asha
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.

JOIN ASHA

ASHA membership is open to all! Members get a copy of the journal, discounts and more.

•  SEE MORE

MEMBER’S LOUNGE

Access members-only resources and update your details.

•  LOGIN HERE

PUBLICATIONS

Explore our diverse range of publications spanning the past 45 years.

•  VIEW PUBLICATIONS

CONFERENCES

Find out about our next conference, or browse the abstracts from previous years.

•  SEE EVENTS

 

ASHA News [logo] 
ASHA News [logo]
Author: AAA, AACAI, AIAA, ASHA and AIMA

On Friday 3 July 2020, all major archaeological associations in Australia released the following joint statement on the value of archaeology and the teaching of archaeology in our universities in response to Commonwealth Government changes to University Funding. A PDF version of this statement is available here.

Archaeology and the Humanities - promoting critical thinking and informed reflection

In January 2020 Minister of Education Dan Tehan stated, “the Morrison Government … recognise[s] the importance of research into Australian society, history and culture”. Five months later, the Morrison Government has proposed dramatic changes to university fee structures that double the cost of study in these same disciplines. This move will amplify the perceived divide between the natural sciences and HASS (humanities and social sciences). What 21st century science, business and society need is an integration of these fields of expertise; archaeology plays a vital role in this endeavour. By applying scientific techniques to social issues, including climate change and adaptive technologies, archaeology remains the only discipline able to study the full spectrum of Australia’s deep human history. The history of humanity – the story of us – is a common, binding thread that crosses barriers such as age, gender, culture and religion.

Archaeology – skills rich

Archaeology is a professional discipline with graduates in high demand across the sector, applying training that is specialised, skills-rich and transferrable. University-trained practitioners provide expert management advice and essential compliance documentation to support major infrastructure and development projects that support our economy. We also provide evidence of human ingenuity through time that is a source of national pride and social integration. Archaeology has a long and successful commitment to achieving excellence in training and job-readiness. Since 2005 we have conducted five-yearly reviews of the training needs of our industry and continue to adjust our university training and courses accordingly. We have developed National Benchmarking Guidelines which clearly articulate the knowledge and specific skills expected of graduates upon completion of a 4-year Honours degree – the industry minimum standard. In 2019, we launched the Australian Archaeology Skills Passport, a national program aimed at streamlining skills training across the discipline, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working in the sector.

Archaeology – socially engaged

Archaeology uses both history and science to understand social issues. For example, the impact and legacy of British colonisation/invasion manifests today in a divided society and a contested heritage. In partnership with Traditional Custodians, archaeologists work to understand not only the depth of time but also the cultural richness of Australian Indigenous societies prior to British invasion. Archaeologists also work to understand more recent colonial entanglements and impacts as they explore the material culture of social, economic and environmental change since First Contact. Land-based and maritime heritage sites not only serve as a reminder of the past but also continue to contribute to the character and economy of Australia today. HASS graduates, who can think laterally, critically and creatively, make up a large proportion of people working for Indigenous organisations as teachers, social workers, anthropologists, historians, archaeologists and government officials. The proposed fee changes will not only curtail this work, but will also disadvantage women, who make up to 60% of HASS students, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people from non-traditional education backgrounds who use HASS degrees as pathways into universities.

Archaeology – global and local

All Australian archaeology departments maintain international research and engagement collaborations with key institutions in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the Pacific. These collaborations elevate Australia’s standing within the international research community on globally important issues. These international connections help promote greater understanding and appreciation of our own unique Indigenous cultures. We also maintain relationships locally with communities in every State.

The Australian archaeological community is united. We ask the government to rethink its proposed fee restructure to ensure the HASS sector continues to produce socially engaged and scientifically excellent graduates.



 

 
Author: Nadia Bajzelj,Christine Williamson Heritage Consultants

In 2019, GML Heritage Pty Ltd (GML) were engaged by ISPT Pty Ltd (ISPT) to undertake an historical archaeological investigation of 364-378 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne. This location encompasses two sites listed on the Victorian Heritage Inventory (H7822-1024 and H7822-1025). The sites were used as domestic residences (1864-1918) before the construction of a Women’s VD Clinic (1918) and a Tuberculosis Bureau (1928) (GML 2019). The recovered artefact collection, comprising approximately 40,000 artefact fragments, was catalogued and analysed by Christine Williamson Heritage Consultants.

364-378 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne toilet wares

Photo 1: toilet wares from 364-378 Little Lonsdale Street (photograph by Grace Stephenson-Gordon, Christine Williamson Heritage Consultants)

The items pictured are ceramic artefacts relating to 19th-century hygiene practises. The majority of these items are chamber pots, but a chamber pot lid, wash basin and a brush box and lid were also identified. All are made from earthenware and decorated with transfer printed designs in black, blue, green and purple. These artefacts are from high significance contexts associated with the single-storey cottages of 366, 368 and 370 Little Lonsdale Street.

