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Student Spotlight: Emma Beckett

Emma Beckett is a PhD student from the Centre for Rock Art Research and Management (CRAR+M) at the University of Western Australia. Her dissertation has been part of the Murujuga: Dynamics of the Dreaming Project directed DHSC CI, Professor Jo McDonald at the University of Western Australia.

My research focuses on providing a better understanding of the nature and placement of stone arrangements across the Archipelago.

These arrangements come in a wide range of forms adding to an already impressive archaeological landscape and include: standing stones, elongated stones placed upright like spines across the boulder slopes; depressions formed in the rocky hills with stones placed around a central pit and stacks of stones in piles, circles and lines. These stacks are found in a range of environmental contexts across level platforms, hillslopes and within the intertidal zone.

These structures represent a range of human activities including the construction of shelter for domestic use and hunting hides, to more easily catch game, establishment of markers likely used for signalling between and within groups as well as the creation of stone arrangements as part of spiritual or religious activities or rituals.

As a GIS specialist, I have been heavily involved in the collection and management of the spatial data for this part of the Murujuga: Dynamics of the Dreaming project. I collected aerial imagery from a number of sites using my drone. This processed imagery can be used for the creation of high resolution ortho-imagery and 3D landscape reconstruction.

This has also been important for helping me further explore the ways in which structures might have played a role for humans as the landscape changed from an inland to a coastal environment. Echoes of the inundation which changed the environment over thousands of years can be imagined even while watching the sometimes dramatic tidal range exhibited in these areas today. Watching the tide swallow up a gently sloping muddy beach in the course of a few hours one can’t help but imagine how people would have reacted as their hunting and foraging range slowly contracted, never to re-emerge.

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