Category Archives: Archaeology

National Archaeology Week at Queensland Museum

Written by Senior Curator of Archaeology, Dr Brit Asmussen, Curator of archaeology Nick Hadnutt and Principal Curator Science and Technology, Dr Geraldine Mate

Archaeology staff at the Queensland Museum (QM) has taken the opportunity to create a program for National Archaeology Week (NAW) for many years. National Archaeology Week was born in 2001, and aims to increase public awareness of Australian archaeology and the work of Australian archaeologists both at home and abroad, and to promote the importance of protecting Australia’s unique archaeological heritage. Held in the third week of May, this exciting nationwide program of events and activities included public lectures, seminars, exhibits, demonstration excavations and displays.
Continue reading National Archaeology Week at Queensland Museum

Collecting the Deep Past: Queensland Museum’s archaeology collection.

Written by Curator of Archaeology, Nick Hadnutt.

Queensland Museum is the custodian of a significant and extensive archaeological collection. The collection is so large it is divided into categories to enable better management, access and the application of expert knowledge to the collections. All together, these various collections comprise of hundreds of thousands of artefacts and occupy many square meters of storage. The collections are divided as follows: Continue reading Collecting the Deep Past: Queensland Museum’s archaeology collection.

Setting the Records Straight

Written by Dave Parkhill,  Assistant Collection Manager (Archaeology).

In 2015 the Queensland Museum commenced a rehousing of the Archaeological Collection, which includes almost 1000 pieces of antiquities. This grouping includes such diverse items as Roman lamps, Greek glassware and Egyptian funeral objects. This was seen as a perfect opportunity to research material that had been donated decades ago and to ensure the information we had in our database was as accurate as we could make it. 

One task involved researching the donation history of objects gifted by Ken Jackson, who collected them whilst on active service with the 2/9th Infantry Battalion of the Australian Army, during the Second World War.

Continue reading Setting the Records Straight

Archaeology in the field – reflecting on the Mill Point experience of lantana, laughs & lake.

Geraldine Mate and Nick Hadnutt

Whenever you go into the field, the preparation seems to take over, until that moment when you get out of the truck at the site and breathe in the air. All of a sudden, the excitement kicks in, the nervousness about what you’ll find and the sense of freedom of the outdoors. There is a true delight in that feel of the sun or the chill of a cold dawn in the field, even the thrill of rain running down the back of your neck between the hat the collar (although not if it goes on for too long!). Continue reading Archaeology in the field – reflecting on the Mill Point experience of lantana, laughs & lake.

The ‘bric-a-brac’ of war

Australia recently celebrated National Archaeology Week. During this time, Queensland Museum Curator of Archaeology, Dr Brit Asmussen participated in some Meet the Curator sessions with a focus on discovering the stories of authentic and faux archaeological artefacts collected by servicemen stationed in Egypt in the First World War.

Continue reading The ‘bric-a-brac’ of war

Hidden treasures of Begram

Begram is the site of one of the most exciting archaeological discoveries in Central Asia in the 20th century. In 1937 and 1939 a large number of objects were found in two sealed-up rooms. The objects are from the 1st century AD and are believed to have been untouched until their discovery many centuries later.

Continue reading Hidden treasures of Begram

New Ways of Looking at Old Treasures

The recent opening of Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb exhibition prompted delight on the faces of QM staff and the visiting public.  In addition to supervising the opening of the exhibition, British Museum expert Dr John Taylor identified a very significant old treasure. The piece of papyrus laying quietly in the display of QM artefacts has now been identified as part of an important Book of the Dead belonging to Amenhotep, a chief builder in the 15th century BC. For many adults such discoveries are pretty amazing; but for primary school learners it is hard for them to really grasp the magnitude of these and other historical items. Time has little meaning beyond last week and tomorrow, and old is someone in their forties!

So how can we engage young learners in the appreciation of artefacts? Teachers could get very excited and tell their students about an amazing new discovery of a piece of papyrus written some 3500 years ago. They could explain how Books of the Dead contained magical spells and were entombed with the mummified bodies of Egyptians to ensure their safe passage from one life to the next. But this one-directional sharing of knowledge rarely produces long-term retention in Early Years children’s brain storage system. Teachers know the importance of fostering the processes of inquiry. As the Australian Curriculum states, inquiry develops transferable skills, such as the ability to ask relevant questions; critically analyse and interpret sources; consider context; respect and explain different perspectives; develop and substantiate interpretations, and communicate effectively (Australian Curriculum: History accessed on 30/4/12).

So what can Queensland Museum do to help? Well firstly, we have an abundance of real objects which can be explored. If you visit the museum, you can book a school program which, at a current cost of $5 per student, gives your class a 45 minute session with a museum staff member presenting in an allocated room with museum artefacts which students can handle. The current programs are on our website and can be tweaked to meet specific curriculum intent if you book early and explain what your particular focus is. There are teachers-in-residence at QM who can advise staff about the Australian Curriculum and C2C lessons which we can address – so let us know how we can make your visit really valuable. In addition, Queensland Museum loans offers a wide range of objects many of which students can actually handle and are related to many aspects of the National curriculum. (http://www.qm.qld.gov.au/Learning+Resources/QM+Loans). Of course, local museums and historical societies will also be willing to enrich your classroom learning.

Unfortunately, some objects cannot be handled. Handing around the piece of the Book of the Dead or the mummified hand of a very young child pictured here is not possible. Therefore the way we engage  students in interpreting these objects becomes the crucial factor as to whether the learning is of long-term value. The key to this engagement is enticing the students to co-construct the story around the object. Providing a picture of the artefact and an actual papyrus painting (cheaply purchased online) to each small group of students, with the instruction to share what you know or can deduce, begins the process of inquiry (explore before explain). Then the trick is to ask questions which look at the bigger picture and link this object to customs/ objects that the students can relate to. For example, do people today have things placed with them when they die? What book or item from today do you think people in the 30th century might want to see in a museum? Do we need to collect old things and why? Will we still be writing using an alphabet in 3000 years time? If you could be mummified, would you want to be? Do you think Amenhotep would be happy for us to have a piece of his scroll? Do you think this piece of papyrus will exist in another 3000 years? The factual knowledge about the objects emerges through the conversations but more importantly, the students are engaging in the processes of inquiry. Finally, if you come on an excursion to the museum, the students will take a new look at these old treasures and see much more than a fragment of papyrus in a glass cabinet!

To help teachers deliver the national curriculum, QM teachers are developing resources based on objects/images in our collection and from QM loans. Visit http://www.qm.qld.gov.au/Learning+Resources/Resources and search for Australian curriculum to find the current range so far. If you have specific objects you would like us to put high on the priority list please let us know by emailing or calling discoverycentre@qm.qld.gov.au