Open Context


Traces in the Lost Landscape

Aboriginal archaeological sites, Nepean River and contiguous areas in New South Wales, Australia

Project Abstract

The Traces in a Lost Landscape (TIALL) Project uses geospatial recording and analysis to recover, integrate, and map the data from published and unpublished reports on Aboriginal archaeological sites on the Nepean River in New South Wales, Australia. The focus area is the western side of the Cumberland Plain extending along the river between Emu Plains in the south and Yarramundi in the north, with the contiguous country of Londonderry in the east, and some (though not all) sites in the Blue Mountains to the west. This area was rich in both pre­- and post­-contact sites Aboriginal archaeological sites. Archaeological surveys and excavations conducted since the 1930s, many during the 1980s and 1990s as a result of open­-cut gravel and sand quarrying at Castlereagh, identified approximately 70 sites and artifact find­spots that have since been destroyed. The TIALL project seeks to place these sites in Castlereagh's "lost landscape".

While some rescue investigations and excavation projects have been published as articles (12), the bulk of the survey, excavation, and artifact data collected existed only in 55 unpublished archaeological reports­. The sites are, to some extent, mapped at a state­wide scale by the Aboriginal Heritage Information Management Scheme (AHIMS) managed by the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage, but the purpose there is cultural resource management rather than research on Aboriginal history and archaeology. The TIALL Project collates and presents the data at fine­-grained level, along with terrain maps and elevation data.

As a result of incomplete, dated and/or disparate datasets and uncertain projections and locations, the map should not be considered a highly precise spatial representation of the area or the location of the sites. It does, however, reflect the spatial distribution of sites in the region, and offers an accurate representation of archaeological investigation in the area. Elevation data that pre­dated the quarrying in the Penrith Lakes area could not be obtained and, as such, the data for that area cannot be used for (e.g.) hydrological modelling of the pre­-quarrying period. This composite dataset is intended primarily as a visualisation of sites sourced from grey literature reports that otherwise may not be discoverable or obtainable.

Potential Applications of the Data

The TIALL dataset makes available the work of many archaeologists working in this area over the past 40 years, and as such can inform historical and archaeological research into indigenous and contact/colonial subjects. Finally, set in the wider context of development pressures in Western Sydney, the dataset could also be used to explore the politics of archaeological investigation during the late 20th and early 21st century.

Source of the Data

This dataset was primarily sourced from the Aboriginal Heritage Information Management Scheme (AHIMS) archive, under the ID:104240, managed by the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage. AHIMS manages precise location information for this project in a secured, access controlled system.

Annotations (3)

Property or Relation Value(s)
[Standard: Dublin Core Terms]
[Standard: Dublin Core Terms]
New South Wales
[Standard: GeoNames]
Editorial Note

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The annotations presented above approximate some of the meaning in this contributed data record to concepts defined in shared standards. These annotations are provided to help make datasets easier to understand and use with other datasets.

Suggested Citation

Grace Karskens, Georgia Burnett, Shawn Ross. "Traces in the Lost Landscape". (2016) Grace Karskens, Georgia Burnett, Shawn Ross (Eds.) . Released: 2016-03-30. Open Context. <> DOI:

Editorial Status

Managing editor reviewed

Mapping Data

Copyright License

Attribution 4.0

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