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An ethnoarchaeological study of Mabuiag Island, Torres Strait, Northern Australia

Ghaleb, B; (1990) An ethnoarchaeological study of Mabuiag Island, Torres Strait, Northern Australia. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

In this thesis an ethnoarchaeological approach is applied to the study of past settlement and subsistence on the island of Mabuiag, one of the Western Torres Strait Islands situated midway between the continent of Australia and the continental island of New Guinea. This region of the world, and Mabuiag in particular, was selected for study on account of its methodological interest, i.e. the potential for interpreting archaeological remains on Mabuiag in relation to two additional non-archaeological sources of data: historical and contemporary ethnographic accounts, and information from present-day Islanders. This study is an example of an ethnohistorical or direct historical approach to archaeological data because the most important ethnographic information studied is derived from middle and late nineteenth-century observations, and is culturally and geographically specific to the archaeological remains found. The present-day environmental and cultural setting of the Torres Strait region is discussed before the history of European contact in the area is reviewed. Information on the lifestyle of the Islanders and Cape York Aborigines contained in the earliest European records provides views of Islander life prior to sustained contact with Europeans. The nature and effects of the subsequent 20 years of European contact in the area are then considered in order to establish the validity of the analogical use of the late-nineteenth century ethnographic accounts that relate most specifically to the archaeological research of this thesis: i.e., the Haddon Reports. The appropriateness of the use of the Haddon Reports is demonstrated and aspects of the ethnography most relevant to the traditional patterns of settlement and subsistence on' Mabuiag are discussed in relation to the objectives and results of the archaeological reconnaissance, survey and excavation carried out on Mabuiag Island. Interpretations of the archaeological data are presented both with and without consideration of the ethnographic information, and in conclusion the nature of the archaeological interpretations that can be developed when relevant ethnographic information is available is highlighted.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: An ethnoarchaeological study of Mabuiag Island, Torres Strait, Northern Australia
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10117905
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