Dig It, From the Dig It Archives

From the Dig It Archives: Issue One 1997

By Jordan Ralph

Welcome to the first edition of the Flinders ArchSoc blogging project, ‘From the Dig It Archives’! This post comes from the very first issue of Dig It – below are two articles reproduced from Issue 1, 1997.

In ‘Message from the Chair’ (1997:2), President Matthew Rice discusses the activities that Flinders ArchSoc members had been up to during the first part of 1997. It seems in the last 15 years, not much has changed – we are still as active as ever. Rice also lists the ArchSoc committee of 1997. Note that the Flinders University Archaeology Department’s (FUAD) own Dr Amy Roberts was the ArchSoc Secretary!

The first featured article of the ‘From the Dig It Archives’ series is ‘1997 Archaeology Field Methods Field Trip to Port Lincoln’ (1997:9-10) by Tim Anson, who recounts his Field Methods trip to Port Lincoln with fellow students and lecturers Dr Mark Staniforth and Dr Margaret O’Hea. This article demonstrates a typical FUAD field school, of which we hold at least 10 per year (Colley 2012:63), the most of any Australian university – and we have been doing so for some time.


Colley, S. 2012 Archaeological Field Schools and Fieldwork Practice in an Australian Context. In H. Mytum (ed.), Global Perspectives on Archaeological Field Schools: Construction of Knowledge and Experience, pp.61-81. New York: Springer.

Rice, M. 1997 Message from the Chair. Dig It: Newsletter of the Flinders Archaeological Society 1:2.

Anson, T. 1997 1997 Archaeology Field Methods Field Trip to Port Lincoln. Dig It: Newsletter of the Flinders Archaeological Society 1:9-10.


Message from the Chair

Welcome to the semester. The Society has already had its first activities, the BBQ, Port Lincoln & Kangaroo Island Field Trips, each of which could not have happened without the devotion of our many members. This year is going to be packed with Archaeological activity and fun. Already we’re in the process of planning an Archaeology Society dinner, Seminars and a mid-year trip. Also there is the Union Gallery Exhibition, which will be one of our most comprehensive Archaeological exhibitions in the history of the Archaeology Society, so get your ideas and suggestions ready. We hope you enjoy this, our first newsletter for the year, and I would like to thank all of those who contributed their valuable time to its production.

Mathew Rice
President Archaeology Society

1997 Archaeology Society Committee

President: Mathew Rice

Vice President: Paul Rapita

Treasurer: Jacob Hunter

Secretary: Amy Roberts

Clubs & Socs Mem: Cheryl Trearthen


1997 Archaeology Field Methods trip to Port Lincoln

During the mid-semester break (April 12 to 20) Flinders and Adelaide University students enrolled in the Archaeology Field Methods course, plus a select group of volunteers, conducted a survey of historic whaling sites in the Port Lincoln and lower Eyre Peninsula area.

Due to the size of the first known site (Fishery Bay) most of the time was spent recording cultural features at this location. Features encountered included a number of ruined structures and the remains of the whale flensing (processing) platform and tryworks. The structures were located on the flat swale of the frontal dune system (at the eastern end of the bay) and backed by a low calcareous kunkar cliff. This land form existed as a strip running adjacent to the beach approximately 700 metres long.

The native calcareous kunkar appeared to be the major building component of the structures and also associated with some of these features were a number of manufactured red bricks.

Other artefacts were less frequently encountered. A black bottle base was discovered associated with one site and a small piece of TPW ceramic was found nearby. Bands of metal were frequently observed which it was suggested may have been used in the construction of casks or barrels.

The format of field work included the identification of sites within the landscape described above, followed by extensive archaeological recording. This involved groups of students and volunteers planning the remains of structures using standard drawing/surveying methods as well as mapping of the site as a whole using the department’s new Total Station. A great deal of work was completed at this site and all of those involved should feel pleased with their achievements.

A delegation of students under the wise leadership of Mark Staniforth departed on the Wednesday to investigate reported whaling sites at Point Collinson (350km north of Port Lincoln on the west coast of Eyre Peninsula). By all accounts this was a successful and worthy expedition.

The rest of us remained at Port Lincoln where work continued at Fishery Bay under the direction of Dr Margaret O’Hea. Thursday 17th of April was set aside to conduct a field survey to identify possible sites in the Spalding cove vicinity.

A number of sites were encountered which included historic artefact scatters and ruined structures, but these sites were interpreted as the remains of pastoral activities as opposed to whaling activities.

On Saturday 19th the Port Lincoln crew were treated to a tour of the famous Whalers Way. The weather was superb (as it was for the whole trip) and all enjoyed themselves. We also paid a visit to the Axel Stenross Maritime Museum which was quite informative.

Nights were spent at the Port Lincoln Caravan Park where activities such as collation of the days work was completed, drawings worked on and plant species lists added to. Other activities included close appraisal of the local inns ‘board of fare’, the playing of card games and other such frivolous pursuits………

Wednesday night was schnitzel night at the pub. This event was attended and everybody seemed to have a good time.

On Saturday we departed from Port Lincoln to return to Adelaide. A brief stop was made at Cowell to get Shirley a set of Jade earrings and to get Tim some oysters. The Point Collinson group then triumphantly rendezvoused with the Port Lincoln group at Port Augusta. Overall, the trip was deemed to be very successful and in the words of one attending member of staff…. “at least nobody got killed or maimed”.

By Tim Anson 29/04/97

Quotes from the Port Lincoln Survey

(Collated by Cass)

“But how would you know if it’s 100 years old?” (14.4.97 Jenny 3rd year Arch) after Judith and Shirley (Arch field methods) found a crap in their site survey.

Word for the week: “Pointetatious”. Charles Parkinson

A sign of too much alcohol: Margaret O’Hea to group: “I want all of the complete sheets”. George (Arch field methods) in reply: “do you want the incomplete ones too?” (15.4.97)

“Pizza is the only natural food” Nick Nelson 20.4.97

“I’m the best wanker in the state” Anon.

Another sign of too much alcohol: “It says fir fir wir der…” Nick Nelson referring to the fast forward button on the cassette player


To continue reading from Dig It 1, click here: Dig It1.

Look out for the next edition of ‘From the DigIt Archives’ on Friday the 10th of May!