Stone Artifact Scatters in Western NSW, Australia: Geomorphic Controls on Artifact Size and Distribution

Patricia Fanning, Simon Holdaway

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    53 Citations (Scopus)


    Surface scatters of Aboriginal stone artifacts have been exposed in many parts of inland Australia by accelerated erosion that followed the introduction of pastoralism by European settlers in the 19th century. This paper reports on a set of techniques developed to investigate and quantify the effects of these post-discard disturbance processes in Sturt National Park in northwest NSW, Australia. Backwards, stepwise, linear regression showed the influence of geomorphic parameters such as slope gradient, elevation, landform, and contemporary surface processes on artifact distribution, with artifact maximum dimension as the dependent variable. The results indicate that, even at low gradients, artifact size and slope angle are significantly related, but that the variance in maximum dimension explained by gradient is very low. Similar results were found for the other geomorphic variables. We conclude that artifact movement by surface wash across these surfaces is unlikely to significantly affect artifact distribution. While vertically conflated surface scatters do not preserve "living floors" in a short-term, functional sense, their apparent horizontal integrity allows investigation of the long-term use of place by hunter-gatherer people in the past. Insofar as assemblage integrity is important for assessing site significance in the heritage management industry, our methods provide a means for assessing the degree to which a site has been damaged by water flow.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)667-686
    Number of pages20
    JournalGeoarchaeology - An International Journal
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2001


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