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ASHA NEWS



Felicity Buckingham

These thin, plastic discs were recovered from a yard context in Lot 61 during the 2016 excavation of the old CUB complex, near the corner of Swanston and Queensberry streets, Melbourne. The above image shows record CUB2 11317 (scale in cm).

Tentatively interpreted as being promotional material (possibly badge blanks, based on size and shape), they read “MISS AUSTRALIAN AIR LEAGUE 1950” and include the Air League emblem of a winged shield. Small oxidized holes are present on all examples and may indicate they were held together by a pin or similar.


Multiple ‘blanks’, including CUB2 11317 (bottom, centre)

Originally named the ‘Air Mindedness Development League’, the Australian Air League (hereafter the ‘League’) was established in 1934 to promote “an interest in aviation both as a career or as a hobby in the youth of Australia”, and “to provide opportunities to develop good citizenship, teamwork and to develop ingenuity and resourcefulness of members” (https://www.airleague.com.au/about/history).

In September 1950, the League sponsored Miss Patricia Sheales, a 20 year old hair salon receptionist (Age, 12 Sep 1950, p. 1), as a contestant in the Miss Victoria quest (Age, 11 Sep 1950, p. 5). These blanks embody the hope that Patricia would go through to the national competition. Patricia then made a number of public appearances, including the League’s annual parade (Age, 2 Oct 1950, p. 4), the Caulfield races (Age, 23 Oct 1950, p. 8), and a ball (Argus, 2 Dec 1950, p. 8), as well as appearing in several promotional pieces of editorial, such as the image below of several Miss Victoria entrants (Advocate, 16 Dec 1950, p. 3).


Pat Sheales (back row, centre) and other Miss Victoria contestants (Advocate, 16 Dec 1950, p. 3)

Unfortunately, Patricia didn’t win the Victorian competition. However, no Miss Australia was crowned at all in 1950 (Age, 24 Feb 1951, p. 3), due to a dispute regarding the chaperone assigned to the previous year’s winner for her international tour (West Australian, 15 Apr 1950, p. 10). Formerly Miss NSW, the NSW branch of the competition backed the decision, and withheld finances unless another chaperone was appointed - the result being the cancellation of said tour outright, and the discontinuation of the competition until 1953.

These blanks were chosen for the light they shed on the youth organisations and popular culture of mid twentieth-century Australia, as well as for the questions they ask about the site. How was the League, the Miss Australia competition, or Patricia Sheales related to Lot 61? If these blanks were promotional items, they were not needed after the Miss Victoria competition in December 1950, and their yard location could suggest they were simply thrown away, and may not have any further relation to the site. Analysis is ongoing, and will hopefully help to answer some of these questions.

Felicity Buckingham, along with Zvonka Stanin, is currently analysing artefacts from the latest CUB dig for Alpha Archaeology, and can be contacted at felicitybuckingham@yahoo.com




Fiona Shanahan

The bombing of Darwin in February 1942 resulted in the establishment of 10 main airbases with two additional satellite bases for each main base in Australia’s Northern Territory. Coomalie was one of Batchelor’s satellite airbases and was home to Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) squadrons 31 and 87 (87 was born from No. 1 Photo Reconnaissance Unit at Coomalie). 87 Squadron was a photoreconnaissance unit that flew Mosquito aircraft.

The F–52 camera was a World War II British photoreconnaissance camera and the Coomalie Mosquitos were fitted with these advanced cameras for the duration of the war.

There was only one fatal aircraft crash at Coomalie for the entire war. It occurred in August 1945, resulting in the death of pilot Gillespie and serious burns to navigator Haynes. The aircraft crash occurred due to the aircraft suddenly veering off the airstrip during take-off (Mosquitos were prone to do this on occasion). The aircraft then flipped and caught fire.The crashed aircraft was cleared away with a bulldozer and dumped in the Coomalie Creek.


Image courtesy: Imperial War Memorial (CH 10845)

In the mid 2000s the current owner of the airbase, Richard, located a ‘frosted crystal like object, the size of a fist’ (pictured above, image courtesy: Shanahan 2013) at the site of the Gillespie Mosquito accident. Considering the location of the find and the size of the item, Richard asked a geologist to test its lead content. The results of the examination confirmed it was most likely the F–52 camera lens as it contained the expected 7% lead found in lens from the time. Upon further inspections of the crash site and the Coomalie Creek the severely burnt back casing of the F–52 camera was located.

This find not only adds to the ever evolving narrative and living history of the airbase, but it is a physical item that the Gillespie family have been able to connect with (Gillespie’s family are heavily involved with the living history at Coomalie).

If you would like to know more about the site or the F–52 lens please send an email to shanahanparker@gmail.com.




