What is Historical Archaeology?
Historical archaeology is the study of the recent past and usually deals with the archaeology of European societies since the 15th century. In Australia this means it focusses most closely on the last 200 years of European settlement.
Historical archaeologists use archival and other documents (such as diaries, letters, maps, plans, photographs and official records), oral history interviews and archaeological methods to reconstruct what life was like for the many different groups of people who settled Australia. ‘Contact’ sites (places where Indigenous and non-Indigenous activities overlap, such as missions or station camps) are often deemed to be historical sites because they fall within the colonial time period.
The main types of historical archaeological site often reflect the different kinds of industries which have been established, such as mining, pastoralism, agriculture, commerce, whaling, or timber-getting. Ordinary domestic sites and other facets of past human behaviour, such as houses, schools, hospitals or cemeteries, are equally valuable, because they have the potential to tell us about the everyday lives of ordinary people.
Click here to see footage of an historical archaeological
excavation at 188 Gilles St, Adelaide
Dedicated topics in historical archaeology at Flinders include:
ARCH2203: Australian Historical Artefacts;
ARCH3207: Frameworks in Historical Archaeology; and
ARCH3308: Historical Archaeology Field school (offered intermittently).
For more information about studying historical archaeology at Flinders please contact the lecturer in charge, Dr Heather Burke.
In search of the stables at MacKillop Memorial Park, Penola. In 2011 and 2012 students from Flinders will be excavating the site of the 1866 stables building used as one of the first Catholic schools by Mary MacKillop.
Historical Archaeology of Adelaide Database
Each year work by students in ARCH2203: Australian Historical Artefacts and ARCH3207: Frameworks in Historical Archaeology contributes to a growing database of the historical archaeology of South Australia. This database is publicly available for research purposes and contains material on South Australian cemetery monuments, public monuments and 19th and early 20th century buildings.
Myth, Memory and Material Culture: The Archaeology of the Repat Air Raid Shelters
In 2004 staff and students at Flinders University began an ongoing investigation of the air raid shelters built at the Repatriation Hospital at Daw Park during World War II.
Brighton Smugglers Tunnel
Port Adelaide Historical Archaeology Project (PAHA) - Quebec Street Excavation (PDF 416KB)
The Archaeology of Vehicle and Machinery Assemblages Associated with Rural Farm Properties
Turner's Paddock and Historic Rubbish Disposal in Adelaide (PDF 2MB)