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ASHA NEWS



Simon Blight

Restoration work is currently being undertaken by the Southern Midlands Council on the 1827 Commissariat building (see above image, provided by Simon Blight), the oldest building in the Oatlands Military precinct. The council purchased the Commissariat and the later Victorian shop & cottage, which both stand on the same block at 79 High Street, Oatlands. Both buildings are currently being restored, a process which aims to retain as much original fabric as possible. Wheere this is not possible a like for like approach is being utilised. The restoration work is being undertaken by the Centre for Heritage, Heritage Education and Skills Centre and the Heritage Re-Generation project participants – a heritage building skills training program for youth 16-24 years of age. Once complete, the shop and cottage building will be returned to the community for their use, and the Commissariat will be used for Heritage Education and Skill Centre training.

The Commissariat was built of sandstone atop a steep slope to house provisions for the military and convicts. Originally a guardhouse stood nearby the Commissariat to house the corporal and privates who guarded to convict chain gang. The guardhouse was demolished in the 1970s.

Archaeologically monitored clearance of the underfloor of the skillion has revealed many interesting discoveries from the topsoil, which has not been disturbed for decades. An area of built up soil from the 1840s timber skillion was removed to allow work on the timber framework and to reveal the footing of the building. The soil was sieved  and revealed numerous ceramic and glass fragments, hand forged nails, clay pipe bowl and stem sections, an 1850s trade token and several clay marbles. A clay pipe bowl and list of items received was also discovered in the roof structure.

A close up of etched lettering on sandstone blacks, image provided by: Simon Blight

Perhaps the most interesting discovery so far has been on the Commissariat building itself. During removal of built up soil, the foundation of a chimney was discovered. Etched letters and numerals were uncovered on the sandstone blocks on the external side wall which have been covered by a later addition lean-to shed. The main etched graffiti is the numeral 40, which appears multiple times along the external wall, along with initials and the year 1829. At this stage the meaning of the marks is unknown; convict marks or a regiment number, perhaps?



Travelling Stories Conference Committee

The ASHA and IA Travelling Stories Conference Committee have released an update on the conference locations. The pre-conference evening reception will be held at The Queen Victoria Museum, Launceston. 
The first day of conference papers will be held at The Tramsheds, Launceston 

The second day of conference papers will be held in Hobart after a day of site visits, and will be split over two locations. The plenary session will be held at The Baha’i Centre, Hobart. The paper session will be held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery , Hobart. The conference dinner will then be held at Brook Street Larder

We are looking forward to seeing attendees at the conference!



ASHA/IA Conference Committee

Early bird registration for the joint ASHA/IA Conference have been extended! The new early bird deadline is 5pm on September 4, so get in quick to take advantage before conference fees rise by $50! Follow this link to register.



ASHA/IA Conference Committee

We are pleased to announce that registrations for the Travelling Stories Conference are now open! Options include registration for the whole conference (October 10th - 13th), or single days, as well as two optional conference-related tours, and the conference dinner.

Full registrations cover:
October 10th: attendance at the opening evening event in Launceston
October 11th: full day conference sessions in Launceston at The Tramsheds
October 12th: day trip by coach from Launceston to Hobart via key places along the Midlands Highway (the World Heritage-listed Brickendon Estate; Ross; and either Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary or Shene Estate)
October 13th: full day conference sessions in Hobart at The Baha’i Centre for Learning (morning and lunch) and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (afternoon)
Morning tea, a light lunch and afternoon tea on October 11th, 12th and 13th

Two optional tours are available:
October 10th, Visit to Oura Oura in the Liffey Valley (numbers limited to 24) - $20.00
October 14th, Port Arthur Seminar, Port Arthur Historic Site (numbers limited to 50) - $50.00

An early bird rate will apply to registrations until August 31st

For full details and to register please follow the link below.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Please read the instructions for registering carefully before booking; it is most important that a new booking is completed for each individual wishing to attend the conference. The instructions can be found on the registration page.

http://portarthur.org.au/activities/travelling-stories/



Conference Committee

ASHA and IA are pleased to announce the sessions for the 2017 joint conference entitled 'Travelling Stories' which will take place in October in Tasmania. We welcome all proposals for papers or presentations but especially those that fit in one of the sessions or with the general theme of the conference. There is currently room in the draft programme for both ASHA and IA to have a ‘general’ session where papers or presentations on any topic might be scheduled. However, please be aware that if new sessions are developed or existing sessions attract large numbers of proposals, these general sessions may be curtailed or dropped.

The list of sessions (which can be found here) is divided into:

  • ‘Joint Sessions’ which will be scheduled as plenaries; there will be no other concurrent sessions
  • ‘ASHA Sessions’ which will have a focus on historical archaeology but which are open to all to present in and attend. These will be concurrent with IA sessions and possibly other ASHA sessions
  • ‘IA Sessions’ which will have a focus on interpretation but which are open to all to present in and attend. These will be concurrent with ASHA sessions and possibly other IA sessions.

