Journal article

Lead (Pb) isotope signatures for silcrete sources from the Willandra Lakes region, Australia: A pilot study of a new method for provenancing silcrete artefacts

Rebekah Kurpiel, Robyn Pickering, Roland Maas, Nicola Stern



Silcrete was often used to make stone tools and the ubiquity of this material in the archaeological record has sparked considerable interest in developing techniques that can be used to trace its geographic origin. However, the highly variable physical and chemical properties of silcrete means that artefacts made from this raw material have proved difficult to provenance. This paper describes the use of Pb isotope analysis to characterize and differentiate silcrete sources in the Willandra Lakes region, a UNESCO World Heritage listed site in southeastern Australia. The sample collection strategy employed in the field has allowed Pb isotope variation both within and between the silcrete sourc..

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University of Melbourne Researchers


Awarded by Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant

Funding Acknowledgements

This work was undertaken with the permission of the Elders' Council of the Willandra Lakes Region World Heritage Area and the WLRWHA Community Management and Technical and Scientific Advisory Committees. We thank the Barkindji/Paakantji, Ngyiampaa and Mutthi Mutthi Elders for their support of this research. We are particularly indebted to Daryl Pappin, the Cultural Heritage Officer employed by the umbrella research project, Kate Barnes, a Willandra Lakes local, and Caroline Spry from La Trobe University, for their assistance in the field. The samples were collected in accordance with a Review of Environmental Factors granted by the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage. Special thanks to Warrick Joe for his thorough, careful and cheerful preparation of all the silcrete samples and to Bence Paul and Jon Woodhead for their discussion of Pb isotopes. We thank Rudy Frank and Peter Hulks for their assistance with the preparation of the figures. We acknowledge the invaluable feedback received from anonymous reviewers during the publication process. This work was supported by an Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant (DP1092966), awarded to Nicola Stern, Kathryn Fitzsimmons and Colin Murray-Wallace. Additional funds were provided by a postgraduate research grant awarded to Rebekah Kurpiel by the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at La Trobe University.