Tag Archives: Our Students

The Archaeology of Honey Collection

by Emily Shepard, Visiting Scholar

Hello, my name is Emily Shepard, and I am an archaeology master’s student from Portland State University in the United States. I am very excited to be at Flinders working with Dr. Mick Morrison on a really interesting topic – culturally modified trees (CMTs). This project focuses on ‘sugarbag’ trees: or CMTs that were scarred through wild honey (sugarbag) collection by Indigenous peoples living in the Weipa region of the northern Cape York Peninsula in Queensland.

A sugarbag scar on an Ironwood tree near Weipa

Although sugarbag collection was almost certainly a part of Indigenous lifeways for many thousands of years, prior archaeological and anthropological research by Dr. Morrison and Dr. Darlene McNaughton suggests that honey procurement strategies shifted substantially in the past century. These changes, which primarily relate to intensification of honey harvest, seem to have been influenced by access to new technology, such as larger axes. However, some of these changes may also reflect strategies of Indigenous peoples for engaging with new economic, social and political conditions arising from the arrival of missionaries. Hopefully, this project will both aid in developing methods for classifying these CMTs, and will shed light on aspects of life of Indigenous peoples living in the region that were left out of the historical record by missionaries.

I’m hoping this project will highlight the potential of data from CMTs to address a variety of interesting and important questions not only in Australia, but also in the United States and Canada. I’m travelling to Weipa with Mick and other students working on a project investigating the history of the mission early next month, and we hope to collect a lot of new information on sugarbag (and other) scarred trees found around the former mission settlement.

This research is funded by the East Asia and Pacific Summer Institute, which is made possible by the United States National Science Foundation and the Australian Academy of Science.

Mt. Dutton Bay Maritime Archaeology Field School: one student’s experience

By Pete Colvin

Each year Flinders University runs a maritime archaeology field school as a part of its commitment to student skills development. This year was no exception: from the 31st January to 12th February 2011, an intensive period of field work was conducted in the Mount Dutton Bay region. In previous visits made to this area Mount Dutton Bay was known to have significant historic and maritime cultural heritage potential. It was from these previous visits that the 2011 field school developed, its aim was to conduct further survey and excavation work on the historic shipwreck Caprice and to further develop and understand the maritime cultural landscape of the area.

Mt. Dutton Bay Maritime Archaeology Field School students and staff, 2011

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Spear Throwers

Thanks to all who arrived with enthusiasm at the Graduate Programs in Archaeology and CHM presentation night on Friday. With plenty of food and drink, the night went off without any problems and knowledge was to be gained by all. The presentations were all different in topics which made the night more interesting. The questions were not as scary as they could have been and some intriguing concepts were presented. The idea of weight balanced spear throwers is something I had not considered, and as suggested, some places have harsher environments that require specific use of the spear thrower. I felt form was a good way of comparing the adult ones to the toys as I previously had no knowledge of spear throwers and thought there may have been differences. There is not. In fact, the whole process was rewarding as I had no knowledge of Indigenous children and play, nor on spear throwers. Thanks to my fellow directed study peers, Alice Gorman and Dr Keryn Walshe.

Digitization Options for Flinders Field Schools

Digitization Options for Flinders Field Schools
A Seminar Series Presentation by Amer Khan

Yesterday I attended the second presentation in the Archaeology Seminar Series. It was a presentation by Amer Khan of Flinders University discussing a digitization project he has been working on over the past couple of months with Flinders students James Sprott, Steven Lake, Massi Secci and Jacky Chen. Together they are working toward the creation of a web accessible digital database of information collected during maritime archaeological field schools. Though the project is still new, it is easy to envision it in full swing and imagine the possibilities that lie in the future.

Essentially the project will digitize data collected during field schools (at this point maritime archaeological field schools – though it has the potential to be applied to terrestrial archaeological field schools many others) such as site maps, site descriptions, reports etc. This will leave the data together in an easily accessible place, saving time for those who need to access it for future research and providing a place for the public and see what we are doing at Flinders field schools. As Amer mentioned, it will also likely be of interest to potential Flinders students who would like see the type of field opportunities available at the university. I found Amer’s presentation to be very interesting and look forward to seeing the outcome of the project when it is fully up and running.

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