Bronwyn Woff

The ASHA Blog Editor and the ASHA Committee would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to the ASHA Blog.

The blog replaces the long-running ASHA Newsletter as a way for members to receive information regarding Australasian Historical Archaeology. It aims to encourage the sharing of information between ASHA members, members of the wider archaeological community, and the general public. The blog contains information regarding archaeological research, excavations and upcoming events, and will be the platform for posting our Artefact of the Month articles.

Each post will be tagged with topics as appropriate, and visitors to the blog can search using these tags under the Recent Postssection on the left hand side of the page. As yet, this option is not available for mobile devices. These tags include the region which the post refers to, as well as various broad topics, for example "Glass" or "Research".

Visitors can also subscribe to receive updates about the ASHA Blog at the bottom of the blog page.

We hope that you enjoy reading up-to-date information via our blog. If you wish to make a submission, please email your regional representative (the details of which are found here)  or by emailing the Editor at:

Happy reading!

Bronwyn Woff
ASHA Blog Editor
Tour group exploring the History and Technology Store
Tour group exploring the History and Technology Store
Catherine Tucker,  Andrea Murphy and Bronwyn Woff

On Thursday 8 December 2016 members of ASHA and other non-member historic archaeologists and historians attended a guided tour of Museums Victoria’s storage facility in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, organised by ASHA committee members Bronwyn Woff and Catherine Tucker.

The storage facility provides tailored storage areas for objects when they are not on display at Museums Victoria’s three campuses at Melbourne Museum (Carlton), the Immigration Museum (CBD) and Scienceworks (Spotswood).

Mr Veegan McMasters (Senior Coordinator, Collections Storage and Logistics, Strategic Collection Management Department) showed us some of the 17 million objects housed by Museums Victoria – an extraordinary array of objects including everything from taxidermy animals, machinery, clothing and textiles, aeroplanes, to barbed wire and fencing equipment, handbags, signage, tools and household equipment through the ages. Veegan also explained the location system used by organisation, by which every object is barcoded and the location recorded on a live location system.

Artefacts excavated from the Commonwealth Block - land bounded by Lonsdale, Little Lonsdale, Spring and Exhibition Streets, and owned by the Commonwealth Government since 1948 - in Melbourne's CBD is also housed at this facility. The collection consists of artefacts from various excavations from 1988 to the present, and holds the largest nineteenth century urban historical archaeology collection in the world.

Research Assistant Bronwyn Woff explaining the Historical Archaeology Collection
Research Assistant Bronwyn Woff explaining the Historical Archaeology Collection

The resource is incredible and is certainly something that archaeologists from around Australia could consult. If anyone is interested in accessing the collection, images of some of the artefacts are found on Museums Victoria's “Collections Online” website. The search is easy to use, and you can filter by Collecting Area eg: Historical Archaeology, or search all of the Museums collections. For in-person viewing of the collection, access may be able to be organised through the Discovery centre. Links for these two sites can be found below:

ASHA logo
ASHA logo

Following the 2016 ASHA conference in New Zealand, a new committee has been elected. ASHA wishes to thank the outgoing committee for their dedication, and welcomes new members to the committee.

For details of committee members and roles, please see the "Committee" page at:     

ASHA logo
ASHA logo

The 2016 Annual General Meeting of the Australasian Society for Historical Archaeology will be held on:
Friday, 30 September 2016 at 4:00 pm

in the Camelot Room, Chateau on the Park,
189 Deans Avenue,

Committee Nominations

Nominations for the 2016-2017 ASHA Committee are now open. The election of the 2016-17 ASHA Committee will be conducted during the Annual General Meeting. Nominations will close at 5.00pm (AEST) Friday 26 August 2016.

To nominate for a committee position, download a nomination form here and send it to the ASHA Returning Officer (address on the form). Further information on the committee roles is available here.

Each member is entitled to appoint another member as proxy by notice given to the Secretary not less than 24 hours before the time for holding of the meeting. You can download a proxy form here.

Return the form to the ASHA Secretary by mail on or before 5pm, Friday 23 September, or forms may be delivered in person to Caitlin D'Gluyas by your appointed Proxy at the conference no later than 12.30 pm, Friday 30 September 2016.

Corinne Softley & Nicholas Pitt

We are delighted to share with you the newly designed ASHA website, with a bold new look and enhanced navigation experience. With a focus on simplicity, the website aims to provide a more informative experience, through improved research functions, current news and members-area privileges. We invite you to start exploring!

ASHA has had a website since 1995. The first ASHA website was hosted by the University of Sydney. In 2002 the ASHA website moved to its present address: It was then just a few html pages.

In 2009 we launched a new website with a shop for membership and book sales, and we made available the archive of our journal. All but the last five years were free to download; the more recent issues were for members only. At the time, the website was welcomed by members and admired by other societies, but it more recently has been dogged by technical issues. In 2014 we started planning for an all new site to improve access to this rich archive and help the society make new information available.

The original announcement of the first ASHA website in volume 25:4 (1995) the ASHA Newsletter.

The new website layout has been streamlined to give you quick access to the items you are looking for. Most importantly, we have consolidated and organised information on the society, resources (journal, newsletter and publications) and upcoming events.

So what’s new?

