Changing Perspectives in Australian Archaeology, part II. Abydos Plain—equivocal archaeology
The difficulty of distinguishing between Aboriginal shell middens and natural shell deposits has been addressed in various settings. On the Abydos Plain near Port Hedland in northern Western Australia, archaeologists have generally not acknowledged this issue and have ascribed a cultural origin to most shell deposits. Recent investigations have demonstrated that episodic cyclones or storm waves on the coastal marshes have deposited or re-deposited shells that are similar in appearance to midden deposits, and that previous interpretations of the archaeology of the Plain are not justified. A geo-archaeological approach is essential to reveal the stratigraphic sequences and palaeo-processes which have controlled the formation of shell features on the Plain.