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Keywords:

  • Holocene;
  • prehistoric mining;
  • optical dating;
  • silcrete

Abstract

A site in the Olympic Dam area, recorded during archaeological surveying as a silcrete quarry, was investigated. Hand-excavated squares and subsequent machine-excavated trenches revealed an ancient “mine” rather than a simple surface quarry. Blocks of high-quality silcrete were levered from below the ground surface and many were knapped in the immediate area. Rubble in the pit backfills included large numbers of flakes. Single-grain optical dates from sediments in the backfilled pits demonstrate that the silcrete “mining” occurred during a short period in the late Holocene.