Tag Archives: site

Site Update: New Look and New Home


Welcome to the new look ‘History for Today’ Blog. Sure, it hasn’t changed a huge amount at this stage, but it does have a new appearance with a better header image, along with a few smaller subtle changes you may be able to pick. The ‘About’ page has also been updated, providing some context to the changes.

If you had previously visited the website associated with this Blog in the past, you will also see that that has also now changed. I have moved from my previous location to a dedicated Facebook Page – the site no longer being a lesser page of my Tracing Our History website (which has also moved to a Facebook Page). I am hoping this will be a much better fit for all of my history interests over time.

In short, the movement across to Facebook is all about finances – my inability to meet the massive increases in web hosting costs. It was just too expensive to continue and I thought I would have to just simply quit everything. Then I thought I would move to Facebook and have a fresh start, as well as giving ‘History – A Study of the Past,’ its very own dedicated Page there. It will of course take time to get the Page as I want it to be, as the move became necessary in a very short time frame (when I got the bill for the upcoming year of web hosting – it had more than doubled).

So please pop over to the Facebook Page and ‘like it’ and visit regularly to experience the growth of the Page. Thanks for visiting.

P.S. – There is also plenty of opportunity for enhanced interaction on the Facebook Page – commenting, etc.


Rio Tinto just blasted away an ancient Aboriginal site. Here’s why that was allowed


Juukan 1 and 2 in June, 2013.
Puutu Kunti Kurrama And Pinikura Aboriginal Corporation

Samantha Hepburn, Deakin University

In the expansion of its iron ore mine in Western Pilbara, Rio Tinto blasted the Juukan Gorge 1 and 2 – Aboriginal rock shelters dating back 46,000 years. These sites had deep historical and cultural significance.

The shelters are the only inland site in Australia showing human occupation continuing through the last Ice Age.

The mining blast caused significant distress to the Puutu Kunti Kurrama traditional land owners. It’s an irretrievable loss for future generations.

Aboriginal cultural heritage is a fundamental part of Aboriginal community life and cultural identity. It has global significance, and forms an important component of the heritage of all Australians.

But the destruction of a culturally significant Aboriginal site is not an isolated incident. Rio Tinto was acting within the law.

In 2013, Rio Tinto was given ministerial consent to damage the Juukan Gorge caves. One year later, an archaeological dig unearthed incredible artefacts, such as a 4,000-year-old plait of human hair, and evidence that the site was much older than originally thought.

But state laws let Rio Tinto charge ahead nevertheless. This failure to put timely and adequate regulatory safeguards in place reveals a disregard and a disrespect for sacred Aboriginal sites.

The destruction of a significant Aboriginal site is not an isolated incident.
Puutu Kunti Kurrama And Pinikura Aboriginal Corporation

Not an isolated incident

The history of large developments destroying Indigenous heritage sites is, tragically, long.

A $2.1 billion light rail line in Sydney, completed last year, destroyed a site of considerable significance.

More than 2,400 stone artefacts were unearthed in a small excavated area. It indicated Aboriginal people had used the area between 1788 and 1830 to manufacture tools and implements from flint brought over to Australia on British ships.




Read more:
Four ways Western Australia can improve Aboriginal heritage management


Similarly, ancient rock art on the Burrup Peninsula in north-western Australia is under increasing threat from a gas project. The site contains more than one million rock carvings (petroglyphs) across 36,857 hectares.

This area is under the custodianship of Ngarluma people and four other traditional owners groups: the Mardudhunera, the Yaburara, the Yindjibarndi and the Wong-Goo-Tt-Oo.

But a Senate inquiry revealed emissions from adjacent industrial activity may significantly damage it.

The West Australian government is seeking world heritage listing to try to increase protection, as the regulatory frameworks at the national and state level aren’t strong enough. Let’s explore why.

What do the laws say?

The recently renamed federal Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment is responsible for listing new national heritage places, and regulating development actions in these areas.

At the federal level, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) provides a legal framework for their management and protection. It is an offence to impact an area that has national heritage listing.




Read more:
Australia’s problem with Aboriginal World Heritage


But many ancient Aboriginal sites have no national heritage listing. For the recently destroyed Juurkan gorge, the true archaeological significance was uncovered after consent had been issued and there were no provisions to reverse or amend the decision once this new information was discovered.

