5 minutes with Dr Robert Raven, Arachnology

Today’s #CouchCurator is Head, Terrestrial Biodiversity & Senior Curator, Chelicerata, Dr Robert Raven. With a wide knowledge of invertebrate groups, including earthworms and snails, as well as some frogs, Robert heads the most active arachnological unit in Australia. In 2010, they celebrate that since 1976, staff and honorary associates have described over 1000 new species of spiders. What is your favourite object/species in the collection and … Continue reading 5 minutes with Dr Robert Raven, Arachnology

Held within eternal wrappings | Animal mummies in the Queensland Museum collection

Animal mummies in Ancient Egypt In ancient Egypt, a wide variety of animals were mummified. Household pets could be interred with their masters so they could be together in the afterlife; joints of poultry and meat were wrapped in linen and placed in tombs as […]

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Grindstone – ancient multi-tools

Marisa Giorgi, Information Officer, Queensland Museum Grindstones are a relatively common tool found across Australia. But did you know grindstones have many varied uses? Archaeological science is revealing the complex nature of these stone artefacts. Introduction At Queensland Museum we have many grindstones of different shapes and sizes from across Queensland. These grindstones represent durable examples of everyday items used by Indigenous Australian people.  They … Continue reading Grindstone – ancient multi-tools

Looking through the Glass

by Dave Parkhill, Assistant Collection Manager Clear as Glass? Glass was used throughout the Roman world, with various applications and methods of manufacturing, and with colours ranging from an almost clear, pale green to vivid blues or other bright colours. A Dubious Origin Story Glass objects, mainly in the form of simple glass beads have been dated to approximately the 3rd millenium BCE, but it … Continue reading Looking through the Glass

Setting the Table: Archaeology and Food

Marc Cheeseman, Archaeologist/Master’s Student, UQ In every culture large proportions of time are dedicated to food-related activities, but how can archaeologists investigate this relationship? And what can this information tell us about the development of modern Australia? Introduction From the 19th century to World War I, minerals (mostly gold) made up roughly one third of yearly Australian exports. During this time, as the economy expanded … Continue reading Setting the Table: Archaeology and Food

A Crime scene of the past – investigating tropical ice age megafauna

By Rochelle Lawrence, Palaeontological Research Assistant, and Scott Hocknull, Senior Curator, Geosciences, Queensland Museum In 2008, an extraordinary discovery was made at South Walker Creek, located near the town of Nebo, west of Mackay in Queensland, Australia. Traditional owners of the area, the Barada Barna people, were conducting a cultural heritage survey for the South Walker Creek Mine when they came across some interesting bones. … Continue reading A Crime scene of the past – investigating tropical ice age megafauna

What are megafauna?

By Rochelle Lawrence, Palaeontological Research Assistant, and Scott Hocknull, Senior Curator, Geosciences, Queensland Museum. Megafauna are giant animals usually weighing over 44 kilograms (kg). Most megafauna are now extinct (no longer exist) and were closely related to living species of animals we see today. You have probably heard of the more commonly known megafauna species, like the saber-toothed cat and woolly mammoth from North America. … Continue reading What are megafauna?

Exploring family history through artefacts

Hannah Craig-Ward, PhD Candidate, The University of Queensland Archaeologists explore the past lives of people using many different approaches, depending on their particular area of research interest. In historical archaeology, identity, is one concept often explored, and made up of  facets including gender, religion, class, age, occupation, ethnicity, and social networks (King 2006:312; Lawrence and Davies 2011:223; Terry 2014:39). Identity is integral to one’s sense … Continue reading Exploring family history through artefacts

Digging in the archaeology collection

Nick Hadnutt, Curator, Archaeology, Queensland Museum During a routine audit of the Museum’s ancient stone tools, I happened across a stone axe with some interesting text upon. Investigating the text connected me with a World War 1 hero. One of the roles of a curator is to investigate and research the collections they are responsible for in order to better understand them. In doing so, … Continue reading Digging in the archaeology collection

What do archaeologists do when there is a global pandemic?

Dr Geraldine Mate, Acting Program Head, Cultures and Histories Program, Queensland Museum and Sciencentre   What do you do when you can’t go into the field due to Pandemic? The answer is stay home! But that doesn’t mean archaeologists stop work… This year was to be the year of archaeological fieldwork for our team. At the moment Queensland Museum is involved in some really exciting … Continue reading What do archaeologists do when there is a global pandemic?

Collecting antiquities during wartime – the First World War Antiquities Project

Written by Mr James Donaldson (Museum Manager and Curator, R.D. Milns Antiquities Museum, The University of Queensland) and Dr Brit Asmussen (Acting Principal Curator, Cultures and Histories, Queensland Museum) Queensland Museum and The RD Milns Antiquities Museum, University of Queensland, are collaborating on a research partnership to learn more about the antiquities collecting activities of Australian WW1 personnel.  Soldiers and collectors The collection of souvenirs … Continue reading Collecting antiquities during wartime – the First World War Antiquities Project

Uncovering Pacific Pasts: Histories of archaeology in Oceania

As part of the Collective Biography of Archaeology in the Pacific (CBAP) Project (led by the Australian National University in Canberra), the Museum of Tropical Queensland is currently participating in the worldwide exhibition, Uncovering Pacific Pasts: Histories of archaeology in Oceania. The collaborative display is featured in over 30 collecting institutions around the world, and explores the ideas, people and networks that were pivotal in … Continue reading Uncovering Pacific Pasts: Histories of archaeology in Oceania

Re-imagining Pandora

This blog post is part of an ongoing series titled Connecting with Collections. The series offers readers a peek inside collections at the Museum of Tropical Queensland, highlighting objects and their stories. In 1790, HMS Pandora sailed out of England with a clear mission: to find the HMS Bounty and its 25 mutineers. Pandora reached Tahiti in March 1791, and captured 14 of the mutineers, … Continue reading Re-imagining Pandora

Well, that’s a pickle!