Felicity Buckingham and Zvonka Stanin

The bricks in the images above and below were recovered from the southern end of Lot 67 in the 2016 excavation of the old CUB complex, near the corner of Swanston and Queensberry streets, Melbourne. This excavation was undertaken by Alpha Archaeology for Scape. Chosen for their rarity (an unusual find in Australia, and perhaps outside of France), these bricks were part of feature 066, a chalky white hand-made brick construction that was initially interpreted as a fireplace within a cellar.


At least three of the feature’s surfaces were comprised of bricks made in Langeais, a town in central France - bearing the makers marks of “Desouches Hubert a Langeais” and “Alexis Lemesle a Langeais”. Initial online research suggests Hubert Desouches ran his business in the 1850s and was declared bankrupt in 1859 (http://en.patrimoine-de-france.com/indre-et-loire/langeais/briqueterie-9.php, accessed 1/08/2016). Alexis Lemesle also appeared to have brick works around the same time - 1853 to perhaps 1875 (http://www.actuacity.com/four-a-carreaux_m81946/, accessed 1/08/2015).


Excavation showed that the fireplace/feature 066 was most likely added after the construction of the original cellar - an awkward, retrofitted addition to the cellar flume, sitting on top of original foundations and built into the cellar wall. Unless reused/curated (e.g. as ballast), these dates suggest a possible 1850s construction date for the cellar (see below).


This area of Melbourne was first settled in the 1850s, with these earlier buildings demolished and replaced with brick terraces sometime before the mid 1880s. Although artifact analysis is ongoing, it is possible that feature 066, and the French bricks added to it after its initial construction, may represent the earliest, c. 1850s to c. 1870s of occupation of Lot 67.

Images provided by Alpha Archaeology, showing artefacts CUB2 04537, CUB2 04538, CUB2 04539 and CUB2 04632. CUB2 04537 and CUB2 04538 with multiple finger print marks. Site image: CUB Scape, Lot 67, view south east facing Swanston Street, showing showing feature 066 at far wall of cellar. Photo credit Zvonka Stanin

Felicity and Zvonka are currently analysing the artefacts from the latest CUB dig for Alpha Archaeology, and can be contacted at either felicitybuckingham@yahoo.com or zstanin50@gmail.com



Jessie Garland and Angel Trendafilov, Underground Overground Archaeology

Angel Trendafilov, of Underground Overground Archaeology, has been monitoring the bulk out of the new Convention Centre in Christchurch with the assistance of Kirsa Webb, Tristan Wadsworth, Teri Anderson, Hamish Williams and Peter Mitchell. The site, which was home to a variety of commercial, professional and residential activities in the 19th century, has yielded a large (and still growing) artefact assemblage, several brick lined and artesian wells (see below image), a large number of rubbish pits, and structural features.


Many of the artefacts date to the 1840s-1860s period, suggesting that at least some of the material found may be associated with the early decades of European settlement in Christchurch. The assemblage contains a wide range of artefact types, including several unusual clay smoking pipes, elaborately decorated glass vessels and uncommon ceramics.


Notable artefacts so far include: an early 19th century imitation Mason's jug; a Price and Co. Bear's Grease pot lid; and an imitation engraved Batavian ware dish (see above image).

     

We have also uncovered a French clay pipe with a moulded Native American figure on the bowl (see above image) and a floor tile made by Jackson and Bishop, one of the earliest large scale brick making companies in Christchurch (see below image).


We don't yet know whether the artefact assemblages relate to the residential, commercial or professional uses of the site, but it is worth mentioning that there was a fancy goods store and an auctioneers among the many occupants crammed on to these sections in the 1860s and 1870s.


 

For more information about the archaeology of Christchurch, check out the Underground Overground Archaeology blog "Christchurch Uncovered" at:  http://blog.underoverarch.co.nz/

Artefact images: Jessie Garland
Excavation images: Hamish Williams




Catherine Tucker

This cutlery fork that was recovered from excavations of a large rubbish pit at Pentridge Prison, located to the north of Melbourne. The assemblage is thought to date to the mid-nineteenth century and this particular artefact was chosen as a representative example of the many cutlery items recovered during the excavations. It is a utilitarian object that has been modified for use specifically at the prison and was probably used by the inmates.

The metal is now heavily corroded but it has a shaft that extends all the way to the end of the handle. Over the metal handle there are two identically shaped bone lengths that are attached to each side of the fork shaft by three small evenly spaced nails. The bone handle is 14mm wide at the fork end and 20mm at the handle end and is 84mm in length. These dimensions are the same for all of the forks in the assemblage indicating that the cutlery was most likely mass produced in specialist factories rather than made in one of the prison workshops.

On one side of the fork there are roughly carved roman numerals – XXV (25) and numbers such as these were found on all bone handled cutlery in the assemblage. The highest number recovered was LVIII (58), meaning that there were at least 58 objects in the original set. The numerals are deeply incised on the handles and the roughness and variability in style indicate that these marks were probably made at the prison.

