Tag Archives: Historical Archaeology

Metal you a story

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As a part of my directed study, for the past few weeks I have been visiting the museum storage down at Hindmarsh. There, I have been looking at individual pieces of metal that have been collected from the site of the Lady Alice Mine by Keryn Walshe and a few helpers.  The site was sectioned into 4 areas labeled A, B, C and D. From each of these sections they collected large amounts of ceramic, glass and metal.

It was decided that if we wanted to make a connection with the mining side of the Lady Alice Mine then we had to look at the metal more closely and determine which pieces are linked to people’s home life and more importantly which pieces are linked to the mine.

 Over the last few weeks I have looked at each section carefully and have tried to determine what these pieces of metal I had at my disposal were. Where there are easily identifiable pieces, there are always mind-boggling pieces right beside them.  Below is one certain piece that has stopped me, Cameron Hartnell and John Hodges in our tracks. It is a large piece of intertwined metal that looks like a modern day bed spring. 

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There are a few pieces of wired metal that have been wound together to increase strength and stability.  As I am not very familiar with metal and/or mining tools I am unsure whether this is some sort of industrial artefact. I guess that means a lot more research. 

There is a significant amount of  metal artefacts that I  have been able to connect back to the mining industry. With more research into the site and  a close look at each distinctive artefact I hope to make a few more connections to the lives of those who once worked and lived at the Lady Alice Mine. 

It’s an ace!

As part of my Directed Study in archaeology I have been researching information about the toys that were found under the floor boards in the Oatlands Gaol, Tasmania.

So far I have had little success in gaining information about the toys, but this week I have had some success. In my collection I have an ace of spades printed by the United States Playing Card Co. It is a Bicycle playing card, number 808. The ace of spades depicts the statue of freedom, which in 1865 was placed on top of the Capitol Building in Washington DC.

The 808 series of playing cards was printed in three colours—red, green and blue—and was introduced in 1885. The ace of spades in my collection is a racer number 1 series, which was introduced in 1895 and ran until 1906.

As mentioned in my earlier post, I am trying to match the date of the toys to families who lived in the  Gaolers’ Residence. From 1895 to 1906 there were six families living in the gaol, and the date range of the card spans the majority of this occupation. Three of the families had children, however playing cards were used more by adults than by children.

I have contacted the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and am hoping that they will be able to provide me with more information about the other toys in my collection. ImageImage

“Know Your Enemy”

During World War Two, in the Pacific Theatre, the Japanese forces had occupied many of the Pacific Islands. The Japanese fortified these islands in a variety of ways to defend them from the attacking American Forces, one of which was to use and/or construct caves for highly strategic military purposes and as protective shelters for both the Japanese forces, and the civilian population of these islands.

For my directed study, I’ve been tasked with identifying the use of the caves (i.e.fortified positions, machine gun emplacements, storage, etc.) on the island of Saipan, in the Northern Mariana Islands, by collating historical and archival data to extract as many locations for cave sites on the island as possible.

Before researching into Saipan’s caves, I’ve decided to look at “Know Your Enemy!”, a declassified US Military report on the Japanese Military Caves on Peleliu. This report complies the information gained after the extensive study and analysis of the cave system found on Peleliu, Palau.

Know your enemy

Peleliu was the site of Operation Stalemate II, which had occurred after the Americans gained control of Saipan, Guam and Tinian, and before the Volcano and Ryūkyū Islands campaign (Iwo Jima and Okinawa). As such, some of the techniques to defend the island came from what had been learnt when previous islands were taken. This potentially means that how the Japanese used the caves on Peleliu would be similar to, or an improvement on how the caves were used on Saipan.

The following are some extracts from the report that I believe could help me  for the Saipan research:

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Differences between the Army and Navy:

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In relation to I, L, and T shaped caves:

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And, something to chill the spine:

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Things Found Under the Floor Boards

I have started my Graduate Diploma in Archaeology this year and as part of my study I am completing a Directed Study in Archaeology. I am very excited about this project, as I am able to research a project that has been of interest to me since I discovered a wonderful set of artefacts in Oatlands, Tasmania, in January 2012.

The artefacts are toys that were discovered under the floor boards in a Gaoler’s Residence in the Oatlands Gaol, Tasmania. There are many different toys, including handcrafted wooden animals, dolls’ clothing, doll’s house pieces, marbles and a wooden whistle.

I am working at the moment on finding out what each toy is and hopefully their ages. I then hope to connect the toys to the children who lived in the residence, starting from the Gaol’s construction in 1836 all the way to 1930.

After the research is complete I hope to travel back to Tasmania and conduct a community project at the Oatlands Gaol museum for the people of Oatlands. I want to bring the toys to the community and communicate with them the significance of the artefacts and how they connect to the history of Oatlands and the people who once lived there.

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Camel – maybe from a Noah’s Ark toy set

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One of the rooms where some of the artefacts were found under the floor boards.

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The Oatlands Gaol where the artefacts were found

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.