  • Improved membership management, order-tracking and login.
  • Clear, user-friendly navigation.
  • The ASHA blog: a new platform for short articles and highlights from the newletter Digital delivery of the newsletter and improved delivery of current news, events and general updates Device compatibility: the website is now compatible with tablet and mobile devices.
  • New logo: One of the most noticeable changes on our new site is the new logo. A shortlist of logo designed was circulated among ASHA members at the end of 2014. Members voted on their favourite, with the most popular logo chosen as the official ASHA logo.
  • Integration of multimedia such as video and image libraries.
  • Integration with social media platforms

We will be rolling out new pages, resources and functions over the coming months, and hope that you enjoy visiting our new website. However, due to the significant changes in the website architecture, we know there may be digital hiccups and you may experience virtual roadblocks along the way. This is where we need your help!

Please email if you are experiencing any issues with the website or feel that an aspect of the website should be reviewed or enhanced. We will do our best to perfect your browsing experience.

Going forward, we aim to continually expand our online content and keep you updated with the latest information on Historical Archaeology in Australia and New Zealand. So check back often, and connect with us on your social network through platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Plus.

You can explore the past versions of the website through the Internet Archive’s historic snapshots:

Jane Rooke

Another successful Artefacts Workshop was held in April this year, hosted by Casey & Lowe in Leichhardt, Sydney. This was the second such event, following a similar workshop held last November.

With record attendance and guest speakers bringing a multitude of skills to the table, all had a busy and informative weekend.

After a quick coffee, the morning started with Jeanne Harris, from Urban Analysts, delivering the first of her two PowerPoint presentations. She started the day with glass, expanding on our understanding of bottles, lamp glass and tableware. She focused on the diagnostic components of the items, taking us chronologically through their development of manufacture, allowing us to understand the features and so enabling us to identify them for a more precise dating range. This was then put to practice as we made our way to the courtyard for a show and tell. We were each given the opportunity to examine a bottle or piece of glassware and work through the diagnostic evidence to identify the piece before presenting it to the rest of the audience. Although the risk of making a wrong identification was a little daunting, under Jeanne’s expert guidance everyone did very well.

After morning tea, which boasted some great Portuguese tarts and chocolate brownies, we settled in for the next session.

Dr Melanie Fillios specialises in the analysis of archaeological faunal remains, and her passion is inspiring. After a chat about why we should analyse bones and what they can tell us, Melanie moved on to talk about teeth. She explained the distinct patterns of different animal’s teeth, their wear stages and how to distinguish between members of the same genus. ASHA and the presenters put together a booklet summarising the presentations. As part of Melanie’s contribution she provided us with a comprehensive decision making process on femurs and tibias. Working in groups, we were able to put this and our skills to the test with a selection of bones made available for us. We looked at cows, sheep, pig and kangaroo as well as examining the jaws of marsupials and sheep.

Robyn Stocks (centre) shows workshop participants various miscellaneous artefacts

After lunch, Jeanne Harris returned to the presenters chair to talk about ceramics. Introducing the three basic categories of ceramic artefacts led Jeanne into a discussion on common ceramic types and their decorative techniques. Years of experience in cataloguing, analysing and reporting on artefacts has given Jeanne an extensive knowledge base, which she is only to keen to pass on. This was a great way to end the first day.

The next morning all were keen and ready to start the next session. First up was Robyn Stocks, archaeologist and artefact expert, covering one of her passions, miscellaneous artefacts, also known as small or special finds. These items can give detailed information about the status and behaviours of the people who lost or discarded them. They are often products of technological innovation or individual skill. Over the years of working as a professional archaeologist, Robyn has analysed and reported on artefacts from many sites in and around Sydney. By splitting the artefacts into the main types found: buttons, sewing paraphernalia, beads, pipes, leather shoes and toys, to name a few, she presented an overview of artefact types that are found and the best ways of classifying, cataloguing, analysing and reporting them. To close the session we were given the chance to hold and look at some of the small finds that Casey & Lowe are currently holding in their lab and to look for the distinguishing features Robyn had just discussed.

Some of the participants had travelled a fair distance to attend this workshop, coming from various places including Melbourne and Queensland. Morning tea was a great opportunity to catch up on what is happening in the world of archaeology in and around their neck of the woods.

After the break, Robyn continued with a new presentation on metals. Nails were Robyn’s first topic. These small items are often found on sites, but can also be very frustrating to catalogue. Robyn showed us how to classify nails by looking at different forms of manufacture and their typology. She then moved on to tools, hardware and items related to horses. The excavation by Casey & Lowe at Barangaroo South had revealed many metal artefacts relation to waterfront industries and shipping and these were discussed before Robyn presented her final topic of early building materials. Sydney, Parramatta and the Greater Sydney region used similar ways to produce building materials during the 19th century. However, Robyn revealed their different characteristics to help distinguish between them. We then had the opportunity to look at the collection of sandstock bricks and pavers from brick kilns recently recorded by Casey & Lowe at the former ADI site at St Marys. We also saw some tiles and other building materials from Macquarie Street, part of the early settlement area of Parramatta.

After lunch, this topic was continued with Dr Iain Stuart concluding the workshop with his presentation on a later stage of building materials. Iain has extensive experience working both in Government and private consultancy in NSW and Victoria. Iain got us on our feet and we toured the immediate area looking at different styles of building and the methods and materials used. Iain’s presentation encouraged us to recognise the role of building materials as an important aspect of an archaeological assemblage and their potential to provide information on the nature and the sequence of the building and its construction, as well as the economic and social position of the occupants. He focused on the structural materials such as timber, stone, cement and iron, as well as including nails, bolts and other forms of fastenings.

The workshop was a great success. It was great to see so many archaeologists get together to gain a further understanding of the items that keep us busy on so many different levels. The ASHA Committee hopes that similar workshops can be organised in the future, not only in Sydney but also interstate.

Robyn Stocks (far right) shows participants several artefacts from Barangaroo South

Share this post: