Year 11 Assessment Task: History, archaeology & science – investigating the past
How have recent historical and archaeological investigations in The Big Dig added to our knowledge concerning European society in Australia prior to 1850?
In your answer, refer to a historical personality and explain how this person interacted with their society.
The heart of the historic Rocks precinct was the subject of an archaeological excavation in 1994. Throughout the period prior to 1850, it was commonly referred to as the Cumberland and Gloucester Street, however, it was renamed and currently referred to as ‘The Big Dig’ after the excavation took place. The excavation of the Cumberland and Gloucester Street site has seen a range of archaeological features which has yielded information about the site itself and about the history of the Rocks, Sydney and Australia. This valuable data is useful in addressing broad range questions about Australia’s history and the history of colonialism. These include examination of class, the role of women, industrialism, the impact of the authority and the lifeways of working people.
The Cumberland and Gloucester Street site in The Rocks has been an open space since the demolition of a large engineering workshop in the 1930s. Like many other archaeological discoveries, it occurred by chance. The archaeological excavation exposed the remains of a variety of sandstone and brick features, footings and post holes relating to 46 historic buildings on the site. Sandstone rock features, both natural and worked, were also exposed, and some 750,000 artifacts were recovered from the site. All these sources have enriched archaeologists understanding of the historical, cultural and social status of the Rocks and the specific history of the site and its various occupants during that time period.
Excavation of site in 1994
The Cumberland and Gloucester Street site was evidently a lively place. It was the home of the earliest convict...