Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Archaeologists on Norfolk Island!

Five archaeologists visited Norfolk Island recently working on land and sea based surveys – it even began to look like Time Team moved in! 

From Febraury we reported: Dr Brad Duncan, Dr Martin Gibbs and Natalie Blake spent the last week getting the Norfolk Island Remote Sensing Survey underway. Andrew Viduka and Amer Khan have just arrived to get a marine survey and training underway with the Norfolk Island Maritime Archaeology Association (NIMAA) members. It really is fabulous to have professionals of this calibre on island working to help us locate and identify more of our islands heritage.

Brad, Martin and Natalie’s Survey, funded through a Commonwealth Your Community Heritage Grant, will continue till the end of the week. This week they spent time identifying sites to survey from across the island. Together with analysing historic maps and paintings, they also looked at aerial and historic photos, and written information including previous archaeological reports by KAVHA and Robert Varman. Walking through the landscape with former KAVHA Site Manager Puss Anderson was invaluable. It quickly became apparent to them that there is so much work to be done on Norfolk, in fact far too much for this short two week visit.

Brad is the geo-referencing and map expert and he spent many hours putting all the current and historical information into a computer program that creates an aligned layering of all the maps and information, which is then used to support decisions about where to survey and analysis of the results.

The Landing Place at Kingston was the first place surveyed and, given disruptions due to the rain, took close to three days to complete. Martin is the remote sensing expert of the group, and he set up three pieces of equipment to do the work – a Magnetometer, a Ground Penetrating Radar and a Resistance Meter. Laying out the grids and working the machinery backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards became the work of the group. The results will be fully analysed by Martin but already clearly show a number of anomalies.

Most likely the next area to work on will be the Emily bay burial grounds – will there be remains in Emily’s Grave marked on the survey maps of Jamison and Kennedy? The drainage systems and area at the back of Chimney Hill may be looked at after that. Phillipsburgh, Longridge, Cascade and Polynesian sites all remain to be looked at if time allows.

Water based activity with the maritime archaeologists Andy Viduka and Amer Khan will depend on sea conditions. Wether it be on the water or land they will progress surveying skills of NIMAA members along with oral history skills. Andy will also provide training to the Commonwealth Police in their role as Inspector’s under the Historic Shipwrecks Act. Our sincere thanks to Andy’s employer, The National Historic Heritage Section within the Commonwealth Department of the Environment, and Amer’s employer, the SA Department of the Environment for allowing them to travel to Norfolk to support the Museum’s Historic Shipwrecks Program activities.

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