Unearthing the aboriginal past within Sydney

By Catherine Sturman
As residential developments expand across the Sydney region, care is being taken to identify and catalogue evidence of the area's Aboriginal past...

As residential developments expand across the Sydney region, care is being taken to identify and catalogue evidence of the area's Aboriginal past.

At the Woorong Park development at Shanes Park in Sydney's West, archaeology consultant AECOM is undertaking a series of manual 'open area' salvage excavations as part of a larger Aboriginal Archaeological Salvage Program in advance of residential development. AECOM is undertaking this program in partnership with a number of Aboriginal persons and organisations.

"Wet sieving is the most effective way of ensuring we get the highest yield of artefacts. We run excavated sediment through 3 mm gauge sieves", said Dr Andrew McLaren, AECOM's Senior Archaeologist.

A TWS Hire 10,000 litre watercart with a diesel pump feeds water into a two-inch hose which runs into a built-for-purpose manifold with multiple garden hose connections for wet sieving. The equipment enables the AECOM field team to effectively sieve sediments from the salvage excavations being undertaken.

"The area being excavated is rich in artefacts, attesting to repeated use by Aboriginal people over a long period of time". Recovered artefacts consist exclusively of flaked stone artefacts, with material excavated to date considered to be of 'Middle to Late Bondaian' antiquity (c.4,000 BP to European contact)"

"In these open area excavations, we seek to recover statistically viable cultural lithic assemblages which can be used to address a range of research questions concerning past Aboriginal settlement and subsistence strategies on a local and sub-regional scale.  Further details at www.watercartspecialists.com.au .

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