The newly-discovered bone artifact was likely used for piercing soft materials or possibly as a projectile point.
The ancient bone point was found at the site of Murrawong near the Lower Murray River in Ngarrindjeri country in southern Australia.
The artifact was situated in the archaeological layer dating to between 5,303 and 3,875 years ago.
“The point was probably made from a macropod — kangaroo or wallaby — bone,” said Dr. Christopher Wilson and Professor Amy Roberts from Flinders University.
“It was likely used for piercing soft materials — for example, used as a pin on a cloak made of possum furs — or possibly as a projectile point.”
While stone artifacts and shell middens are commonly found on the surface, bone objects are mostly uncovered during excavations.
“The last similar one was uncovered in the Lower Murray River Gorge was in the 1970s,” the researchers said.
“Even one find of this kind provides us with opportunities to understand the use of bone technologies in the region and how such artifacts were adapted to a riverine environment,” said Dr. Wilson, a Ngarrindjeri man.
“Bone artifacts have lacked the same amount of study in comparison to artifacts made of stone, so every discovery reminds us of the diverse material culture used by Aboriginal peoples in this country,” Professor Roberts added.
The team’s paper was published in the journal Australian Archaeology.
Christopher Wilson et al. Analysis and contextualisation of a Holocene bone point from Murrawong (Glen Lossie), Lower Murray River Gorge, South Australia. Australian Archaeology, published online March 16, 2021; doi: 10.1080/03122417.2021.1886893
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