Quandong stones: A specialised Australian nut-cracking tool

Colin Pardoe, Richard Fullagar, Elspeth Hayes

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    The quandong or native peach (Santalum acuminatum R.Br.) has been recognised as an important and tasty food resource among Aboriginal Australians in arid and semi-arid areas of southern Australia. It is valued for its fruit that is consumed raw or dried, and for its kernel, which is eaten raw or ground into paste for medicinal and skin care purposes. This paper reports on a study of ground stone implements within the Murray Darling Basin that has identified quandong stones as a distinct type of implement made specifically for the efficient cracking of quandong nuts. Data are presented on 1,327 ground stone implements from collections in 12 different locations in the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB), an area almost completely devoid of stone sources. Given the paucity of stone, multi-purpose use of implements is widely documented. Although it was common to find pits present in mortars and other ground stone tools demonstrating multiple functions, including use as anvils, a class of single purpose stones with multiple pits and distinctive form was identified. Most of these were found in areas known for groves of quandong and four were analysed for use-wear and residues along with two other ground stone items from the MDB. The results support their identification as specialised anvil stones for cracking quandong nuts.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-31
    JournalPLOS ONE (Public Library of Science)
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


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