Lithics in the Land of the Lightning Brothers

Lithics in the Land of the Lightning Brothers

The Archaeology of Wardaman Country, Northern Territory

Authored by: Chris Clarkson

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Lithics in the Land of the Lightning Brothers skilfully integrates a wide range of data-raw-material procurement, tool design, reduction and curation, patterns of distribution and association-to reveal the major outlines of Wardaman prehistory. At the same time, the book firmly situates data and methods in broad theoretical context. In its regional scope and thorough technological approach, this book exemplifies the best of recent lithic analysis and hunter-gatherer archaeology.

Any archaeologist who confronts the challenge of classifying retouched stone tools should consult this volume for a clear demonstration of reduction intensity as a source of size and form variation independent of “type.” Yet the demonstration is not merely methodological; Clarkson shows how the measurement of reduction intensity informs analysis of technological diversity and other cultural practices.

In Clarkson’s hands, Wardaman prehistory emerges as a particular record of the human past. Yet the book is also a case study in prolonged cultural response to environmental conditions and the way in which cultures persist and reproduce themselves over long spans of time. The result is an analytical tour de force that will guide hunter-gatherer archaeology in Australia and elsewhere for years to come.


ISBN (print):
ISBN (online):
Publication date:
Sep 2007
Terra Australis 25
ANU Press
Terra Australis
Arts & Humanities: Archaeology; Social Sciences: Indigenous Studies


Sam C. Lin’s review of Lithics in the Land of the Lightning Brothers: The Archaeology of Wardaman Country, Northern Territory praises Chris Clarkson’s research for its thoroughness: “Clarkson’s comprehensive treatment of lithic analysis and reduction sequence will make this volume of interest to a wide range of archaeologists and lithic analysts. The thorough handling of quantitative data within a firm theoretical setting also makes this book a useful guide for interpreting variability in flaked stone tools. The ability to demonstrate change in technological behavior in the absence of typological shift will be compelling for archaeologists who work in the Old World, where the analytical tradition is firmly situated in typology. Clarkson’s work thus presents a positive contribution to our understanding of not only Australian prehistory but the analytical potential of flaked stone tools in general.” (p. 68)

(Lin, Sam C. Review of Lithics in the Land of the Lightning Brothers: The Archaeology of Wardaman Country, Northern Territory, by Chris Clarkson. PaleoAnthropology, 2012, pp 67-69.)

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