Where a site has no national heritage listing, and federal legislation has no application, state laws apply.

For the rock shelters in the Western Pilbara, Rio Tinto was abiding by Western Australia’s Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 – which is now nearly 50 years old.

Section 17 of that act makes it an offence to excavate, destroy, damage, conceal or in any way alter any Aboriginal site without the ministerial consent.

But, Section 18 allows an owner of the land – and this includes the holder of a mining licence – to apply to the Aboriginal Cultural Material Committee for consent to proceed with a development action likely to breach section 17.

The committee then evaluates the importance and significance of the site, and makes a recommendation to the minister. In this case, the minister allowed Rio Tinto to proceed with the destruction of the site.

No consultation with traditional owners

The biggest concern with this act is there’s no statutory requirement ensuring traditional owners be consulted.

This means traditional owners are left out of vital decisions regarding the management and protection of their cultural heritage. And it confers authority upon a committee that, in the words of a discussion paper, “lacks cultural authority”.




Read more:
Separate but unequal: the sad fate of Aboriginal heritage in Western Australia


There is no statutory requirement for an Indigenous person to be on the committee, nor is there a requirement that at least one anthropologist be on the committee. Worse still, there’s no right of appeal for traditional owners from a committee decision.

So, while the committee must adhere to procedural fairness and ensure traditional owners are given sufficient information about decisions, this doesn’t guarantee they have a right to consultation nor any right to provide feedback.

Weak in other jurisdictions

The WA Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 is under review. The proposed reforms seek to abolish the committee, ensuring future decisions on Aboriginal cultural heritage give appropriate regard to the views of the traditional Aboriginal owners.

NSW is the only state with no stand-alone Aboriginal heritage legislation. However, a similar regulatory framework to WA applies in NSW under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.

There, if a developer is likely to impact cultural heritage, they must apply for an Aboriginal Heritage Impact Permit. The law requires “regard” to be given to the interests of Aboriginal owners of the land, but this vague provision does not mandate consultation.

What’s more, the burden of proving the significance of an Aboriginal object depends upon external statements of significance. But Aboriginal people, not others, should be responsible for determining the cultural significance of an object or area.

As in WA, the NSW regulatory framework is weak, opening up the risk for economic interests to be prioritised over damage to cultural heritage.

Outdated laws

The federal minister has discretion to assess whether state or territory laws are already effective.

If they decide state and territory laws are ineffective and a cultural place or object is under threat, then the federal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 can be used.

But this act is also weak. It was first implemented as an interim measure, intended to operate for two years. It has now been in operation for 36 years.




Read more:
Australian rock art is threatened by a lack of conservation


In fact, a 1995 report assessed the shortcomings of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act.

It recommended minimum standards be put in place. This included ensuring any assessment of Aboriginal cultural significance be made by a properly qualified body, with relevant experience.

It said the role of Aboriginal people should be appropriately recognised and statutorily endorsed. Whether an area or site had particular significance according to Aboriginal tradition should be regarded as a subjective issue, determined by an assessment of the degree of intensity of belief and feeling of Aboriginal people.

Twenty-five years later, this is yet to happen.The Conversation

Samantha Hepburn, Director of the Centre for Energy and Natural Resources Law, Deakin Law School, Deakin University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Battle site shows the Norman conquest took years longer than 1066 and all that


Like 1066 all over again: William had his work cut out to subdue the Saxons.
Lucien Musset

Helen Birkett, University of Exeter

The possible discovery of the site of a 1069 “sequel” to the Battle of Hastings is a reminder that the Norman Conquest wasn’t just a case of 1066 and all that. In fact William the Conqueror faced repeated threats to his power from both inside and outside the kingdom during his reign.

Writer Nick Arnold claims to have identified the site of a battle in 1069 which marked the last major attempt of Godwine and Edmund, the sons of the Anglo-Saxon king Harold Godwinson, to regain power following their father’s defeat at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Historical sources tell us that the 1069 encounter took place at the mouth of the River Taw in North Devon and, by combining this with scientific data, Arnold has narrowed down the location to a spot between Appledore and Northam. While an interesting piece of historical detective work in its own right, the potential identification of this site is a reminder that the Norman Conquest took years, not days.

