Author Archives: mickmorrison

Welcome to the new Flinders Archaeology Blog!

Welcome everyone!

Many of you will be aware that for the past few years the Flinders University Archaeology Department has maintained a small blog. Late last year, we decided to move it to a new home here at  Although we’ve imported all of our old content, we’ve significantly changed the look and feel of the blog and it will be operated a little differently. In this post, we want to outline the purpose of the new site, highlight some of its key features and take some time to encourage you all to to think about how you might be able to contribute.

We have developed this site as an information hub for existing and potential students, community members, industry partners and others who have an interest in our activities. We hope that it will be of particular value to existing students who want to build their own online portfolio of work and for distance students who want to become more involved in the archaeology community at Flinders. Industry and community partners are also very important to us and so we hope that the new blog will allow you to find out more about our activities and to promote the projects and opportunities that you or  your organisation is involved in.

Your feedback and input is also very important to us. Commenting is entirely open and we welcome ideas or suggestions about particular articles or the site in general. You can contact us directly through our contact form, or you can share you thoughts and provide feedback using our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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Blog progress

This is a new site that replaces the former blog of the Flinders University Department of Archaeology. We’ve imported all of the old content and are in the process of checking for errors and building the new site. There are many things to fix….but we are working on it!

We hope to have a formal launch within a few weeks.

Geochemical characterisation of Aboriginal Australian ochre

The presenter in the Department of Archaeology’s regular seminar series yesterday was Dr Rachel Popelka-Filcoff, whose research at Flinders is funded by an AINSE fellowship.   The abstract of her fascinating talk is below.

Geochemical Elemental Characterization of Aboriginal Australian Ochre for Determination of Archaeological Use and Exchange

Although some of the Aboriginal Australian cultural implications of ochre are known, very little is understood about the procurement and trade of the mineral pigment in the archaeological record.  Given the prominence of ochre in the landscape and in Aboriginal Australian artifacts and artworks, the fundamental chemistry, mineralogy and physical characteristics of ochre must be fully understood in order to yield significant archaeological and ethnographic conclusions about its role in pre-historic technology and trade. The key to identifying geochemical variations between samples lies not in their mainstream bulk characterization, but rather in their trace element composition. Instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA), along with multivariate statistical analysis, provides the ideal method for this complex archaeological material. This presentation describes the establishment of a geochemical ‘fingerprinting’ method by comparator NAA that can be used to identify the geographical and geological origin of Australian ochre minerals, potentially including those present on Aboriginal artifacts and objects.  Data from NAA from both the University of Missouri Research Reactor (MURR) and k0-NAA from the OPAL facility, ANSTO will be used to construct a comprehensive elemental, mineralogical and spectroscopic database for the known major and minor ochre source sites, along with ethnographic and archaeological data. In addition, future studies include analyses by PIXE (particle induced X-ray emission) at ANSTO.  This combined database will provide a foundation for archaeological inquiries including geochemical analysis for elucidating trade routes and technical aspects of ancient and contemporary pigment treatment and uses. 

Wilgie Mia ochre mine in WA (image courtesy of John Robinson)

Making Heritage Brochures

Brochures are one of the main means by which the MHRC promotes Mitcham’s heritage, and they currently have over 40 available from the centre and online. These brochures cover many aspects of the area’s history – from suburbs and wards, prominent people and buildings, to cemeteries and reserves within Mitcham – and are usually presented as chronologies or timelines.

My first individual project at the Centre was to create two new brochures suitable for the public – one for the photographic collection and the other for a tiled table top tour. Already there existed four brochures regarding the photographs, one for each of the four major donors to the collection, but Maggy’s brief was to make an overarching brochure which would encompass the collection as a whole. There were no existing brochures regarding the tiled tables, and Maggy’s brief was that I make a ‘tour’ brochure that people could use to visit the 6 tables.

I used the local history collection to research my two topics, to gather information and images. I had decided early on that I didn’t want my brochures to be just another two chronologies to add to the collection – I wanted them to be interesting, original and useful. I wanted to make them more engaging to the public with a fresh layout, easy to understand, relevant and informative text, associated photographs, a map for the tour and an order form for the photos. I was also aware, particularly with the photographic collection, of not repeating information that could already be found in other brochures.

After several edits, the brochures were debuted to the public at the Princes Rd centre opening in November 2009, and are now available from the Centre and online. A new table top is being unveiled for History Week 2010 (see Mitcham website for details) and my table top tour brochure will be peddled at that event to encourage people to visit the other sites around Mitcham.

for your own copy, click on the links below