21st of April, 2022.
Dating Murujuga’s Dreaming
Presented by Prof Jo McDonald
Director, Centre for Rock Art Research + Management, University of Western Australia
This lecture will talk about some of the major results from recording and excavations on Murujuga (the Dampier Archipelago) over the last 5 years – which are about to published in a new monograph. These include a major early Holocene record for human occupation and art production, evidence for bead manufacture, a range of fishing technologies not previously documented as well as evidence for contact with whalers and pearlers before pastoralists. Jo will also discuss a current multidisciplinary project which aims to:
- Directly-date the rock art and stone features of Murujuga;
- Contextualise the full sequence of rock art production by refining regional environmental models that have been drivers of human occupation in the north-west of Australia;
- Refine our modelling of Murujuga’s Holocene rock art production using local environmental changes and climate proxies to understand movement between islands.
Professor Jo McDonald is Director of the Centre for Rock Art Research + Management at UWA. She has been recording, contextualising through excavation and direct-dating rock art in Australia for almost 40 years. Her ARC Future Fellowship compared desert rock art in Australia with the Great Basin, USA. She has written regional management plans (e.g., Sydney Basin, Port Hedland, Dampier Archipelago). She co-wrote the National Heritage Listing and Outstanding Universal Values documents for the Dampier Archipelago. The excavation she led at Serpents Glen (Karnatukul) pushed back occupation of Australia’s desert to 50,000 years ago. Over the last 20 years she has worked with traditional communities in the northwest, co-developing rock art research and management projects. Working with visualisation specialists and spatial scientists.
17th of March, 2022.
Monash archaeology field school and the Budj Bim World Heritage Area listing
Presented by Prof Ian McNiven, Monash University
Since 2006, Monash Indigenous Studies Centre has collaborated with the Gunditjmara to host a series of summer schools for undergraduate archaeology students. Excavations have taken place across the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape.
Many students found the process of Working-on-Country with the Gunditjmara both life-changing and career-defining. Substantively, excavation results contributed to the nomination dossier for World Heritage listing. This presentation provides an overview of key excavations (fish traps and stone houses) and reveals the fruits of fine-grained excavation methods.
Ian McNiven is Professor of Indigenous Archaeology in Monash Indigenous Studies Centre, ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, Monash University. He has undertaken collaborative research with numerous First Nations communities in Victoria and Queensland.
18th of November, 2021.
The small hominin species in island Southeast Asia: Homo floresiensis and Homo luzonensis
Presented by Dr Debbie Argue
School of Archaeology and Anthropology, Australian National University
A tiny skeleton was revealed to an unsuspecting world in October 2004 – the bones of a new kind of human that, because it was so small, was nick-named “the hobbit.” The bones were discovered during an archaeological excavation in Liang Bua cave, on the island of Flores in Indonesia. The excavation team of Indonesian and Australian researchers was led by Professor Mike Morwood and Dr Tony Djubiantono under the auspices of the Indonesian National Research Centre for Archaeology. The excavation aimed to find insights into the origins of the first Australians. No-one could have imagined that the finds would throw the scientific world into a frenzy of excitement and controversy.
In this presentation we will familiarise ourselves with the features of H. floresiensis then see where this species fits on the human evolutionary tree. There’s more, though. We now know that H. floresiensis was not the only small hominin species in Southeast Asia. We will have a look at the two other sets of hominin fossils: those from the S’oa basin, Flores; and H. luzonensis from the Philippines.
Debbie is an Honorary Lecturer in the School of Archaeology and Anthropology at the Australian National University. Her research focus is human evolution and in particular, Homo floresiensis, about which she is currently writing a book.
Her PhD focused on human evolution during the Early Pleistocene in Africa and Europe; her Master of Ars focused on human evolution during the Middle Pleistocene. Debbie has a BA Honours degree in Archaeology, in which she focused on the prehistory of the Australian Alps for her dissertation. She has worked as a consultant archaeologist, and as Heritage Officer in local government.
Debbie is engaged in a number of national and international collaborative projects on human evolution; and has a continuing role as Advisor to PhD candidates in the School of Archaeology and Anthropology.
21st of October, 2021.
How our ancestors breastfed their babies
Presented by Associate Professor Luca Fiorenza
Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Monash University
The last three million years have been characterised by strong climatic instability that drove many species to extinction. Australopithecus africanus lived in highly seasonal environments mostly dominated by open grasslands and wooded habitats. We have reconstructed the early life of this hominin species through an innovative approach based on tooth biogeochemistry that allows us to accurately measure dietary, physiological and behavioural responses to seasonal fluctuations in food availability. Our results suggest that A. africanus were cyclically breastfeeding their babies for their first 4 to 5 years of their life, similar to what we see today in great apes. The extended breastfeeding probably led to prolonged interbirth intervals, and ultimately may have had a negative effect on the reproductive rate of this species.
A/Prof Fiorenza is the Head of the Palaeodiet Research Lab and his research focuses on functional morphology of the masticatory apparatus in human and non-human primates, and on the importance of the role of diet in human evolution. He has published peer-reviewed articles in top science journals such as Nature and Nature, Ecology & Evolution, and he has been listed among the Australia’s Top Researchers by The Australian’s Research 2020 Magazine as Leader in the field of Anthropology.
16th of September, 2021.
Cracking the Philistine Ritual Code: Revisiting Ritual Architecture of the Southern Levant
Presented by Madaline Harris-Schober
PhD Candidate, University of Melbourne & Ludwig Maximillian Universität München
The lack of universal definition and methodology for the identification of cult and ritual practices in the archaeological record has led to the misidentification of Philistine ritual buildings. The future of understanding Philistine ritual and cult lies deep in comparative analysis; therefore, this thesis and its associated research aims to synthesise and critically analyse past studies with the goal of creating a new methodology that can be applied directly to our understanding of the Philistines. It is now time for archaeologists to further consider Cypriot, Anatolian and Sardinian connections with the Sea Peoples in order to understand the worlds from which this group came and the memory they brought with them to the Southern Levant. Recent excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath, Nahal Patish and Yavneh have shed new light on Philistine ritual and cult practises, further illuminating these interregional connections and local ritual patterns. Whilst it is apparent that research surrounding the Philistines has gained popularity over the past decade, there has been no attempt at creating a corpus of Philistine ritual architecture, material culture and practice utilizing available new data and comparative approaches. This presentation will summarise the current development of this corpus and PhD thesis and present aspects of this new research development.
Madaline is an Archaeologist and dual PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne and Ludwig Maximillian Universität München researching Philistine ritual architecture and its wider connections. Madaline is part of the Jezreel Valley Regional Project (JVRP) and most recently worked at the Roman Legionary Base of Legio in 2019. Maddi has previously worked on the Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project (Bar Ilan University) and Tell Akko ‘Total Archaeology’ (University of Pennsylvania). Her main research interests include ancient ritual, archaeological reconstruction, Bronze and Iron Age architecture and interpretive archaeology.
Great Galloping Griffins: a spatial analysis of griffin objects in the Late Bronze Age east Mediterranean
Presented by Emily Simons
PhD Candidate, Department of Classics and Archaeology, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne
Griffins, mythical creatures composed of the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle, became increasingly popular motifs during the Late Bronze Age (LBA) c. 1600 – 1150 BCE, amongst several east-Mediterranean states. They emerged in their hundreds, flying forth across the seas and the lands, spreading messages, stories, and intent. They appeared written large upon walls, in paint and in stone; they surfaced as diminutives, images etched into carnelian, agate, and jasper; they were moulded with precious metals and carved in ivory. Yet, despite this richness, griffins were solitary creatures, largely seated alone. They rarely associated with humans or human-like (divine?) figures, engaging in the occasional hunt as either predator or prey. Through presenting the spatial distribution of griffins during this period, it is possible to see patterns in use and depiction that can support new interpretations of meaning.
Emily is in the midst of PhD research at the University of Melbourne. She is interested in how people perceive and use objects and materials. She has worked in the heritage industry with a strong focus on public engagement. For no particular reason, she is fascinated with Late Bronze Age eastern Aegean materials and style.
19th of August, 2021.
Residential behaviour at the early Neolithic site of Zahrat adh-Dhra‘ 2, Jordan
Presented by Sarah Gyngell
PhD Candidate, La Trobe University
Zahrat adh-Dhra‘ 2 (ZAD 2), located to the south-east of the Dead Sea in Jordan, is significant for its evidence of ‘pre-domestication cultivation’ and as one of the final Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA; 10,000 – 8,700 BCE) sites in the southern Levant. A GIS-based analysis of the spatial and temporal distribution of artefacts at ZAD 2 (9,000 – 8,600 BCE) has identified important behavioural traits that became central to sedentary agricultural communities and which represent a significant departure from earlier Epipalaeolithic residential behaviour. It is likely that this PPNA community had begun elementary efforts to manage refuse material and to routinely use specific areas of the settlement as workspaces with different functions. This talk will consider the significance of this artefact distribution analysis in understanding wider regional trends during the Neolithic transition.
Sarah is a PhD candidate at La Trobe University, studying artefact distribution and refuse management at the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A site, Zahrat adh-Dhra‘ 2. She is interested in the diversity of settlement patterns and residential behaviour during the transition from mobility to sedentism in West Asia. Sarah has taken part in excavations and survey seasons at Epipalaeolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age sites in Jordan. She also works as a research assistant and tutor at La Trobe University, as well as working for heritage consultancies on Historic and Aboriginal excavations in NSW and Victoria. Her other research interests include chipped stone technology, monumentality, and the management and protection of cultural heritage.
15th of July, 2021.
Archaeological Sequences and Human Interactions at Caution Bay, Papua New Guinea, 1877-739 cal BP
Presented by Daniel Derouet
PhD Candidate, Monash Indigenous Studies Centre;
PhD Researcher, Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CABAH)
Archaeological excavations undertaken as part of the Caution Bay Archaeology Project, Papua New Guinea (2008-2010) revealed deep cultural horizons containing pottery attributed to Lapita arrivals, dating to 2900-2600 cal BP. Prior to the Caution Bay excavations, the oldest known ceramic sequences along the south coast of Papua New Guinea dated to c. 2000 BP. As such the Caution Bay excavations have led to the rethinking of the antiquity of pottery manufacture, and with this understandings of cultural sequences and social interaction along the south coast of Papua New Guinea. This study analyses the pottery, stone artefact, and shell assemblages from ten sites across Caution Bay dated to between 1877 and 739 cal BP, investigating cultural and technological changes, and how people engaged with their surroundings through time. The study also aims to examine how these archaeological sequences relate to preceding and proceeding cultural sequences at Caution Bay and the wider Port Moresby region, and more broadly along the south coast.
Daniel Derouet is an archaeologist and PhD candidate at the Monash Indigenous Studies Centre. He completed his Bachelor of Arts (Honours) at the University of Southern Queensland, and commenced his PhD research in 2018 at Monash University. His current research analyses archaeological assemblages (pottery, stone artefact, and shell assemblages) from Caution Bay, Papua New Guinea to investigate cultural and technological changes, and how people interacted with their surroundings. This research will examine how cultural sequences at Caution Bay, dating to 1877-739 cal BP archaeologically relate to preceding and proceeding periods at Caution Bay and the wider Port Moresby region, and more broadly along the south coast of Papua New Guinea.
Strontium analyses (87Sr/86Sr, [Sr]) reveal non-local origins of humans with intentionally modified skulls in Mtskheta, Georgia, in the 4th– 7th centuries AD
Presented by Natalie Langowski,
PhD Candidate, University of Melbourne
The town of Mtskheta (Republic of Georgia) sits at a geographic crossroads in the Caucasus region and hosted the capital of the Iberian Kingdom in the 1st-7th centuries AD. The extensive archaeological record at Samtavro cemetery in Mtskheta shows a suite of cultural changes after the 4th century, including the appearance of people with intentionally modified skulls and artefacts from Eurasian steppe cultures, as well as a shift in burial traditions at the cemetery. These changes occur against a backdrop of tumult in Eurasia, with the 4th century marking the collapse of the Roman Empire and the onset of the Migration Period (~375-568 AD), and increasing Sassanid power and influence.
Intentional modification of the skull is a cultural practice which gained popularity among ‘barbarian’ (or non-Roman) groups which were highly mobile within Eurasia during the Migration Period. Previous research in eastern Georgia found the modified skulls belonged almost exclusively to adult females, while no juveniles showed signs of the practice. This suggests the cultural changes and people with modified skulls appearing after the 4th century represent a novel and possibly foreign cultural influence, introduced to Mtskheta via an influx of migrants.
This research uses strontium isotope ratios (87Sr/86Sr) and concentrations [Sr] to investigate the mobility of people with modified and unmodified skulls buried in Mtskheta between the 1st and 7th centuries AD. The results of strontium analyses in human remains from Mtskheta confirm non-local people with modified skulls were present in Mtskheta in the 4th-7th centuries, though their geographic origins and influence on the culture of Caucasian Iberia, remains unclear.
Natalie is PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne, and previously completed bachelor’s and master’s degrees in archaeology and biological anthropology, specialising in anatomy and stable isotope analysis of human remains. She is a member of the AASV committee and works as a heritage advisor for the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation.
17th of June, 2021.
Getting a Head at All Costs: Tracking and Exposing Online Trafficking in Human Remains within its Socio-Cultural Context
Presented by Dr Damien Huffer
This presentation summarizes ongoing research occurring within the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada funded The Bone Trade Project (https://bonetrade.github.io/). In general, this project is beginning to identify and map the online human remains trade across various social media and e-commerce platforms. As a summary presentation, I will highlight key points of methods from the digital humanities and machine learning used to investigate how this collecting community functions, what we can ‘remotely’ know of their complex morals and ethics, how they negotiate a complex legal landscape, and from which populations the human remains trafficked possibly originate. The examples given will be discussed in the context of how and why counteracting the human remains trade is relevant to the preservation of global cultural heritage, questions of possible medico-legal import, and the concerns of descent communities.
