Publication Details

Brumm, A. R. (2010). 'The falling sky': symbolic and cosmological associations of the Mt William greenstone axe quarry, Central Victoria, Australia. Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 20 (2), 179-196.


This article examines the roles of socio-symbolic practices and cosmological beliefs in the production and exchange of stone artefacts in an ethnohistorically documented context in Australia. Isabel McBryde's petrological and ethnohistorical analysis of greenstone axe distribution patterns in central Victoria provides a key example of social factors overriding technological concerns in the production and exchange of lithic artefacts. Her research shows that greenstone axes from Mt William quarry were distributed further than axes from equivalent sources. This suggests that Mt William stone axes had symbolic values that cannot be appreciated from straightforward economic perspectives - the aim of this article is to investigate why. A detailed consideration of the ethnohistorical evidence highlights the embeddedness of axe technology in cultural perceptions of landscape and the belief systems of Aboriginal people.



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