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Title: Geochemical provenience of 16th-19th century C.E. Asian ceramics from Torres Strait, northeast Australia
Contributor(s): Grave, Peter  (author)orcid ; McNiven, Ian J (author)
Publication Date: 2013
DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2013.06.021
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Abstract: Existing insights into the history of southeast Asian contacts with northern Australia prior to British colonization in 1788 are limited to Macassan visitors and the trepang industry beginning in the early 18th century and perhaps 16th century. Neither historical nor archaeological evidence indicate extension of such contacts to Torres Strait of northeast Australia. To shed further light on this issue, a collection of 16 Asian ceramic sherds surface collected and excavated recently from the islands of Pulu and Mabuyag in Torres Strait were compared to a large database of Southeast and East Asian stoneware jars that are well characterised, elementally, typologically and chronologically. This comparison matched a number of sherds with two jar types with likely production origins in Thailand and southern China. While the surface collected sherds from Pulu sourced to Thailand date probably to the 19th century, the small glazed sherd from Mabuyag island is typical of a southern Chinese decorated jar type dating to c. 1500-1600 C.E. This Chinese sherd is the earliest known Asian artefact in Australia and parallels recent archaeological evidence on the antiquity of contacts between Macassan trepangers and Aboriginal Australians. It is unknown if the Chinese sherd came ashore to Mabuyag through direct contact with Asian traders or from a nearby shipwreck through salvage.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Grant Details: ARC/DP0344782
Source of Publication: Journal of Archaeological Science, 40(12), p. 4538-4551
Publisher: Academic Press
Place of Publication: United Kingdom
ISSN: 0305-4403
Field of Research (FOR): 210102 Archaeological Science
210103 Archaeology of Asia, Africa and the Americas
210101 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Archaeology
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO): 950503 Understanding Australias Past
970121 Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology
950502 Understanding Asias Past
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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