The World Heritage-listed Port Arthur penitentiary is one of Australia’s most visited historical sites, attracting over 400,000 visitors each year. Designed to incarcerate 480 men, between 1856 and 1877 thousands of convicts passed through it.
In 2013, archaeologists began one of the largest ever excavations of an Australian convict site. Recovering Convict Lives: A Historical Archaeology of the Port Arthur Penitentiary makes their findings available to general readers for the first time. Extensively illustrated, it is a fascinating journey into the inner workings of the penal system and the day-to-day lives of Port Arthur convicts.
Through the things they left behind – the sandstone base of a prison wall, a clay pipe discarded in a washroom, gambling tokens dropped between floorboards – this book tells their stories.