Understanding archaeobotany through ethnobotany: an example from Gooniyandi Country, northwest, Western Australia

India Dilkes-Hall, Tim Ryan Maloney, June Davis, Helen Malo, Edna Cherel, Mervyn Street, Willy Cherrabun, Bobby Cherel

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During archaeological excavation of Moonggaroonggoo, northwest Western Australia, ethnobotanical survey and botanical collection undertaken in collaboration with Traditional Owners helped to identify which plants were of economic importance, provided information on modern vegetative communities and documented narratives of contemporary Gooniyandi plant use. By extending the project’s focus to include traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) in the cultural landscape beyond excavations, we identified distinct ecological areas of economic significance. Excavation in three rockshelters at Moonggaroonggoo revealed late Holocene deposits with limited preservation of plant remains. Therefore, the TEK was applied to another archaeological site located on Gooniyandi ancestral lands: Riwi. Collaborating with local experts to document local botany we contribute narratives on plant use in the present which have important implications for archaeological interpretations of past plant use. By engaging with macrobotanical remains as a form of material culture, we encourage a deeper understanding of plants and their socio-economic role in Aboriginal lifeways. © 2019, Anthropological Society of South Australia. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-32
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of the Anthropological Society of South Australia
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


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