Home | About Us | Contact Us | Services | Archaeology | Projects | Research | Fascinating Finds | Links

  Research Questions  

  Archaeological Research Questions for Parramatta

Questions for early colonial sites (1788-1840s)

Survival of the British Colony - Rose Hill Settlement
  • Nature of the First Fleet settlement of Rose Hill and the beginning of British penetration into the hinterland of Sydney Cove, to assist with the support of the colonial experiment through successful agriculture and expansion of settlement.
  • Range of evidence for the nature, disposition and material culture of this settlement.
  • Evidence for the difficulty of survival in this new environment, such as the nature of diet based on rations and possible modification of scare material culture resources, such as tools.
  • Evidence for the psychology of how convicts should be treated in this isolated place, including attitudes to punishment and the expression of hierarchical behaviour and express differences between the marines, convicts and officers.
  • Evidence for military practices and behaviours associated with the marines.
  • How does this information amend or challenge the written history of this period?
Contact between Aboriginal people and the British
  • What evidence is there about the lives of Aboriginal people and the nature of interaction with the British arrivals in the Contact period?
  • How were the behaviours of British and Aboriginal people modified by this interaction and how was it expressed in the landscape?
Establishing the Convict Town
  • Nature of habitation by groups of male convicts.
  • Evidence for material culture, how it was reused, adapted, modified, stolen, hidden and general resistance to military control and enforced labouring on the Government Farm.
  • Nature of diet, such as faunal material and fossil pollen evidence for possible vegetables grown in the convict gardens.
  • Nature of individual identity in Colonial Parramatta, as evidenced by personal attire, and representation of class and behaviour.
  • While the initial settlement was part of the Capitalist movement from Britain setting up a new colony and building new markets, very little of this was evident or materially explicit in the original colony or even understood by many historians outside the major historical revision of the reasons for settlement now provided by Alan Frost. How do we examine the Capitalist underpinning of this society which quickly turns into rampant capitalism with the development of monopolistic practice against which various governors sought to prevail but often failed? Can we read this in the archaeological evidence of the early sites associated with Parramatta Park and other sorts of government activity such as the establishment of the Government Watermill across the river by Governor Hunter and then Governor King, as well as the expansion of accommodation by Governor King within what became the Domain?
Convict and Free Life in Colonial Rose Hill and Parramatta
  • Nature of early agricultural practices. Address this question through both the analysis of archaeological features as well as through analysis of early pottery and pollen samples.
  • Evidence associated with the later occupation of the huts by known individuals may reveal interesting insights into family patterns and behaviour.
  • Consumption and commerce in colonial Parramatta:
    • How does it link into issues associated with local, regional and global economies?
    • What does it tell us about cultural and social practices in colonial Parramatta, relating to lifeways, diet and other issues associated with consumption?
    • How do patterns of consumption further our understanding of how early residents of Parramatta used material culture in the construction of personal and group identity?
    • Were there differences between free and forced or institutionalised residents?
Landscape of Colonial Parramatta
  • Nature and effect of modification of the pre-European landscape.
  • Evidence for the pre-European landscape.
  • Remaking of the landscape - the social, cultural and political context and how it was manifest in this landscape. [1] Are many of the same issues influencing the way in which the landscape was formed similar to those which affected the Sydney Domain? Many of the same people had the management of the former Parramatta Domain which created similar patterns of behaviour. Differences between how Governors Phillip, King and Macquarie use the landscape of the Parramatta Domain.
  • What does the landscape of the Parramatta Domain and township tell us about the nature of British identify and shifts in the perception of this identity up to 1821? How is the landscape manipulated to express this identity? What does it tell us about changing views in governing the colony between the various governors?
  • Order and amenity: is the layout of houses, roadways and other structures the result of cultural and social practices? What was the role of these practices in changing the landscape and modifying people's behaviour? [2]
  • How do different views of the landscape affect its use?
  • Is there strong relationship between evidence of Aboriginal land-clearing and the first sites chosen for settlement and agriculture?
  • Did the 'greater circle road' sketched on the 1836 map of Parramatta, and often ascribed to the Macquarie era, actually exist or was it just an arc connecting the George Street Gatehouse to the Macquarie Street entrance and terminating at Old Government House?
Life in the Various Households
  • The range and variation apparent within the households, as evidenced by artefacts, features and uses of this place.
  • Evidence for the nature of childhood and the way in which gender identities were constructed.
  • The nature of the material culture and consumption patterns of the various households; how these remains related to the transformation of their environment from frontier and rural town and to an urban place.
  • Layout of the house and outbuildings and how this structured life in these households.
  • Is there evidence for customary patterns (buildings, food, religious practice, cultural artefacts)?
  • How was material culture used to represent personal, ethnic, religious and/or group identity?
  • Are the different lots developed differently?
Ethnicity
  • To what extent is Parramatta a British place?
  • What can the archaeological record contribute to our understanding of ethnic diversity?
Technology
  • What is the evidence for technological change and how does it compare to other places?
Questions for later sites, 1850s-1930s

While some of the above questions may be relevant we have identified the following are being more useful for later house sites.

Life in the Various Households
The range and variation apparent within the households where a range of families resided. Evidence for the nature of childhood and the way in which gender and ethnic identities were constructed. The nature of the material culture and consumption patterns of the various households; how these remains related to the transformation of their environment from frontier and rural town and to an urban place. Varying house sizes across the site can suggest that there may be economic differences present between the houses. These differences might be represented within the archaeological evidence. Layout of the house and outbuildings and how this structured life in these households. Is there evidence for customary patterns (buildings, food, religious practice, cultural artefacts)? How was material culture used to express personal, ethnic, religious and/or group identity? How was the material culture used to express perceived class.

Understanding the material culture
The material culture of the site could add to our understanding about the cultural, social and economic influences on the residents of Parramatta and how these influences affected their behaviour, as manifested through their choices about:
  • Where activities were undertaken within a house,
  • What type of activities were undertaken within a house,
  • What, how and where to eat,
  • What was acceptable recreation for adults and children within working-class homes,
  • What to buy.
An important aspect of the analysis of the archaeological remains is the opportunity it provides for a comparative examination of the sets of archaeological evidence from individual households and the houses as part of a larger neighbourhood. This will be a focus of the overall analysis. It requires a comparative analysis of each house or dwelling lot or specific context, such as cesspit deposits, to each other. This is facilitated by the archaeological methodologies established for comparative analysis by Casey & Lowe that includes such things as a ceramic pattern series, and the cataloguing process which is designed to facilitate a comparative analysis of sets of data through using criteria such as minimum vessel counts. [3]

Other Relevant Questions
There may be types of remains that would be encountered that may use to address other research questions. These could include:
  • Do we have evidence for early semi-industrial and work practices associated with the archaeological remains? How are they different, what do they say about early practices?
  • Is there evidence for the Wentworth's Estate practices in this area?
  • Evidence for Aboriginal and British peoples' activities and contact during early settlement.
  • Evidence for Industrial Archaeology activities.
Footnotes
[1] This general topic was the focus of Mary Casey's 2002 PhD thesis in relation to the Sydney Domain (Casey 2002). Development of these ideas in relation to Parramatta was undertaken in Casey 2009, in Casey & Hendriksen (eds) 2009.
[2] Some of these issues were the focus of analysis in Casey 2002.
[3] Casey 2004.
 

   
Top of Page