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The archaeology of community emergence and development on Mabuyag in the Western Torres Strait

posted on 08.02.2017, 06:11 by Wright, Duncan
This thesis examines the archaeology of one Torres Strait Islander community - the Goemulgal of Mabuyag in Central Western Torres Strait. It provides the first detailed archaeological study into the emergence and development of historically and ethnographically-known villages in the Torres Strait. It offers a detailed chronology for settlement shifts across a residential island. The close examination of settlement and subsistence histories on Mabuyag furnishes chronological insights into the changing role of villages for a single island community. By examining chronologies previously established by archaeological researchers working in Torres Strait, this thesis adds to emerging broad chronological patterns across the region. Torres Strait lies at a crucial point both geographically and conceptually between Australia and the Pacific. This thesis examines methodologies used in both regions which examine bounded archaeological communities. It then applies a model of social archaeology and regionalisation to examine the settlement history of Mabuyag. By investigating sites of importance to the community this thesis moves beyond an archaeology of disconnected sites and materials to one that is alive and important to the Goemulgaw people today.


Principal supervisor

Ian McNiven

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Centre for Australian Indigenous Studies


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type


Campus location



Faculty of Arts