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Old Owen Springs, Heritage Branch, NT Government Excavations at Old Owen Springs, July 2013. Read more here.

WELCOME TO ASHA

AUSTRALASIAN SOCIETY FOR HISTORICAL ARCHAEOLOGY

The Australian Society for Historical Archaeology (ASHA) was founded in 1970 to promote the study of historical archaeology in Australia. In 1991 the Society was expanded to include New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific region generally, and its name was changed to the Australasian Society for Historical Archaeology.

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Compiled by Penny Crook

The 2019 ASHA Conference was held in Port Macquarie, in Birpai Country on the NSW mid-north coast, 13–16 October. It was a busy few days with site tours, workshops and two days of papers discussing current issues in local and global historical archaeological research and heritage management.

In his Keynote address Richard Shing, Director of the Vanuatu Cultural Centre, provided a detailed introduction to the fascinating history and archaeology of Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu from its roots in Lapita culture 3,000 years ago to colonial contact and invasion from 17th to 20th centuries, and its development since Independence in 1980.

The successive occupations of the British and French in the late-19th century, and the American forces in World War II, have left a legacy of demographic change, dispossession of traditional land and disruption to local customs. It also produced a complex landscape of colonial-era buildings that overlie pre-colonial sites.

The oldest surviving colonial structure, the 1853 stone house built by missionaries Reverend John and Charlotte Geddie on Aneityum Island, preserved pre-colonial strata along with extraordinary archaeological evidence of culture contact. At the threshold of the study John Geddie interred spirit stones to remind local Aneityumese that they were stepping over their customary beliefs to hear the word of God.

Amidst the challenges of cultural site management in the Pacific, with development pressure and the impact of tourism, there is for some a unique displeasure in preserving of decaying buildings of an oppressive rule. As Richard noted, the atrocities of the colonial era remain in living memory and the narrative of this era is often simplified to one of ‘cruel masters and benign slaves’. Archaeology provides a way to mediate this history.

As Director of the Vanuatu Cultural Centre, Richard has overseen the collaboration between archaeologists and local Islanders who have excavated many sites spanning Lapita to colonial eras. A dedication to community outreach, events, publications and skill-building has seen young Ni-Vanuatu school children work on excavations and go on to pursue careers in archaeology.

It was a privilege to conference goers that we could hear this account first hand. ASHA is grateful to Richard for making the time in his busy schedule to share his knowledge with us. Thanks also to James Flexner and the University of Sydney for assisting with travel arrangements.

The Keynote address was proudly sponsored by GML Heritage.

Further Reading

Flexner, James L. 2013. Mission archaeology in Vanuatu: Preliminary findings, problems, and prospects. Australasian Historical Archaeology 31: 14.

Zubrzycka, Adele, Martin J. Jones, Stuart Bedford, James L. Flexner, Matthew Spriggs, and Richard Shing. 2018. Misi Gete’s mission house: archaeological investigations of the oldest surviving colonial building in the New Hebrides. Australasian Historical Archaeology 36: 38.

‘Keynote Presenter, Richard Shing during his presentation in the Glasshouse Studio and post presentation with the 2019 Conference organising committee. Left to right: Bronwyn Woff, Jane Rooke, Anita Yousif, Richard Shing, Nick Pitt and Caiti D’Gluyas’.


Written by Catherine Tucker and Bronwyn Woff

In August and September ASHA hosted two workshops in Melbourne that were a great success!

The workshops were a beginners guide to historic artefact identification, and conservation basics for archaeologists.

Both events were fully booked with 40 attendees, and waiting lists for extra places.

Dr Christine Williamson, Bronwyn Woff and Holly Jones-Amin presented respectively on ceramic artefacts, glass bottle basics and in-field conservation first aid.

We would like to thank Heritage Victoria and their staff for the use of the Artefact Centre and the archaeological collections as well as their assistance in helping with the events.

If you would like to suggest or help organise ASHA events in your region, contact events@asha.org.au


 
Written by Megan Liddicoat | Policy Offer | Climate Change Division Energy, Environment and Climate Change | Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

Victoria Unearthed: updated with more data and better usability.

Victoria Unearthed is an easy to use interactive map which brings together environmental and historical information. It has been developed by the Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning (DELWP) and Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) to help users investigate potential and existing contamination of land and groundwater.

The historical business information in Victoria Unearthed includes over half a million historical business records dating back to the 1890s, digitised for the first time as part of this project. These come from Sands and McDougall directories (Victoria’s original 'phone books') and can provide clues on where past business activity may have resulted in legacy contamination. The information included in Victoria Unearthed is derived from directories published around every 10 years between 1896 and 1974 and involves only information listed in the trades and business directories – not the residential sections.

The environmental information in Victoria Unearthed includes several EPA datasets: sites with EPA licences, sites on EPA’s Priority Sites Register (locations with known environmental issues), groundwater restrictions, planning overlays of potential or identified contamination (environmental audit overlays), and the location of past and present landfills.

For specialist users, all this data is also being made available in spatial formats through DataVic or Spatial Datamart.

You can find out more about Victoria Unearthed at www.environment.vic.gov.au/victoria-unearthed and access the map via mapshare.vic.gov.au/victoriaunearthed