Shell Middens and Mobility: The Use of Off-Site Faunal Remains, Queensland, Australia

  • McNiven I
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The traditional focus of research into prehistoric coastal settlement and subsistence systems is large shell middens. Such site-based analyses have formed the basis of many regional culture histories and yielded insights into associated economic activities. In many coastal regions, however large shell middens may only form part of the archaeological record. Less conspicuous, but no less significant, are low-density shell scatters representing the results of more ephemeral discard activities. In this paper such scatters from the Cooloola region, coastal SE Queensland, are examined. These scatters are located up to 12 km inland from the coast, and are largely the result of Aboriginal subsistence activities during the 18th and 19th centuries. Using a range of offsite recording techniques, I argue that such low-density faunal scatters have the potential to yield a wealth of information concerning past foraging activities and mobility patterns.

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  • Ian J. McNiven

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