Sentinel sites in a Cosmo-political seascape

Greer, Shelley, McIntyre-Tamwoy, Susan and Henry, Rosita (2011) Sentinel sites in a Cosmo-political seascape. In: Refereed papers from the 7th International Small Islands Conference, Airlie Beach, Whitsundays. Small Island Cultures Research Initiative, pp. 2-10. [Book Section]

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Abstract (in English)

We describe here a pattern of archaeological sites that suggest that ‘mainland’ Aboriginal people were viewed by their Torres Strait neighbours as being specialists in particular ritual knowledge. The region under consideration includes the northern-most tip of the Australian continent and extends northward through Torres Strait to Papua. Our study area focuses on the southern end of the region: the Australian mainland as well as Pabaju (Albany Island), Muri (Mt Adolphus Island) and associated islands and islets. Archaeological investigation over many years reveals a high density of ritual sites over this relatively small area. These include sites on prominent headlands. The density and visibility of sites could be interpreted as both marking and ‘marketing’ ritual expertise. The location of some of the sites also suggests they served as ‘sentinels’ within a cosmo-political seascape. Far from having an impoverished role in regional exchange networks, Australian mainlanders clearly held something of extraordinary value that drew people from the Torres Strait to their shores. We contend that southern reciprocity in regional trade and exchange may have been based on intangible knowledge transactions, in particular, knowledge related to increase ritual.

Item Type: Book Section
Greer, Shelley
McIntyre-Tamwoy, Susan
Henry, Rosita
Languages: English
Keywords: Cape York; ritual landscape; Torres Strait; increase ritual; stone arrangement
Subjects: B. ARCHAEOLOGY > 05. Archaeological research
N.ANTHROPOLOGY > 02. Ethnography
O.INTANGIBLE HERITAGE > 06. Knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe
Name of monument, town, site, museum: Albany Island, Australia; Cape York Peninsula, Australia
Depositing User: Dr Susan McIntyre-Tamwoy
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2012 17:14
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2012 17:14
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