Category Archives: Student Posts

Posts by students

A handful of archival research, a dash of archaeology, and a pinch of stress.

To me, compiling all the information that I’ve gathered is the hardest part. Where do you start? What information do you add in, and what do you leave out? These are questions that we all ask ourselves at some point.

This report was particularly tough to write, as there was little background information that I could incorporate. With information in several secondary sources, and a handful of old newspaper articles, the report strongly relies on the links and contradictions between the sources.

In order to fit into the word limit of my directed study, I had to focus on certain elements. In particular, I felt that it was important to discuss Angus MacLaine in relation to the house. MacLaine was not only the man who built the house in 1843, but he also quickly became a prominent part of the community.  Establishing Ardtornish School through a government grant, and donating a portion of his own land, MacLaine was viewed as a philanthropist. By discussing his standing in the community, the report enables the reader to see how wealthier people lived in the Modbury area in the 1840s.

In addition, the archaeological assessment was interesting in itself with the appearance of copper strips in the walls.

DSCF1111Copper strips (green lines) evident in the walls of the ground floor or the house.

As seen above, the copper strips are quite evident in the walls. When discussing this with the owner, he suggested that it was an old wive’s tales to do with salt damp prevention. It is an interesting discovery that still has me wondering how many, if any, other houses incorporated this into their building design.

Ardtornish, Dry Creek, or Modbury? Locating Ardtornish Estate’s place in history

Ardtornish Estate was established in the 1840s, and the land and the dwelling was the first to be established in what is now the Modbury area. The area was not originally named Modbury, but Ardtornish, and in the following years the area would be referred to as Ardtornish, Modbury, and even Dry Creek. Each name coexisted until the rapid expansion of people in the 20th century, when the name Modbury became prominent.

It became clear when doing the archival research for this Directed Study project that it was not going to be easy to locate the background history of this site. Not only are there limited sources, but the information from State Records, libraries and relevant websites focus predominantly on Angus and Gillian MacLaine, the first Europeans to buy the land under England’s colony expansion.  Having different names for the  general area also made my task a lot longer, and more tedious than anticipated. However, I did learn one thing: always double check if the name of the suburb has changed over time!

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   Angus MacLaine, courtesy of Ardtornish Primary school. Date unknown.

40,000 years ago, Archaeology says nothing happened at this site.

Reading these other blogs I wish I had some great pictures to show you, or even report that I got some sand between my toes. But alas, my directed studies topic “Archaeology and the development boom: an analysis of professional ethics and standards in Australian archaeology’’ involved less adventurous, but I hope as revealing, telephone interviews.

So interviews done, surprises aplenty, but perhaps some only from my inexperienced point of view. It seems, despite a very small sample (two one-hour interviews with CHM practitioners) that Dr Mick Morrison’s belief that a research project awaits, is well founded.

One surprise would seem to translate across the field of archaeology, even to my untrained ear. CHM has potentially discovered Indigenous artefacts with a date of 40,000 BP, yet the results may never be subjected to academic study or even recording. That would seem to pose a significant problem.

The details: So the entirety of my question to the second anonymous subject, based on criticism in the literature, was: “How often during survey work have you recommended the need for follow up specialist academic investigations (e.g. excavation, dating, detailed lab work, conservation work) and have you encountered resistance to such work from the client: very often, sometimes, rarely, or not at all.”

The answer included (with potentially identifying comments marked with an x):

“I will give you one really good example. We just did some investigations just xxx near xxx and I have some basal dates associated with artefacts at 40,000 years. They only have a TL date and I don’t want to publish it and I don’t want to tell anyone about it because I can’t say positively that I’m happy that the association of the artefact with the age is the real one. Now I can’t get the proponent X … X to actually fork out to do more research. It desperately needs it but I just can’t get him to respond. It is probably one of the most important sites in terms of age in Australia it has got to be the oldest site on the XXXX.

Unless someone has some political will this is going to go on and on and on. And this guy is notorious for taking people to court so we really have to watch what we do. The answer would be in terms of specific research it is rare.”