Dr. Damien Huffer was most recently a postdoctoral fellow (2017 – 2019) within the Osteoarchaeological Research Laboratory, Department of Archaeology & Classical Studies, Stockholm University. From 2014 – 2016, he held the Stable Isotope Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Smithsonian’s Museum Conservation Institute/Division of Anthropology, and he received his PhD in Osteoarchaeology in 2013 from the ANU.
As a co-founder of the Alliance to Counter Crime Online and an interdisciplinary antiquities trade scholar, he works to raise public awareness about the existence and complexities of the ‘niche’ market that is the traffic in human remains as but one component of archaeological and criminological research into the global traffic in cultural heritage. This research forms the core of his current collaborative work using digital humanities and machine learning methods to improve what is known about how the informal and organized networks that facilitate these trades via social media and e-commerce platforms operate, form community and avoid detection.
In addition, his current research also looks to the Colonial-era past to understand collecting practices in the present. Currently focused on Southeast Asian and Pasifika collections, this research involves conducting non-destructive osteological and taphonomic assessment of 18th to early 20th century culturally modified human remains held in Western museums, in conjunction with archival research, to illuminate aspects of ownership history and provenience not otherwise documented and simultaneously provide data relevant to law enforcement when they seek to better understand the nature of allegedly Indigenous modified crania seized in transit or observed for sale online.
20th of May, 2021.
Antiquarian archaeology in nineteenth-century colonial Victoria: The good, the bad, and the bizarre
Presented by Professor Ian McNiven
Monash Indigenous Studies Centre, Monash University
During the second half of the nineteenth century, a vibrant antiquarian culture developed in colonial Victoria in southeast Australia to understand the antiquity of Aboriginal occupation. This culture centred on Melbourne which became a major metropolitan centre of intellectualism in the wake of the 1850s gold rush. Set within the context of colonial invasion of Indigenous lands and peoples, Victoria’s antiquarians developed a form of archaeological inquiry heavily influenced by ethnography and the pernicious British anthropological paradigm of social evolutionism. The outcome was interest in a broad range of site types and stone artefacts with results that sometimes contradicted primitivist expectations of anthropological theory. An ethnographically informed archaeology provided scope to reveal artefacts (e.g., stone axes) that differed to the present, and certain site types (e.g., “oven mounds”) that excavation revealed to have formed recently through cultural “innovation”. Victorian antiquarians developed a diversity of approaches to Aboriginal antiquity with variable legacies in shaping Australian archaeology in the twentieth century.
15th of April, 2021, @ 6.30pm
Egyptian Metal Working Technology of the Pyramid Age
Presented by Chris Davey
Executive Director, Australian Institute of Archaeology
Chris will use images and texts found in Old Kingdom Tombs, archaeological discoveries and experimental archaeology to explain the processes that were used during the first six dynasties of ancient Egypt. Most of the research behind the talk has been published by Dr Davey over the last forty years but it has not been generally accepted until recently when the discovery of new material at the site of Elkab has confirmed his hypotheses.
Christopher Davey became the honorary director of the Institute in 2002 after retiring from National Australia Bank where he was a project finance executive. He has been responsible for the Institute’s re-establishment in a building leased from La Trobe University. The development of the Institute’s catalogues for the library, collection and archives has been a major responsibility and the organisation of accession path documentation for the museum collection is an important achievement.
Chris began his archaeology at St John’s College, Cambridge, where he also read ancient languages. He then continued the study of archaeology and ancient history at the Institute of Archaeology, London. He has excavated in the Middle East, Australia and the United Kingdom; he now digs regularly in Cyprus and Egypt. He has published papers on the history of mining and metallurgy, ancient architecture, maritime archaeology and the history of archaeology. He edits the Institute’s annual journal Buried History.
Employment as an underground miner at Broken Hill, surveyor, engineer, mines inspector, contract design engineer, tertiary lecturer (mining and systems engineering) and international bank executive has given Chris broad perspectives. The interconnections with archaeology and history are many, while in banking these interfaces led to an involvement with environmental issues as they related to the bank’s operations and loan book.
18th of March, 2021, @ 6.30pm
Perceptions of the Past: Archaeological Research at Discovery Bay
Presented by Michael Godfrey
When the shell middens at Discovery Bay were excavated in 1982, there was very little that could be said with respect to their economic significance, for it had already been demonstrated that shellfish in general were only minor component in Aboriginal diet. But since then, the research at Discovery Bay has been expanded. There have been further surveys, excavations, radiocarbon dating of middens and research into the local ethnohistory and the environment. But what is of particular interest and the subject of this talk is the way this evidence has been interpreted.
Michael will also discuss the landscape of Discovery Bay and how it has recently changed.
Michael Godfrey completed a Combined Honours degree in Prehistory and Archaeology and Ancient History and Classical Archaeology at the University of Sheffield in England, before undertaking his Masters, and a Ph.D. in the Department of Chemistry at La Trobe University in Melbourne. Most of his research has been based at Discovery Bay.Publications with relevance to this talk are:Godfrey, M.C.S., 1983. Historical sources as aids to archaeological interpretation – examples from Discovery Bay, Victoria. The Artefact 8 (1-2): 55-60.Godfrey, M.C.S., 1989. Shell midden chronology in southwestern Victoria : reflections of change in prehistoric population and subsistence? Archaeology in Oceania 24: 65-69.Godfrey, M.C.S., et al. 1996. From time to time: Radiocarbon information on Victorian archaeological sites held by Aboriginal Affairs Victoria. The Artefact 19: 3-51.
19th of November, 2020, @ 6.30pm
Using radiocarbon dated mud wasp nests to estimate the age of Aboriginal rock art in the Kimberley
Presented by Damien Finch
PhD Candidate, University of Melbourne
Throughout the world, the dating of ancient rock art has been a largely intractable scientific problem, except in rare cases. The globally significant Aboriginal rock art in the Kimberley region of Western Australia has long been thought to extend back to the Pleistocene period, over 11,000 years ago, in a sequence of stylistic periods, however, there was very little scientific evidence to support this hypothesis. Enhanced radiocarbon dating techniques have been developed to date mud wasp nests found to under or overlie rock art. The wasp nest ages serve to constrain the age of individual paintings. This presentation will describe these new methods and the resulting ages estimated for the oldest styles of painted Kimberley rock art.
Following a bushwalking trip to remote parts of the Kimberley in 2010, Damien became intrigued in the ancient history of northern Australia. This curiosity led to studies in the Masters of Archaeological Science program at ANU in 2012/13 with a focus on rock art and geochronology. Surprised at how little was known about the age of Aboriginal rock art, he developed a PhD project proposal to further research radiocarbon dating techniques for this purpose. In late 2014, he joined the Kimberley Rock Art Dating Australian Research Council project, led by the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Melbourne. He has recently submitted his PhD thesis.
29th of October, 2020.
A multi-scalar approach to marine survey and underwater archaeological site prospection in Murujuga, Western Australia
Presented by Dr Jonathan Benjamin
Associate Professor, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Flinders University
During the past 20,000 years approximately one-quarter of the continental landmass of Australia was inundated by postglacial sea-level rise, submerging archaeological evidence for use of these landscapes. Underwater archaeological sites can offer substantial insights into past lifeways and adaptations to rapidly changing environments, however the vast scale of inundation presents a range of challenges in discovering such sites. Here we present a suite of methods as a model methodology for locating sites in submerged landscapes. Priority areas for survey were based on palaeoenvironmental contexts determined from the onshore archaeological record. Remote sensing was used to identify seabed composition and indicators of palaeolandscapes where high potential for human occupation and site preservation could be identified in Murujuga (or the Dampier Archipelago), northwestern Australia. Target locations were surveyed by scientific divers to test for the presence of archaeological material. Application of this methodology resulted in the discovery of the first two confirmed sub-tidal ancient Aboriginal archaeological sites on Australia’s continental shelf. Survey methods are discussed for their combined value to identify different classes of landscapes and archaeological features to support future underwater site prospection.
Dr Jonathan Benjamin FSA is a specialist in the archaeology of submerged landscapes, Pleistocene-Holocene transitions and applied methods in Maritime and Underwater Archaeology. Dr Benjamin’s research interests include past human transitions and cultural migrations, the inundation of coastal sites and resulting impacts on past societies, 3D site recording and the advancement of method in maritime and underwater archaeology. Jonathan has undertaken various aspects of terrestrial, aerial and underwater archaeological research across a wide temporal spectrum from prehistoric, classical and historical periods in Britain, Slovenia, Croatia, Cyprus, Israel, Denmark, as well as pre and post-contact sites in North America and Australia. He is an expert in diver-based photographic and photogrammetric recording of underwater archaeological sites. As a member of the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) Action ‘SPLASHCOS’ (2009 – 2013) Jonathan was an Early Stage Researcher and was lead editor of Submerged Prehistory (2011). Before joining Flinders Jonathan was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Edinburgh (History, Classics and Archaeology) and worked for Wessex Archaeology Coastal & Marine, based in Scotland. Jonathan joined Flinders University in 2014 and served as Co-Chair of the UNESCO UNITWIN Network for Underwater Archaeology from 2015 – 2018. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (London), and is the Lead CI for the Deep History of Sea Country: Climate, Sea Level and Culture (ARC DP1700100812).
20th of August, 2020.
Bounded by Sea: Worked Bone of the Neolithic North Aegean
Presented by Dr Jarrad Paul, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne
The Neolithic in the North Aegean saw an influx of new material and subsistence strategies into this already-established region. An important element in the toolkit of this period is animal bone tools. The practice of working bones into tools was not new to those arriving. However, it did flourish during the Neolithic, with the creation of tools for specific functional, symbolic, and aesthetic purposes. In this talk I outline my current research: a comparative analysis of worked animal bone assemblages from the North Aegean (the Aegean islands, western Turkey, northern and central Greece) to further understand regional development during the Neolithic (7000–5000 cal BC). This study includes a synthesis and in-depth analysis of published and unpublished material from almost 100 sites in the region. Tool types, raw material, manufacturing techniques, contextual and use-wear analysis are presented to provide a regional framework at this geographic and cultural crossroad.
Dr Jarrad Paul is an Associate with the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne and Residential Advisor at Trinity College. Jarrad specialises in tools made from animal bones, with a focus on how the earliest farming communities in the world created, used, and discarded these implements. He has investigated this practice in Turkey, Greece, and Georgia, and has also assisted on projects in Malaysian Borneo and Australia.
21st of November, 2019.
Secrets of the City – reflections on 30 years of archaeology in Melbourne
Presented by Jeremy Smith
Principal Archaeologist, Heritage Victoria
The study of Melbourne’s archaeology began, in a blaze of publicity, in 1988 with the investigation of part of the Commonwealth Block site in the infamous ‘Little Lon’ district. This excavation demonstrated, for the first time, that conditions in Melbourne are suitable for the preservation of extensive and significant archaeological remains. In the 30 years since Little Lon, more than 200 digs have taken place in the city, and a complex picture of the 19th century urban landscape is emerging.
Melbourne is now recognised as one of the world’s most significant 19th century archaeological sites. It is a key site in the international research theme of The Archaeology of the Modern City, which looks at how cities are established, and how they change. In this talk I will discuss the growth of archaeology in Melbourne, and present some results and key finds from some of the city’s most interesting digs.
Jeremy Smith studied History and Archaeology at the University of Melbourne, and has a Masters’ degree in Archaeology. He worked for four seasons on the excavation of the Iron Age Neo-Assyrian city of Tell Ahmar in north Syria, and was employed at Heritage Victoria in 1998. He was appointed Senior Archaeologist in 2002. He is a member of the Archaeology and Underwater Cultural Heritage Committee of the Victorian Heritage Council. He has written extensively on the subject of Melbourne’s historical archaeology and was a key contributor to the award-winning book Ned Kelly: Under the Microscope, CSIRO Publishing, 2014.
17th of October, 2019.
Investigating Ancient Proteins Using Liquid Chromatography-Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry
Presented by Dr Colin Smith
Associate Professor, Department of Archaeology and History, La Trobe University
Stable isotope analysis is a well-established tool in archaeological and geochemical science, used to interpret palaeodietary preferences and aspects of palaeoenvironment. In archaeology this commonly involves isotope analysis of carbon and nitrogen from proteins that have remarkably survived for hundreds to tens of thousands of years and such analysis has informed us about major dietary changes in the past. In my lab we have been searching for new ways to investigate stable isotope signatures in these ancient proteins and other organic materials, using Liquid Chromatography Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry. In this talk I will discuss some of the research that we have been conducting in the lab ranging from the analysis of mummified hairs to organic remains trapped in stalagmites.
Colin Smith studied Archaeological Science, Analytical Chemistry, and a PhD in Geochemistry in the UK, and has since conducted research at the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (Madrid), in Uppsala and Stockholm Universities, Durham University and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (Leipzig). He has been an ARC Future Fellow and currently runs the Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory at La Trobe University, a collaborative space for staff and students to study ancient biomolecules. His most recent research has focused on the application of stable isotope analysis to ancient proteins with a particular interest in analyzing them at the amino acid level. Through his research he has made significant contributions to the field of biomolecular archaeology, ancient biomolecules and stable isotope analysis, having published in Nature, Science, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) among other journals.
19th of September, 2019.
