By Baldwin Spencer
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print Publication Year: 2010
Online Publication Date:July 2011
Original Publication Year:1914
Chapter DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511751202.014
Subjects: Social and cultural anthropology
There is much similarity amongst the more important weapons and implements made and used by the mainland tribes in the Northern Territory, and most of them have been fully described already by various writers.
The most characteristic weapons are (1) stone hatchets and picks, the latter of which do not apparently extend farther north than, approximately, Daly Waters, (2) stone knives, (3) spears, either wooden- or bone-barbed or stone headed, (4) spear throwers of various forms, and (5) fighting sticks or clubs.
STONE HATCHETS AND KNIVES.
At the present day it is not common to meet with stone hatchets except amongst the tribes in far outlying parts, and these are so wild that white men very seldom come in contact with them. For very many years past, the natives, partly through intercourse with whites, and partly, along the seaboard, through intercourse with Malays and others, have been well acquainted with the use of iron. Amongst the Northern Central tribes, we have previously described in detail the nature and manufacture of their stone hatchets, picks and knives, and, in all important respects, what we wrote concerning these tribes is true of those with which I am now dealing. As I have pointed out before, the terms Eolithic, Palæolithic and Neolithic have no meaning whatever when used in connection with culture stages or periods in reference to Australia.
The one thing that stands out clearly, is that the nature of the stone weapon, or implement, used by an Australian aboriginal is determined, primarily, by the nature of the material available.