Methodology Development for Documented, Salvage, and Relocation of Native Grinding Marks

Grinding stone by the native people of Australia has left markings on outcrops and boulders throughout Australia. The act of shaping and polishing of stones for hand tools and food preparation have left durable long-lasting marks that record long past activity. These features are often found in creek beds with exposure of sandstone and associated with permanent waterholes, intermittent water sources and reservoirs. The occurrence of such sites is frequent as these represent daily life activities that would be required near any encampment or hunting and foraging expedition.

Photogrammetry of sites

Eastern Australia has seen a huge expansion of the coal mining industry over the past 20 years, these activities disrupt the landscape in various ways, the archaeological record is being encroached and placed at risk. Regulations are in place to manage the interaction between heritage and modern activities with government departments, archaeologists, native representatives and industry representatives all seeking to document, manage, and protect our culture. If grinding features are located within an area that is at risk from modern activities, it may be required that further investigation and salvage of a site is deemed necessary. Hosted on stone, such sites require specialized skills in geology and rock mechanics to describe their nature.

Grinding GroovesInvestigations completed have evolved over time as experience, technologies, and expectations have changed. The following is the systematic approach we used when participating in management of a site:  

  1. Site geotechnical investigation and detailed photogrammetry.
  2. Laboratory analysis of geotechnical samples.
  3. 3D image analysis and documentation of the site.
  4. Design proposals for site management, salvage and relocation.
  5. Salvage and relocation methods.

Methods of the site investigation and documentation, development of strategy and plans for management of sites and if necessary, the salvage and relocation are discussed here. As modern life encroaches archaeological sites, salvage and relocation of stone hosted sites is becoming a frequent disruption.

salvaged slabs of grinding grooves for relocation2


Session Presented by Luc Daigle, Senior Engineering Geologist, Novel Method Development in Australian Archaeological Science: Disrupting the One-Size-Fits-All Mentally, Australian Archaeological Association Annual Conference 2019, Disrupting Paradise: The Archaeology of the Driest Inhabited Continent on Earth, Gold Coast, 10-13 December 2019. 

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