Koonalda Cave




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Koonalda Cave was excavated by Alexander (Sandor) Gallus at various times between 1956 and 1968 and again in 1973. It quickly gained international recognition for its ancient artwork, witnessed as series of finger groovings on a series rock faces and for its flint mining. Both these activities took place deep underground in total darkness. Excavation was undertaken jointly with Richard VS Wright in 1968. The two excavations yielded similar dating results for cave use between about 20,000 and 7,000 years ago. However Gallus obtained a date of 36,000 from one sample. This much older date was not matched by the other investigation and the oldest date of cave use at Koonalda has been placed at 20,000 years old. Koonalda Cave assemblage does not express occupation. The focus over the 20-7,000 year phase appears to be for mining and art. The mining left behind an enormous quantity of flint debitage and debris and occupation of the cave by Masked and Barn Owls added a significant quantity of small mammal, bird and reptile bone, via pellet deposition.

'Archaeology of the Gallus Site, Koonalda Cave' (1971) edited by RVS Wright, AIAS, Canberra, AAS No 26.


Aboriginal art; Aboriginal culture; Aboriginal peoples (Australians); Mines; Mining; Rock images

Aboriginal art; Archaeological excavation; Archaeology; Barn Owls; Bird bones; Debris; Excavation Assemblage; Flint debitage; Koonalda Cave; Mammal bones; Masked Owls; Mining; Owl pellet deposition; Reptile bones

Aboriginal art; Aboriginal peoples; Artefacts; Bones; Excavations (Archaeology); Mining

Alexander (Sandor) Gallus; Richard VS Wright

Animal bones; Artworks

Coverage Spatial

Koonalda Cave; Nullarbor Plain; western margin of South Australia

Coverage Temporal

20000 BP

7,000 BP

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2012-05-30 23:41

2011-03-18 22:57