Tag Archives: Field School

From Ship to Shore to Hawthorn: Flinders University Maritime Archaeology Field School, 2013.

Figure One: Group photo in Port MacDonnell, SA. Photo taken by Nita von Stanke. 16/02/13.

By Daniel Petraccaro, Masters in Maritime Archaeology Student Flinders University.

Introduction

Nothing can compare to the field school experience offered this year to the graduates enrolled in the Flinders University Maritime Archaeology Programme. The Maritime Archaeology field school was based at Port MacDonnell, in South Australia’s Southeast region, and was held from the 3rd to 16th of February. The rigorous two-week program offered students an introduction to techniques from underwater surveying, mapping, and photography to recording (figure 2).

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Figure Two: Students Daniel Petraccaro and Hunter Brendel with Supervisor Gay Lascina start mapping the ketch Hawthorn. Photo by Chelsa Pasch. 06.02.13.

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A Series of Small Walls

A lone dumpy stands on site.

A lone dumpy stands on site.

On the Monday of February 4th, a small group of novice archaeologists packed into a small bus and proceeded to the old lighthouse of Port MacDonnell to begin, for most, our first taste of field archaeology. The 11 archaeologists were divided into two groups of four, and a group of three. Of these, two groups were to commence a baseline/offset survey, and the other group was tasked with conducting a dumpy survey of the sight. I was a part of that dumpy team.

None of us knew what this consisted of.

The dumpy team quickly learnt the difficulty of conducting a dumpy survey on the edge of a cliff, along with a developing hatred of dense vegetation. Oh, and the local fly’s which bit and stung while resisting copious amounts of AeroGuard. The wind constantly barraged the 3 metre ranging pole, making readings difficult to get exact; but no amount of foul play from nature would stop us from producing that map. One particular issue, however, did not come from nature but the irritating lack of straight lines when recording the walls. Baffling us, it became clear after double checking our measurements that perhaps they just weren’t made straight and parallel.

In all, for our first field experience we could not have predicted a tougher way to learn; but this made us strong. At the end of the day, the dumpy team was working in perfect unison to create a rather nice, if a bit unfinished, map showing a cliff, dense vegetation and a series of small walls.

The Lighthouse That Was Hardly There…

On the morning of Sunday the 3rd of February, 11 Flinders archaeology students got onto a mini bus, bright eyed and bushy tailed. After 8 hours on said mini bus, with slightly dimmer eyes and flatter tails, we arrived at Port MacDonnell, where we would be staying for the next week for the historical archaeology field school.

Cataloging artefacts by a remaining wall of the old Port MacDonnell lighthouse

Cataloging artefacts by a remaining wall of the old Port MacDonnell lighthouse

The following day, bushy tailed once more, we headed to the site of the old Port MacDonnell lighthouse. From the bus I could see a picture perfect lighthouse in the distance, the inviting white and red striped building was practically begging for us to explore it. Confusion hit as we drove straight past the red and white wonder.  Continuing down the road we pulled into what appeared to be an empty seaside lookout point. Following a path, I was directed to a sign that told me I was standing at the site of the old lighthouse—there was even a plaque that showed the lighthouse floor plan, but all I saw was shrubbery.

Upon getting off the boardwalk and into the shrubbery, the stone walls left over from the lighthouse came into sight, as well as the masses of glass artefacts that were surrounding them. It became clear very quickly why the lighthouse was rebuilt further inland, as the remaining wall of the lighthouse was hanging off the edge of the cliff.

The lighthouse wall hangs off the edge of the cliff - safety first!

The lighthouse wall hangs off the edge of the cliff – safety first!

After spending three hot days collecting data (with a beautiful view might I add) I definitely learnt at least one thing…

Make sure you put sunscreen on the back of your hands.

Yappala Field School

Hello everyone!

I have been undertaking a practicum with AARD over the past few weeks. This blog will outine the recent field school run by myself and staff at Hawker SA.

The Heritage Conservation Team from the Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Division Aboriginal Heritage Branch has developed site recording and conservation workshops to provide Aboriginal people with the skills to undertake basic site recording and site conservation projects for themselves. The skills and understanding gained in these workshops enables the participants to be better informed about the operations of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 and the need for good site recording. On site training enables them to record, plan and to conserve sites of significance and to negotiate with greater confidence with other stakeholders.

The workshop at Hawker was run over four days and included indoor and outdoor sessions. The indoor sessions included presentations on the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988, stone tool identification, rock art recording, how to find a Grid reference, how to use a GPS and how to identify and record a range of different archaeological sites (scarred trees, knapping sites, burials and rock art) (FIGURE 1).

FIGURE ONE: Induction class at Hawker.  Daniel Petraccaro assisting participants Ernestine Coulthard, Christina Coulthard and Karl McKenzie with map reading.

During the outdoor sessions, participants worked in groups and practiced site recording of an archaeological site at Hookina Spring (FIGURE 2 and 3). All participants were encouraged to use the GPS, to draw site mud maps and also filled out an archaeological site card, which included the site contents and site condition. We all then discussed the processes for recording cultural sites and for drafting site conservation management plans.

FIGURE TWO: Daniel Petraccaro with Ernestine Coulthard, Christina Coulthard, Karl McKenzie and Gila McKenzie at Hookina Spring.

FIGURE THREE: Daniel Petraccaro with Veronon Coulthard at Hookina Spring.

In summary, the field at Hawker achieved the aims presented. All the participants learnt how to undertake basic site recording. The perfect weather also made the field school a more enjoyable experience for everyone!

Thanks for reading and stay in tune for my next blog!

By Daniel Petraccaro (Masters in Archaeology student).

Cycle in the Paddocks of Red Banks

Trudging back and forth across endless metres of the bare, sun-baked, Redbanks paddock, hunters scour the ground for treasures scattered across its surface to be flagged. Others stand by their tools and instruments retrieving the treasures already identified. As the hours pass by the hunters continue their search for the lost Seven Stars Hotel, recording every action and discovery to add to their treasure maps, in the hopes that they will be guided towards their prize, all the while being worn down by the unrelenting sun and flies. Finally as the sun begins to set the hunters scramble to return to their camp, eager to escape the patch of dirt where they have toiled since the early hours of the morning.

Trudging across the Redbanks paddock.
Photo courtesy of Jessica Lumb.

Upon arriving back at the camp, some move off to wash away the pain of the day beneath water, while other sidle off to wash away the pain by emptying glasses at the pub. As night sets in, most would think that the hunters, after having spent around nine hours working outdoors, battling sun, dirt and flies, would retire to their beds and recuperate, ready for the burden of the following day. But instead they gather in the meeting room and arrange themselves around the long table and begin the task of arranging what they have recorded during the day. Once again these hunters take up their instruments and tools and push on into the night. Eventually the group comes to a consensus and then in gradual waves, so as to not leave a comrade behind, they break away to collapse into their tents, to catch a few hours sleep before repeating the process all over again.

Working into the night.
Photo courtesy of Sam Deer.

For a week this routine continues until by the end, the hunters, or archaeologists as they should be called, collected around 1000 artefacts and mapped their scatter across the north-western corner of that Redbanks paddock.