Spongelite tool – <em>an ancient trade</em>

No. 36 Spongelite tool – an ancient trade

Through an intimate knowledge of country and its resources, Tasmanian Aboriginal people quarried and worked suitable rocks and minerals – including quartz, silcrete, chert and spongolite – into highly effective tools for cutting, chopping and scraping purposes. Spongolite, comprised almost entirely from fossilised sponges formed on the sea-bed millions of years ago, was favoured for its capacity to produce lightweight, extremely sharp tools. more...

Although spongolite occurs naturally at only one single location in Tasmania – at Rebecca Creek in the state’s rugged north-west – spongolite stone tools have been found at Aboriginal midden sites in all corners of the island. This provides evidence of a system of complex trade relations, as well as the value placed on this material. Spongolite was traded extensively, and the spongolite quarry at Rebecca Creek is one of the richest and most extensively worked Aboriginal quarry and artefact sites currently known in Tasmania.

On 10 May 2012, the Tasmanian Government announced their intention to hand back 148 hectares of land at Rebecca Creek – comprising the spongolite quarry – to the Tasmanian Aboriginal community. Aboriginal management of this area will ensure that this culturally significant site is preserved for future generations.

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  • Object maker: unknown
  • Object date: 1,000 years
  • Object size: 5.7 x 5 x 2.8 cm
  • Object location: Rebecca Creek
  • Object display location: Henry Hunter Galleries level 1: Tasmania. Life and Environment.
  • Object source: Unknown
  • Accession number: M8712a