AASV 4,2014:Thomas Richards Transegalitarian Aboriginal Societies of SW VIC
Thursday, 19 June 2014 from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm (AEST)
San Francisco, California, USA
London, United Kingdom
Thomas Richards, Research Fellow, Monash Indigenous Centre
Transegalitarian Aboriginal Societies of Southwest Victoria — A 12,000 Year Perspective
Ongoing international debate regarding complexity in Southwest Victorian Aboriginal societies concerns unresolved issues surrounding the validity of the 19th century ethnographic record and the archaeological evidence for complexity in the pre-contact period. SW Victorian Aboriginal societies are critically re-examined with the aid of substantial new empirical data and by exploring the ethnographic and archaeological records through the theoretical lens of transegalitarian socio-cultural complexity. Data from shell middens in the Cape Duquesne study area are used to develop a 12,000 year long coastal archaeological sequence to identify the appearance and nature of transegalitarian features. The direct historical approach is employed at the Lake Condah Outlet study area to investigate the archaeological manifestation of an ethnohistorically chronicled Aboriginal eel fishery. Detailed archaeological mapping and recording of the still extant 19th century cultural features forms the basis for modelling the functioning of this system at varying lake levels, thus highlighting the culture-based fishery form of eel aquaculture. Transegalitarian traits in the ethnographic record of SW Victoria are identified and an assessment of the level of transegalitarian complexity discussed for several key variables, including population density, sedentism, land and resource ownership, production of economic surplus, leadership and government, marriage, polygyny and moieties, and meetings. Finally, the appearance of transegalitarian features SW Victoria is considered in chronological sequence.
Thomas Richards Biography
Tom is an archaeologist who has been involved in research, consulting, government heritage regulation and teaching in Canada, Guatemala, Britain, Australia and Papua New Guinea. Tom has over 50 publications, most recently in journals such as Australian Archaeology, Journal of Field Archaeology, Journal of Archaeological Science, Australian Aboriginal Studies and World Archaeology.
Tom is a Research Fellow with the Monash Indigenous Centre, co-directing research on the remains of newly discovered Lapita settlements excavated recently at Caution Bay near Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. The Smithsonian Institution is publishing a nine volume series of monographs, “Caution Bay Studies in Archaeology,” on the results of this research and the first volume, co-edited by Tom has recently been completed and sent to the publishers.
Tom has long been a practitioner of community archaeology. Early research in partnership with First Nations people involved investigation of the emergence of sedentary pithouse villages on the Plateau of British Columbia. More recently Tom has worked closely with Traditional Owners on the study of transegalitarian Aboriginal societies in southwest Victoria.
When & Where
Archaeological & Anthropological Society of Victoria (AASV)
The Archaeological and Anthropological Society of Victoria was formed in 1976 through the amalgamation of two societies, the Anthropological Society of Victoria and the Archaeological Society of Victoria. Although one was formed 30 years before the other both owed their origin to inspiring lectures given by singularly gifted academic lecturers to what were largely non-academic audiences. Both lecturers were on the staff of the University of Melbourne but stimulated the enthusiasm of people outside the university community.
The AASV welcomes members from all walks of life: professional archaeologists and anthropologists, students, and interested laypeople. We hold monthly meetings with free lectures covering a wide range of topics from the broad disciplines of archaeology and anthropology, and we offer a range of activities including fieldtrips and the opportunity to participate on archaeological digs. While the Pacific region has a special place in the work of the Society, lectures cover a wide range of topics and regions across the world. Links with the University of Melbourne, LaTrobe University and Monash are strong with both staff and students regularly speaking to the society about their work.