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Mound over matter: origins of shell and earth mounds of northern Australia : an evaluation of mounds on Channel Island and Middle Arm mainland, Darwin Harbour

Burns, Trish (now known as Bourke, Patricia Mary) (1994). Mound over matter: origins of shell and earth mounds of northern Australia : an evaluation of mounds on Channel Island and Middle Arm mainland, Darwin Harbour. Honours Thesis, Northern Territory University.

Document type: Thesis
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Author Burns, Trish (now known as Bourke, Patricia Mary)
Title Mound over matter: origins of shell and earth mounds of northern Australia : an evaluation of mounds on Channel Island and Middle Arm mainland, Darwin Harbour
Institution Northern Territory University
Publication Date 1994
Thesis Type Honours
Subjects 2199 - Other History and Archaeology
0499 - Other Earth Sciences
Abstract Issues addressed in this thesis stem from the current debate concerning a possible megapode rather than human origin of the large shell and earth mounds of northern Australia. Shell mounds attributed by archaeologists to human agency, are claimed by Stone (1989) to be identical to scrubfowl mounds, apparently requiring a reassessment of the criteria used to define the archaeological significance of shell mounds. This thesis examines Stone's hypothesis, by differentiating the content of the argument put forward, from the approach used in its presentation. It is argued that not only are the conditions necessary for a theory to be considered scientific not met by Stone's methodology, but that elements of cult archaeology are exhibited in his style of argument. Comparative field data is provided in this thesis, on shell mounds on Channel Island, interpreted by Stone (1989) as built by scrubfowl, and on shell mounds on nearby Middle Arm mainland, interpreted by archaeologists as built by humans. Significant differences are observed between the composition of shell mounds on Channel Island and those on Middle Arm, which are not explained by Stone's hypothesis of the same formation processes for both types of mounds. It is concluded that archaeological criteria for differentiating agencies of formation provide a more coherent explanation for these differences.
Additional Notes Now known as Bourke, Patricia Mary


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