These numbered utensils are particularly identifiable as prison or institutional artefacts, places where it was important to keep track of sharp objects, and they reflect the processes involved in managing inmates in nineteenth century prisons.

Catherine Tucker is a part-time PHD student at LaTrobe University who also works as a consultant archaeologist, mostly in Victoria.

 



Melissa Dunk

Atherton Chinatown is arguably one of the most thoroughly researched Chinese sites in North Queensland. The strong Chinese presence at Atherton was mainly within the designated area outside of the main township and over time, has not been subject to development. Several archaeological studies have been conducted in the Atherton Chinatown district from 1981 to 2015. The the majority of the collection related to this site were discovered in these excavations, but the collection is also made up of items that have been given back to the museum from the public, object which are presumed to have originally come from the site.



This complete bottle belongs to the Atherton Chinatown assemblage, which contains over 2,000 artefacts and is managed by the National Trust of Queensland.

The bottle’s unique identifier is the embossed Japanese Katakana characters that wrap around the outside of the bottle. These characters triggered my memories of high school Japanese class.

In studying this bottle, I was struggling to work out the bottles use and contents by translating the Japanese Katakana characters. These characters were key as it is a Japanese syllabary for non-Japanese borrowed words. The characters on the bottle were ‘ru-bee nir-ki’ and they didn’t make much sense to me. Was it a person’s name: Ruby Nurkey? Was I reading it wrong?

With a little bit of web assistance, I searched for Japanese bottles and different types of bottles, and my ‘ah hah’ moment hit. If you read the characters from right to left, as Japanese is meant to be read, it transliterates to ‘kirin beeru’.

The bottle likely held beer manufactured by Kirin Beer which was established in Yokohama, Japan in 1885. FOr more information see: http://www.kirinholdings.co.jp/english/company/history/group/01.html.


Bronwyn Woff, Research Associate, La Trobe University

The fragment of glass illustrated in the images below was found in the 1988 excavation season of Melbourne's Little Lon district. This area was reported to be a slum, with a mixed use of domestic and light industrial lots.


Crown glass window pane fragment. LL71844 Historical Archaeology Collection, Museums Victoria. Images: Bronwyn Woff

The glass fragment is the central panel of a spun crown glass sheet, which was created in the manufacture of glass for window panes. Hot glass was spun on a pontil rod so that it slowly spread into a large disc up to 1400mm wide. Because of this manufacturing technique, the glass was thicker at the centre than at the edges. The majority of glass imported to Australia from Britain before 1834 was manufactured in this way, as taxes and duties were lower than for other manufacturing techniques (Boow, 1991 pp.100-102). This glass fragment can be dated to between 1788 and the 1860s (Boow, 1991 pp.100-104).

Crown Glass being spun flat by glass makers. Image from “Glass in Architecture and Decoration” by Raymond McGrath & A.C. Frost, 2nd Edition, London, 1961 [1937], p. 75 via : https://blog.mcny.org/2014/11/25/whats-in-an-artifact-crown-glass/    (accessed February 28, 2017.)

In this case, the whole sheet was used and the central section was cut into a pane of glass with the "bulls eye" pontil mark in place. In some cases, these were ground out or otherwise modified so that the pontil mark was not evident, but in this example the snapped off pontil mark protrudes at least 5mm from the flat glass. One straight-cut edge of the window pane is present on the shortest side. Because of the flaw present in the glass, this window pane would have been much cheaper to purchase than a thin, outer fragment and this may reflect the buying power of the owners of the residential property where it was found at Little Lon.

 


"Spectactular clear bullseye glass panes in an English house" via: http://www.peachridgeglass.com/2012/04/the-bulls-eye-glass-pane/  (accessed February 28, 2017)


Bronwyn is currently working as a subcontracting archaeologist, cataloger and analyst. She is contactable via: bronwyn_woff@outlook.com.au
Sarah Hayes

Absinthe Bottles and Prostitution in Early Colonial Melbourne

This absinthe bottle is one of 10 recovered from a rubbish pit associated with Mrs Bond’s grocer in Melbourne’s notorious Little Lon district. Absinthe, or the green fairy, was a hallucinogenic alcoholic drink available from the 18th century but reaching new heights of popularity in bohemian Paris in the late-19th century; coinciding nicely with the timing of Mrs Bond’s grocery. But was it a grocery? The absinthe bottles, along with French champagne bottles and 300 oyster shells, have led us to reinterpret the use of this site. Mrs Bond had been operating brothels in Little Lon for years and the historical documents gave the impression she had given it all up to run a respectable grocery business. The artefacts tell a different story. It seems her grocery was actually a cover for a high class brothel.

Sarah's professional facebook page, where this information was originally posted, can be found at:
https://www.facebook.com/SarahHResearch/?fref=ts

(Photos by Bronwyn Woff)