Humans Through Time and Space > Environment and Society

Researchers
Professor Donald Pate (Flinders University), Dr Keryn Walshe (South Australian Museum), Maciej Henneberg (University of Adelaide), Judith Littleton and Harry Allen (University of Auckland), Fiona Petchey (University of Waikato Radiocarbon Laboratory), Art Durband (Kansas State University), and Anne Katzenberg (University of Calgary)

This long-term collaborative research project with the South Australian Museum addresses prehistoric Aboriginal social complexity, diet, health and landscape use in the lower Murray River region of South Australia. The Roonka archaeological site, located near Blanchetown, South Australia, provides evidence of hunter-gatherer lifeways spanning at least the past 18,000 years. The Roonka site provides one of the most significant excavated prehistoric Aboriginal burial grounds in Australia. Burial sites like Roonka are critical to a more comprehensive understanding of past hunter-gatherer lifeways because they allow studies of both human skeletal remains and associated artefacts. Thus, archaeology and physical anthropology can be combined to offer more detailed information about past diet, health, mortuary practices, territoriality, long-term associations with landscape, and social relations.

Project Link:
Roonka Bioarchaeology Research Project

Current major grants:
Royal Society of New Zealand Marsden grant $NZ 675,000 (2015-2017) coordinated by Associate Professor Judith Littleton.

Selected Publications:
Durband, A.C., E.C. Hill and K. Walshe 2016 Revised stature estimations for individuals from Roonka, South Australia. Australian Archaeology 82 (2): 139-147.

Durband, A.C., J. Littleton and K. Walshe 2014 Patterns in ritual tooth avulsion at Roonka. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 154:479-485.

Pate, F.D. and T.D. Owen 2014 Stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes as indicators of sedentism and territoriality in late Holocene South Australia. Archaeology in Oceania 49:86-94.

Hill, E.C., A.C. Durband  and K. Walshe 2013 Sexual differentiation in humeral bilateral asymmetry during the Late Holocene at Roonka Flat, South Australia. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 150:148-149.

Hill, E.C., A.C. Durband and K. Walshe 2016 Risk minimization and a late Holocene increase in mobility at Roonka Flat, South Australia: An analysis of lower limb diaphyseal shape. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 161 (1): 94-103.

Littleton, J., R. Scott, G. McFarlane and K. Walshe 2013 Hunter-gatherer variability: Dental wear in South Australia. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 152:273-286.

Walshe, K. ed. 2009 Roonka: Fugitive Traces and Climatic Mischief. Adelaide: South Australian Museum.

Owen, T.D. M. Henneberg and F.D. Pate 2006 Aboriginal stature in South Australia; A 10,000-year history. Anthropological Review 69:3-13.

Pate, F.D. 2006 Hunter-gatherer social complexity at Roonka Flat, South Australia. In B. David, B. Barker and I. J. McNiven (eds), Social Archaeology of Australian Indigenous Societies, pp.226-241. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press.

Pate, F.D. 2000 Bone chemistry and palaeodiet: Bioarchaeological research at Roonka Flat, lower Murray River, South Australia 1983-1999. Australian Archaeology 50:67-74.

Pate, F.D. 1997 Bone chemistry and paleodiet: Reconstructing prehistoric subsistence-settlement systems in Australia. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 16:103-120.

Completed Theses:

Yoakum, Caitlin Brooke (2016) An Assessment of Sexual Dimorphism Using CT Scans in the Crania from Roonka Flat, South Australia. Master of Arts. Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas.

Hill, E.C. 2014 Temporal Changes in Mobility and Sexual Division of Labor in Holocene South Australians: An Analysis of External Bone Metrics in the Roonka Flat Sample. Master of Arts. Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas.

England, T. 2013 How do Biological and Cultural Processes Contribute to the Morphological Variability Observed in Australian Crania during the Late Pleistocene – Early Holocene? Bachelor of Archaeology Honours. Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia.

Candy, R. 2004 Investigation of Gracilization at Roonka Flat, South Australia. Bachelor of Archaeology Honours. Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia.

Owen, T.D. 2004 "Of More than Usual Interest": A Bioarchaeological Analysis of Ancient Aboriginal Skeletal Material  from Southeastern South Australia. Doctor of Philosophy. Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia.

Brodie, R. 2000 Repatriation of Indigenous Remains Using Isotopic Analysis of Bone Collagen to Determine Geographical Origin. Bachelor of Technology (Forensic and Analytical Chemistry) Honours. School of Chemistry, Physics and Earth Sciences, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia.