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Val Attenbrow Today, the Sydney region has a large Aboriginal population, many of whom are descendants of the original inhabitants who lived here when Captain Cook visited in 1770 and the First Fleet arrived in 1788.

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These are mainly in overseas museums, for example in England and Russia, with few in Australia.The people gained their food by hunting, fishing and gathering, and their foods came from land and marine animals, birds as well as plants.To obtain foods available in different locations and different seasons, people were relatively mobile.They lived in shelters made from bark and other plant materials as well as sandstone rock-shelters.For Aboriginal life prior to 1770, there is no documentary evidence, and it is archaeological evidence (the archaeological record) that must be examined to find out about the lives, activities and material culture of people who lived in this land for thousands of years.

The archaeological record is important, as it reveals that many aspects of Aboriginal life changed over time, and people did not always use the same tools and subsistence technologies that were observed when the British arrived.In addition, it provides additional details about some aspects of life that are not described in the historical documents – for example, the range of land and marine animals eaten, and the raw materials used in making tools and weapons.Archaeological evidence consists of the physical remains left behind after people have been, for example, camping, making tools, weapons and equipment, processing and eating food, and creating representations of animals, humans and other beings.The places where such evidence is found are called archaeological sites.The archaeological evidence at Aboriginal sites is referred to by a variety of names depending principally on the sites' locations and contents.Their location is given as either 'open' or 'rock-shelter', and their contents are called: shell middens, archaeological deposits, stone artefact scatters, engraved images, pigment images, grinding grooves, abraded channels, water holes, stone quarries or sources, stone arrangements, burials, scarred trees, carved trees, mythological sites.