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ASHA NEWS



Compiled by Angela Middleton and Bronwyn Woff

Excavations undertaken as part of the new Auckland City Rail Link have uncovered some interesting artefacts from the rear of the Auckland Chief Post Office building. The excavations will continue as more of the City Rail Link is constructed. For more information, please see the following link:  http://ourauckland.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/articles/news/2017/06/interesting-historical-artefacts-dug-up-in-crl-excavations/




Compiled by Bronwyn Woff

The Hyde Parks Barracks website has recently been rediscovered, and has been suggested as a "blast from the past" for the blog. The website includes various images of excavations from the 1980's, which you can check out here:https://sydneylivingmuseums.com.au/stories/archaeology-action-hyde-park-barracks

An excerpt from the page states:

In 1979 a major restoration of Hyde Park Barracks was begun, and by September 1980 the Barracks became the subject of the first publicly-funded archaeological excavation in New South Wales. Test trenches were opened by archaeologist Wendy Thorp, and then for 14 weeks throughout 1981 the site was under excavation by a team of 11 archaeologists, a conservator, a photographer and 250 volunteers, led by archaeologist Patricia Burritt.

...

During these excavations archaeologists discovered over 120,000 artefacts around the site, including over 80,000 recovered from beneath the floors of the upper levels of the dormitory building, where objects had been trapped for up to 160 years. An estimated 80 per cent were left behind by women of the Female Immigration Depot, the Hyde Park Asylum for aged and destitute women and courts and government offices, and the remaining 20 per cent survived the installation of new ceilings in 1848, and date from the convict period.



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




Richard Brassey, Auckland Council

A World War II aircraft crash site at Whenuapai west of Auckland was investigated in April-May by a team lead by Simon Bickler in conjunction with Auckland Council. A USAAF B17E flying fortress (‘Texas Tornado’) which had been on a secret mission to New Zealand crashed and exploded shortly after take-off for Laverton on 9 June 1942, with eleven fatalities. The property on which the crash occurred is likely to be developed in the near future. The aim of the project was to undertake a controlled excavation of a large infilled 500 lb bomb crater at the site in a way that would allow recovery of any human remains, personal items, unexploded ordnance and definitive crash relics. The finds recovered from the crash site have yet to be fully examined, but a number of items recovered will be repatriated to the US Defence Department’s Missing in Action unit.

Photo: Bomb crater prior to excavation - Richard Brassey

GML Heritage

At the recent NSW National Trust Heritage awards, GML Heritage won the award for Interpretation for their Hill End Historic Site project.

Hill End Historic Site is a former gold mining town in the central west of New South Wales. The National Parks and Wildlife Service commissioned GML, with Trigger and Simon MacArthur Associates to prepare an interpretation plan to increase visitor ‘access’ to the stories, sensory qualities and character of the site.

The interpretation plan focused on revitalisation and reimagining the presentation of Hill End. It not only defined themes and heritage values, but also addressed the wider business revitalisation of the site in a holistic way, identifying revenue generation, combined with visitor and marketing opportunities to assist conservation of the place and its collections.

Innovative tourism opportunities were identified with the aim of strengthening and diversifying the visitor experience, increasing sustainability and supporting local businesses and new social entrepreneurs. The project team generated a range of engaging options and interpretive programs to address the different needs and interests of visitors. A key aim was to create an authentic visitor experience that fostered creative enterprise to engage with artisans, crafts people and other businesses that aligned with the character and identity of Hill End.

Clarifying the site’s carrying capacity and identifying ways to improve on-site visitor management, GML also market-tested interpretive initiatives and prepared costings to ensure value for money, reduce risk and maximise successful implementation.

For more information, please see the following links:
https://www.nationaltrust.org.au/education-and-interpretation-alchemy-hill-end/
http://www.gml.com.au/gml-wins-at-2017-nsw-national-trust-heritage-awards/

Compiled by Bronwyn Woff

Excavations continue at various sites across Parramatta, as part of UrbanGrowth NSW’s Parramatta North Urban Transformation Program. The program aims to conserve and better understand the area's heritage and will continue late into 2017. Sites include Aboriginal settlement areas, the Parramatta Female Factory and the Roman Catholic Orphan School. Excavations have so far uncovered knapping sites, children's toys, clerical items and a clay tobacco pipe dated from between 1847-1870.

For more information, please see the following article at:

http://www.urbangrowth.nsw.gov.au/newsroom/archaeological-digs-uncover-fascinating-finds-at-parramatta-north/             



 






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.

 





Compiled by Bronwyn Woff

A possible nineteeth century military trench has been discovered during road work excavations at Tauranga, NZ. The trench and the musket balls found within it may be related to other known battle sites in the area, which date between the 1830s and 1860s.

For more information, please see: www.radionz.co.nz



Dr David Roe (Archaeology Manager) and Richard Tuffin (Project Archaeologist) PAHSMA

Last year was a big year for archaeology at the Port Arthur Historic Site. Over a seven month period, we managed to excavate the full extent of the area at the rear of the Penitentiary. Converted between 1854-56 from an 1840s flour mill and granary, the Penitentiary we see today only represents one small part of the former precinct. Once fronted by a parade ground and flanked by workshops and commissariat stores, the building had been situated within a busy precinct where facilities of incarceration, punishment and welfare operated beside industrial and administrative infrastructure.

