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Title: Earth oven cookery and cuisines in Aboriginal Australia: Ethnographic and ethnohistoric insights from Western Cape York Peninsula and the Southern Murray Darling Basin
Contributor(s): Morrison, Michael  (author)orcid ; Roberts, Amy (author); McNaughton, Darlene  (author)orcid ; Westell, Craig (author); Jones, Robert  (author)
Corporate Author: Napranum Aboriginal Shire Council
River Murray and Mallee Aboriginal Corporation
Publication Date: 2022-12
Early Online Version: 2022-07-19
DOI: 10.1080/03122417.2022.2089395
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Earth oven cookery involves cooking food in pits using hot heating elements, typically over extended periods of time. This technique has been reported in Holocene and Late Pleistocene contexts in Australia, and is of ongoing importance to many Indigenous peoples today. Despite considerable previous work on earth ovens and related sites, few have explored earth oven cookery as a distinctive cultural phenomenon. Here, we investigate the foodways associated with earth ovens drawing on ethnohistoric and ethnographic sources from the southern Murray-Darling Basin and central Western Cape York Peninsula, Australia. While there are many commonalities in earth oven cookery, it was also a highly adaptable practice in terms of the range of foods cooked, oven construction practices, and cooking techniques. People widely used herbs and wrappings to flavour foods, added water to aid the cooking process, and made extensive use of other plant materials to impart flavour, prevent food from burning, while also keeping food free of debris. We show that earth ovens are strongly associated with culturally distinctive cuisines and foodways and an investigation of these cookery practices can enhance our understanding of past social organisation, identity, commensality and the scale of food production.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Grant Details: ARC/LP170100050
Source of Publication: Australian Archaeology, 88(3), p. 245-267
Publisher: Routledge
Place of Publication: Australia
ISSN: 2470-0363
Fields of Research (FoR) 2020: 450101 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander archaeology
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2020: 280123 Expanding knowledge in human society
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
Appears in Collections:Journal Article
School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

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