Between a Rock and Hard Place: Elemental Objects and the Significance of Rocky Terrain in Late Bronze Age Crete
Presented by Larissa Tittl
Ph.D. Candidate, University of Melbourne
The Bronze Age civilisation of Crete—whose people we call the ‘Minoans’—engaged in ritual activity largely focused on specific aspects of their natural environment. Crete’s landscape melds mountains with productive plains and coastal areas, within which the Minoans embedded dispersed settlements, large urban (‘palatial’) centres and ritual sites. This talk focuses on ritual activity in the caves and peak sanctuaries found on Crete’s mountains. In particular, it examines the ‘votive’ objects deposited in these ritual sites and argues that their significance relates to the intrinsic properties of their elemental origins (stone, metal, clay/earth). The mountainous landscape is itself ritually significant: it is likely that mountains were either worshipped, either as the home of specific divinities, or as entities themselves. In addition, rocky terrain features in a significant number of scenes depicting possible divine epiphanies, ecstatic ritual behaviour, ritual architecture or animals and plants closely associated with divine or sacred elements. This talk will highlight the finds from Crete’s Psychro Cave, located near the Lasithi Plain in central Crete, and what the metal double axes, swords, daggers and tools deposited there can tell us about the interactions between people, objects and landscape.
Larissa Tittl is a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne. Her interest in the connections between landscape, people and ritual behaviour was piqued during her time as a Project Assistant in the Indigenous Cultures Department at Museum Victoria. Larissa’s current PhD research examines the Bronze Age culture of Minoan Crete through an animistic, ecocritical and relational lens, exploring the idea that the Minoans lived in a landscape in which they were embedded with and connected to many other-than-human entities. Larissa has received two scholarships in 2019—the Jessie Webb Scholarship from Melbourne University, and the Richard Bradford McConnell Fund for Landscape Studies—to help her to finally complete her research in Crete, and submit on time!
The Development and Significance of Mortuary Iconography on Late Bronze Age Crete: An Examination of Painted Ceramic Coffins
Presented by Jacob Heywood
Ph.D. candidate, University of Melbourne
Following the decline of the Minoan palatial administrations, the latter-half of the Late Bronze Age on Crete (the ‘Late Minoan III Period’, ca. 1430—1100 BCE) was marked by a widespread re-configuration of funerary practices consistent with a broader context change in the island’s material culture. Alongside the introduction of new tomb architecture and grave-good types, key amongst these developments was the revival of the earlier Minoan custom of burial in clay coffins, or ‘larnakes’. Unlike earlier burial containers from the island, larnakes from this period were regularly adorned with painted compositions that included a variety of terrestrial, marine, cultic, and abstract motifs. Scholarly examination of larnax decoration has typically focused on the reconstruction of specific elements of Cretan eschatological belief, while other potentially important aspects of its practical and ideological role within the context of mortuary activity have received minimal attention.
This presentation provides an overview of current doctoral research on the topic of larnax iconography and discusses the relationship between larnax decoration and the broader context of mortuary innovation on Crete. Even though the adornment of burial containers was a relative novelty, many of the motifs used on larnakes during the Late Minoan III already had a long history of prior use across the Aegean in a wide variety of artistic and archaeological contexts, underlying an effort by Cretan communities to actively manipulate existing symbolic traditions in order to fulfil developing mortuary and social needs. Larnax imagery may furthermore have worked to stimulate important social memories during funerary and post-funerary rites given the central place of the burial container as a ceremonial ‘focal point’ in such circumstances. In some cases, iconographic compositions might even have recalled activities, concepts, and topographies (terrestrial, marine, symbolic) of broader significance to the deceased individuals and their communities, helping to affirm key forms of social, historical, ritual and personal knowledge around which group-based identities were constructed.
Jacob is a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne, studying the iconography of decorated ceramic burial containers from Minoan Crete. He completed a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne with Honours in Ancient World Studies and a Major in History. For the past four years Jacob has excavated and undertaken field survey on the island of Crete as a member of the Sissi Archaeological Project (investigating a large Minoan settlement and cemetery, under the auspices of the Belgian School at Athens), and has spent additional periods of time in Greece undertaking work towards his doctoral studies as a member of the British School at Athens. Along with some fieldwork experience in Victoria, he has also spent four field seasons excavating as part of the University of Melbourne team at the Philistine/Canaanite site of Tell es-Safi/Gath in Israel.
15th of August, 2019.
A new subspecies of 2 million year old human from South Africa
Presented by Angeline Leece
Ph.D. Candidate, La Trobe University
Angeline Leece is a PhD student at La Trobe University. She moved to Australia five years ago. She has been working on UNESCO world heritage sites for seven years now and has been running them for five. Angeline spends her time in South Africa exploring palaeocaves in search of fossil human ancestors and running an international field school aimed at mentoring the next generation of palaeo scientists.
Shaken apart, pieced together: the post-earthquake archaeological assemblage from Christchurch, New Zealand
Presented by Jessie Garland
Ph.D. candidate, La Trobe University
It has long been acknowledged that urban archaeology should involve “the archaeology of the city, rather than just in the city” (Praetzellis and Praetzellis 2011), but it is not often that this has been extended to encompass the archaeology of the city as a single site, in which the traditional analytical units of household, business or city block exist as a network of interconnected features and deposits that can be analysed on multiple scales.
In Christchurch, the scale of the archaeological work carried out as a result of the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes has created the opportunity to apply this perspective in a New Zealand urban context. While it remains difficult to quantify the archaeological dataset collated in Christchurch since the earthquakes, current estimates suggest that approximately 2000 Māori and European archaeological sites have been recorded across the city, ranging in type from domestic households, hotels and retail establishments to cottage industries, large industry, roading and sewerage infrastructure and religious sites. This variety of sites, combined with the large assemblage of European artefacts also recovered, has provided an unprecedented opportunity to investigate the changing availability and use of material goods within the nineteenth century city, at both an individual and ‘city as site’ scale. The objects that people acquire and use, after all, say something about them: when considered collectively, what do they say about the city, or the broader British colonial landscape in which it existed?
Jessie Garland is an archaeologist and artefact analyst, with a specialised interest in the material culture of nineteenth century New Zealand. She has a BAHons and MA from the University of Otago, in Dunedin, and spent six years working with and writing about the vast quantity of archaeology discovered in Christchurch after the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes. She now lives in Melbourne, where she is pursuing a PhD in archaeology, exploring the ways in which the availability and use of goods in nineteenth century Christchurch contributed to the development and identity of the modern city, particularly when considered within the global archaeological landscape of the British Empire. Jessie is fascinated by the relationship people have with things and the ways that we – individually and collectively – use them to construct our own worlds and connect to the people around us.
18th of July, 2019.
Connections across Country: A spatial and temporal analysis of Wardaman rock art motifs in the Northern Territory, Australia
Presented by Madeleine A. Kelly
Ph.D. Candidate, Monash Indigenous Studies Centre and Centre of Excellence for Australia Biodiversity and Heritage (CABAH)
In 1988 the “Lightning Brothers Project”, funded by the American organisation Earthwatch, began a four-year effort to record the rock art and knowledge of the Wardaman people in the Victoria River district, Northern Territory. The archive of rock art recordings and ethnographic information documented during this project will form the case study through which I aim to explore how rock art is used to socially structure and inscribe landscapes over time. I will be undertaking a spatial analysis of Wardaman rock art motifs, mapping the relationships and disconnects between Wardaman motif forms (the visual appearance of motifs) as well as exploring the relationships identified in Wardaman ethnography.
A Cautionary tale: excavation and conservation of low-fired pottery from Papua New Guinea
Presented by Holly Jones-Amin
Ph.D. candidate, Monash Indigenous studies Centre, Melbourne;
Associate Investigator/PhD candidate CABAH (Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Biodiversity and Heritage);
Senior Objects and Archaeological Conservator, University of Melbourne.
In 2009-2010 Monash University (Australia) undertook a large archaeological survey and excavation program at Caution Bay, on the south coast of Papua New Guinea (PNG) revealing readily identifiable dentate stamped Lapita ceramics from 2900 years ago. Many of the ceramics from Caution Bay are friable, they crumble like a biscuit and flake like fish and without conservation, it would not be possible to analyse vessels in any detail. The conservation of individual sherds and vessels from Caution Bay contributes to a hitherto unknown area of Lapita people on the south coast of PNG and the conserved ceramics are of international academic worth, and of immeasurable cultural value to their country of origin and to local communities whose ancestors made the pottery. This presentation outlines deterioration pathways, lifting, and best-practice archaeology and conservation techniques for Caution Bay low-fired pottery.
Holly is a senior conservator at the Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation at the University of Melbourne, where she is team leader for the objects consultancy program and is a foundation lecturer and tutor for the Masters of Cultural Materials Conservation. Holly has over twenty years of experience and predominantly works on archaeological materials and indigenous and world cultural objects. She has worked in Australia, Italy, the Middle East, South-east Asia and Central Asia. She is an associate investigator to CABAH (Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Biodiversity and Heritage), is involved in the SHIRiN initiative for the protection of archaeological sites in Syria and is an assistant coordinator for the International Council of Museums Committee for Conservation (ICOM-CC) working group for archaeological materials and sites working group.
20th of June, 2019.
The popes and the protection of Rome’s cultural heritage
Presented by Honorary Professor Ron Ridley, University of Melbourne
As the imperial capital of the Mediterranean world, Rome was a stunning city at the end of the classical period (c. 300). Then, with the conversion to Christianity, her monuments became less precious, but the imperial law codes still protected the fabric of the city. By the Middle Ages the municipal government on the Capitol assumed responsibility, until edged out by a renewed papal government, following the return from Avignon in 1377. From the fifteenth century popes began issuing edicts to forbid illegal and damaging ‘excavations’ (treasure-hunts) or export of art treasures. The popes were themselves, however, precisely the most powerful and destructive forces, as they sought ready-made materials for their own enormous building projects, such as new St Peter’s. And as the compulsion of collectors, especially royal and aristocratic, of classical art increased, popes faced irresistible pressure to allow exports. An attempt will be made to trace the developing papal legislation, which is the basis for all modern international law protecting the ‘cultural patrimony’ everywhere.
Inaugural Teaching Fellow in Ancient History , University of Sydney, 1962-1964; lecturer in History, University of Melbourne, 1965, retiring in 2005 from a Personal Chair. Main teaching and research interests: the whole Ancient World, the history of archaeology in Egypt and Rome, the history of historical writing, on which I have published some twenty books (also about to appear: Akhenaten, an historian’s view (AU Cairo) and Magick City, travellers to Rome from the Middle Ages to 1900, 3 vols, Pallas Athena, London) and more than 100 articles and chapters in books.
May 23rd, 2019.
Unearthed Stories: Hidden voices from Victorian archaeology
Presented by Anne-Louis Muir
Curator, Heritage Victoria
Archaeologists working on historic sites in Australia have advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantages include the fact that the sites are not necessarily very old in terms of human history, and so we don’t find grails, or lost arks, pyramids or mummies. However a big advantage we do have is the historical record. The very thing that makes our archaeology less glamorous provides us with the means to explore stories in depth – to really get to know who lived or worked on the site – both through the official record, and through the objects they left behind. This talk will explore stories from 3 Victorian archaeological sites through their artefacts and their historical records: the wreck of the Fiji, 4-6 Cohen Place, and Parliament House.
Annie Muir has been the Curator of the State historical and maritime archaeological collection at Heritage Victoria for five years. Before this she worked in various collection management and archaeological roles with Heritage Victoria and other agencies. Annie has a Masters degree in Archaeology from La Trobe University and special interests in exploring engaging ways of interpreting and displaying archaeological artefacts, as well as Bollywood dance.
March 21st, 2019.
Studying Indigenous Astronomical Knowledge: Challenges of the physical and social scientist
Senior Research Fellow, Monash Indigenous Studies Centre, Monash University
November 15th, 2018.
Heritage in the Middle East: Responding to the Crisis
Presented by Assoc. Prof. Andrew Jamieson, University of Melbourne
Conflict in the Middle East has unleashed an unimaginable wave of human suffering as well as an unprecedented period of heritage destruction. The appalling, deliberate and calculated devastation of cultural property in Syria and Iraq by the self-proclaimed Islamic State has stirred a widespread sense of horror within the media and general public.In responding to the destruction of cultural heritage, critics have reported on the failure of the international heritage community, which has focused on three types of responses: site documentation projects; public-awareness-raising projects; and emergency training and mitigation projects. The international community have placed a premium on obtaining information about the crisis and distributing it, rather than acting to ameliorate the conditions created by the crisis in whatever small way possible. According to some commentators, we have failed as an expert community if we do not demand something more. This paper examines two responses: 1) SHIRĪN International and 2) SHIRĪN Australia. SHIRĪN International (Syrian Heritage in Danger: An International Research Initiative and Network) was created at the International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East in Basel in 2014: this presentation will provide an overview of the past activities, present projects and future plans of the SHIRĪN initiative. SHIRĪN Australia was formed shortly after SHIRĪN International and identified four primary tasks: this talk will document these actions.
Andrew Jamieson, Associate Professor in Near Eastern Archaeology at the University of Melbourne, has extensive archaeological field experience and has worked at sites in Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon. In the mid-1990s he was deeply involved in the UNESCO post-war salvage operations in Beirut. For ten seasons he was involved in the Australian salvage excavations at Tell Ahmar in northern Syria. Since 2005 he has curated over 20 exhibitions in the Classics and Archaeology Gallery at the Ian Potter Museum of Art. In 2014 he was invited to represent Australia on the Shirin international committee for Safeguarding and Protection of Syrian Heritage. In 2015 Andrew won the Barbara Falk Award for Teaching Excellence. He became the general editor of Ancient Near Eastern Studies in 2017. His research interests include ancient Near Eastern archaeology and archaeological collection management practices.
October 18th, 2018.
A brief history of archaeology in Victoria
Presented by Gary Presland
Although it was not until 1972 that archaeological fieldwork was officially sanctioned in Victoria, much work—generally of a sporadic and localised nature—had taken place prior to that. In this lecture, Dr Gary Presland will provide a brief overview of the circumstances and purposes of these early endeavours. He will look also at a number of significant moments in the history of archaeology in Victoria.
Gary Presland’s first involvement with Aboriginal archaeology was with members of the Archaeological Society of Victoria, at the Dry Creek site in 1972. He subsequently gained an MA at the Institute of Archaeology in London. He was a part-time Tutor in the Prehistory Division at La Trobe University, before joining the Victoria Archaeological Survey in October 1980. He is the author of five books and numerous articles, and is a regular speaker, on Aboriginal studies in Victoria.
