Tag Archives: Thesis Research

Claire’s ‘Mission on a Mission’

By Masters in Archaeology Student Claire Keating

Between the 24th June and the 20th July myself and fellow Masters of Archaeology student Amy Della-Sale accompanied Dr. Mick Morrison to the mining township of Weipa on western Cape York Peninsula to assist in the collection of archaeological data as part of a research project investigating the post-contact history of Aboriginal communities on western and central Cape York Peninsula. Our work this trip was at a place known to Anhatangaith Traditional Owners as Waypandan.

My thesis is part of this research program and sets out to understand the activities of the Moravian and Presbyterian missionaries who established two missions in the Weipa area between 1898 and 1963. It is the first of these missions at Waypandan which is the focus of my research. Having operated between 1898 and 1932 this place is of very high importance to the community and as such constitutes a poignant research question especially in terms of the activities of its European and Indigenous inhabitants. My aim is to re-evaluate survey data collected in 2008 in light of photographic and historical resources in order to understand with greater certainty the spatial layout of the mission compound itself.

Tidying up field plans at Waypandan

Data collection for my portion of this project consisted of my wandering solo around the mission laden with photo books, compass, measuring tapes, marker flags, a GPS unit and a drawing board becoming familiar with every fence post, building post, earth mound, artefact scatter, and stone line within a (roughly) hundred square metre area. However despite my solitude and feeling somewhat like a pack-horse I relished in the fascinating puzzle I saw unfolding before my eyes. What at first seemed to be a rather straight-forward research objective soon became not so. Programs of building relocation and rebuilding both during the mission’s lifetime and beyond have created an archaeological record which at once crosses several temporal periods.

Improvising in the field

In all, three weeks were spent mapping and evaluating the mission landscape of Waypanden which proved to be an extremely complex and at times challenging study area. Up on the mission there was much head scratching going on as I struggled to make sense of a fragmentary archaeological record and a photographic collection which began to pose more questions than answers; meanwhile down in the Aboriginal village Morrison was doing a fair bit of chin scratching as he and Della-Sale stumbled across more and more features that needed to be recorded.

In all seriousness though, at the close of this field season I came away with so much more than the archaeological data needed to complete my thesis. The experience of working and, for a time, living with the Indigenous community of Weipa was so enriching and warming that when I returned to the cold (literally) reality of Adelaide, I felt rather home-sick for the smells of the campfire, the sounds of the bush, the chattering children, and the stories of the old people. Though my time spent with the community was rather brief it has made me more determined than ever in my goal to one day work closely with Indigenous communities to help preserve their cultural heritage for benefit of future generations.

Mannum boat recording

Hello from Mannum on the river. We are here recording small river watercraft for Phyllis Coxhill’s Honours thesis project. So far we’ve taken the lines off both the port and starboard sides and are taking scantling measurements of timbers. It’s been a challenge trying to measure the boat with another boat over our heads. Lots of bumps on our heads.

The two boats in the photograph are called punts. They’d be used for travelling and fishing and other activities. They are flat-bottomed with no keel and have a hard chine. The interesting bits are the repairs and alterations made during its working life. We’ll be looking for and recording those too.

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Future work from my thesis?

My thesis was an attempt to locate the houses and haunts associated with prostitution in colonial Adelaide. I found numerous locations, but sadly only a small selection are still standing in the 21st century.
One of the most famous (or most infamous) places, that still stands is the Colonel Light Hotel (formerly named the Shamrock Hotel), this building was reported to share its town arce (131) with several cottages used by prostitutes, which were owend by the hotel’s proprietor. The hotel now shares the land with a small carpark.
I would love the opportunity to excavate this carpark, as it is one of the few locations that does now not hold a building.
Colonial Adelaide boasted several forms of prostitution, but my research found no references to the ‘classic brothel’ ideal, however when presenting my thesis one person in my audience mentioned one or two hotels that were purposed built to be brothels and would conform to the ‘classic brothel’ ideal.
It seems there is always more to learn. ^_^

Masters Thesis Abstract: Gendered spaces, Public places

Gender-exclusive organisations are ubiquitous in the Australian social landscape, coming in all forms, shapes and sizes. The potential for such organisations, however, to inform us about past gender roles and attitudes has not been addressed within the Australian context. The aim of this thesis, therefore, is to investigate what the buildings of such organisations can reveal about the roles of men and women in the past.

Buildings belonging to the Freemasons and the Country Women’s Association in rural South Australia formed the basis for this investigation. Archaeological research was carried out to record the social, geographic, physical and functional attributes of buildings in order to identify trends occurring between and amongst buildings used exclusively by men and women. Attributes included street type, building size, visibility, decorative features, internal layout, alterations and use.

While CWA buildings remained relatively unchanged throughout the study period (1836-2010), the results for Masonic buildings showed that there were significant changes occurring, particularly regarding the use of external decorative features and the presence of amenities. Style, as a form of non-verbal communication, is used to reflect and reinforce prevailing ideology. The changing style of Masonic and CWA buildings suggest a shift in gender roles and attitudes, from the ‘traditional’ separate spheres ideology of pre-WWII, to the more ‘egalitarian’ worldview post-war. This thesis concludes that social changes occurring as a result of World War II are reflected in the design, location and construction of gender-exclusive buildings, most notably those belonging to the Freemasons.

Masters Thesis, World Heritage Site Interpretation

Having moments ago finished the stressful process of writing my masters thesis I felt compelled to post my abstract here for everyone to read before rushing to the library to read the full version, lol. Enjoy :D, Olly.

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Honours theses 2010 – the big day!

John Hayward:  the crowning moment.

On Monday 25th October, Heidi Pitman and John Hayward had the usual run of printing problems, lack of sleep and stress to get their honours theses to the department on time.  John’s thesis was an analysis of the concept of the “toolkit” in Australian lithics, using collections in the South Australian Museum, while Heidi investigated the use of spinifex resin through ethnography and museum collections.  Congratulations to both of them!  Expect to see their abstracts in Australian Archaeology soon, and when examination is complete, the theses will be available on the Flinders University Department of Archaeology website.

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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