Tag Archives: Our Staff

The Geophysical Detection of Historic Graves Seminar

On the 26th of March, 2009, Adjunct Associate Lecturer Ian Moffat gave a seminar entitled the Geophysical Detection of Historic Graves. The seminar room was filled with forty-one (41) fellow academics and students from the Department of Archaeology.

The seminar focused on the effects of geology on current grave detecting methods such as the magnetometer and the ground penetrating radar. There are three divisions of burials or graves; the Indigenous, the Clandestine, and the Historic. Ian’s case studies were focused on the latter division which included the Selheim Cemetery (North Queensland), the Pioneer Park Cemetery (Adelaide), the Encounter Bay Cemetery, and the Meadows Cemetery (Adelaide Hills).

The Selheim Cemetery was the most successful of the four case studies with the rediscovery of all thirty previously ‘lost’ burials. Both the Pioneer Park and Meadows Cemeteries case studies produced good quality data but the amount of time used was a minor setback. Geology and its effect on burial data analysis was profound in both the Encounter Bay and Meadows Cemeteries. The heavy vegetation in Encounter Bay and the sandy conditions at Meadows Cemetery have deterred the geophysical survey process.

Some of Ian’s conclusions at the end of the seminar were:

  • the magnetometer and EMI methods are greatly affected by the presence of surface metal
  • decrease in line spacing of GPR data leads to substantial increase in the ability to detect burials effectively
  • GPR is more effective in sandy locations than in clay (contrary to previous studies)
  • the greater the number of trees on the site, the slower and less effective are the geophysical methods

Even though I do not have an archaeology background, Ian’s presentation was very organised and was not too difficult to comprehend. His research and conclusions were well-received with various questions and comments from at least eight people in the audience.

Archaeology engaged: Claire Smith’s seminar on the Northern Territory Intervention

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend the first seminar of the weekly Department seminar series. The seminar titled Archaeology engaged: the Northern Territory Emergency Response was delivered by Claire Smith and was in my opinion probably one of the most personal and in that sense powerful lectures I’ve ever attended. While the lecture briefly touched on archaeology it should be said that the lecture was based more on the impact the NT National Emergency had on the Barunga Wugullar community in the Northern Territory, just one of the communities which were affected by the intervention.

The seminar addressed the different perceptions and outcomes of the intervention often negative but sometimes positive and because of Claire’s ongoing work with the community, the seminar was able to provide a more personal view of the intervention which is often so rarely discussed anymore. This seminar also demonstrated how interpersonal relationships develop in archaeology and it is often impossible to separate yourself from what may be happening.

Masters Thesis: Fieldwork at Tirringie 09

FAST FACTS:
Who: A mish-mash of archaeology students and supervisors, both home-grown and interstate recruits
What: 10 windblown days of surveying, excavating, sieving, sorting, analysing, recording, examining, interpreting
Where: Tirringie, about 45 km from Meningie in the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray River region of South Australia
When: 15-25 February 2009

In mid-February 09, a group of intrepid archaeologists (and archaeologists-in-training) braved the harsh and often-gruelling conditions (aka home-made cookies, spa baths and trashy tv shows) to spend 2 weeks at the Coorong working with Ngarrindjeri community members to survey, record, excavation, investigate and rehabilitate a culturally important Old People’s burial site. Continue reading