For more details about the call for papers/presentations, the sessions, how to submit or other general conference information, please see the following link:

http://portarthur.org.au/activities/travelling-stories/

And remember: early-bird registrations are now open!

To register please click the link below:

http://portarthur.org.au/activities/travelling-stories-registration/



ASHA/IA Conference Committee

We are pleased to announce that registrations for the Travelling Stories Conference are now open! Options include registration for the whole conference (October 10th - 13th), or single days, as well as two optional conference-related tours, and the conference dinner.

Full registrations cover:
October 10th: attendance at the opening evening event in Launceston
October 11th: full day conference sessions in Launceston at The Tramsheds
October 12th: day trip by coach from Launceston to Hobart via key places along the Midlands Highway (the World Heritage-listed Brickendon Estate; Ross; and either Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary or Shene Estate)
October 13th: full day conference sessions in Hobart at The Baha’i Centre for Learning (morning and lunch) and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (afternoon)
Morning tea, a light lunch and afternoon tea on October 11th, 12th and 13th

Two optional tours are available:
October 10th, Visit to Oura Oura in the Liffey Valley (numbers limited to 24) - $20.00
October 14th, Port Arthur Seminar, Port Arthur Historic Site (numbers limited to 50) - $50.00

An early bird rate will apply to registrations until August 31st

For full details and to register please follow the link below.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Please read the instructions for registering carefully before booking; it is most important that a new booking is completed for each individual wishing to attend the conference. The instructions can be found on the registration page.

http://portarthur.org.au/activities/travelling-stories/



Compiled by Bronwyn Woff

A story long believed to be false by researchers in convict history may have been proved true by an amature historian. The English teacher who is based in Japan, along with a volunteer manuscript reading group translated a c1830s description of the arrival of ship Cyprus to the Japanese coast. The crew were a group of convicts who had hijacked the brig as it was on it's way from Hobart to Macquarie Harbour in 1829. Together, they traveled as far as China, with their journey being recorded in later documents from their trail for piracy.

For more information, please see the following link:
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/may/28/australian-convict-pirates-in-japan-evidence-of-1830-voyage-unearthed?platform=hootsuite



ASHA-IA Conference Organising Committee

The joint Australasian Society for Historical Archaeology and Interpretation Australia conference will be taking place between the 10th and 14th of October 2017 and will be a conference with a difference. The theme is “Travelling Stories: connecting people and landscapes”. It will bring people together to explore new ways of telling stories about the important landscapes, places and environments in which we live and work. It will be a travelling conference, moving through venues from Launceston to Hobart via key places along the Midlands Highway including the World Heritage-listed Brickendon; Ross; the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary and the Shene Estate.We anticipate the attendance of people from a broad range of disciplines and professions to explore common ground and approaches.

The conference theme will allow for the development of joint sessions and cross-disciplinary discussions about how data and research become transformed into knowledge and how knowledge can be shared with a wide range of audiences in a constantly changing world, as well as the opportunity for each organisation to develop sessions that relate to its professional interests and concerns. The sessions will be in the format of both formal conference sessions and informal integrated field excursions, and will also include some post-conference field trips.

The focus will be on the telling of new stories, using established and developing technologies for better interpretive outcomes, and in reaching audiences that previously may have seemed either physically remote or challenging to engage. We aim to foster new thinking, profitable collaborations and an atmosphere that encourages challenging the status quo.

Call for sessions

The conference convenors and organisers have already identified some key conference topics and programme spaces where these will be jointly addressed. We are now seeking suggestions from people who wish to propose and organise standalone sessions and/or workshops. These might be organisation-specific but we are open to suggestions that could be of interest to delegates from both organisations.

Session organisers are responsible for recruiting papers; introducing and timing the session; managing questions and concluding the session. Sessions are 100 minutes in duration and are designed to accommodate five papers of 15 minutes with 5 minutes for questions OR 4 papers of 20 minutes duration and a concluding discussion period of 20 minutes OR a workshop.

To facilitate the timely completion of the conference programme we ask that session proposals be submitted to the Organising Committee at: travellingstories2017@portarthur.org.au by Monday 3rd July. For details of what needs to be included, please see the attached flyer.

