As part of my directed study, I will be working with the Flinders University Archaeology Department to examine the historic artefact collection PHR02, which has been kept in the archaeology lab for the past eight years.
For the past few years this collection has been regarded a complete mystery. No documents accompanied the box of artefacts and there was no information available in recent archaeology department records. Staff members could not remember what PHR02 meant, where it was from or who excavated the site. My task is to discover where this box of artefacts came from, who excavated it, catalogue and photograph the collection and assess whether this box is significant enough to be kept at Flinders, or if it should be deaccessioned in order to free up some space.
My first task was daunting. Where do I start? How do I find out where this box came from? I started with the obvious, staff, past students, archaeology records such as the photographic database, the collection log, equipment loan log. This led nowhere! At the same time I started sorting the collection, relabelling each individual artefact and recording diagnostic features as I went. The only information I was able to draw out of the artefacts was that they were excavated in 2002. My first break came when a past student put me into contact with the tech officer that was at Flinders in 2002. I contacted him and he gave me the information I needed.
PHR02 Stands for Polish Hill River 2002. This area was the subject of Katrina Stankowski’s 2003 Masters Thesis. Polish Hill River was a rural Polish community which settled in South Australia in the mid 1850s. Stankowski’s (2003) study aimed to assess whether a minority European culture living in Anglo-Saxon Colonial South Australia could be distinguished by the material remains. If so, what types of material remains could be used to determine Polish ethnicity?
I’m really excited to be assessing an artefact collection. I am a bit stressed about writing the report, but as long as I stay on top of things, I should be fine. Good luck to all the DS students this semester!