September 20th, 2018
The Bab adh-Dhra’ proposal: Using objects to engage students with the ancient world
Presented by Gemma Lee
Ph.D. Student, University of Melbourne
Active, student-centred teaching and learning approaches, such as object-based learning (OBL), are gaining attention as an alternative form of pedagogy in tertiary education. OBL is a teaching practice proven to give rise to deeper engagement by providing multi-sensory learning experiences. For university students, OBL has the potential to provide highly immersive opportunities; however, the use and selection of the types of objects involved in curricula of Near Eastern studies has largely gone unscrutinised.
This paper will discuss doctoral research conducted to examine and evaluate OBL experiences of students studying Near Eastern archaeology at the University of Melbourne. The objects selected for this initiative focus on the Early Bronze Age pottery from the Jordanian site of Bab adh-Dhra’. The Bab adh-Dhra’ objects offer multiple levels for interpretation and consideration: ranging from issues covering the archaeology of death and mortuary practices to the looting and subsequent excavation and post-excavation management of the site’s artefact assemblage. In this presentation, preliminary findings from the study are analysed which indicate favourable student responses verifying the efficacy of OBL in teaching and learning outcomes and engaging students in Near Eastern archaeology.
Gemma is currently undertaking her PhD dissertation at the University of Melbourne, studying the use of Jordanian ceramic artefacts from Bab adh-Dhra’ in education and display. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Melbourne, completing a Bachelor of Arts with majors in Ancient World Studies and Anthropology. Gemma’s archaeological fieldwork experience includes excavating in Israel at Tell es-Safi/Gath, and at numerous historical sites across Victoria, Australia.
Counter-efforts to heritage-based violence: What have we learned from Iraq and Syria?
Presented by Sophie Russell
Ph.D. Student, University of Melbourne
This talk will explore the ways in which the global community has responded to the destruction of archaeological sites in Iraq and Syria since the emergence of Islamic State in 2014. In the wake of cultural genocide, programs to protect the archaeology of Syria and Iraq during armed conflict have been found wanting. This talk highlights the significance of recognising archaeological sites as non-neutral spaces that hold a multitude of meanings to a variety of stakeholders in formulating effective responses to heritage-based violence. It will also address the opportunities and limitations of emerging heritage digitization trends in the field of conflict archaeology.
Sophie Russell is a first year PhD student at the University of Melbourne in the department of Classics and Archaeology. Sophie is interested in the management of cultural heritage in post-disaster contexts, and her doctoral research builds on her 2017 Honours thesis entitled ‘Global Responses to Islamic State Cultural Heritage Destruction: Are They Succeeding’? She has recently worked in the Philippines on heritage conservation following extensive typhoon damage, and has participated in archaeological fieldwork in Peru, Greece and Australia. Sophie is also currently involved in the SHIRīN initiative for the protection of archaeological sites in Syria.
August 16th, 2018
Technology or Taphonomy? A study of the world’s oldest bone tools from Drimolen, South Africa
Presented by Rhiannon Stammers
Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Archaeology and History, La Trobe University
The world’s oldest purported bone tool technology comes from a series of palaeocave sites in the UNESCO Fossil Hominid Sites of South Africa World Heritage Area, Gauteng Province, South Africa. These purported bone tools are dated to between c.2 and 1 million years and have been suggested to be utilised to either excavate underground storage organs (Brain and Shipman, 1993) or forage for termites (Backwell and d’Errico, 2001). The identification of these bone tools is based on their gross morphology and an associated use-wear pattern (Backwell and d’Errico, 2001). However, there is disagreement as to if these fossils are in fact tools (Kuman, 2005). Through comparative analysis and utilising of the concepts of traceology, a collection of 64 specimens from DMQ and two specimens from Kromdraai B were identified as bone tools. The use-wear on the working tip of these tools most closely correlates to sediment interaction and the tools are most likely a multi-purpose implement. Bone surface modifications created by site formation processes do not appear to correlate with the use-wear pattern that is restricted to the working end of the tools. Additionally, it is argued that the bone technology is a genuine element of the South African ESA, equally associated with Mode 1 and Mode 2 stone technology and the correlation between tool user and tool is not clear.
July 19th, 2018
Shifting Human Subsistence in Late Bronze to Late Antique Greater Mtskheta, Georgia: Evidence from Carbon and Nitrogen Stable Isotopes
Presented by Natalie Langowski
Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, University of Melbourne
The region of Mtskheta, Georgia, lies nestled in the Caucasus mountains at the cross-roads between Europe and Western Asia. Rich archaeological evidence reflects a cultural transition from the sedentary settlements of the Late Bronze Age (1500 BC) to the urban populations of the Iberian Kingdom (~400 BC-AD 580).
This doctoral research project uses stable isotope analyses of skeletal remains to reconstruct the human diet over time, and examine the social organisation of the Iberian Kingdom. Carbon and nitrogen isotope results highlight the variable nature of Late Bronze-Early Iron Age subsistence practices, which stands well apart from the standardised animal management strategies of the Hellenistic and Roman-Late Antique periods.
Natalie is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Melbourne Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, and an AASV committee member. She completed her Master’s research project at the University of Melbourne in 2014, using stable isotopes to reconstruct human diet at Samtavro cemetery (Mtskheta, Georgia) in the 1st-6th centuries AD. This doctorial research expands on that work to examine human behaviour at multiple sites across Mtskheta, and across various time periods.
Palaeopathological survey of Late Bronze Age to Early Medieval Period populations from the Mtskheta region, Georgia
Presented by Marine Chkadua
Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, University of Melbourne
The Mtskheta region lies in central eastern Georgia (southern Caucasus), and was situated at the crossroads of important trade routes in ancient times. It provides an important site for studying human health during a period of transition from a pre-state society in the Bronze Age (15th – 6th centuries BC), to an urbanised city-state in the subsequent Antique Period (5th century BC – 4th century AD) and Early Middle Ages (4th – 6th centuries AD).
Based on doctoral research, this talk will focus on lesions on the skull known as porotic hyperostosis, which are multifactorial stress markers for anaemia. Changes in the incidence and degree of severity of the lesions provide important insights into the transition of health from pre-settled agro-pastoralists to settled urban dwellers and allow us to examine trends of mortality and survivability of populations over time.
Marine is a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience. She graduated with a Medical degree from the Tbilisi National Medical University. In 2008, she began working at the Georgian National Museum managing the anthropological collections. Marine has participated in numerous archaeological and paleontological expeditions in Georgia, and joined several international archaeological and anthropological research projects. She is a recipient of the “President’s Grant for Young Scientists”, Tbilisi, Georgia.
June 21st, 2018
A Review of the Latest Evidence on Human Origins
Presented by Dr Varsha Pilbrow
Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, University of Melbourne
Our understanding of the dispersal of Homo sapiens out of Africa has recently become complicated by new fossil discoveries within Africa and throughout the world. Early dates for modern humans in several parts of the African subcontinent, Asia, and Australia challenge our previous views on the origin and dispersal of modern humans from East Africa around 200,000 years ago. This talk will review the current evidence by bringing together the paleontological, archaeological and genetic information along with current theoretical and methodological perspectives to provide an up-to-date understanding of human evolutionary history.
Dr Pilbrow is a biological anthropologist at the University of Melbourne, with a research focus on palaeoanthropology, in particular, the dentition of fossil and living apes. She completed her PhD in Biological Anthropology from New York University, USA in 2003. After three years of postdoctoral research at George Washington University and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, she joined the University of Melbourne, Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience as Lecturer in Topographic Anatomy.
Her research has taken her to fossil hominid localities in Tanzania and Kenya, and museums in Africa, Europe, Asia and North America. Extensive data collected from these sites has allowed her to develop comprehensive models, including a three-dimensional great ape dental scoring system from the living apes to apply to fossil species questions.
May 17th, 2018
Gariwerd petroglyphs and their situation within the Gariwerd rock art sequence
Presented by R. (Ben) Gunn,
Recent site recording has recorded the first examples of petroglyphs within Gariwerd (Grampians National Park). At one small site there is a single pounded motif, and at another a pair of scratched and abraded figures. These images are unique in Victoria and appear to have no similarities with other rock art in south-east Australia. This presentation will introduce the sites and their rock art and discuss the situation of the petroglyphs within the Gariwerd rock art sequence.
Dr Gunn is a freelance consultant archaeologist specialising in the recording and management of Aboriginal rock art. In 2016 he was awarded his PhD at Monash University documenting and analysing the rock art of Nawarla Gabarnmang (a major site in Arnhem Land). He has recorded rock art in many areas of Australia documenting both the archaeological and ethnographic aspects of the sites with senior custodians and traditional owners. Living near the Grampians, he has been studying Gariwerd rock art on and off for the past 28 years.
April 19th, 2018
The Gallipoli battlefields and the archaeology of Anzac
Presented by Dr Jessie Birkett-Rees
Lecturer, Centre for Ancient Culture, Monash University
This lecture presents the results of archaeological fieldwork in the Anzac battlefields at Gallipoli. The Gallipoli campaign continues to generate many historical publications but the largest document, the battlefield itself, has only very recently been investigated by archaeologists. Between 2010 and 2015, a team of archaeologists led by Professor Antonio Sagona, historians and classicists from Australia, New Zealand and Turkey surveyed the Anzac battlefields at Gallipoli; the area near Anzac Cove offers one of the best preserved WWI landscapes in the world. The battles of the First World War at Gallipoli in 1915 were immensely destructive to generations of Australians, New Zealanders, Ottoman Turks and their allies, yet the eight months of industrial conflict on the peninsula produced a unique material record. Here I unite Classical and historical sources with the newly documented archaeological record of the battlefields to present a new perspective on the landscapes of Gallipoli.
Dr Jessie Birkett-Rees is an archaeologist of the ancient Near East and a specialist in cultural landscape analyses. She researches the ways people in the past adapted to and understood their environment, and is interested in the archaeology of conflict and commemoration. As a member of the Joint Historical and Archaeological Survey of the Gallipoli battlefields, she spent five field seasons recording and investigating the material remains of the 1915 conflict within the context of the broader human history of the peninsula. She has research projects in Turkey, South Africa, Australia and Georgia, but spends most of her year in Melbourne where she is Lecturer in Archaeology at Monash University.
March 15, 2018
Homo sapiens neanderthalensis the first artists?
Presented by Dr Margaret Bullen
Archaeological and Anthropological Society of Victoria
Recent research into the Neanderthal genome and new dates for marks in European caves that predate the arrival of Homo sapiens sapiens give credence to the belief that some of the oldest European art may not be the work of Homo sapiens sapiens. Many questions remain unanswered; did the Neanderthals have the capacity to create art, and if so did they do so and when do marks become art? This talk will probably raise more questions than it answers.”
Margaret Bullen is a medical practitioner who also has a degree in prehistory and a 20 year interest in studying rock art from around the world.
November 16, 2017
Investigating the role of native animals in Australian archaeology
Presented by Dr Jillian Garvey
Department of Archaeology and History, La Trobe University.
Little is known about how animals were used in past Aboriginal diets, or how they were hunted, butchered and cooked. Due to this lack of information archaeologists have had to reply on international zooarchaeological studies. However, these are mainly based on placental ungulates such as sheep and reindeer, making the results difficult to apply to Australia’s unique fauna. New research on modern butchery and the nutritional value, as well as the ethnography and contemporary use of native animals is being combined to establish baseline information to help understand archaeological faunal assemblages, as well as the potential role of native animals in the modern Australian diet.
Dr Jillian Garvey is an ARC DECRA Fellow in the Department of Archaeology and History at La Trobe University. She researches Australian Indigenous archaeology with current projects investigating human occupation and subsistence during the late Quaternary in northwest Victoria and Tasmania. With formal training in zoology and archaeology, Jillian specialises in zooarchaeology – the role of animals in the archaeological record.
October 19, 2017
The Final Fate of the La Pérouse Expedition: Wrecked in Northern Australia?
Presented by Dr Garrick Hitchcock,
School of Culture, History and Language; Australian National University
The final fate of the French expedition led by Jean-François de Galaup, Comte de La Pérouse, has been a source of intrigue and fascination ever since the frigates L’Astrolabe and La Boussole sailed out of Australia’s Botany Bay on 10 March 1788, vanishing, it seemed, into the vastness of the Pacific Ocean. Forty years later it was discovered that both ships had been dashed on the fringing reef of Vanikoro, in the Santa Cruz Group, Solomon Islands, during a violent storm. According to Vanikoro oral history, after approximately six months the survivors departed the island in a two-masted vessel constructed from wreckage of L’Astrolabe and timber hewn from the forest. They were never seen again. This paper reports the rediscovery of a newspaper article and letter, which point to the possibility that the La Pérouse expedition ended finally in northern Australia.
Dr Garrick Hitchcock is a Melbourne-based anthropologist specialising in New Guinea and Torres Strait. He is Director, Arafura Consulting and Honorary Senior Lecturer in the School of Culture, History and Language at The Australian National University. An article by Dr Hitchcock, exploring the final fate of the La Pérouse expedition, has been published in The Journal of Pacific History.
September 21, 2017
The Cemetery 1000 Tomb Assemblages from Tell Fara South
Presented by Paula Phillips
PhD Candidate, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne
The site of Tell Fara South in the southern Levant was excavated over two seasons (1928-1930), by Flinders Petrie on behalf of the British School of Archaeology in Egypt, uncovering material in settlement and tomb contexts, dating from the Middle Bronze Age to the Roman Period. The Cemetery 1000 is one of two cemeteries at the site dated to the Middle Bronze Period (roughly 2000-1570BCE) in the Eastern Mediterranean, contemporary with the Middle Kingdom and Second Intermediate Periods in Egypt. The topic of this talk is a brief introduction to current research into the tomb assemblages from this cemetery, aimed at verifying and ideally refining their dating, and then placing the cemetery in its correct chronological context with regard to the states of the Eastern Mediterranean at the time (Egypt, Cyprus, Crete, Anatolia, Syria, Mesopotamia and the Levant). The latter is particularly important given the period currently remains poorly understood in many places.
