Information loss in zooarchaeology : a study of vertebrate remains from two middens, Moreton Island, Queensland

Walters, Ian (1979). Information loss in zooarchaeology : a study of vertebrate remains from two middens, Moreton Island, Queensland Honours Thesis, School of Social Science, The University of Queensland.

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Author Walters, Ian
Thesis Title Information loss in zooarchaeology : a study of vertebrate remains from two middens, Moreton Island, Queensland
School, Centre or Institute School of Social Science
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 1979
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Supervisor H. J. Hall
Total pages 98
Language eng
Subjects 1601 Anthropology
Formatted abstract
This study examines vertebrate faunal remains taken from two coastal sand dune middens at Minner Dint and Toulkerrie on Moreton Island, Queensland. Field collection and field and laboratory sorting methods are discussed in terms of the rationale underlying the use of a comparative faunal collection, the criteria used in generation of the data, and the results so generated. These considerations indicated that the pattern of distribution within the archaeological materials may be illusory in terms of the original depositions by Aboriginal people; recovery methods being one better explanation of why the data are this way. 

Nine taxa of fish and seven taxa of higher vertebrates were represented in the Toulkerrie material, and five taxa of fish were found in the much smaller Minner Dint collection. Fish remains constituted >95% of the Toulkerrie identified specimens and 100% of the Winner Dint identified specimens. The Family Spartdae comprised 30% of the Minner Dint fish individuals and 63% of the Toulkerrie fish individuals, while Mullet rated 30% at Minner Dint and 27% at Toulkerrie. 

It is argued that faunal information from these deposits is lost as a result of natural and cultural processes, and a theoretical model is developed to sketch this. Hypotheses were generated from the model to test the applicability of information loss as a factor of influence in the distribution of faunal remains in any given data set. Regression and correlation analysis, showed that the significant explanatory variable for the Toulkerrie minimum numbers of fish individuals was redundancy, a variable measuring preservation.

A quantitative comparison of the Moreton Island fish data with data from six other sites on the east coast of Australia revealed a consistent pattern of domination by relatively few taxa which are invariably possessed of attributes amenable to preservation and recovery. 

It is concluded that preservation and recovery offer the most suitable explanation for pattern in the Moreton Island material, and it is suggested that faunal analytic research at other coastal sites needs to take account of this before conclusions concerning prehistoric economy are drawn.
Keyword Kitchen-middens -- Queensland -- Moreton Island
Animal remains (Archaeology)

Document type: Thesis
Collection: UQ Theses (non-RHD) - UQ staff and students only
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