29 January 2016
The archaeological investigation has hit a bit of a speed bump due to the recent rain. An unintentional outcome of this has been that we have been able to see how water collected upon and moved across the original surfaces. “How unexciting”, you may say. However, we now know that water collects in the north eastern corner of the area, right where they had purposefully placed a sump during the convict period. They knew what they were doing. We will have a busy few days when it clears getting the site ready for photogrammetry next week. The crew are in the lab keeping busy cleaning and all the artefacts recovered so far – not a moment is lost.
Over the previous week we have been busy excavating the demolition deposits in the ‘day room’ at the centre of the yard. These layers have comprised layers of mortar and brick rubble that were deposited when the building was salvaged during the 1880s. These cover what is termed the ‘subfloor interface’ – the silt and clay layers that were present below the original floorboards. These layers are often full of interesting diagnostic artefacts – in this case: wooden buttons, clay pipes, window glass and (so far) a solitary gaming token. We will begin carefully excavating these in the next couple of weeks.
For more information on this project please head to portarthur.org.au/heritage/penitentiary-precinct-archaeological-excavation/