Paula Phillips is a second year PhD student in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne, under the supervision of Dr Andrew Jamieson and Dr Louise Hitchcock. The topic of her research is a re-examination of Middle Bronze Age tomb assemblages from the Cemetery 1000 at Tell Fara South in the southern Levant, originally excavated by Sir Flinders Petrie on behalf of the British School of Archaeology in Egypt from 1928-1930. Prior to the University of Melbourne, Paula completed a BA with Honours at Monash University under the supervision of Dr Colin Hope. This project looked at scarab seals and associated pottery from Egypt’s Middle Kingdom and Second Intermediate Period, contemporary with the Middle Bronze Period in the Levant. The focus of both projects is a better understanding of the events and interactions that characterize this crucial part of history in the Eastern Mediterranean (approximately 2000-1575BCE).
The Transmission and Innovation of Faience and Glass Technologies from Egypt and the Near East to Cyprus in the Late Bronze Age
Presented by Kellie Youngs
PhD Candidate, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne
Society in Cyprus during the Protohistoric Bronze Age (1750/1700-1100/1050 BCE) went through significant and rapid changes, many of which are imperfectly understood. Building on an agro-pastoral economic base, Cypriots extended their society into a more industrial, town-centred, way of life that was more stratified, and international in outlook (Webb, 2005). Scholars emphasise the development of the copper industry as the major contributing factor to the accelerated growth of the Cypriot economy, as it was ushered into the prominent and extensive system of international trade in the eastern Mediterranean (Knapp, 2013, p. 416). However, many interrelated questions of identity remain, particularly regarding the formation of social, political, and economic entities, as well as migration, integration, materiality, and connectivity. To illuminate these processes of change, it is my intention to survey the import, manufacture, and use of two luxury materials, glass, and faience, in Cyprus during the Late Bronze Age to provide a material context for the examination of power relations.
Archaeologist and graduate researcher at the University of Melbourne, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies.
Research interests: Technological innovation and logistics in the ancient Eastern Mediterranean, the relationships between people and landscape, and the archaeology of conflict and commemoration. Methodologies include spatial analyses, and the application of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to model logistical links between urban environs and landscape, and address archaeological questions. Fieldwork undertaken in Australia and Cyprus.
Supervisors: Associate Professor Louise Hitchcock and Dr Andrew Jamieson
In the past year, also worked on two projects at the University of Melbourne under the guidance of Dr James Harvey Kim On Chong-Gossard:
1) Classics and Archaeology Thesis Digitisation Project
2) Classics and Archaeology Library Project (relocating the library into its new Arts West home).
Prior to graduate research:
– Monash Arts Honours in Archaeology
– Monash Bachelor Business in Manufacturing Management
– Twenty years’ experience as a Business Management Professional, working as an independent entrepreneur and in corporate management roles in the manufacturing, logistics, training, and retail sectors.
August 17, 2017
Maritime cultural landscapes of the ‘middle ground’: The development of the Pākehā shipbuilding industry in pre-colonial New Zealand (1792-1840)
Presented by Matthew Carter
PhD Candidate, Department of Archaeology and History, La Trobe University
Between 1792 and 1840 at least 22 sailing ships were built in 11 different shipbuilding yards around New Zealand. Located on the edge of the Tasman Frontier, these yards manufactured the largest and most complex machines of the period while also operating as hubs of entanglement between Pākehā and Māori. As part of ongoing PhD research, this presentation will combine the archaeological and historical evidence of this industry to explore the motives, strategies and products of these shipwrights providing unique insights into pre-colonial society in this formative period of New Zealand’s past.
Matt Carter is currently completing his PhD at La Trobe University under Professor Susan Lawrence investigating the archaeology of innovation and entanglement in the pre-colonial shipbuilding industry in New Zealand. Prior to this, he worked as a consultant archaeologist on diverse projects such as earthquake archaeology in Christchurch, New Zealand, mapping underwater World War II plane and ship wrecks in Darwin Harbour, and searching for submerged Mesolithic settlements (c. 10500-8500BP) off the coast of Qatar. In 2007, he completed a Graduate Diploma in Maritime Archaeology through Flinders University and graduated with an MA in Anthropology in 2011 from Otago University. In 2009, he received the Our World-Underwater Australasian Rolex Scholarship – the first New Zealander, and maritime archaeologist, to receive this prestigious award. Matt is a Vice-President of the Australasian Institute for Maritime Archaeology (AIMA), the New Zealand representative on the International Committee on Underwater Cultural Heritage (ICUCH), as well as a member of the Explorers Club. Most recently, Matt was a specialist presenter on the television series ‘Coast: New Zealand’, a spin-off from the BBC-produced UK series ‘Coast’.
Insights into Life at Lake Mungo During the Last Glacial Maximum
Presented by Elizabeth Foley
PhD Candidate, Department of Archaeology and History, La Trobe University
The aim of my research is to build a detailed picture of what life was like on the shores of Lake Mungo during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). During this period, lake levels fluctuated between low and high but regionally, conditions were extremely cold and arid. Highly detailed palaeoenvironmental information coupled with a high resolution, landscape record of archaeological material make the lunette of Lake Mungo an ideal place to investigate the lifeways of the people who successfully endured the LGM. The research draws on multiple strands of evidence, including analyses of stone, bone and shell tools, and faunal remains from hearths. The integration of these data sets will provide insights into aspects of people’s diet, technology and subsistence strategies.
Elizabeth (Liz) is a third-year PhD student at La Trobe University. She has been granted the privilege of working at Lake Mungo by the three Traditional Tribal Groups, the Mutthi Mutthi, Ngyiampaa and Pakaantji/Barkindji. She completed her Honours degree in Archaeology at La Trobe University in 2011, and has experience working on Aboriginal sites and artefact assemblages from NSW, Victoria and South Australia.
July 20, 2017
Songs of Central Australia Revisited
Presented by Jay Gibson
PhD Candidate, Monash Indigenous Centre, Monash University Melbourne, Australia
T.G.H. Strehlow’s research on song and ritual in Central Australia stands as one of the most detailed studies of its type ever made in Australia. Succumbing to terrible hubris however, Strehlow cast himself as the only worthy ‘heir’ to these traditions and remained blinkered to the possibility of their ongoing relevance to Central Australian Aboriginal people. In this paper, I describe the process of re-examining Strehlow’s recordings of song and ceremony in collaboration with contemporary Arrernte and Anmatyerr men over a number of years. Included in these discussions were men across three generations, including some of those who acted as informants to Strehlow in the 1960s, those that witnessed him at work in their communities, and younger men who have come to this material for the first time. Recasting Strehlow’s collection as a co-production, actively made with informants who responded dynamically and creatively to their unequal relationships with ethnographers, I argue for greater emphasis on the dialogical and relational properties inherent in ethnographic research. I also describe Anmatyerr people’s extensive contemporary knowledge of this material, as well as the ongoing use of song and ritual in these communities today.
Jason Gibson is an anthropologist and historian specialising in the intercultural histories and ethnography of Central Australia. He has worked with both the Strehlow Research Centre and the Melbourne Museum on the repatriation of men’s ceremonial objects as well as the return of film and audio recordings to Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. Jason has also taught in Indigenous Studies at the Monash Indigenous Centre (Monash University) and coordinated a major Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage project concerning the works of seminal anthropologists Baldwin Spencer and Francis Gillen with the Australian National University. He is currently engaged in another ARC concerning the nineteenth century Australian anthropologists A.W. Howitt and Lorimer Fison, as well as the publication of Strehlow’s ‘Land of Altjira’.
Breaking bones: an anthropological analysis of the skeletal trauma resulting from falls
Presented by Samantha Rowbotham
PhD Candidate, Department of Forensic Medicine, Monash University
Falls are the second leading cause of unintentional injury and death worldwide. Each fall constitutes its own distinct low-energy vertical deceleration event which often results in blunt force trauma (BFT) to the skeleton. How the BFT from a fall manifests in the skeleton however, is currently poorly researched and thus poorly understood by forensic anthropologists. Subsequently, when forensic anthropologists examine skeletal remains with BFT and they do not know the circumstances surrounding the death of that person, it remains difficult for them to interpret if a fall was or was not involved in causing that BFT. To augment this deficit, this doctoral research is investigating what, if any, are the skeletal fracture patterns and fracture morphologies that result from three of the most common types of fatal falls: low free falls (≤ 3m), high free falls (˂3m) and falls involving stairs. To investigate the skeletal trauma resulting from these three types of falls, two unique Victorian resources were used for data collection; the National Coronial Information System (NCIS) database and the post-mortem computed tomography (PMCT) database at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine. Skeletal trauma was analysed using the full-body PMCT scans of individuals who were known to have died from these falls. This trauma was then contextualized to the variables that are known to influence how an individual falls, as recorded in the NCIS. A number of distinct fracture patterns and fracture morphologies were found to be associated with these particular types of falls. Results of this research will assist forensic anthropologists with their interpretations of the mechanism of BFT when they are investigating the circumstances of death for human skeletal remains in medico-legal contexts.
Samantha is a doctoral candidate in forensic anthropology with the Department of Forensic Medicine, Monash University. She has completed a Bachelor of Arts (Archaeology) with the University of Queensland in 2010 and a Master of Archaeological Science (Research) (First Class Honors) with the Australian National University in 2012. Since 2009 she has been involved with archaeological excavations, osteology research, bioarchaeology teaching projects and forensic anthropology casework in Asia, Europe, Central America and Australia.
June 15, 2017
Early Gold rush Carlton – Recent Excavations in Swanston Street
Presented by Jodie Mitchell
Director of Alpha Archaeology Pty Ltd
Melbourne heritage consultancy Alpha Archaeology has recently completed a large archaeological excavation on the corner of Swanston and Queensberry Streets, Carlton. This is part of the highly significant historical site of the Former Carlton United Brewery complex, containing numerous terrace shops and dwellings, prior to their demolition as the CUB expanded over the decades. Uncovered were some wonderfully intact remnants of Melbourne’s early Gold rush period, when Carlton was first established in 1852, including some great unexpected finds. Jodie Mitchell, Director of Alpha Archaeology, will present the findings from the dig and our understanding of this multi-phase site so far, including some of the very interesting artefacts currently being analysed.
Jodie Mitchell is a qualified archaeologist and has been the Director of Alpha Archaeology Pty Ltd since 2004. She has extensive archaeological experience working on many and varied projects throughout Australia. She has also worked on archaeological projects overseas in Thailand and Georgia, excavating burial sites and analysing the skeletal remains.
May 18, 2017
Indigenous memory methods: Stonehenge and beyond
Presented by Dr Lynne Kelly
La Trobe University
Without writing, indigenous elders memorised a vast amount of factual information on which both physical and cultural survival depended; knowledge of thousands of animals and plants, astronomical charts, vast navigation networks, genealogies, geography and geology. How did they remember so much and does this explain the purpose of ancient monuments including Stonehenge, Easter Island and the Nasca Lines? Can we use these memory methods in contemporary life?
This lecture will focus on the transmission of scientific and practical knowledge among small-scale oral cultures across the world, drawing on Australian Aboriginal, Native American, African and Pacific cultures. The lecture will explain the exact mechanisms used and why this explains the use of many enigmatic monuments around the world.
Dr Lynne Kelly is an Honorary Research Associate at LaTrobe University. Her research focusses on the way non-literate cultures memorise vast amounts of pragmatic information and the implications for archaeology and education. Her most recent books are Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies (Cambridge University Press 2015) and The Memory Code (Allen & Unwin 2016)
April 20, 2017
Wurdi Youang: What the Stones Tell us
Presented by Heather Threadgold
Aboriginal stone arrangements in Australia are rarely found intact. A study of fifteen stone sites show us that while many known sites reside in regional landscapes across Australia’s lands and waters, it is the sites on the peri-urban fringes of Australia’s metropolitan cities that are causing considerable angst to Aboriginal custodians, and debates by land use planners and developers as to how to accommodate such sites in sprawl. Three such sites — Wurdi Youang, Sunbury Earth Rings and Gummingurru – have common factors that allow an understanding of Indigenous culture, the positioning of the sites and three layers of landscape: ancient, indigenous Country’s, and European created and envisaged landscape. All three sites impinge upon farmlands and are under threat by urban sprawl. Land use planning reactions to this issue have primarily involved adaptation; a process whereby Aboriginal custodians, heritage and community groups and governments work together to create a new layered landscape of meaning that incorporates culture, community, a space, and seeks to protect/preserve/conserve the site as an artefact in time. This contrasts with comprehending its cultural meaning and role, its contribution to Indigenous cultural values, and how it sits in the process of culture establishment and continuity
Heather Threadgold is an anthropologist living in Geelong. Her research is split between cultural anthropology: Indigenous living space, stone arrangements and two distinct genres of monuments and street art culture. For the past 13 years she has been researching Wathaurong (Wadda Wurrung)Living Space in Victoria, highlighting the meanings of stone arrangements and stone monuments as tools in defining landscape, seasonal movement, burial sites and meeting places.
March 16, 2017
Settlement dynamics in the lower Pontine Plain: the results of recent archaeological fieldwork of the Minor Centres project.
