Large piece of silcrete quarry debris from southwest Queensland. It was collected during a collaborative research project between archaeologists and Traditional Owners to better understand the deep history of the Mithaka People.
Artefact on loan to Archaeology and Palaeoanthropology, University New England, catalogue name Brokehimarm Lower, Area D, Collection No. 3.
See the annotations for technological details about this stone tool.
This large piece of quarry debris was created at a silcrete quarry where large blocks of stone were reduced into usable tools. The features of this artefact suggest that a block-on-block technique was used in initial reduction. Scars on the dorsal surface suggest that the core was first reduced by freehand percussion. This was followed by two attempt to further break-up the core by hard percussion blows to the surface. The platform angles in these two locations were obtuse, suggesting that the large core was thrown down onto another stone (called a ’thrown-core’ technique). Alternatively, a large hammerstone may have been thrown onto the core (called a ‘thrown-hammer’ technique). A third blow was successful, initiating a flake by wedging. The technique can be quite dangerous as tremendous force is applied and the trajectories of the flying fragments are unpredictable. Once the boulder was fractured, the angular blocks could be reduced into tools using more-controlled freehand percussion techniques. The annotations on the model describe the attributes of this fragment in detail. One of these attributes is a ‘siret arris’. A siret arris is an attribute found on negative flake scars, so this artefact is technically a core rather than a flake.
The thrown-core technique was practiced by Nakako and Pitjandjara stoneworkers at the Pulanj-pulanj chalcedony quarry in the Western Desert, as observed by the anthropologist Norman Tindale in 1963. This flake is clear evidence that the technique was also applied by Mithaka people at silcrete quarries with large outcropping stone. At other quarries in Australia, large stones were sometimes initially fractured by lighting a fire under them.
Brokehimarm Cave is located near Moondah Lake at an elevation of around 80 metres. The site complex has a number of silcrete outcrops on the top of the low relief escarpment, but this artefact was found in an extensive scatter approximately 100 metres long and 20 metres wide immediately below the cave. The material looks very similar to the material in the outcrops above the cave site. There are a number of other features in the landscape nearby including a large stone arrangement, possible initiation circles, knapping floors, earth ovens, and potential gunyah (hut) remains.