Category Archives: Department Announcements

Announcements by the Department of Archaeology

Honours theses 2010 – the big day!

John Hayward:  the crowning moment.

On Monday 25th October, Heidi Pitman and John Hayward had the usual run of printing problems, lack of sleep and stress to get their honours theses to the department on time.  John’s thesis was an analysis of the concept of the “toolkit” in Australian lithics, using collections in the South Australian Museum, while Heidi investigated the use of spinifex resin through ethnography and museum collections.  Congratulations to both of them!  Expect to see their abstracts in Australian Archaeology soon, and when examination is complete, the theses will be available on the Flinders University Department of Archaeology website.

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ARCH8307 “Introductory Archaeological Geophysics” 2010



Thank you to all of my intrepid students who finish up their ARCH8307 “Introductory Archaeological Geophysics” topic this afternoon by presenting the data they have collected from the historic Meadows Wesleyan cemetery in the Adelaide Hills. The students, split in two groups entitled “The A Team” and “The Sextons”, collected, processed and interpreted ground penetrating radar, electromagnetic induction and magnetometer data to try to locate the foundations of the former church and some of the more than 50 unmarked burials know the exist within this cemetery. Students also were fortunate to be able to assist Flinders PhD candidate Martin Wimmer by searching for an air raid shelter in Souter Park, Goodwood. The investigations are still a bit inconclusive, but our preliminary interpretation is that a feature did exist on this site however any material used for it’s construction has now been removed.

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A day at the museum: ARCH8517 visit the South Australian Museum’s lithic stores

Dr Keryn Walshe explains a tool to Jon, Veronica, Matthew and Adi

On August 24th, the ARCH8517 class visited the South Australian Museum’s storage facility in Hindmarsh.  We looked at Gallus’ lithic collections from Koonalda Cave; and a box of material shipped by Norman Tindale from the US when he returned.  Dr Keryn Walshe explained different aspects of the collections, and showed the class a range of classic tool types.  Then, working in pairs, students looked at small collections donated to the museum by various people known and unknown.  Using both geological and typological reference collections, and the sparse and sometimes curious information that accompanied the artefacts, they had to identify the raw materials, technology and typology.

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Cultural Heritage and the Law masterclass – 27th August 2010

This master class was conducted by Andrew Collett. Andrew is a highly respected Adelaide lawyer with extensive experience in the areas of Aboriginal heritage, native title, administrative, personal injuries and industrial law. In his early career he worked as a solicitor and barrister for the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement and was retained as junior counsel to act for all Aboriginal interests before the Royal Commission into British Nuclear Tests in Australia. He was subsequently retained as counsel by the traditional owners of the Maralinga Lands.

Andrew has also been retained as counsel for Aboriginal people and organisations in the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, the Hindmarsh Island Bridge Royal Commission, Children in State Care Inquiry, various native title claims (including in the Federal Court proceedings for the De Rose Hill Native Title Claim) and in the first South Australian “stolen children” action. In 2007 Andrew was also the Assistant Commissioner in the Children on APY Lands Inquiry. During his career Andrew has held a number of significant roles including: Chairperson of the South Australian campaign against racial exploitation and as a member of the Law Society of South Australia’s human rights and Aboriginal issues committees.

In this master class Andrew shared his expertise and teaching students about:

How to locate heritage and related legislation;
How to read and understand various pieces of heritage legislation from around the country and how they differ;
How to understand how other legislation interacts with heritage legislation (e.g., environmental and native title legislation);
Various case studies that demonstrate the importance of working within relevant heritage legislation; and
How heritage professionals may interact with the courts in their careers and issues relating to expert witness issues.

Andrew Collett (fifth from right) with staff and students at the master class

Flinders Archaeology Photographic Scale Competition

Snap Snap Snap!

Heading away on an archaeological field school?
Volunteering on an archaeological dig?
Taking a few artefact shots in the lab?
Then…….
Flinders University
Archaeology Department
Photographic Scale Competition
is for you!
Taken a great archaeological shot?
With a Flinders departmental photographic scale?
Then enter to win a heap of great prizes –
$50.00, a Ted’s camera voucher
and a SUHR designer tee!
Closing date 20th October 2010
Don’t have a Flinders departmental scale?
Grab one from the Archaeology Technical Officers (SSS143)

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)



The Archaeology of Australian Stone Artefacts – knapping session

In the opening class of ARCH8517 The Archaeology of Australian Stone Artefacts, we were fortunate enough to have Eirik Thorsgaard, from the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde in Oregon, and a PhD student at Flinders, demonstrate the principles of knapping.  Everyone stood around (in goggles of course!), spellbound as Eirik reduced cores into bifaces and other retouched artefact types.

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