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Title: Beads across Australia: An ethnographic and archaeological view of the patterning of Aboriginal ornaments
Contributor(s): McAdam, Leila Evelyn (author); Davidson, Iain  (supervisor)orcid ; Morwood, Michael (supervisor); Ross, June  (supervisor)
Conferred Date: 2009
Copyright Date: 2008
Open Access: Yes
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Abstract: The major focus of this work has been the patterning of Australian Aboriginal beads and their functions. This work started as an investigation into the relationship between Aboriginal material culture and drainage basins and led to the role of beads in determining past human behaviours. The symbolic content of beads has been recognised and their appearance in early archaeological sites has long been accepted as identifiers of modern human behaviour. The patterning of style in beads and other material culture from hunter-gatherer societies has been investigated by authors for interpreting the archaeological record. At the time of European colonisation from the late 1700s, Aborigines were living a hunter-gatherer lifestyle with hundreds of language groups and diverse ways of living. Australia has shell beads that have been dated to over 30,000 years old and there is ethnographic material held in museums from the late 1800s to the early 1900s that shows what Aboriginal people were manufacturing during those early years. Added to that is literature that gives accounts for the use of material culture. A combination of those lines of evidence could have implications for understanding the archaeological record. For this project, I have synthesised the beaded ornaments held in Australian museums and set up a classification system that has allowed me to determine spatial patterning of beads and to investigate current theories for explaining patterning. I determined that there was clear patterning in discrete categories, no two categories had the same distribution and there were categories that were highly standardised for local use and exchange. This study has shown that the relationship between archaeological and ethnographic evidence for beads is more complex than those given by current explanations.
Publication Type: Thesis Doctoral
Field of Research (FoR): 210101 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Archaeology
Rights Statement: Copyright 2008 - Leila Evelyn McAdam
HERDC Category Description: T2 Thesis - Doctorate by Research
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Appears in Collections:School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Thesis Doctoral

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