Metro Tunnel – Archaeology process
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Metro Tunnel – Archaeology process

September 7, 2019

We have a team, all up
of around 30 people, and so that includes
archeologists, but also people dealing
with artifacts, excavator operators, people doing mapping, planning,
those sorts of things. So, a whole range of activities
are going on on-sight on any one day. I’m studying at La Trobe University,
in my third year of study doing a Bachelor of Arts. I feel like it’s such a hands-on thing,
being out there you know how to trowel properly,
how to bag artifacts, all that sort of stuff for the
practical experiences, it’s made a lot easier. Well, I hope to learn a lot more
about Melbourne’s past and its history, and its heritage, and a sense of involvement as
well on what’s a great project, and being part of the community. So all artifacts are retrieved
through sieves, or when they’re found when we’re
troweling in the ground. They then get washed, they get bagged so we know exactly
where they came from because these sites can
be very complex, and then they go through a process
of management in the Artifact Management Centre. So once they’re dried and cleaned, they go to me, the
Artifact Manager, and I do a little bit of
preliminary research and also record some of the
basic characteristics that will help with dating
and placing the objects. So, that all goes into a
database, and then eventually I will do an analysis
on the assemblage, and that put together with the
information from excavation and it goes into the final report.
So hopefully we can come up with a kind of cohesive story of what
went on on site and who lived here. I’m undertaking the first-aid conservation
for the Melbourne Metro site, and that means that I’m stabilising objects
when they come out of the ground so that they’ll last as long as possible. The most unstable things are organic,
so we’re looking at textiles, wood, leather, and we’re finding
those materials on the site. Those materials need to be refrigerated
as soon as possible and that’s because if you let them dry out, they will change
shape and they’ll lose the form that will tell you the story, and that’s what
we want, we want the story. What works in our favour as archaeologists,
is that in the early days of occupation of Melbourne, there was actually
no formal rubbish removal. In those days people really had no choice
but to push it to the back of their property, so that works in our favour because
they’ve left behind a record of how they lived, the sorts of
things that they ate, the sorts of objects that they valued, and the
sorts of things we get really excited about is actually they’ve put a lot of things in
there cesspits or their toilets and that’s really exciting for us. To me, when archaeology is most exciting, when it tells us things that we don’t already know. So, we’re hopeful that this project will give us
those insights into the way Melbourne was established by the pioneers,
how it grew and change; and the archaeological remains, the artifacts,
as well as the building remains are the key to understanding that.

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