site 1, Square E2, Excavation Data and Dominant Materials.
XU
Mean XU
Depth (cm)
XU Weight
(kg)
OystelS
(g)
Mud Arkb
(g)
Charcoal
(g)
Bone
(g)
1
2.4
2.5
0.3
0
17.1
0
2
9.0
15.5
11.3
0
85.3
0.5
3
13.2
19.0
27.1
19.3
20.7
4
17.5
17.5
9.9
7.9
5
25.4
19.0
0.4
6
33.1
24.0
7
39.0
8
9
Artefactual
Stone (g)
0
Organic
Material (g)
0
19.1
3.3
0
0.8
2.8
16.0
0
12.7
1 .O
31.6
3.5
0
0
0.5
0
44.4
2.1
0
1.5
0
21.0
0
24.4
0.6
0
1.8
0
44.6
19.0
0
1 .O
3.6
0
8.0
0
5 1.1
23.5
0
0
10.6
0
0
6.8
" Saccostrea commercialis
Anadara trapezia
QAR 1999 Vol. 11
Appendix C. Eurimbula Site 1, Square E3, Excavation Data and Dominant Materials.
XU
Mean XU
Depth (cm)
XU Weight
(kg)
Oyster"
(g)
Mud Arkb
(g)
1
0.6
0.7
0.7
0.1
2
7.1
9.0
1.9
3
12.3
17.5
4
17.4
5
Charcoal
(g)
Bone
(g)
Artefactual
Stone (g)
Organic
Material (g)
0.7
0
0
33.0
2
14.6
0
0.3
21.0
22.5
23.0
0.1
0
63.5
17.6
6.5
0.4
24.1
0
0
58.3
22.9
17.8
0.8
27.8
7.7
0
<O. 1
48.2
6
28.4
18.4
1.O
29.5
3.8
0
0
37.4
7
34.1
18.7
0
87.9
6.0
0
3.3
19.7
8
38.6
19.0
0
9.1
8.4
0
0.3
13.2
9
47.7
24.8
0.2
0.2
5.9
0
0
152.1
9.6
" Saccostrea commercialis
b
Anadara trapezia
Appendix D. Eurimbula Site 1, Square E4, Excavation Data and Dominant Materials.
XU
Mean XU
Depth (cm)
XU Weight
(kg)
Oyster"
(g)
Mud Arkb
(g)
Charcoal
(g)
1
4.2
14.5
41.0
143.6
1.2
2
9.2
15.0
247.5
268.6
<0.1
3
15.0
18.0
185.5
24 1.4
4
20.0
16.0
4.6
5
23.9
17.0
6
29.5
19.5
Bone
(g)
Artefactual
Stone (g)
Organic
Material (g)
0
8.8
8.9
0.8
0.7
3
0
0
0
1.5
57.3
0
0
0.2
0.3
0
0
0
0
0
0
1.3
0
0
0
0
0
" Saccostrea commercialis
Anadara trapezia
Ulm, Carter, Reid and Lilley
Appendix E. Eurimbula Site 1, Square E5,Excavation Data and Dominant Materials.
XU
a
Mean XU
Depth (cm)
XU Weight
(kg)
Oyster"
(g)
Mud Arkb
(g)
1
1.O
1.O
0
0
2
5.4
15.8
0
3
10.2
17.5
0.3
4
13.6
18.7
5
19.2
6
Charcoal
(g)
Bone
(g)
Artefactual
Stone (g)
Organic
Material (g)
3.3
0
0
1.7
1.3
40.5
0
0
85.9
0.3
10.4
0
0
18.4
0
14.2
6.9
0
0
12.8
19.3
0
0
3.8
0
0
10.8
24.9
21.3
0
0
3.6
0
0
9.1
7
30.5
21.1
0
0
5.7
0
0
6.1
8
35.8
20.3
0
0
7.3
0
0
4.0
9
44.4
30.5
0.2
0
115.9
0
0
6.2
Saccostrea commercialis
Anadara trapezia
Appendix F. Eurimbula Site 1, Square E6, Excavation Data and Dominant Materials.
a
Saccostrea commercialis
Anadara trapezia
QAR 1999 Vol. 11
Appendix G. Eurimbula Site 1,Square E7, Excavation Data and Dominant Materials.
