8000 years of hunter-gatherer life at Roonka, South Australia

This is a Marsden funded project which began in 2015 lead by Judith Littleton with collaboration of Harry Allen, Fiona Petchey (Waikato), Anne Katzenberg (University of Calgary), Keryn Walshe and the River Murray and Mallee Aboriginal Corporation. Other co-researchers include Art Durband and Donald Pate.

The aim of the project is to analyse the human remains and burial records from the largest excavated Aboriginal burial ground in Australia: Roonka. The site was excavated in the 1960s to mid-1970s but only preliminary results were ever produced. We are systematically recording the remains and the burial records in an attempt to integrate burial practices with individual identities and explore issues of change over time, intracommunal variability, and human development in a hunter-gatherer society.

The project team has been working with graduate students to complete aspects of the project in a supportive collegial environment. To date masters theses have been completed on children and dental microwear, linear enamel hypoplasia and the pattern of stress, and gender and dental indicators. Work is ongoing including 3D reconstruction of the major excavation area to study the relationship between the graves and how the site has been used over time.