For now I’ll leave it to far more experienced minds to judge the potential significance.

Miles Kemp

Digital Imaging using “Windows live Photo Gallery’ and ‘Image Concept’ for Rock Art in the Southern Mount Lofty Ranges

In this final blog I would like to share some of the photographic techniques that I found useful in digitally enhancing faint rock art motifs. These can be done on a desktop computer with available software.
The study involved illustration and photography of rock art motifs using colour negative film, digital photography and computer enhancement of faint images. Digital images were enhanced more effectively than colour print images by altering: brightness; contrast; colour balance and saturation. Many of the faint motifs recorded were further enhanced using software to reveal deeper red ochres and outlining that was not visible to the unaided eye.
This is illustrated in the central anthropomorphic ‘reptile-like’ figures at Pym’s Road shelter (see Figures 1, 2). Other faint images in a granite shelter near Palmer show connected anthropomorphic figures that also responded well to this technique (see Figures 3, 4). The digital photo imagery show features in natural daylight and computer colour enhancement of the same motifs. This method can also be used on scratched figures that overlie paintings to show the contrast between the two and the rock patina.
The steps to achieve this on Windows 7 are: Open a daylight digital photograph (preferable taken on an overcast day) in ‘Windows Live Photo Gallery’; adjust exposure (top tool bar on right hand side); click on ‘adjust colour’, displayed will be: Colour Temperature, Tint and Colour Saturation. Hold the mouse over the horizontal adjustment bar and manually drag to the right or left. I usually drag the colour temperature to the right a little, and then the saturation bar almost all the way to the right. You can edit the controls to give a brighter or dimmer view. Then make a copy to save in a safe location.
The comparison between the unaltered and enhanced image will give you a greater depth of ochre colours. The background surface will appear green to blue which contrasts the orange-red motifs at the other end of the colour spectrum.
Another method is to use image enhancing software that can be downloaded for a free trial, such as “Imaging Concept.” This software was developed at Charles Sturt University for medical imaging. It is possible to enhance imagery of Aboriginal rock art with this program by manipulating colour histograms via a look up table (i.e. numbers of pixels in specific colours) it makes it easier for the unaided eye to observe (Faith Coleman pers.comm. 2013).

Figure 1

Figure 1. Faint red ochre figures photographed in daylight at Pym’s Road Shelter.

Figure 2

Figure 2. Same image as above but edited with Windows Live Photo Gallery.

Figure 3

Figure 3. Faint red ochre motifs photographed in daylight in a shelter at Palmer.

Figure 4

Figure 4. Same image as above but edited with Windows Live Photo Gallery.

Ardtornish Estate, the Hidden Gem of the Florey Electorate

Like many other students on this blog, this semester I am undertaking a directed study. The idea of undertaking a project with minimal supervision was daunting! Not knowing what I was getting myself into, I headed to meet Lea Crosby, a prominent member of the Florey district chambers, and a well-known person in the district.

Upon meeting Lea, my fears towards the project subsided, and reality kicked in. I was soon in  research mode, and handed six different historical sites with folders full of information. However, one stood out more than the rest, Ardtornish Estate. To Lea and her colleagues, this place is a mystery. Found through a colleague attending an open house inspection at 9 Quintal Avenue, Modbury (it could be yours for $690,000 – $720,000!), it is only by chance that the Ardtornish Estate is known to them.

The front facing of Ardtornish Estate, Modbury. South Australia (2013). Photo courtesy of Century 21, Modbury.

Upon initial investigation, this grand house is a prominent feature in the Modbury district. In fact, this particular house is one of the first, and largest, estates to be established in the area. Built in 1843, the homestead was built on approximately 80 acres by Angus MacLaine and used as a cattle farm.

You may at this point be thinking, Ardtornish estate? Isn’t that in Scotland? How did it get that name? The answers to these questions, and the people involved will all be revealed in blog #2. Stay tuned!

Tristan Grainger