A 1,200-year-old ground-stone object from South Western Torres Strait (northeast Australia) and its implications for historicising ethnographically known social networks

Jeremy Ash, Jerome Mialanes, Liam M. Brady, Friedrich E. von Gnielinski, Kaurareg Native Title Aboriginal Corporation

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Ground-stone objects such as stone-headed clubs (gabagab) and axes/adzes held key positions in ethnographically known social networks encompassing Torres Strait and southern central New Guinea. However, the antiquity of ground-stone artefacts in this region is poorly understood given the small number of ground-stone objects found in dated archaeological contexts. We report on the discovery of a 1,200-year-old fragment of a ground-stone implement recovered from an archaeological excavation at a Kaurareg campsite on the south coast of Muralag in southwest Torres Strait. We discuss this find relative to the dataset of dated ground-stone objects available for the region and consider implications for understanding socio-demography, identity markers, and the development of social networks in Torres Strait. Abbreviations: var.: variation; PNG: Papua New Guinea.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-111
Number of pages15
JournalAustralian Archaeology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • axes
  • exchange
  • Ground-stone objects
  • socio-demographics
  • stone-headed clubs
  • Torres Strait
  • trade networks

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