ASHA-IA Conference 2017 Call for Papers Flyer

ASHA and Interpretation Australia

Travelling Stories: connecting people and landscapes is the first joint conference of Interpretation Australia and the Australasian Society for Historical Archaeology. It aims to bring together people to create a greater understanding for all of the environments in which we live. This will be a conference with a difference, a traveling conference from Launceston to Hobart via key natural and cultural heritage places through Tasmania! The conference will be held between October 10 - 14 2017. A draft program is outlined below:


Tuesday 10 October: Arrive in Launceston – Welcome evening event
Wednesday 11 October: Launceston sessions
Thursday 12 October: Travel day Launceston to Hobart via Midlands
Friday 13 October: Hobart sessions + conference dinner (end of conference)
Saturday 14 October: Optional Hobart site visits or trip to Port Arthur Region

For more information, please see the following links:
ASHA conference page
Interpretation Australia conference page



Dr Richard Tuffin, Project Archaeologist, PAHSMA

In the last round of grants awarded by the Australian Research Council, a multi-disciplinary team of researchers was awarded funds for a three year project examining landscapes of convict labour. Titled Landscapes of Production and Punishment: the Tasman Peninsula 1830-77, the project commences in April of this year and will see archaeologists, historians and demographers from the University of New England, the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority, University of Tasmania and University of Liverpool, use the physical landscape and documentary record to engage with the organisation, processes and outputs of convict labour on a scale never-before seen.

The grant is a recognition that the Australian convict story is concerned as much with labour and production as it is with punishment and reform. The gaols, hiring depots, penal stations and work camps, as well as the domestic residences and places of work to which assignees and passholders were tied, remain today as physical expressions of the otherwise invisible forces which shaped convict labour management. Built and continually developed by prisoner labour, these places held workforces governed by an extraordinary mixture of punishment and production aims. Barracks, wards and separate cells held prisoners in between – and sometimes during – their bouts of work. The flogging yards, solitary cells and stone-breaking yards received the unwilling. Interior and exterior spaces were designated as work sites, where shoes were made, metal wrought, stone quarried and timber harvested. These spaces, as well as the men and women within them, were controlled by the built and regulatory environment which surrounded them. Factors at the global, colonial and local scale acted upon these landscapes, affecting their formation and development, as well as the processes and products of prisoner labour within them.

That landscapes of convict labour were formed and shaped by multi-scale forces should not come as a revelation. Setting the places and spaces we study within their proper social, political and economic contexts is just good historical archaeological practice. Archaeologists and historians have commonly worked in synchrony to examine the bigger questions about our convict past, in particular during the post-1980s debates about the relative merits of qualitative and quantitative data to convey the complexities of convict lived experiences. The two fields have particularly worked well together to recover lost convict life narratives. Recently, however, there has been a notable divergence. Historians have tapped further into the massive potential of the datasets, examining and analysing the life-course data of thousands of convicts to draw new conclusions about the lives of prisoners before, during and after their incarceration. There has not been a similar big picture approach from historical archaeologists, who have retained a focus on individual sites and data types. Often a pragmatic response to the very real limitations of funding and time, it has meant that archaeologists have not been able to help shape the direction of the wider debate.

Focussing on the convict stations and sites of the Tasman Peninsula, this ARC project will illustrate how the physical record can be linked to the ‘big data’ approaches taken by the historians. A foundation of the project will be the archaeological surveys of the Port Arthur hinterland and the area around the former Cascades Probation Station (Koonya). Following the successful application of the technique to better understandings of the Coal Mines and Port Arthur Historic Sites, high definition airborne remote sensing (LiDAR) will map the sites associated with the extraction, transport and refinement of the area’s materials during the convict period: the roads, paths, tramways, building sites, saw pits, working platforms. For the first time we will comprehensively and accurately visualise the labour landscape within which Port Arthur and the Cascades Probation Station were situated. This will add to existing and augmented studies of the production centres of the Coal Mines and the Tasman Peninsula’s other probation stations.

The project will show how we can really only begin to understand the experiences of convicts and gaolers alike through an engagement with both the changing physical realities which defined their lives, as well as the intent of the evolving convict system as defined in the historical record. Mapping landscape change across time will be a core focus of the archaeological process, the change reflective of the multi-scale influences shaping convict labour management. This will require a close and thorough reading of the historical sources, through which the form of these influences are best expressed. This project will draw upon the trove of statistical data and correspondence records, allowing better understanding of how the labour landscape developed, as well as the quantities and movement flows of men and materiel. The close linking of the data to the physical landscape will also provide the opportunity to ground-truth the archive. A key component of this will be the analysis of thousands of convict records – many of them previously unavailable in transcript form. The incidental life narratives embodied within such documentary sources can be used to place the people back in the landscape, helping us understand how the built and regulatory environment shaped and was shaped by their experience, at the same time as moulding labour relations between prisoners and administrators.

In addition to the research outcomes throughout the project’s life, we intend to produce a research roadmap for engaging with places of convict labour, providing a model for similar approaches. It will also feed into the continued interpretation of the Tasman Peninsula, an important consideration as the number of visitors coming to the World Heritage-listed site of Port Arthur are only increasing. Through such interpretive means, we can further an understanding that convict places like Port Arthur sat at the heart of complex systems of production and punishment.

Professor Martin Gibbs, University of New England

Professor Hamish Maxwell-Stewart, University of Tasmania

Associate Professor David Roberts, University of New England

Professor Barry Godfrey, University of Liverpool

Dr David Roe, Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority

Dr Jody Steele, Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority

Dr Richard Tuffin, Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority

Susan Hood, Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority