Ara Irititja Mituni (Tracking the Past) An investigation into Aboriginal occupation and resource use Island Lagoon, South Australia.

Author: Fraser Vickery

Vickery, Fraser, 2016 Ara Irititja Mituni (Tracking the Past) An investigation into Aboriginal occupation and resource use Island Lagoon, South Australia. , Flinders University, School of Humanities and Creative Arts

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This thesis presents the results of an archaeological investigation of the distribution and

character of archaeological sites in the landscape around Island Lagoon. This work has been

undertaken in order to determine whether there is discernible pattern of social and economic

activity or the use of a particular technology that might tell us specifically when Aboriginal

people occupied Island Lagoon and how they utilised the natural resources in the region.

The Island Lagoon region is located in the south-west of Kokatha country and is a very

significant place for Kokatha people. Island Lagoon also has significant mythological importance

to Kokatha. The specific objective for this work was to attempt to determine where Island

Lagoon fits in terms of settlement of the arid inland of Australia and whether sites around the

lagoon can contribute further information that might help confirm settlement models that have

been proposed for our desert regions. This work also uses Island Lagoon as a case study to

explore the issues of Aboriginal response to the climatic variability and changing environments

of the late Pleistocene and through the Holocene, in terms of inland settlement patterns, society,

economies and resource use and technologies.

The research provided evidence that Kokatha ancestors primarily utilised the dune and lunette

landsystems to the SW of Island Lagoon away from the immediate edge of the Lagoon. In those

locations they had access to temporary water resources in the claypans and canegrass swamps

provided by episodic rainfall events. Those sites were also close to good quality raw materials

on the neighbouring silcrete plains. The sites were clearly workshop floors and were used to

manufacture tools for later use. All surveyed and sampled sites consistently provided evidence

of assemblages that reflect the Australian small tool culture of the mid to late Holocene,

probably after 2,000 BP. The evidence gathered during this project indicated that all sites were

probably used by Kokatha male ancestors to make toolkits that included scrapers and points,

from the high quality silcrete, for hafting to hunt and to work wood.

Keywords: Indigenous, Archaeology, South Australia, Kokatha, Woomera, Island Lagoon.

Subject: Archaeology thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2016
School: School of Humanities and Creative Arts
Supervisor: Dr Michael Morrison