Presented by Dr Gijs Tol
Lecturer, School of History and Philosophical Studies, The University of Melbourne
This paper discusses the results of recent landscape archaeological fieldwork in the Pontine Plain (Lazio, Central Italy), carried out within the framework of the Minor Centres project. This former wetland, situated ca. 50 kilometres south of Rome, has generally been considered unsuitable for large-scale habitation before Mussolini’s ambitious land reclamations of the 1930’s. However, the adoption of an integrated approach, comprising field walking, geophysical prospections and coring on and around the road stations of Forum Appii and Ad Medias are starting to reveal the much deeper history of the area. The obtained results indicate a waxing and waning of human occupation strongly interlinked with changing environmental conditions. The area appears to have been of particular importance during Rome’s early expansionist phase, when it became colonized as part of a well-planned operation comprising major infrastructural- and reclamation works.
Gijs Tol is Lecturer in Classical Archaeology at the University of Melbourne. He specializes in the archaeology and material culture of Roman Central Italy and has published studies on Landscape Archaeology, the Roman economy, Roman colonization, and craft production. Currently he is the co-director of two international research projects: the Minor Centres-project that aims to investigate the role of secondary centres in the Roman economy by performing fieldwork on a number of road stations along the Via Appia, and the Marzuolo Archaeological Project that studies the Roman-period craft site of Marzuolo in southern Tuscany (Italy).
November 17, 2016
An Integrative Bioarchaeological Approach to Studying Human Skeletal Remains from Mtskheta, Georgia at a Transformative Period of European & Asian History (1-7c AD).
Presented by Dr Varsha Pilbrow
Lecturer, Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, The University of Melbourne
The first to seventh centuries was a period of major political and cultural upheaval in Europe and Asia. The fall of the Roman and Sasanian empires, the start of the Migration Period, the incursion of Eurasian steppic nomads such as the Huns into Europe and the rise of Christianity are some of the transformational events that took place during this time. The people from the Caucasian kingdom of Iberia, based in Mtskheta in Georgia, experienced these events first-hand as a result of their crossroads location between Africa, Asia and Europe. Their legacy is preserved in their skeletal remains available abundantly in several cemeteries in Mtskheta. Who were these people? How was their biology, culture and life-history affected by surrounding events? How much of this legacy is evident in present-day Georgia? My research group has been addressing these questions through a corroborative strategy that melds traditional and new morphological approaches of physical anthropology with chemical and genetic approaches. I will present the current state of our knowledge.
Dr Varsha Pilbrow is a physical anthropologist researching palaeoanthropology, with a focus on the dentition of fossil and living apes. Her research has taken her to fossil hominin localities in Tanzania and Kenya.
October 20, 2016
There will be two presentations at the October lecture.
Palaeodemographic studies at the hominin-bearing palaeocave site of Drimolen, South Africa.
Presented by Angeline Leece
La Trobe University
Palaeodemographic studies play an important role in the interpretation of extinct hominin species.
All demographic studies are based on the concept of life-histories. Inspection of life-history characteristics provides information about the chronology and synchrony of growth, maturation, and aging milestones (i.e. age at weaning, age at first reproduction, interbirth interval, etc.).
Examining these landmarks can help broaden our understanding of the behaviour of extinct taxa. A palaeodemographic interpretation of both the Paranthropus robustus and early Homo populations within the Drimolen assemblage was established and used to hypothesis as to the accumulation processes of the material. It was found that the Drimolen P. robustus demographic profile most closely resembled that of a carnivore accumulation while the Drimolen early Homo demographic profile most closely resembled that of a natural mortality accumulation.
Angeline Leece completed her Bachelors of Anthropology Honours under the guidance of leading hominin researcher Professor David Strait. After having investigated the phylogeny of Australopithecus sediba at New York’s SUNY Albany, Angeline moved to Australia to undertake her Masters research into Paranthropus robustus at La Trobe University. Angeline has worked at a number of early hominin sites in the South African UNESCO Cradle of Humankind and was lead author for the announcement and description of the first hominin remains from the site of Haasgat. Angeline’s PhD research will focus on the adaptive, biomechanical, and phylogenetic implications of early hominin dentition.
Paleopathologies of Egyptian mummy head investigated using non-invasive imaging techniques
Presented by Stacey Gorski
A remarkable find of ancient Egyptian mummified head in the Harry Brookes Allen Museum of Anatomy and Pathology at the University of Melbourne has led to an on-going multidisciplinary project involving non-destructive scanning and three-dimensional printing in order to develop a biological profile and report on the pathology of the individual, which will be the focus of this talk. An artistic facial reconstruction of the individual was also undertaken by a forensic sculptor. Using cranial morphological criteria and other forensic techniques, the sex and approximate age of the individual has been determined. Several pathologies were apparent from the CT-scans, and appear to be population-specific in line with certain maladies that the ancient Egyptians were known to suffer from. The presentation will also go on to discuss future directions of the research being undertaken and what other information we hope to gain by conducting these analyses.
Stacey Gorski has a Bachelor of Forensic Science from Bond University on the Gold Coast and moved to Melbourne in 2015 to pursue a Master of Biomedical Science degree based in the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience at the University of Melbourne. She hopes to continue research in the fields of forensic anthropology and physical anthropology.
September 15, 2016
The prehistoric worked bone and antler assemblage at Uğurlu, Gökçeada: a local and regional perspective
Presented by Jarred Paul
University of Melbourne
Research on Greek and Roman public architecture has been characterised by a tendency to focus on individual building types, and to regard them as a series. This approach overlooks a building’s role in the overall cityscape as well as its intended effect on the observer. The identity of this observer has tended to be ill-defined in scholarship. The observer, who was either a resident or visitor to these cities, experienced public architecture as well as other objects on public display, and they
derived meaning from their placement, decoration and overall connection to the cityscape. This talk will consider the role of the ancient (and modern) observer in relation to two Hellenistic poleis in Asia Minor: a small outpost city, Lyrbe; and the “Triodos” at Ephesus. The discussion will also consider how useful it is to take the ancient observer into account when embarking on studies of ancient architecture.
Simon trained as a Classical archaeologist. His focus is on city planning, building types and their evolution, questions of social identity and the difficulties in defining ancient identity. He also engages with 3D technology and its applications to archaeology through the use of photogrammetry and 3D printing, as well as developing virtual reality environments using the Unity platform. He explores virtual reality’s practical application to excavation, archaeological reconstruction and artefact recording as well as its commercial potential.
The emergence of Greek and Roman Urbanism in Asia Minor from the 2nd century BC to the Roman Imperial period
Presented by Simon Young
University of Melbourne
The Neolithic way of life spread across Anatolia bringing with it an influx of new material and subsistence strategies. The north Aegean island-site of Uğurlu, on the periphery of northwest Anatolia, became host to a migrant community around 6500 B.C.E. that carried with them animals, objects, and tools. In this talk, the worked bone and antler assemblage at the site of Uğurlu, Gökçeada will be identified, located and interpreted through a typological and comparative analysis. The geography and history of Neolithic northwest Anatolia will be examined before an in-depth examination of the assemblage. This collection will then be compared and contrasted with other sites in the wider region to highlight common elements and local variations. Discussion will emphasise the usefulness of comparative worked bone analysis and contribute to an understanding of local and regional development in Anatolia, and the Aegean, during the Neolithic and Chalcolithic.
Jarrad is a PhD student in the Classics and Archaeology Department at the University of Melbourne. His research interests include Anatolian prehistory, craft specialisation, Aegean trade networks and bone technology.
August 18, 2016
The Archaeology of Danish Plantation Agriculture and Historical Heritage at Dodowa, Ghana
Presented by David Akwasi Mensah Abrampah
Department of Archaeology and History, La Trobe University
The closing stages of the trans-Atlantic slave trade impelled the escalation of large-scale cash crop agriculture on the Gold Coast/Ghana, as an alternative to the overseas slave trade. This subsequently led to a surge in the local slave trade in the late 18th century. Historical and archaeological researches have shown that between 1788 and 1850 the Danes established a number of plantations along the estuary of the Volta River and in the foothills of the Akuapem Mountains in the south-eastern Gold Coast/Ghana, and used the labour of enslaved Africans to cultivate them. This was an attempt by the Danes to put an end to slave trafficking across the Atlantic Ocean. The project seeks to explore and harness historical and archaeological heritage resources in the area in order to investigate one of the earliest Danish plantations known as Frederikssted, established in 1794 in Ghana. The project encompasses survey, excavations and compilation of oral traditions about the Frederikssted plantation settlement site as inhabited by plantation owners and enslaved fieldworkers. This research is a significant sequel to earlier archaeological works such as Bredwa-Mensah (2002) on Frederiksgave plantation and Decorse (1993) on Daccubie plantation, all located at the foothills of the Akuapem Mountains in Ghana.
David is a Ghanaian born international postgraduate student studying at La Trobe University since 2014. His research interests include linguistic anthropology, the archaeology of salt mining/trading and culture contact in the Gold Coast/Ghana. He is currently studying Danish plantation systems in Dodowa, in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana.
July 21, 2016
Fish traps and stone houses: new insights into the age and form of Gunditjmara sites on the Budj Bim lava flow, southwest Victoria
Presented by Prof Ian McNiven
Monash Indigenous Centre, Monash University
This talk will summarise archaeological research over the past decade between Monash University and the Gunditjmara community which has yielded new insights into the antiquity of Lake Condah’s famous fish traps and the form and use of the regions’ equally famous stone house sites.
Ian McNiven is professor of Indigenous archaeology in Monash Indigenous Centre at Monash University. He has undertaken archaeological research in Queensland (mostly Torres Strait) and Victoria, and also along the south coast of Papua New Guinea.
June 16, 2016
The people behind the AASV: Valentine Leeper, Frederick Wood-Jones, William (Bill) Culican and others
Presented by Dr Margaret Bullen
Secretary of the Archaeological and Anthropological Society of Victoria
The Anthropological Society and the Archaeological Society were each formed by people of passion but their passions were very different. The first story began soon after the First World War and the second in a country changed irrevocably by World War 2. The society formed by their coming together is now forty years old and it is an appropriate time to look back at how it all began.
Margaret Bullen has been secretary of AASV for longer than she cares to remember and a member for even longer. She is a medical doctor with a passion for rock art, the latter providing a great excuse for travel.
May 19, 2016
The Aerial Perspective: Mapping Archaeology with UAV
Presented by Dr Cliff Ogleby
University of Melbourne
This talk will cover modern developments in the mapping of archaeological sites using both off-the-shelf and custom built remotely piloted aerial vehicles (aka, UAV), along with other methods of raising a camera over an area of interest. Cliff will present on his experiences in mapping a stone arrangement, mapping excavations in the Republic of Georgia and a salvage project dealing with ‘cart ruts’ in Azerbaijan. He will also give an overview of the developments in micro-payloads such as multispectral imaging systems and even lightweight laser scanners.
Cliff Ogleby is a Senior Lecturer at The University of Melbourne in the Infrastructure Engineering department. He has nearly 40 years experience working in and around archaeology across several continents. He much prefers to fly into rock painting sites in a real helicopter.
April 21, 2016
From Long Lost Loos to Forgotten Burial Grounds
Presented by Jodie Mitchell
Director of Alpha Archaeology Pty Ltd.
Jodie Mitchell is Director and Principal Archaeologist of Melbourne based heritage consultancy Alpha Archaeology Pty Ltd. Starting her degree at the University of Queensland, then moving back to Melbourne and graduating from La Trobe University in 2004, Jodie has 12 years of archaeological experience working on a very wide range of projects throughout Australia, in Thailand and the Republic of Georgia. Burials and bodies are her passion, often describing them as “the ultimate time capsule”.
During the course of her career some interesting heritage sites have come to light, sometimes literally during construction. On Thursday Jodie will present a small number of these places – from the forgotten underground toilets in Footscray, to Melbourne’s first cemetery at the Queen Victoria Market, and other forgotten sites. She will discuss the circumstances of these sites and how they reflect the changing attitudes of societies over time as they respond to the outside influences of the world.
March 17, 2016
The Kimberley Rock Art Dating Project: Background Methods and Advances
Presented by Prof Andrew Gleadow
School of Earth Sciences, The University of Melbourne
Dating of rock art has traditionally been regarded as impossible to, at best, extremely difficult, and only likely to succeed in certain restricted circumstances. Most successful results have been obtained where charcoal has been used as a pigment, enabling direct radiocarbon dating. More recently Uranium-series dating has been applied in Europe and Indonesia to limestone cave deposits, where this method is well established for dating flowstone carbonates. Other methods, such as optically stimulated luminescence, have potential but have so far met with limited success. The spectacular rock art sites of the Kimberley, and Arnhem Land, are found in ancient sandstone terranes that are almost completely devoid of carbonates, and charcoal pigments are restricted only to the most recent rock art stages. Nevertheless, research has shown that the rock panels on which figurative and engraved art motifs are found in northern Australia are not passive substrates, but active and evolving geomorphic and geochemical environments. Understanding the local surface processes on these rock faces, and indeed the surfaces themselves, is providing new insights into mineralogical and organic accumulations that have potential for dating and often show clear bracketing age relationships to rock art. The Kimberley Rock Art Dating Project is a major multidisciplinary effort, supported by the Australian Research Council and the Kimberley Foundation Australia, to date the established rock art sequence of the Kimberley. The project involves a large team of researchers with complementary specialties in geology, geochemistry, geochronology, geomicrobiology, physics and archaeology working together with traditional owners. The concerted application of a range of advanced technologies is now making strong progress on multiple fronts. The project is the largest ever to address the central problem of advancing the science of dating rock art and success will have important implications not only for the Kimberley, but also in rock art provinces elsewhere in Australia and other parts of the world.
November 19, 2015
Dating, understanding and appreciating the Aboriginal Rock Art of the Kimberley
Presented by Dr Helen Green
University of Melbourne
Helen will be discussing results of her work as part of a multi-disciplinary project across the Kimberley to date the rock art using a wide range of scientific techniques. This involves archaeologists, chemists, geologists and physicists from the universities of Melbourne, Western Australia and Woolongong, Archae-Aus consultancy and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation. The project aims to use the information from the Kimberley rock art to provide primary evidence of how, when and why people first arrived in Australia.