The 2016 archaeological excavation focussed on the service-related aspects of the precinct: the ablutions and laundry facilities, exercise yards, shelters and stores which were vital to the operation of the larger building. As such, the investigation provided an opportunity to examine the management of convict welfare and, in particular, how this evolved across the life of the Penitentiary. The ablutions yard was excavated during January–May 2016, with the laundry area investigated during November–December.

See image above: Orthophotograph of the full area of excavation, showing deposits and features related to the first phase of occupation (ca.1856-ca.1863)

The archaeological investigations were necessary from a conservation, research and interpretation standpoint. With conservation works ongoing within the Penitentiary precinct since 2011, a decision was taken to use open-area research excavation, instead of undertaking mitigation excavations in reaction to the works. The archaeological results would also feed into interpretation of the precinct. From a research point of view, there was high value in examining an area for which limited information on changes in historical fabric and use existed. The investigations also provided a rare opportunity to engage with the management, welfare and lived experiences of a convict population. This was particularly interesting, as the population under investigation, which after transportation’s cessation in 1854 was an ageing mix of colonially and Imperially-convicted prisoners, has rarely been archaeologically studied.

The excavations revealed a multi-phase site, with features and deposits dating to the Penitentiary period and from earlier phases when the site was occupied by the 1830s waterfront workshops and the 1840s flour mill and granary. The dominant phase represented was related to the Penitentiary, indicative of the disruptive major works associated with the conversion of the precinct from industrial to incarcerative purposes.

In the ablutions area, which accounted for about 2/3 of the area investigated, the first phase configuration had seen exercise yards flanking a centrally-located ablutions block. Surfaced with hardwearing brick and dolerite gravels spread over tons of imported clay, the yards had been fitted with shelters, bench seating and fireplaces. Providing a modicum of protection from the elements, the yards afforded a controllable space where prisoners interacted. In contrast, the ablutions block was a cramped space in which upwards of 480 convicts were expected to carry out basic toiletry requirements morning and evening. It was likely the patently unsuitable conditions in the block that triggered a remodelling of the whole ablutions yard. At some point in the early 1860s, the toilet and washing spaces were removed to the flanking yards, resulting in the demolition of the former compounds and the construction of new shelter sheds in the spaces. The central block was converted to a day room fitted with benches and fireplaces.

Whilst undergoing less of a change, the laundry area, adjoining the western edge of the ablutions yard, similarly went through two major phases of activity. The building originally contained the laundry proper, stores, a bathhouse and washing area, as well as a wood store. When the conversions happened in the 1860s, the building was extended eastwards into the ablutions yard, with a large brick foundation constructed to accommodate a hot water boiler and its associated chimney stack. This boiler provided water to the bakehouse, laundry and washing facilities in the ablutions yard.

The excavation within the laundry area removed all deposits associated with the Penitentiary period. In the ablutions area they were removed down to the first phase of activity, with slots and trenches then excavated to sample the pre-Penitentiary deposits and features underneath. This found that, whilst some evidence of the earlier workshops and flour mill phases remained, the Penitentiary conversion had resulted in the wholesale demolition and removal of any upstanding fabric. What remained were demolition materials and surfaces, and reclamation deposits associated with preparing the area.

Image: Orthophotograph of the full area of excavation, showing deposits and features related to the second phase of occupation (ca.1863-ca.1877)

A large number of artefacts were recovered from the ablutions area, particularly from the surfaces of the exercise yards and within the central ablutions block/day room (which had had raised timber floors); the position of all diagnostic artefacts was recorded in 3D. In total, the excavation recovered some 1,800 spot finds, including a surprising number of lead and ceramic tokens or gaming pieces. Relatively few artefacts were recovered from the laundry area, likely because a number of rooms had been surfaced with sandstone flagging which would have been regularly swept, but also because the rooms had suffered marked disturbance when the building was salvaged in the post-convict period.

Image: One of the lead tokens in situ. Note the broad arrow!

Reporting to acquit statutory commitments is currently being undertaken, with further publication of key results to come. A number of papers have already been presented on the early results, including the 3D photogrammetry models which were generated throughout the course of the project. These can be viewed at:

www.portarthur.org.au/penitentiary-excavation-wraps-preliminary-findings.

Image: Screenshot of one of the 3D photogrammetry models generated during the excavation

We are excited to see what further analysis of the artefacts can tell us; we are particularly interested in their spatial distribution in relation to each other and to the spaces within which they were found. Further historical research also needs to take place, targeting the conduct records to extract information about behaviour and surveillance patterns within the yards.

The area itself will not be going back to the grassed area that it once was. Rather, our interpretation team will be introducing new hard-wearing surfaces and features to interpret the historical use and form of the area.

As always, the excavation would not have been possible without the dedicated band of archaeologists. David Roe and Richard Tuffin would like to thank: for the Penitentiary Ablutions work – Laura Bates, Lauren Davison, Henry Lion, Ronan McEleney, Fiona Shanahan, Rhian Slicer-Jones, and Zvonka Stanin; for the Penitentiary Laundry work - Laura Bates, Emma Church, Lauren Davison, Josh Gaunt, Adam Pietrzak, Michelle Richards and Sam Thomas. Peter Rigozzi was responsible for the amazing ortho and 3D photogrammetry produced during the excavation.