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An Introduction to Maritime Archaeology. Case study: Tassie II Byron Bay. Overview. What is Maritime Archaeology? Why studying and preserve underwater heritage? Historical shipwreck conservation and management in Australia Role of the volunteer

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An introduction to maritime archaeology l.jpg

An Introduction to Maritime Archaeology

Case study: Tassie II Byron Bay


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Overview

  • What is Maritime Archaeology?

  • Why studying and preserve underwater heritage?

  • Historical shipwreck conservation and management in Australia

  • Role of the volunteer

  • Case study: The Tassie II, main beach Byron Bay


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What is Archaeology?

  • Identification and interpretation of physical traces of past life (Dean et al. 2000)

  • Aims to explain, putting artefacts into a cultural context

  • Provides insights into past lives, choices, motivations

  • Develops a framework for future endeavour


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What is Maritime Archaeology?

  • The scientific study of the material remains of human activity on the sea, lakes and rivers (McCarthy 1998; Delgado (ed) 1997)

  • The primary object of study is man, not the physical remains which the researcher is immediately confronted with (Muckelroy 1978)


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What is Maritime Archaeology?

  • Artefacts are not always submerged (eg. dry river bank sites)

  • Underwater archaeology is not always Maritime Archaeology (submerged dwellings)

  • Nautical Archaeology - vessel construction and use


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Why study underwater heritage?

  • Physical link with the past

  • Understand lifestyles and choices of the distant past (easy to justify)

  • Archaeology of the recent past

    • Poor record keeping

    • Conflicting accounts

    • Secrecy

  • Context is everything (site integrity)


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Need for protection and research

  • Advent of SCUBA in the 1940 and 50’s

  • Looting of WA Dutch wrecks in the 1960’s

  • Need to develop maritime archaeology in Australia

    • Need to document and study sites

    • Need for understanding of site processes

    • Site management plans

  • Cultural and scientific value


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Heritage legislation

  • Commonwealth Navigation Act (1912)

    • Requires reporting wrecks to the Receiver of Wrecks (Australian Maritime Safety Authority)

    • No brief to protect archaeological significance

  • West Australian Museums Act (amended)

  • Maritime Archaeology Act (1973)

  • Successful challenge to WA legislation

  • Historic Shipwrecks Act (1976) (C’wealth)

  • Complementary state legislation


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Protective measures

  • Historic Shipwrecks Act (1976)

    • Administered by delegates in each state (Director, NSW Heritage office)

    • 75 years (known or unknown)

    • Conservation orders/protection zones

    • Large fines and imprisonment

  • State legislation

    • Heritage Act (1977) (50 years)

  • Other state and Commonwealth acts


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Responsible agencies

  • Enforcement by State, Territory or Commonwealth Police

  • Heritage Office

    • Administration of State and Commonwealth acts

    • Development and implementation of public programs (ANMM)

    • Disseminating information to the public (ANMM)

    • Access (permits)


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Non-government organisations

  • Australian Institute for Maritime Archaeology (AIMA)

    • Assists state agencies with programs

    • Conferences and publications (AIMA Bulletin/newsletters)

    • National Shipwreck database

    • Code of ethics

    • Training of volunteers (AIMA/NAS courses)


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Non-government organisations

  • Other national bodies

    • Australian Association for Maritime History

    • Maritime Museums Association of Australia

    • National trust

  • Amateur groups and historical societies (Richmond River Historical Society)

  • Private museums and other interest groups


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Community involvement

  • Documenting maritime heritage is a massive job

  • Cooperative involvement of divers vital for successful management of sites

    • Brochures and information displays

    • Heritage trails

    • Wrecks alive program

  • NAS/AIMA training

  • Volunteer work with archaeologists


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AIMA/NAS training

  • Raise awareness of underwater heritage and significance

  • Introduce principles of Maritime Archaeology

  • Provide training in:

    • Search techniques (remote sensing)

    • Position fixing

    • Basic site survey

    • Non-destructive sampling


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Case study: Tassie IIBackground

  • Diving wreck for 10 years +

  • Surveyed with Clegg (1997)

  • AIMA/NAS Part 1

  • AIMA/NAS Part 2/Field School


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Case study: Tassie IIRationale

  • Priority to artefacts that provide new insights into the past or are particularly representative of the technology of an era


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Case study: Tassie IIRationale

  • Little known/recorded about the role of merchant vessels in WWII

  • Limited documentary evidence

  • Conflicting oral history

    • Crew blamed for loss of vessel

  • Easy shore access

  • Need for site management?

  • Potential for heritage trail?


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Case study: Tassie IIThe paper trail

  • Biggest part is the background research

  • The oral history

    • Pre-war service

    • Wartime service

    • The wreck event


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Case study: Tassie II Research priorities

  • Relationship with jetty remains

  • Vessel type and construction

    • Engine room

    • crane pulley

  • Site conservation

  • Heritage trail?

  • Site management plan?


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Artefact conservation

  • What is an artefact?

  • Object no longer in it’s functional context

  • Why salvage and preserve artefacts?

  • Available to general public

  • Preserve representative examples of a particular technology

  • Prevent loss/destruction

  • Much more information can be obtained


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