Clifton Cappie Towle | State Library of New South Wales

Clifton Cappie Towle - Ceremonial carvings

Clifton Cappie Towle (1891-1946) was a founding member of the Anthropological Society of New South Wales and a keen recorder of Aboriginal sites. He wrote papers on anthropology and archaeology, corresponded with other amateur archaeologists as well as some prominent anthropologists, and researched Aboriginal sites along the Great Western Highway and Western New South Wales.

In the early 1900s, Towle travelled extensively throughout western New South Wales, photographing Aboriginal rock art, carved trees, implements and ceremonial sites. For thousands of years the Aboriginal people of central, north-western and north coast New South Wales have ceremoniously carved trees as a form of artistic and cultural expression. Towle recognised the significance of these Aboriginal sites and artefacts, and sought to document them.

 > View a selection of Towle's photographs of ceremonial carvings and artefacts

C.C. Towle - Ceremonial carvings

The Library’s C. C. Towle collection includes over 1000 photographs showing Aboriginal carved trees, artefacts, implements, shell middens, ceremonial sites and burial grounds, stone arrangements and rock art, all photographed between 1920 and 1940. Many of these photographs were taken by amateur archaeologists Lindsay Black and his son Russell Black. The collection also includes correspondence, notebooks, papers and newscuttings about anthropology and archaeology, and notebooks on Aboriginal people of Western New South Wales. Towle also presented a large collection of Aboriginal stone implements to the Australian Museum. He died in 1946.

> Discover more of the Library's C. C. Towle collection regarding anthropology and Australian Aborigines of NSW, ca. 1885-1946, via the Library’s online catalogue cataloguel link

> See more images via the Library’s exhibition Carved Trees – Aboriginal cultures of western NSW

> Read the published catalogue of the Carved Trees exhibition




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