The Kimberley is one of the last great wilderness areas and the age of its rock art has been challenging archaeologists for years. Direct dating of the rock art itself will hopefully avoid such questions as, was the wasp nest used for an OSL date above or below the dated Gwion image and, how relevant is dating the quartz grains below an engraved rock.
October 15, 2015
Starting from scratch: Hellenistic Pelagonia
Presented by Belinda D’Angelo
La Trobe University
Pelagonia is a large valley in the southern region of the Republic of Macedonia. The name of the area has persisted since antiquity and as such Pelagonia possesses an abundance of archaeological sites from many periods. From the late Classical period, Pelagonia was a part of the region known as Upper Macedonia and the name was retained by the Romans upon their conquest in the middle of the second century BCE. Although there exists this connection with the Macedonians during their time of power, very little is known about the peoples inhabiting the northern fringes of this dominating kingdom. Through burial analysis and funerary architecture, my research is designed to begin the process of understanding the societies of Upper Macedonia.
Belinda D’Angelo is a PhD candidate from the Archaeology Program at La Trobe University. Her specialist area is the funerary architecture and burial practices of Upper Macedonia during the Hellenistic Period. Specifically, Belinda has undertaken archaeological investigations of burials in the region of Pelagonia in the Republic of Macedonia with a view to shed light on the little-known of the region and their relationship with their powerful neighbours.
A Melbourne Institution: The former Convent of the Good Shepherd, Abbotsford
Presented by Edwina Kay
La Trobe University
Abbotsford Convent, here in Melbourne, is much-loved in our community for its beautiful gardens, picturesque heritage buildings, markets and cafes. The complex history of this former institution for wayward and vulnerable women and girls is perhaps not as well-known today as its cafes and children’s farm. This site is the focus of ongoing PhD research exploring the role of institutions in our society. Institutions such as Abbotsford Convent have been used to punish, reform and house ‘problem’ people in Australia since it was first colonised. The physical fabric of institutions is crucial to the process of institutionalisation and confinement – making it a rich source of information for archaeological analysis. This presentation will share some of the findings of this PhD research into the evolution and history of Abbotsford Convent during the nineteenth and early twentieth century, using the extant physical fabric of the institution as archaeological evidence.
Edwina is a third-year PhD candidate at La Trobe University. Her interests in historic buildings and marginalised people in the community have come together in her current research project. She is the winner of the 2015 La Trobe University College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce Three Minute Thesis Competition, and was awarded the Australasian Society for Historical Archaeology R. Ian Jack Prize for Best Honours Thesis in 2013.
September 17, 2015
Reconstructing the peopling of the deep interior of the equatorial rainforest of Kalimantan
Presented by Vida Kusmartonoë
Australian National University
The archaeological discoveries at Nanga Balang and Diang Kaung in Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) provide data on human occupation at c. 3000 BP. On the other hand a number of investigations carried out at sites which were geodesically close to the coastal area (including Malaysian Borneo) resulted a variety of chronologies indicating late Pleistocene to late Holocene occupation. This work leads to questions about whether the deep interior of the equatorial rainforest of Kalimantan provided sufficient food resources to accommodate the hunter-gatherers to obtain their daily sustenance and survive during the pleistocene until early the holocene? What kind of human activities had occurred prior to 3000 BP?
The veil of mystery was raised by a two-season excavation (2013-2014) in the upper region of the Kapuas River Basin. The radiocarbon dating of 14 charcoal samples indicated at least 6 different periods of dwelling activity, which ranged from cal BP 149 to cal BP 14992, and signified by diverse material cultures. Such chronologies would confirm an important role for such deep interior sites within the prehistory of Indonesia and Island Southeast Asia in general. Furthermore, such a record of human occupation may provide comparative data for understanding sequences of human activity in the equatorial evergreen lowland rainforest regions such as Zaire Basin and the Amazon.
Vida is a PhD student in archaeology at the Australian National University.
August 20, 2015
Distribution of Early Bronze Age Barrow Burials in South-Eastern Georgia: An Attempt to Define Landscape Management during the Early Kurgan Period
Presented by Eleonora Carminati
University of Melbourne
The Early Kurgan period is particularly well-known in southern Caucasian archaeology as a gradual moment of transition from settled, egalitarian tribes to semi-nomadic chiefdoms. The emergence of complex societies foreshadows a broader phenomenon, which will have its largest diffusion during the Middle and Late Bronze Age (2nd-1st millennium BC). The major evidence in the archaeological record is represented by remarkably wealthy burial mounds (kurgans) built in designated areas across the highlands and the river valleys of southern Caucasus. The location of these kurgans is considered a possible indication of community group’s seasonal or fixed annual movement patterns, due to the quest of pasturelands for livestock or the trade of exotic and raw goods.
Intent of this talk will be to present the preliminary results of the Early Kurgan archaeological survey (EKAS) in south-eastern Georgia analysing the distribution and exploitation of distinct landscapes and trade routes by the Early Kurgan groups during the Early Bronze Age (mid-3rd millennium BC).
Eleonora is a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne. She completed her studies in Near Eastern archaeology at Ca’ Foscari University in Venice and attended a semester course at UCL in London. Her research interests focus on the emergence of complex societies and landscape management during the Early Bronze Age (mid-3rd millennium BC) in the southern Caucasus. She is currently directing a survey project in south-eastern Georgia mapping the distribution of barrow burials (kurgans) in the area.
Re-awakening the Power of Persepolis
Presented by Annelies Van de Ven
University of Melbourne
This presentation will explore the various methods of manipulation used by Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in his revival of the Persian past during his reign. In 1971 Mohammad Reza Pahlavi invited around 500 guests including 64 world leaders to attend his celebration of 2500 Years of the Persian Empire. The festivities were held upon the ruins of Persepolis, the seat of the Achaemenid Empire, a dynasty that ruled Iran and much of West Asia. The event, by any standard, was a spectacle of dazzling proportions, emulating the great banquets and tributary processions of the Shah’s of old. It was this emulation, this re-enactment of past glory that stood central to the event’s main message, one of continuity, a legitimiser for the new Shah’s myth of pre-ordained rulership. But to what extent could he claim any direct equivalence if the audience towards which and the cultural system within which these symbols of power were being deployed was no longer the same?
Annelies is a second year PhD student within the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne. Her current research project compares how national archaeology and identity-formation are projected into the public sphere in Iran and Iraq. Before coming to Melbourne Annelies completed a master’s degree in Ancient History and Archaeology at the University of St Andrews in Scotland with minors in Art History and Anthropology. Her main field of interest is archaeological reception as well as heritage and identity studies more broadly. However, she also really enjoys working in the field and has worked with a number of excavation teams.
July 16, 2015
SHIRĪN – Syrian Heritage in Danger: An international research initiative and network
Presented by Dr Andrew Jamieson
University of Melbourne
The unfolding conflict in Syria is a catastrophe on many levels. Inevitably, Syria’s heritage is one of many casualties resulting from the armed conflict. Reports about the destruction and looting of archaeological sites, most recently at Palmyra, are extremely disturbing. Resulting from a workshop organised on Syrian Heritage, funded by the Swiss SGOA (Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Orientalische Alterumswissenschaft), as part of the 9th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East (9ICAANE) convened at the University of Basel in June 2014, a new initiative known as SHIRĪN, Syrian Heritage in Danger: an international research initiative and network, was formed. Andrew Jamieson from the Classics and Archaeology program at the University of Melbourne was invited to represent Australia on the International SHIRĪN Committee. In this presentation Andrew will discuss the history of Australian excavations in the Euphrates River valley of north Syria and the International Research Initiative for the Safeguarding and Protection of Syrian Heritage known as SHIRĪN.
Dr Andrew Jamieson, Senior Lecturer and Curator in Classics and Archaeology at the University of Melbourne, has extensive archaeological field experience and worked at sites in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Australia. In themid-1990s he was deeply involved in the UNESCO post-war salvage operations in Beirut. For ten seasons he worked at Tell Ahmar (ancient Til Barsib) on the east bank of Euphrates. He was also involved in recording the Hellenistic ceramics at Jebel Khalid in north Syria.
June 18, 2015
Footprints on the Rocks
Presented by Dr Margaret Bullen
Leave only footprints, an environmentalist’s command to leave behind no residue of one’s presence implies that footprints are ephemeral, washed away by time as are those on a beach below the high water mark. However, while countless footprints have vanished chance geological events have captured a tantalising few revealing thousands of years later a narrative of long gone journeying. Those footprints, human and non-human encode so much more than just the passage of individuals; were they adults or youth, running or walking or even hopping? In this paper human and non-human footprints will be discussed as storehouses of past presences.
Margaret Bullen is a general practitioner who also has studied archaeology with an emphasis on the study of rock art. She is particularly interested in the connections between neuroscience and rock art.
May 21, 2015
A new 3D printed great ape dental scoring system for human evolutionary research
Presented by Dr Varsha Pilbrow
University of Melbourne
Teeth have a special place in human evolutionary research because they are highly mineralized and preserve well in the fossil record. Dental morphology being under strong genetic control, fine details of teeth are commonly used in the diagnosis and differentiation of fossil species.It is hardly surprising then that dental morphology also lies at the crux of many debates within palaeoanthropology, mostcentring on the lack of standardisation in dental morphological descriptions, poor inter-observer repeatability and poor demonstration of within versus between species variation in dental features. Because sample sizes for fossilsare typically limited, these debates cannot be resolved conclusively except by using present day close evolutionary relatives as analogues for the types and ranges of variation to be expected in fossil human species.
This talk focuses on models of dental variation in our close evolutionary relatives, namely, the great apes, chimpanzees, gorillas and orang-utans. Dental features encountered in the apes are used to develop a standardised system for describing and categorising dental features and new techniques of three-dimensional printing are used to produce hand-held plaques for use by researchers studying fossil hominid dentitions. How such a system provides much needed methodological rigour in palaeoanthropological research will be discussed.
Dr Pilbrow is a physical anthropologist at the University of Melbourne, with aresearch focus on palaeoanthropology, in particular, the dentition of fossil and living apes. Her research has taken her to fossil hominid localities in Tanzania and Kenya, and museums in Africa, Europe, Asia and North America. Extensive data collected from these sites has allowed her to develop comprehensive models from the living apes to apply to fossil species questions. Most recently she has been developing a three-dimensional great ape dental scoring system, which is the topic of the talk.
April 9, 2015
The Forgotten Expedition: The Strickland River, PNG – 1885 to 2014
Presented by Monica Minnegal & Peter D Dwyer
University of Melbourne
Peter Dwyer is an honorary Senior Fellow in the School of Geography, Faculty of Science, the University of Melbourne. After many years researching and teaching as a zoologist – bats, rats, rock wallabies, bowerbirds, ants – he diverted to anthropological concerns after taking a sabbatical in Papua New Guinea. He has undertaken research, for the past 28 years with Monica Minnegal, among Siane, Etolo, Kubo, Bedamuni and Febi people in PNG and among commercial fishermen in Victoria. An early emphasis was on ethnoclassification but social and ecological concerns now predominate and questions of social change – particularly of process – are always focal.
March 19, 2015
Narrating History, Narrating Self: Negotiating National Identity in Bulgaria
Presented by Dr Tim Pilbrow
University of Melbourne
The ethnographic research on which this talk is based was carried out on the teaching of history in Bulgarian schools in the 1990’s. The speaker argues that collective identification, that is the way a group of people perceive themselves, is enabled not so much by their history or the stories of that history but rather by the way in which those stories are framed. History teachers and their students engage in discussions on national identity that are far broader in scope than the historical underpinnings. Examining how history is read through its dialogue with other disciplines enables us to explore the complex and indirect links between the author and the actual social effects. This takes us to the power laden contexts in which history is read and engaged with and wherein people consider how their common imaginings are shaped.
Dr Tim Pilbrow, Research Fellow in Anthropology and Development Studies, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne
Research Manager, Native Title Services Victoria
November 20, 2014
Digging up Ned Kelly
Presented by Jeremy Smith
We are very pleased to announce that our keynote speaker for this year’s AGM is Jeremy Smith, Senior Archaeologist at Heritage Victoria. Jeremy studied Archaeology at the University of Melbourne, and has Honours degrees in History and Archaeology, and a Masters degree in Archaeology. He worked for 4 seasons on the University of Melbourne expedition to Tell Ahmar, a Neo-Assyrian (Iron Age) settlement on the Euphrates River in northern Syria. He began working at Heritage Victoria in 1998 and was appointed Senior Archaeologist in 2002.
His particular interests are the archaeology of early Melbourne and in recent years he has become an expert in the archaeology of the Kelly gang, having been involved in projects at Stringybark Creek, the Glenrowan Siege site, the Old Melbourne Gaol, and Pentridge.
In 2009 he directed the investigations that resulted in the discovery of the remains of Ned Kelly, which will be the subject of his talk at the AGM.
October 16, 2014
Tracing the Huns from their head shapes
Presented by Dr Peter Mayall
University of Melbourne
Peter has been researching intentional cranial modification in Eurasia during the migration period (4th-6th century AD) particularly looking at the role of the Huns and the archaeological evidence from burial sites.
For the past few years Peter has been involved in the excavation of a burial site in the Republic of Georgia and laser scanning modified skulls at various places in Europe. He is a retired Obstetrician Gynaecologist now a PhD student
Diet and Social Diversity during the 2nd-5th Century at Samtavro Cemetery, Republic of Georgia
Presented by Natalie Langowski
University of Melbourne
Natalie, a Master’s student, is using molecular techniques to study the diets of the Iberian population buried at Samtavro Cemetery, Georgia. These burials are dated to the Iberian Kingdom, and exhibit significant cultural diversity in their burial customs, with at least four different burial types currently recognised.
An examination of diet directly from the bones excavated from Samtavro has provided further evidence for the co-existence of two or more distinct cultures within the Iberian population. They differed in both burial customs and their day-to-day dietary practices.
