Awards

The ASHA Awards program aims to promote excellence in historical archaeology in Australasia by recognising best practice in the heritage management of historical archaeology; promoting the communication of archaeological results to the public; and rewarding outstanding research by students.

Awards for 2022 are:

  • R. Ian Jack Award for Best Honours Thesis (annual)
  • Judy Birmingham Award for Best Historical Archaeology Heritage Report (annual)
  • Martin Davies Award for Best Public Archaeology Initiative (annual)

Other awards given over longer time periods are:

  • Maureen Byrne Award for Best Postgraduate Thesis (bi-annual)
  • Graham Connah Award for Best Publication (5-yearly)
  • Ilma Powell Honorary Award for Distinguished Service (occasional)

In 2021-22 the awards were realigned to coincide with National Archaeology Week. The prize winners were announced during National Archaeology Week on 18 May 2022.

2022 ASHA Award Winners

R. Ian Jack Award for Best Honours Thesis

Winner

Cora Wolswinkel (La Trobe University) for A Survey of the Soda Water Industry in Regional Victoria 1841 – 1862

The winning thesis is an engagingly written piece of work that provides a detailed artefact study of a particular class of objects and makes a valuable contribution to historical archaeology in Victoria, especially in reference to the gold-rush era. Its research could be extended more widely—ideally to the entire country—and it exemplifies the kind of historical archaeological analysis that ties archaeological materials to wider historical trends and events.

Highly commended

Ayesha Limb (University of Western Australia) for The Ruins of Reconnaissance: The Archaeological Investigation of Niiwalarra’s World War Two Occupation

This work breaks fresh ground in examining – and successfully interpreting – hitherto neglected outposts of considerable strategic importance to Australia during WWII. By marshalling multiple strands of research— archaeology, historical, fieldwork and lab analysis—this thesis ably identifies probable site uses and something of the range of activities that took place on Niiwalarra island, WA, both challenging and extending what was already known from historical sources.

Judy Birmingham Award for Best Historical Archaeology Heritage Report

Winner

Casey & Lowe Archaeology & Heritage

Client: Parramatta City Council and Walker Corporation

Title: 3 Parramatta Square, Parramatta. Formerly 153 Macquarie Street, Archaeological Investigation report

This report is exemplary in its integration of multiple lines of evidence to reveal aspects of Parramatta’s history from Aboriginal occupation through the early convict period to the end of the nineteenth century. The authors draw on extensive documentary research and the results of archaeological investigation and incorporate the results of new technologies in remote sensing and 3-D imaging. They present a detailed historical and archaeological overview of the development of Parramatta and effectively place the site within its broader historical and archaeological context.

Highly commended

Extent Heritage

Client: Property Development Group Pty Ltd

Title: 97–141 and 143–153 Therry Street, Melbourne: Historical Archaeological Excavation Report

The report is innovative in its approach to urban archaeology in Melbourne and in the presentation of new data about Melbourne’s hydrology and early colonial settlement. The project is significant in its use of environmental reconstruction and in responding to the archaeology of the site in a way that allows interpretation to extend and go beyond the initial research questions.

Martin Davies Award for Best Public Archaeology Initiative

Winner

Extent Heritage for Rockbank Inn Open Day, Woodlea Estate, Melbourne, Mini Museum

The Extent Heritage Mini Museum is a portable interpretation facility designed to improve public engagement with archaeology. The facility consists of a modified shipping container with viewing windows, display cases, interpretation panels and LED screens. The museum is environmentally sustainable, relocatable, reusable, cost effective, secure, safe and adaptable. It offers an innovative and highly functional way for the public to visit sites and learn about the archaeological process.

General judges remarks

Judges remarked on the generally high standard of the nominations for all the awards.

Also thankyou to all the judges on the three judging panels. Without your hard work and commitment to being part of this Awards program we could not make the awards the success that they are.


For more information see Rules and Guidelines and Instructions for Entry or contact the ASHA Awards Co-ordinator on [email protected].

About the awards

R. Ian Jack Award for Best Honours Thesis

This award will be made to the best thesis completed by an Honours student, MA Preliminary student, Graduate Diploma student, or Coursework Masters student in a university in Australia or New Zealand.

In 2022, the winner received a cash prize of $500 and paid membership of ASHA.

About Ian Jack

By training and practice a historian, Ian was also an early ASHA member. He was one of the first practitioners of industrial archaeology in Australia, and with Judy Birmingham and Denis Jeans published two important texts on colonial technology, Australian Pioneer Technology (1979) and Industrial Archaeology in Australia (1983). In his position of Dean of Arts at the University of Sydney in the early 1970s Ian played a further key role in the development of the field by facilitating the introduction of the first undergraduate subject in the area, which was coordinated by Judy Birmingham and to which Ian also contributed. Ian continued to research and publish in many aspects of Australia’s industrial heritage, including work on the iron industry (Australia’s Age of Iron, written with Aedeen Cremin) among others. Ian passed away 2019.

R Ian Jack

Maureen Byrne Award for Best Postgraduate Thesis

Archaeologist Maureen Byrne at Port Arthur in January 1977 getting an aerial view of the site as the trenches were being set out.
Maureen Byrne at Port Arthur in 1977, courtesy of Richard Morrison

This award will be made for the best thesis completed by an MA or PhD student in a university in Australia or New Zealand.