Challenges to William’s rule

Admittedly, in the history of medieval military encounters, the Battle of Hastings was unusually decisive. This hard-fought battle resulted in the deaths of King Harold and a large portion of the English aristocracy. With the removal of much of the ruling elite, William the Conqueror and his Norman allies (in reality a mixture of men drawn from various regions of France and Flanders) took over the controls of a remarkably centralised Anglo-Saxon state.

But it would be wrong to think that the Norman Conquest ended there. While much of the population probably accepted that the country was, in effect, under new management, not everyone welcomed the change. The late 1060s and 1070s saw significant challenges to William’s rule in England, of which the attempted invasion by King Harold’s sons in 1069 was just one.

Our most reliable witness to events at this time, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, tells us that in 1069 “Harold’s sons came from Ireland at midsummer with sixty-four ships into the mouth of the Taw”. The naval force mentioned was almost certainly supplied by the Norse kingdom of Dublin and reflects previous ties between King Harold and Dublin’s overlord, King Diarmait of Leinster.

This was the second attempt by Harold’s sons to mount an invasion and the second time that they had targeted the south-west. In 1068 they had attacked Bristol and ravaged Somerset, before being seen off by English forces under Eadnoth the Staller, who was killed in the encounter. They were repelled again in 1069, this time by a Breton lord, Count Brian, who seems to have taken over responsibility for defence of the area.

‘Harrying of the North’

The north of England paid a price for rebelling against William.
Ulrich Harsch

The brief return of the Godwinsons in 1069, however, was a mere sideshow compared to the full-scale rebellion in the north later that year. This was led by English earls in support of Edgar the Ætheling, who claimed the throne as the closest male relative of William and Harold’s predecessor, Edward the Confessor. Like the attempted invasion by Harold’s sons, this rebellion was made possible through an alliance with a foreign power: in this case, King Sweyn of Denmark, who provided a fleet of 240-300 ships. William’s response was to gather his army and “utterly ravage and lay waste” to the region in what became known as the Harrying of the North, forcing the northern earls into a truce.

The Danes, meanwhile, remained a disruptive force in England until the following summer, when they left laden with plunder largely taken from the abbey at Peterborough. All of which underlines that the events playing out in England were part of political struggles in the context of her European neighbours. For the Normans, conquest was an ongoing campaign that lasted years, not something that was handed to them by virtue of Harold’s death at Hastings.

Battleground England

Although Arnold’s purported discovery of the 1069 battle site can be admired as an ingenious piece of detective work, only archaeologists will be able to prove his claims. In reality, this announcement adds only a limited amount to our current knowledge of historical events, which means any identification of the site in which the Godwinsons made their last great bid for power is probably of more significance to a local audience than to a national or academic one.

But if anything it should remind us of the turbulent years after 1066, when the Norman conquest was by no means assured – and it seemed as if Hastings’ immediate legacy had been to turn England itself into a battleground.The Conversation

Helen Birkett, Lecturer in Medieval History, University of Exeter

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


What happens now we’ve found the site of the lost Australian freighter SS Iron Crown, sunk in WWII



File 20190423 175521 rnurec.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
A bathymetric map showing SS Iron Crown on the sea floor.
CSIRO, Author provided

Emily Jateff, Flinders University and Maddy McAllister, James Cook University

Finding shipwrecks isn’t easy – it’s a combination of survivor reports, excellent archival research, a highly skilled team, top equipment and some good old-fashioned luck.

And that’s just what happened with the recent discovery of SS Iron Crown, lost off the coast of Victoria in Bass Strait during the second world war.

Based on archival research by Heritage Victoria and the Maritime Archaeological Association of Victoria, we scoped an area for investigation of approximately 3 by 5 nautical miles, at a location 44 nautical miles SSW of Gabo Island.

Hunting by sound

We used the CSIRO research vessel Investigator to look for the sunken vessel. The Investigator deploys multibeam echosounder technology on a gondola 1.2 metres below the hull.

Multibeam echosounders send acoustic signal beams down and out from the vessel and measure both the signal strength and time of return on a receiver array.

The science team watches the survey from the operations room of the CSIRO research vessel (RV) Investigator.
CSIRO, Author provided

The receiver transmits the data to the operations room for real-time processing. These data provide topographic information and register features within the water column and on the seabed.