September 18, 2014
Traces in the sand: a history of human settlement at Lake Mungo, Willandra Lakes, south-eastern Australia
Presented by Dr Nicola Stern
Lecturer, La Trobe University
Lake Mungo came to the attention of the international research community during the 1970s following the discovery of were then, and still are, some of the oldest well-dated traces of human activity in Australia, including the oldest known ritual human burials. However, these are only a few of the thousands of traces of past human activity preserved in the 33-km lunette bounding the eastern margin of Lake Mungo. These activity traces span the entire known history of human settlement on the Australian continent and are preserved in sediments that reflect the hydrological conditions that prevailed in the adjacent lake at the time they accumulated. As a result, the archaeological traces preserved in the Mungo lunette present an unparalleled opportunity to investigate the changing pattern of life on the edge of the continent’s arid core as environmental conditions fluctuated over the past 45,000 years. The first systematic survey of these activity traces and their geological context began in 2009. This presentation describes how information about past activities and environments is being collected and provides new insights into the history of human settlement in the Willandra Lakes.
Dr Nicola Stern teaches in the Archaeology Program at La Trobe University and leads an inter-disciplinary research project in the Willandra Lakes Region World Heritage Area, in close collaboration with Elders from the Mutthi Mutthi, Ngyiampaa and Pakaantji/Barkindji tribes. She completed a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Sydney and a Ph.D in Palaeolithic Archaeology at Harvard University and worked on the earliest archaeological traces in Africa and rock shelters in south-west Tasmania before taking up an invitation to help develop a new generation of research in the Willandra.
August 21, 2014
Assessing season of site use in the archaeological record: A case study in the multidisciplinary approach
Presented by Georgia Roberts
La Trobe University
Assessing seasonality within the archaeological record is notoriously difficult, particularly within Australia where seasonal variation is quite limited. One exception is southwestern Tasmania, which also contains remarkably well preserved assemblages of animal remains, ranging in age from 35,000 to 11,500 years. These archaeological collections are dominated by Bennett’s wallaby and the Tasmanian Common wombat, representing the two species most predated by Aboriginal people in this region at the end of the Pleistocene. This study investigates the season/s in which these sites were being used by identifying the seasonal isotopic curve (associated within rainfall) preserved within wombat dental enamel.
Investigations into hunter-gatherer subsistence strategies during Pleistocene climatic flux have led to the development of a model of highly mobile populations utilising resources on a seasonal basis. Georgia’s PhD research aims to investigate this trend through assessing patterns of seasonal resource exploitation of Vombatus ursinus tasmaniensis, the Tasmanian Common wombat, by Australian Aboriginal people in Tasmanian archaeological sites. Seasonality of wombat hunting is being investigated by undertaking high-resolution sequential stable isotope analysis on tooth enamel of Common wombats found throughout the archaeological sequences ranging in age from approximately 35,000 BP to 11,500 BP in order to identify season of death. Comparisons between season of death for Bennett’s wallaby, the major prey species, and Common wombats, will be undertaken, in order to assess the contribution of the Common wombat in the subsistence strategies evident at the sites.
Georgia Roberts is in the second year of her PhD at La Trobe University, based in the Molecular Archaeology Lab. Georgia undertook her undergraduate degrees at the Australian National University in Canberra (BSc – Palaeoenvironments and Marine Geoscience and BA [Hons] – Archaeology and Biological Anthropology), completing a Master of Archaeological Science in 2012.
Making home: An archaeology of early colonial family farming at Gembrook, south-eastern Victoria
Presented by Wendy Morrison
La Trobe University
Silverwells is a family farm established in 1874 by one of the first selectors to settle in the Gembrook area of the Port Phillip-Westernport Bay region of south-eastern Victoria. For thirty years Silverwells was the nucleus of an embryonic settlement, providing a lifeline to scattered mining settlements and a venue for expressions of community celebration and cohesion. The original buildings and many of their contents remain on the property, and are the subject of my research. They represent a physical manifestation of an ancient process humans have been involved in for much of their history: emigration and inhabitation. They also offer a rare opportunity to investigate the initial formation of an early colonial community, created in relative isolation and through the efforts of the settlers themselves.
Emigration-immigration is an intensely emotional experience. For selectors it involved relinquishing land, family, friends and community with little or no chance of return. They then had to establish themselves in a different place that would nurture their family through successive generations. My research focuses on this process to consider a fundamental and primal question: how did a first generation settler family create home in a foreign landscape?
Wendy studied archaeology at La Trobe University, winning a number of university awards including the Deans Honours Award and the First Year Sociology Prize. In her third year she was awarded an International Network of Universities (INU) scholarship to study at Leicester University in the UK for three months, and on completion of her degree she was granted an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) to undertake a doctorate. Her research interests are strongly focused on Australian historical archaeology, and her doctoral research investigates the process of early colonial settlement and community creation at the family farm of an early settler at Gembrook, in South-eastern Victoria
July 17, 2014
Homo erectus, Homo ergaster and the Dmanisi hominids
Presented by Dr Varsha Pilbrow
Lecturer, Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, University of Melbourne
Homo erectus was first described by Eugene Dubois in the 1890, from Java, Indonesia and subsequently recognized throughout Asia by its robust cranial morphology. Similar hominin fossils from Africa were more gracile and several 100,000 years earlier than the Asian forms, leading to the belief that these were the ancestral human forms that migrated out of Africa and spread through the world. Hominin fossils from Dmanisi in Georgia began to emerge around 100years after Dubois’ discovery and in the last twenty years have changed our understanding of our earliest human ancestors. How the Dmanisi hominins fit with H. ergaster and H.erectus and how they have changed our perceptions of our evolutionary ancestry will be the focus of the talk.
Dr Varsha Pilbrow is a physical anthropologist researching palaeoanthropology, with a focus on the dentition of fossil and living apes. Her research has taken her to fossil hominin localities in Tanzania and Kenya. She is currently involved in a skeletal biology project in the republic of Georgia and with Professor Tony Sagona organised the recent visit to the University of Melbourne of Professor David Lordkipanidze.
June 19, 2014
Transegalitarian Aboriginal Societies of Southwest Victoria — A 12,000 Year Perspective
Presented by Thomas Richards
Research Fellow, Monash Indigenous Centre
Ongoing international debate regarding complexity in Southwest Victorian Aboriginal societies concerns unresolved issues surrounding the validity of the 19th century ethnographic record and the archaeological evidence for complexity in the pre-contact period. SW Victorian Aboriginal societies are critically re-examined with the aid of substantial new empirical data and by exploring the ethnographic and archaeological records through the theoretical lens of transegalitarian socio-cultural complexity. Data from shell middens in the Cape Duquesne study area are used to develop a 12,000 year long coastal archaeological sequence to identify the appearance and nature of transegalitarian features. The direct historical approach is employed at the Lake Condah Outlet study area to investigate the archaeological manifestation of an ethnohistorically chronicled Aboriginal eel fishery. Detailed archaeological mapping and recording of the still extant 19th century cultural features forms the basis for modelling the functioning of this system at varying lake levels, thus highlighting the culture-based fishery form of eel aquaculture. Transegalitarian traits in the ethnographic record of SW Victoria are identified and an assessment of the level of transegalitarian complexity discussed for several key variables, including population density, sedentism, land and resource ownership, production of economic surplus, leadership and government, marriage, polygyny and moieties, and meetings. Finally, the appearance of transegalitarian features SW Victoria is considered in chronological sequence.
Tom is an archaeologist who has been involved in research, consulting, government heritage regulation and teaching in Canada, Guatemala, Britain, Australia and Papua New Guinea. Tom has over 50 publications, most recently in journals such as Australian Archaeology, Journal of Field Archaeology, Journal of Archaeological Science, Australian Aboriginal Studies and World Archaeology.
Tom is a Research Fellow with the Monash Indigenous Centre, co-directing research on the remains of newly discovered Lapita settlements excavated recently at Caution Bay near Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. The Smithsonian Institution is publishing a nine volume series of monographs, “Caution Bay Studies in Archaeology,” on the results of this research and the first volume, co-edited by Tom has recently been completed and sent to the publishers.
Tom has long been a practitioner of community archaeology. Early research in partnership with First Nations people involved investigation of the emergence of sedentary pithouse villages on the Plateau of British Columbia. More recently Tom has worked closely with Traditional Owners on the study of transegalitarian Aboriginal societies in southwest Victoria.
May 15, 2014
A Rara Avis: FE Williams, the Government Anthropologist of Papua and the Papuan Official Collection
Presented by Dr Sylvia Schaffarczyk, AASV member
FE Williams, the Government Anthropologist of the Territory of Papua from 1922-43 is well known for his ethnographic writing and photography. These aspects of his life have been covered in some detail (Young and Clark 2001, Griffiths 1977) , and are still undergoing scrutiny (Bell 2006), while his collecting has not. While Williams himself saw collecting as a perfunctory part of his duties as Government Anthropologist, his contributions to the Papuan Official Collection (POC), include some of the best provenanced material in the collection and form an unusual sub-set within what is otherwise a rather haphazard official collection. The POC is held at the National Museum of
April 17, 2014
Mystery Stones from the Arnhem Land Plateau
Presented by R (ben) Gunn & Leigh Douglas
One of the unusual features repeatedly found on the Arnhem Land Plateau are small stone tablets propped up and chocked to make them prominent. No Jawoyn people can offer any interpretation of these features and there is no consistency in their formal properties
Similar raised slabs were reported by Love from the Kimberley region; their meanings ranging from signifying sacred places or features to documenting where a person killed a kangaroo.
The well-illustrated presentation will offer the extent of our knowledge of these Arnhem Land stones and their archaeological context.
For the past eight years ‘ben’ and Leigh have been recording Jawoyn rock art and other sites and features across Jawoyn lands. ben has been recording rock art for over thirty years throughout Australia and internationally. Leigh has been photographing rock art for the past ten years.
March 20, 2014
The Archaeoastronomy of the Megaliths of Arles: cosmology and monumental architecture in the European Neolithic
Presented by Morgan Saletta
Morgan Saletta will present his archaeoastronomical study of the megalithic hypogées of Arles (The Arles/Fontvieille monuments) which were probably built between 3500 BC and3000 BC. Four of these large subterranean monuments were oriented toward the setting sun on the equinoxes while the largest, the Grotte de Cordes was oriented toward the winter solstice so as to be illuminated at seasonally important periods of the year for ritual, ceremonial and cosmologically symbolic purposes. This illumination phenomenon, which Morgan is the first to have documented, is very similar to the well-known winter solstice illumination of Newgrange in Ireland and Maeshowe in Scotland. Morgan will discuss how his research and discoveries contribute to and engage with longstanding debates in archaeology concerning the origin, diffusion and meaning of megaliths and other monuments in Neolithic Europe and in the recognition of these monuments from a world heritage perspective.
Morgan was educated in the U.S and France, earning Master’s degrees in Anthropology at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales and in Museum and Heritage Studies at the Muséum National d’Histoire National (Paris) before becoming a doctoral candidate in the History and Philosophy of Science at Melbourne University. An American by birth, he may have left his heart in his native San Francisco but now calls Melbourne home.
Marcia Nugent (University of Melbourne)
“Botanic Motifs of the Bronze Age Cycladic Islands: Identity, Belief, Ritual and Trade”
Antonio Gonzalez (University of Melbourne)
“Rethinking heritage. Landscape iconoclasm in the Burrup Peninsula (Western Australia)”
Rebekah Kurpiel (LaTrobe University)
“Where did it all come from?: A study of stone sources in the Lake Mungo region, southwest New South Wales”
Claudia A. Garcia-Solis (LaTrobe University)
“Behind the Stucco: Technology and Artifices in the Maya City of Calakmul”
Michael Lever (Andrew Long and Associates)
“Neither Bombs nor Butter –V. Gordon Childe and the Life Archaeological”
Genevieve Grieves, Amanda Reynolds and Rosemary Wrench (Museum Victoria)
“First Peoples: coming soon … ” First Peoples is an exciting new exhibition opening in 2013 at the Bunjilaka Cultural Centre in the Melbourne Museum.
Dr Liam M. Brady and Assoc Prof John Bradley (Monash University)
“Images of Relatedness”: patterning, cultural contexts and agency in Yanyuwa rock art, SW Gulf of Carpentaria
Dr Phillip Edwards (La Trobe University):
“The History of Archaeological Excavation: what did Wheeler really know?”
Associate Professor Richard Cosgrove (La Trobe University)
“Fire, people and climate change in the Wet Tropics bioregion, north Queensland”
(AGM) Dr Colin Hope, “The Death-Pits of Ur”.
Johanna Petkov (Monash University)
Child and Infant Burials in New Kingdom Egypt
Daniel James (Monash University)
The Painted Past – the rock-art of the Little Barra rockshelter, Jawoyn country, Arnhem Land
Caroline Tully (University of Melbourne)
A Little World Made Cunningly: Glyptic Images of Tree Cult in the Late Bronze Age Aegean
Aleksandra Michalewicz (University of Melbourne)
Roman and late Antique mortuary ritual at the Samtavro Cemetery of Caucasian Iberia
Meredith Filihia (La Trobe University)
Aspects of Indigenous Technological Change and Adaptation: an Archaeology of Culture Contact
Anthony Bagshaw (La Trobe University)
Tasmanian Pottery and the Jam Trade 1848-1855
Ajda Vrbic (Alpha Archaeology)
Archaeology and Folklore tradition of Salek Valley Slovenia
Michael Lever (Andrew Long and Associates)
Why chamber pots don’t have lids – Melbourne, Miasma and Material Culture.
Prof Antonio Sagona (University of Melbourne)
Unlocking Gallipoli: New perspectives on the history and archaeology of the ANZAC battlefield.
Dr Heather Jackson (University of Melbourne)
The terracotta people of Jebel Khalid on the Euphrates
Dr Beth Gott, (Monash University)
Aboriginal plant use and the importance of management