Changing Perspectives in Australian Archaeology, part IX. Fishing for data—the value of fine-mesh screening for fish-bone recovery: a case study from Peel Island, Moreton Bay, Queensland
The age and extent of the Aboriginal fishery in Moreton Bay have been debated ever since excavations revealed low numbers of fish bones in coastal sites in southeast Queensland. Aboriginal people recall fishing as a major subsistence activity, yet archaeological evidence of low rates of fish bone discard have questioned this memory. In an effort to address these contrasting perceptions, excavation of the Lazaret Midden on Peel Island employed a 1 mm mesh sieve to maximize fish bone recovery. Our results suggest that fish remains are indeed numerous in this site, although the extreme fragmentation of the bone recovered from the fine sieve makes identification of fish taxa largely impossible. We discuss the implications of these findings for reconstructing Aboriginal subsistence patterns in Moreton Bay.