The Commonwealth Block, Melbourne: A Historical Archaeology


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The Commonwealth Block, Melbourne: A Historical Archaeology

For much of the 19th and 20th centuries, Melbourne’s Little Lonsdale Street – locally known as ‘Little Lon’ – was notorious as a foul slum and brothel district, occupied by the itinerant and the criminal. The stereotype of ‘slumdom’ defined ‘Little Lon’ in the minds of Melbournians, and became entrenched in Australian literature and popular culture.

The Commonwealth Block, Melbourne tells a different story. This ground-breaking book reports on almost three decades of excavations conducted on the Commonwealth Block – the area of central Melbourne bordered by Little Lonsdale, Lonsdale, Exhibition and Spring streets. Since the 1980s, archaeologists and historians have pieced together the rich and complex history of this area, revealing a working-class and immigrant community that was much more than just a slum. The Commonwealth Block, Melbourne delves into the complex social, cultural and economic history of this forgotten community.

Each chapter is authored by researchers who were responsible for the management and execution of the excavations and analysis of the Block. The authors outline the history and methodology of each stage of the project, and consider changes in theory and method (and inspiration and aspiration) in response to other studies, and to the changing disciplinary context of urban archaeology. This book makes an important contribution to the archaeology of the modern city.