Marra philosophies of stone, and the stone artefacts of Walanjiwurru 1 rockshelter, Marra Country, northern Australia

Jeremy Ash, John J. Bradley, Jerome Mialanes, Liam M. Brady, Shaun Evans, David Barrett, Bruno David, Daryl Wesley, Emilie Dotte-Sarout, Cassandra Rowe, Chris Urwin, Tiina Manne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


In archaeology, investigations into the social and cultural contexts of stone artefacts have largely focused on their typological styles, manufacturing technologies, functions, geographic distributions and the significance of the quarries they come from. Yet what is oftentimes overlooked is the deeper contemporary understandings by Indigenous groups of the stone artefacts recovered from excavations. In this paper, we analyse an assemblage of 9,642 excavated stone artefacts from the rockshelter site of Walanjiwurru 1 in Marra Country in northern Australia, in light of the cosmological significance of regional stone sources to local Aboriginal groups. Each recovered stone artefact, and the quarries of their raw materials, is laden with meanings that help reveal how Marra Aboriginal people socially and cosmologically engaged with their landscape. By combining archaeological and Marra cultural perspectives, we argue that subtle variations in the range of stones and their relational characteristics signal changing political engagements with ancestral places over the past 2300 years.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101456
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Anthropological Archaeology
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Aboriginal archaeology
  • Chert
  • Ethnoarchaeology
  • Ontology
  • Quarries
  • Quartzite
  • Relationality
  • Stone artefacts

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