Archaeology

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Salvage archaeology at the site of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital.

Research Overview

The new Royal Adelaide Hospital site development has offered a valuable opportunity to salvage archaeology from the early years of Adelaide’s settlement. The same site was used as a sheep yard and refuse dump from circa 1845 and until 1913 when the rail yards were commenced. The salvage assemblage offers a treasure trove of information about Adelaide life, particularly in the late 1800s. Numerous locally manufactured glass and ceramic bottles, imported pottery and other goods indicative of a prosperous Victorian society make up the collection, as well as much sheep, cattle, rabbit and rat bones! The research is focusing on the context of local and imported goods, the role of animals in the Victorian diet and other exciting avenues.

Koonalda Cave on the South Australian Nullarbor was listed for its Indigenous heritage values following archaeological investigations between 1956 and 1975. The excavation assemblages from the cave were deposited with the South Australian Museum after that time and now offer a rich and unique collection of flint artefacts mined by Aboriginal people up to 20,000 years ago or longer. Research has been revived on this significant site and is using 3D modeling techniques to explore the ancient flint mining and also to explore the ‘finger flutings’ deep inside the cave. These flutings are rare in Australia, but are better known in similar caves in southern Europe. The current research will be focusing on these flutings to gain a better understanding of their context and significance.

The Adelaide Gaol commenced construction in 1840 on a parcel of land along the River Torrens, ‘down near the old native huts’ according to Governor Gawler. The archaeology for this project has uncovered artefacts from Aboriginal life prior to settlement of Adelaide and from the early settlers who ‘made do’ along the river whilst waiting for houses to be built in the township. Research continues to focus on this stretch of the River Torrens as a window into Aboriginal and European use of the river from 1836 to 1900.