Academic journal article Archaeology in Oceania

Cranebrook Terrace Revisited

Academic journal article Archaeology in Oceania

Cranebrook Terrace Revisited

Article excerpt

Recent publication of revised dates for the Cranebrook Terrace, near Penrith NSW, invited renewed attention to the archaeological finds in the quarries beside the Nepean river. The original find was a pebble chopper found in situ at the base of the gravels, when pumping allowed inspection below the water table and the discovery of bog-preserved logs nearby (Stockton and Holland 1974:65). These were then dated to about 30,000 B.P. Subsequent work on the geomorphology of the terrace by Nanson and Young showed that the dated samples had been contaminated with younger carbon in the ground water (Nanson et al. 1987).

The 1987 report discussed the major expansion and revision of the previous investigation. Thirteen [C.sup.14] and TL dates were published, indicating the basal gravels were deposited between 43,000 and 47,000 years ago. Further artefacts were found in the tumble of gravel at the foot of the quarry wall at the original site 11 and were described in detail. It was explained why the finds though not in situ could only have come from the gravel unit. A postscript of the report recorded further finds from sites 7 and 8 by a party of University of Sydney students, with Peter White, in February 1987. It was noted that, apart from effects of age pitting and use damage on the first find, the flake ridges of the arfifacts were fresh and undamaged, suggesting discard at of near the find spots, rather than being rolled from a distance upstream.

Understandably, caution has been expressed at such antiquity for signs of human presence in southeast Australia. The finds are dismissed by Mulvaney and Kamminga (1999: 138) as 'simple flakes found in a cobble stream . there are some serious doubts about their identification as artefacts'. However, the previous reports provided detailed descriptions according to archaeological norms, with some illustrations and photographs. Some twenty items were displayed at the Department of Geography, University of Sydney, to a group of archaeologists and geologists and were graded to range between certain and uncertain artifacts. …

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