Mean XU
Depth (cm)
a
XU Weight
(kg)
OysteP
(g)
Mud Arkb
(g)
Charcoal
(g)
Bone
(g)
Artefactual
Stone (g)
Organic
Material (g)
0.8
0.6
0
0
0
0
0
0
5.8
17.1
0
14.6
14.8
0
0
120.9
11.6
17.3
0
2.6
6.5
0
0
46.6
18.8
20.1
0.8
20.8
10.6
0
0
56.3
24.0
17.6
4.7
82.8
9.5
0
0
27.9
29.9
21.0
2.1
12.0
11.8
0
0
20.3
35.9
20.0
0
0
18.9
0
0
18.8
45.8
37.0
0
3.7
11.1
0
0
29.6
Saccostrea commercialis
Anadara trapezia
Appendix H. Eurimbula Site I, Square E8, Excavation Data and Dominant Materials.
XU
a
Mean XU
Depth (cm)
XU Weight
(kg)
OysteP
(g)
Mud Arkb
(g)
Charcoal
(g)
Bone
(g)
1
1.o
NA
2
6.2
0
3
11.6
4
23.4
5
33.4
Artefactual
Stone (g)
Organic
Material
(g)
NA
NA
0
34.6
0
64.7
-0~
0
0
0
Saccostrea commercialis
Anadara trapezia
Appendix I. Eurimbula Site 1,Square E9, Excavation Data and Dominant Materials.
Depth (cm)
12.8
a
XU Weight
(kg)
OysteP
(g)
Mud Arkb
(g)
Charcoal
(8)
8.0
0
0
10.1
17.5
0
0
2.6
22.3
0
0
1.5
19.5
0
0
0.7
16.8
0
0
1.5
Bone
(g)
I Artefactual I Organic I
I Stone (g) I Material (g) I
Saccostrea commercialis
Anadara trapezia
Ulm, Carter, Reid and Lilley
NOTES TO CONTRIBUTORS
QAR accepts manuscripts of variable length which relate to archaeology in its many facets and
which are shown in some way to be relevant to Queensland and adjacent research areas.
Manuscripts should be submitted as hard copy as well as on a disk formatted using MicrosoftB
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All correspondence should be addressed to Dr Jay Hall, QAR Editor, Anthropology Museum,
Department of Sociology, Anthropology & Archaeology, The University of Queensland,
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, 4072.
Volume 11
The Gooreng Gooreng Cultural Heritage Project:
Preliminary Results of Archaeological Research, 1993-1997
Guest Edited by Ian Lilley, Sean Ulm and Michael Williams
CONTENTS
EDITORIAL
Jay Hall
THE GOORENG GOORENG CULTURAL HERITAGE PROJECT: PRELIMINARY RESULTS OF
ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESEARCH, 1993-1997
Ian Lilley and Sean Ulm
THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF CANIA GORGE: AN OVERVIEW
Catherine Westcott, Ian Lilley and Sean Ulm
ROOF FALL CAVE, CANIA GORGE: SITE REPORT
Tony Eales, Catherine Westcott, Ian Lilley, Sean Ulm, Deborah Brian and Chris Clarkson
BIG FOOT ART SITE, CANIA GORGE: SITE REPORT
Catherine Westcott, Ian Lilley, Sean Ulm, Chris Clarkson and Deborah Brian
Sean Ulm and Ian Lilley
THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE SOUTHERN CURTIS COAST: AN OVERVIEW
MORT CREEK SITE COMPLEX, CURTIS COAST: SITE REPORT
Melissa Carter, Ian Lilley, Sean Ulm and Deborah Brian
Sean Ulm, Melissa Carter, Jill Reid and Ian Lilley
EURIMBULA SITE 1, CURTIS COAST: SITE REPORT
I
NORTH
0
10
30
30
40
SWO
I
EAST
10
30
30
40
5WO
I
SOUTH
10
30
30
40
5WO
I
WEST
10
30
30
40
SOm