31 January 2007

Advancements in Archaeology

On our way to Hobart, we stopped at Ross to see an old female factory, a women's prison. As luck would have it, we walked into a tour of the grounds, where an archaeological dig was underway. Basically, there isn't much left standing of the prison. There are, however, remains of walls and flooring buried underground. In this first picture you can see the students digging, collecting or drawing on the site.
In the second photo, you can see the tool of a 21st Century 'dig'. This is a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) device. Basically, it looked and was used like a lawnmower with a computer subbed in for the motor. It was run over a grid in half metre increments and the image was put together to give an idea of what was hidden underground. The technology is still pretty new, and it doesn't really tell you a whole lot for the cost ($35,000), but it allows scientists to get a glimpse without disturbing the site.
We stopped for about an hour in Ross, listening to a brief report of the findings the whole time. The purpose of the female factory was to house women who were sentenced to punishment in Tasmania. They worked to manufacture goods, but not much else is known about the site. So far, they are working on identifying building structures and have found small items such as needles, buttons and glass and pottery fragments. Much is still to be learned at Ross, but for us, it was an unexpected and interesting surprise on our drive to Hobart.

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