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Multiple uses for Australian backed artefacts

  • Gail Robertson (a1), Val Attenbrow (a2) and Peter Hiscock (a1)

Backed artefacts, otherwise microliths or backed bladelets, are key indicators of cultural practice in early Australia – but what were they used for? The authors review a number of favourite ideas – hunting, scarification, wood working – and then apply use-wear analysis and residue studies to three prehistoric assemblages. These showed contact with a wide range of materials: wood, plants, bone, blood, skin and feathers. These results are unequivocal – the backed artefacts were hafted and employed as versatile tools with many functions.

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