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The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Archaeology Collections
The archaeology collections consist of over 800 archaeological assemblages derived from known archaeological contexts. Some of these such as Kenniff Cave, Princess Charlotte Bay, Cathederal Cave and Lawn Hill have played a prominent role in rewriting the Aboriginal prehistory of Australia. The collection represents one of the most valuable archaeological assemblages in Australia for understanding complexity and change in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander society prior to the arrival of Europeans
The archaeology collections at QM date back to the initial archaeological investigations of Sydney Skertchly who argued in 1924 that he had identified artefacts in stratigraphic layers dating to the late Pleistocene. This is the earliest record in the history of archaeology in Australia identifying through stratigraphic grounds a very early antiquity for Aboriginal Australia. The scientific assemblage grew dramatically throughout the 1960s with the appointment of formal curators with training in archaeology and holds collections that have played a prominent role in rewriting Australia's human prehistory. Kenniff Cave was the first scientifically dated archaeological site extending Aboriginal occupation back to the late Pleistocene. Princess Charlotte Bay produced models arguing for increased Aboriginal population expansion in the mid to late Holocene. Lawn Hill helped develop a model to understand how Aboriginal people were able to continue to use arid landscapes at the peak of the last Ice Age. The Mer Island archaeological assemblages from the Eastern Torres Strait Islands have produced evidence of the earliest pottery in Australia and helps identify the antiquity of long distance maritime trade and exchange networks with Papua New Guinea. The archaeological assemblages are regular used by researchers and students to develop a clearer understanding of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander past.
38,000 years ago to 1890 AD; Archaeology; Prehistory
Indigeous Australian Peoples
Princess Charlotte Bay, Queensland; Lawn Hill, Queensland; Mer Island, Queensland, Australia