Stylistic analysis of stone arrangements supports regional cultural interactions along the northern Great Barrier Reef, Queensland

Alison Fitzpatrick, Ian J. McNiven, Jim Specht, Sean Ulm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Stone arrangements are frequently encountered on the Australian mainland and islands. They have high significance values to Indigenous Australians and are usually associated with the material expression and emplacement of socio-religious beliefs and associated ceremonial/ritual activities. Despite their ubiquity, stone arrangements are an understudied site type with their distribution and morphological variability remaining poorly documented and their functional variability poorly understood. Although in most parts of Australia the authorship of stone arrangements is unambiguously Aboriginal, for far north Queensland this is less clear for places where Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders, and more recently South Sea Islanders, all with documented traditions of stone arrangement construction and use, are known to have operated. A comparative stylistic analysis of stone arrangements constructed by Aboriginal people, Torres Strait Islanders and Island Melanesians of the southwest Pacific reveals that although Lizard Island Group stone arrangements are predominately of Aboriginal authorship, some arrangements exhibit cultural influences from neighbouring areas. In this respect, Lizard Island Group stone arrangements appear to be a further material expression of the Torres Strait Cultural Complex and Coral Sea Cultural Interaction Sphere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-144
Number of pages16
JournalAustralian Archaeology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2018


  • Coastal and island archaeology
  • Great Barrier Reef
  • Lizard Island
  • stone arrangements

Cite this