Historical archaeologists have been awarded three Discovery projects in the recently announced round of ARC-funding. The projects reflect the diversity of historical-archaeological research in the Australasian region, ranging from the archaeological vestiges of the Queensland Native Mounted Police, to the mining landscapes of regional Victoria and the Christian missionaries of Vanuatu. Details of each project are below.
The investment of over $1.73 million over 4 years demonstrates the competitiveness of, and interest in, historical archaeological research on the national stage.
We congratulate the chief investigators, Associate Professor Heather Burke, Associate Professor Susan Lawrence and Dr James Flexner, and all their local and international collaborators, and wish them every success in their research.
Associate Professor Heather Burke, Professor Bryce Barker, Professor Iain Davidson, Dr Lynley Wallis, Dr Noelene Cole, Ms Elizabeth Hatte and Dr Larry Zimmerman
The Flinders University of South Australia
$765,727, 4 years
This project plans to conduct a systematic archaeological study of the Queensland Native Mounted Police. While previous studies have focused on policing activities as revealed by the historical record, this project will combine material, oral and historical evidence from a range of sites across central and northern Queensland to understand more fully the activities, lives and legacies of the Native Police. This project aims to provide an alternative lens through which to understand the nature of frontier conflict, initiate new understandings of the Aboriginal and settler experience, and contribute to global studies of Indigenous responses to colonialism.
Associate Professor Susan Lawrence, Associate Professor Ian Rutherfurd, Dr Ewen Silvester, Dr Darren Baldwin, Professor Mark Macklin, Dr Peter Davies and Ms Jodi Turnbull
La Trobe University
$650,187, 4 years
By considering rivers as cultural artefacts, this project aims to evaluate how historical gold mining has shaped river systems in Victoria. Victoria’s historic mining industry led to extensive and long-lasting change to waterways across the state. The project plans to integrate approaches from landscape archaeology, physical geography, geomorphology and environmental chemistry to identify and map the extent of changes, including increased sedimentation, erosion, and chemical contamination. The project plans to demonstrate how historical mining continues to influence chemical and physical processes in Victorian streams and to develop understanding of the landscapes experienced by Victorians at the height of the mining boom. Project outcomes may provide improved context for catchment and reservoir management and counter prevailing impressions about causes of observed damage to rivers.
Dr James Flexner, Dr Stuart Bedford and Dr Frederique Valentin
The Australian National University
This project aims to conduct an archaeological survey of Vanuatu. One of archaeology’s most significant contributions is providing models for the emergence of cultural diversity through time. Vanuatu is one of the most diverse regions on Earth. The southern islands were an important hub in early settlement and long-term inter-island interactions of Island Melanesia. Yet little is known about the origins of cultural contacts and diversity in the area. A major archaeological survey of the Polynesian outliers Futuna and Aniwa and neighbouring islands Tanna and Aneityum would greatly improve our knowledge of settlement patterns, long-distance exchange, and cross-cultural interaction in the region, from initial Lapita settlement 3000 years ago through to the arrival of Christian missionaries in the 1860s.
The project will include archaeological survey and excavation as well as a survey of 19th and early 20th century museum collections, particularly looking at examples of stone and shell exchange valuables from Futuna, Aniwa, Aneityum, Tanna. These objects may provide evidence about connections to neighbouring island groups, including New Caledonia, Fiji, and possibly Western Polynesia.
Adze Blades from Southern Vanuatu, Geddie/Robertson Collection, Nova Scotia. Museum (Courtesy of J. Flexner)