About Maureen Byrne

In 1976 Maureen Byrne was the first doctoral student in Historical Archaeology at the University of Sydney. Two years before, she had been among the undergraduates taking the first classes in Historical Archaeology and in the following three years she took a precocious role in excavations at Irrawang, Sydney Old Burial Ground, Hill End, Addington in Ryde, and a well in Rozelle. In Tasmania she directed the archaeological work at Ross Bridge (publishing a admirable book), completed an excavation report on the Coal Mines Station on Tasman Peninsula, and threw herself into her doctoral work at Port Arthur. Her excavation of the first Prisoners’ Barracks at Port Arthur with a large team, mainly from the University of Sydney, had a very successful first season early in 1977, but she died at the age of twenty-four in November that year after a severe asthma attack.

Judy Birmingham Award for Best Historical Archaeology Consulting Report

Judy Birmingham in the lab at Menites, Andros during the 1969 season at Zagora.

This award will be made for the best report on a historical archaeology project carried out as a consultancy in Australia or New Zealand.

In 2022, the successful award winner receives a certificate and publicity on the ASHA website and social media platforms. In addition, the winner will be provided with an ASHA badge suitable for inclusion on their company website.

About Judy Birmingham

Judy came to the University of Sydney in 1961 to teach Near Eastern archaeology, but by the end of the decade had begun laying the foundations for the field of historical archaeology in Australia through her work on sites such as Irrawang and Wybalenna. In 1974 she introduced an undergraduate subject in historical archaeology, with the help of Ian Jack and Dennis Jeans, and began the first formal training of students in this area. At the same time, she was working to establish heritage legislation in NSW and participating in the federal government’s Hope Enquiry which led to the establishment of the National Estate. Judy has been steadfast in her support of ASHA, first as secretary in the 1970s and then as president, committee member, and editor of Australasian Historical Archaeology. Under her leadership the society expanded from a small Sydney nucleus to include members all over Australia and New Zealand, and her intellectual leadership in developing a theoretical basis for the field has been invaluable.

Martin Davies Award for Best Public Archaeology Initiative

This award will be made for the best project presenting historical archaeology to the general public in Australia or New Zealand.

In 2022, the successful award winner receives a certificate and publicity on the ASHA website and social media platforms. In addition, the winner will be provided with an ASHA badge suitable for inclusion on their company website.

About Martin Davies

Martin was among the first undergraduates to study historical archaeology at the University of Sydney in the 1970s. He worked on the archaeological investigations of Norfolk Island and Fort Scratchley before becoming part of Brian Egloff’s pioneering conservation team at Port Arthur in 1983. His work there was influential far beyond the significance of that site, as he instituted the field schools that helped train the next generation of historical archaeologists around the country, and, with Krystal Buckley, wrote the Port Arthur Procedures Handbook, which is still a benchmark for historical archaeologists in Australia. Martin then moved to Parks and Wildlife Tasmania where he was influential in the conservation and interpretation of sites such as Highfield House, Eaglehawk Neck Military Barracks and Maria Island. Martin was on secondment from Parks when he was killed in a fall in Antarctica in 1995 at the age of 37.

Martin Davies looking to the left through a 'dumpy' level, in 1982, courtesy of Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority.
Martin Davies in 1982, courtesy of Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority

Graham Connah Award for Best Publication

Graham Connah at Lake Innes, photograph by Rob Tickle

This award will be made for the best book or e-book on historical archaeology in Australia or New Zealand.

About Graham Connah

Originally (and still) an Africanist, Graham turned his attention to historical archaeology when he came to the University of New England in the early 1970s and wanted to provide students with more diverse field experience. He trained many students over the years at sites such as Saumarez Station, Winterbourne, Bagot’s Mill, and Regentville, and has had a long-standing involvement with ASHA as committee member, president, and perhaps most significantly, founding editor of what became Australasian Historical Archaeology. A passionate advocate of the importance of publishing results, Graham has not only provided the means for others to do so, but has published diligently himself. His 1988 book The Archaeology of Australia’s History was the first substantial overview of the field. He retired from UNE in 1995 but continues to take an active role in Australian and African archaeology, most recently publishing a book on his work at Lake Innes, NSW.

Ilma Powell Honorary Life Membership Award for Distinguished Service

This award is made to ASHA members who have provided distinguished service to the Society and the field of historical archaeology in Australia and New Zealand. It is awarded by the Committee.

About Ilma Powell

Ilma’ special talents were closely involved when ASHA was founded in 1970-1971: thereafter she was a slave-driving member of the ASHA committee for twenty five years. In turn Hon Secretary and Hon Treasurer her work was key to keeping the Society financial, and maintaining its correspondence and administration. Similarly her pivotal role as admin assistant in Historical Archaeology to Judy Birmingham from 1970 to 1996 at Sydney University was critical during those heavy years of double teaching and research. Ilma maintained the HA paperwork, berated accounts departments, logged student assignments, excursions and records, and welcomed students and ASHA members alike as ‘her darlings’. Who of us will ever forget her warm-hearted enthusiasm for ASHA and HA, along with her successful orders, repeated over twenty five years, to ‘bring back the receipts’!