Harry Allen excavated Burkes Cave in the Scopes Ranges, western New South Wales (NSW), Australia in 1970, revealing a deeply stratified deposit dated by a single radiocarbon determination to 2,000 BP. Despite its name, the excavation actually occurred on a terrace outside the front of the rockshelter. The site rapidly became identified as one of the artefactually richest open sites in the arid zone, featuring in a number of early settlement and subsistence models for arid Australia with regular mentions in textbooks on Australian prehistory. In this paper we report on a new study based on a reanalysis of the Burkes Cave stone artefact assemblage now housed in the Australian Museum, Sydney. We compare the results of this with two assemblages recorded during Western New South Wales Archaeological Program (WNSWAP) fieldwork at Stud Creek and Fowlers Gap. All three locations are in the arid rangelands and so feature a broadly similar range of resources important to their prehistoric inhabitants. Fieldwork also clarified the range and accessibility of lithic raw materials at each location, and each assemblage can be shown, through an extensive dating program, to have accumulated over the last 1000 to 2000 years of Aboriginal occupation. Thus, having controlled for geographic setting, raw material accessibility and chronology, we seek to determine the degree to which stone artefact assemblage variability can be used to detect regional differences in place use history among three quasi contemporaneously occupied locations. In so doing, we are able to reaffirm the significance of Burkes Cave, some 20 years after its excavation.
|Title of host publication||Lithics 'down under'|
|Subtitle of host publication||Australian perspectives on lithic reduction, use and classification|
|Editors||Christopher Clarkson, Lara Lamb|
|Place of Publication||Oxford England|
|Number of pages||14|
|Publication status||Published - 2005|
|Name||BAR international series|