Concepts of hygiene during the 19th-century were evolving and changing dramatically from those of previous centuries. In earlier eras a link had been made between bathing and the spread of disease, but the people of the 19th-century began to see the relationship between cleanliness and disease prevention, with cleanliness becoming closely tied with a person’s respectability (Davidoff and Hall 2002: 382; Everleigh 2002: 65; Grigg 2008; Halliday 1999: 17). 'Cleanliness, like good manners became an indicator of respectability while dirt and squalor were seen as threats to moral as well as physical health' (Everleigh 2002: 65). Having a full toilet service was therefore highly desirable for 19th-century homes, and would have included items such as the chamber pot (possibly with a cover), large and small wash basins and ewers, a covered soap box with drainer, a covered sponge bowl, a covered toothbrush box or toothbrush vase, a foot bath and many additional extras (Copeland 2000: 24).

The chamber pots excavated from 364-378 Little Lonsdale Street represent the most common hygiene items recovered from 19th-century domestic sites. Chamber pots were stored under the bed or in a nightstand. When looking at the alternative toilet solution of the 19th-century – the water closet – which was located outside the house, the usefulness of the chamber pot is obvious. The chamber pot was a convenient option when needing to use the toilet in the middle of the night as it did not necessitate trudging outside in the cold and dark. In the morning, the pot would be emptied and cleaned and the waste disposed of. But wouldn’t this smell be rather overwhelming when you went back to bed? Yes, strangely enough human waste was no better then, than it is now. In order to minimise odours, chamber pots were usually (but not always) covered with pieces of cloth, newspapers, or a chamber pot lid (as pictured).

364-378 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne toilet wares

Photo 2: chamber pot with lid from 364-378 Little Lonsdale Street (photograph by Grace Stephenson-Gordon, Christine Williamson Heritage Consultants)

REFERENCES
COPELAND, R. 2000: Ceramic Bygones and other unusual domestic pottery. A Shire Book. Great Britain.
DAVIDOFF, L. and C. HALL 2002: "'My own fireside': the creation of the middle-class home." Family Fortunes: Men and Women of the English Middle Class 1780-1850. Revised Edition. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 357-396.
EVELEIGH, D.J. 2002: Bogs, Baths and Basins: The Story of Domestic Sanitation. Stroud, England: Sutton.
GML 2019: 364-378 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, Historical Archaeological Research Design. Report to Case Meallin Pty Ltd & ISPT Pty Ltd.
GRIGG, T. 2008: Health & Hygiene in Nineteenth Century England in Museums Victoria Collections https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/articles/1615, accessed 02 May 2019.
HALLIDAY, S. 1999: The Great Stink of London: Sir Joseph Bazalgette and the Cleansing of the Victorian Capital. Sutton Publishing Ltd, England.

 

Willow fragments 
Willow fragments
Author: Helen Nicholson

Commonly found on historical sites in Australia, Willow pattern ceramics have stood the test of time and been produced for the last 230 years. Here are two online Willow pattern jigsaws for you to do [i].

Virtual Jigsaw #1
Photo 1: Virtual Jigsaw 1 https://jigex.com/FY1S

Virtual Jigsaw #2
Photo 2: Virtual Jigsaw 2 https://jigex.com/uYe1

The arts of Asia, and especially China, were extremely influential on art and design in Europe. Chinoiserie styles reached the peak of their popularity in Britain in the 18th century and whether on Chinese porcelain or Staffordshire earthenware are found on Australian historical sites, especially in contexts from the first half of the 19th century.

The late 18th century saw a dramatic increase in the duty charged for Chinese ceramics imported on East India Company ships, shipping disruptions with Napoleonic Wars and America trading directly with China.At the same time, the tax on tea was reduced dramatically in 1784 and a duty imposed on silver plate so by the beginning of the 19th century the popularity of drinking tea grew rapidly in Britain.[ii] Blue and white ceramics and tea were no longer the preserve of the wealthy.

Aspects of Chinese patterns and landscapes first found on imported Chinese porcelain were, by the end of the 18th century, decorating earthenware tableware. Willow pattern was among the first standardised and by the early 19th century a story was ascribed to the pattern.It was believed to be a Chinese story – but it was not. It started to circulate after 1810, but the earliest publication is in The Family Friend in 1849. Published as The Story of the Common Willow-Pattern Plate,this title suggests that Willow pattern had become commonplace.[iii] In 1851, the story was even turned into a play, The Mandarin’s Daughter. [iv]

Essentially the story goes that a Mandarin had a beautiful daughter, Koong-Se, who fell in love with the Mandarin’s secretary, Chang. He was banished as he was considered unworthy of a Mandarin’s daughter and her father arranged for her to marry a nobleman.At the celebrations of her betrothal, Koong-Se and Chang met and eloped.Her father caught sight of them and gave chase but they escaped and hid in the house of a maid who the Mandarin had dismissed for conspiring to help the lovers. When their whereabouts became known, they escaped in a boat to a distant island. Chang, however, became famous for his writings and the Mandarin sent guards who killed him. Koong-Se set fire to their house while she was inside so both perished. Touched by their love, the gods immortalised them as two doves eternally flying in the sky together [v].


[i] Thanks to the help from Nick Pitt with the jigsaws.

[ii] R. Copeland, 1990, Spode’s Willow Pattern and other designs after the Chinese, Cassell, London

[iii] Spode and Willow Pattern https://spodehistory.blogspot.com/2013/06/spode-and-willow.html

[iv] P. O’Hara, 1993, The Willow pattern that we knew: The Victorian Literature of Blue Willow, Victorian Studies, Vol 36 No. 4, Indiana University Press, 421 – 442, 427 www.jstor.org/stable/3828644

[v] http://www.thepotteries.org/patterns/willow.html