This blog post is part of an ongoing series titled Connecting with Collections. The series offers readers a peek inside collections at the Museum of Tropical Queensland, highlighting objects and their stories Sometimes when working with the collections at the Museum of Tropical Queensland, you see an object that just makes you stop in your tracks. The object featured today is one that really made … Continue reading Well, that’s a pickle!

A compass gimbal from Mermaid

Written by Carl Tanner, compiled by Dr Madeline Fowler

The final part of a blog series written by undergraduate students at James Cook University, who undertook research on objects in the Museum of Tropical Queensland’s maritime archaeology collection as part of the 2017 topic AR3008 Boats and Beaches.

The shipwreck

HMCS Mermaid was built at the Howrah Dry Docks on the Hooghly River in Calcutta, India, in 1816, by the shipwrights Thompson (Phipps 1840:108, 123). Built out of Indian teak, it was iron-fastened and clad in copper sheathing along the keel (Hosty 2009:17). Designed as a cutter, it was originally rigged as a one-masted ship, but was refitted later into an armed, two-masted schooner (Hosty 2009:17; ANSD 2017). The ship displaced 83-85 gross registered tons, was 17m in length, 5.48-5.6m in beam and had a draught of 2.7m (Hosty 2009:17; Phipps 1840:123; ANSD 2017).

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A porthole from Gothenburg

Written by Tia Eagleson, compiled by Dr Madeline Fowler

Part of a blog series written by undergraduate students at James Cook University, who undertook research on objects in the Museum of Tropical Queensland’s maritime archaeology collection as part of the 2017 topic AR3008 Boats and Beaches.

 The shipwreck

The site of the Gothenburg wreck is in Flinders Passage, North QLD (Latitude: -19.37 Longitude: 148.06). Gothenburg was built in the UK in 1854 by Mr. John Scott Russel. The vessel, a twin-screw steamer, has numerous features in view at the site of the wreck which are indicative of the build of the ship. These consist of two compound single screw engines each with 60 individual horsepower, two decks and three masts and a female figurehead with an elliptical shaped stern. The dimensions of the ship were 59.92m in length, 8.6m in width and 3.23m in depth. Overall, the vessel weighed approximately 737 tonnes. This shipwreck is identified as number 2563 (Australian National Shipwreck Database; Central Queensland Herald 1931:13).

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Copper-alloy sheathing from Coolangatta

Written by Caroline Mercer, compiled by Dr Madeline Fowler

Part 3 of a blog series written by undergraduate students at James Cook University, who undertook research on objects in the Museum of Tropical Queensland’s maritime archaeology collection as part of the 2017 topic AR3008 Boats and Beaches.

The shipwreck

Coolangatta was built by John Brinksell in 1843 in Shoalhaven, New South Wales (NSW) (Davidson 2014). It was commissioned and owned by Alexander Berry, who named the brigantine sailing vessel after his property in the area (Potts 2010). The boat’s life was largely spent transporting goods up and down the eastern coast of Australia, bringing materials such as coal to the north and most often returning to Sydney with a cargo of timber (Potts 2010). At the time of the wrecking of Coolangatta, it had recently delivered coal to Brisbane and was starting its return trip back to Sydney when it was wrecked. On 19 August 1846, Coolangatta was driven ashore during a gale as it attempted to enter the Tweed River (Davidson 2014). The ship was abandoned by the crew and Captain Steele, after it was stripped of any removable gear and rigging (Davidson 2014). A couple of months later there was an attempt to repair the vessel, with Brinksell being brought up from NSW to repair the damage on the port side (Davidson 2014). However, shortly after the wreck was lifted onto rollers, another gale forced it into a worse position and the keel broke, ending any hopes of repairing the ship (Potts 2010).

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A sperm sewing machine oil bottle from Aarhus

Written by Tate Devantier-Thomas, compiled by Dr Madeline Fowler

This is part of a blog series written by undergraduate students at James Cook University, who undertook research on objects in the Museum of Tropical Queensland’s maritime archaeology collection as part of the 2017 topic AR3008 Boats and Beaches. Continue reading “A sperm sewing machine oil bottle from Aarhus”

An earthenware bottle from Yongala

Written by Robyn Blucher, compiled by Dr Madeline Fowler

This is Part 1 of a blog series written by undergraduate students at James Cook University, who undertook research on objects in the Museum of Tropical Queensland’s maritime archaeology collection as part of the 2017 topic AR3008 Boats and Beaches. Continue reading “An earthenware bottle from Yongala”

The Maritime Archaeology Collection: Part 2 Islands and Reefs

Written by Dr Maddy Fowler, Museum of Tropical Queensland

Following from Part 1 Shipwrecks, which detailed the 17 named shipwrecks represented by artefacts in the Museum of Tropical Queensland collection, Part 2 explores objects discovered at islands and reefs that are not ascribed to a known shipwreck. With the Great Barrier Reef, one of Australia’s greatest ship-traps, lying off the Queensland coast, it is unsurprising that shipwreck material occurs on many of the islands, reefs and cays both there and further offshore in the Coral Sea.

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