At 8pm on April 16, we arrived on site and within a couple of hours noted a feature in the multibeam data that looked suspiciously like a shipwreck. It measured 100m in length with an approximate beam of 16-22m and profile of 8m sitting at a water depth of 650m.

Given that we were close to maxing out what the multibeam could do, it provided an excellent opportunity to put the drop camera in the water and get “eyes on”.

Down goes the camera.

The camera collected footage of the stern, midship and bow sections of the wreck. These were compared to archival photos. Given the location, dimension and noted features, we identified it as SS Iron Crown.

The merchant steamer

SS Iron Crown was an Australian merchant vessel built at the government dockyard at Williamstown, Victoria, in 1922.

SS Iron Crown afloat.
South Australian Maritime Museum, Author provided

On June 4 1942, the steel screw steamer of the merchant vavy was transporting manganese ore and iron ore from Whyalla to Newcastle when it was torpedoed by the Japanese Imperial Type B (巡潜乙型) submarine I-27.

Survivor accounts state that the torpedo struck the vessel on the port side, aft of the bridge. It sank within minutes. Thirty-eight of the 43 crew went down with the ship.

This vessel is one of four WWII losses in Victorian waters (the others were HMAS Goorangai lost in a collision, SS Cambridge and MV City of Rayville lost to mines) and the only vessel torpedoed.

After the discovery

Now we’ve finally located the wreck – seven decades after it was sunk – it is what happens next that is truly interesting.

A bathymetric map showing SS Iron Crown on the sea floor with its bow on the right.
CSIRO, Author provided

It’s not just the opportunity to finally do an in-depth review of the collected footage stored on an external hard drive and shoved in my backpack, but to take the important step of ensuring how the story is told going forward.

When a shipwreck is located, the finder must report it within seven days to the Commonwealth’s Historic Shipwreck Program or to the recognised delegate in each state/territory with location information and as much other relevant data as possible.

Shipwrecks aren’t just found by professionals, but are often located by knowledgeable divers, surveyors, the military, transport ships and beachcombers. It’s no big surprise that many shipwrecks are well-known community fishing spots.

While it is possible to access the site using remotely operated vehicles or submersibles, we hope the data retrieved from this voyage will be enough.

It was only 77 years ago that the SS Iron Crown went down. This means it still has a presence in the memories of the communities and families that were touched by the event and its aftermath.

No war grave, but protected

Even though those who died were merchant navy, the site isn’t officially recognised yet as a war grave. But thanks to both state and Commonwealth legislation, the SS Iron Crown was protected before it was even located.

All shipwrecks over 75 years of age are protected under the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976. It is an offence to damage or remove anything from the site.

A drop camera view of the bow of SS Iron Crown with anchor chains.
CSIRO, Author provided

This protection is enhanced by its location in deeper water and, one hopes, by the circumstances of its loss.

Sitting on the sea floor in Bass Strait, SS Iron Crown is well below the reach of even technical divers. So the site is unlikely to be illegally salvaged for artefacts and treasures.

Yet this also means that maritime archaeologists have limited access to the site and the data that can be learnt from an untouched, well-preserved shipwreck.

Virtual wreck sites

But, like the increasing capabilities for locating such sites, maritime archaeologists now have access to digital mapping, 3D modelling technologies and high-resolution imagery as was used for the British Merchant Navy shipwreck of the SS Thistlegorm.

You can move within the video.

These can even allow us to record shipwreck sites (at whatever the depth) and present them to the public in a vibrant and engaging medium.




Read more:
VR technology gives new meaning to ‘holidaying at home’. But is it really a substitute for travel?


Better than a thousand words could ever describe, these realistic models allow us to convey the excitement, wonder and awe that we have all felt at a shipwreck.
Digital 3D models enable those who cannot dive, travel or ever dream of visiting shipwrecks to do so through their laptops, mobiles and other digital devices.

Without these capabilities to record, visualise and manage these deepwater sites, they will literally fade back into the depths of the ocean, leaving only the archaeologists and a few shipwreck enthusiasts to investigate and appreciate them.

So that’s the next step, a bigger challenge than finding a site, to record a deepwater shipwreck and enable the public to experience a well-preserved shipwreck.The Conversation

SS Iron Crown alongside SS Hagen.
National Library of Australia, Author provided

Emily Jateff, Adjunct lecturer in archaeology, Flinders University and Maddy McAllister, Senior Curator – Maritime Archaeology, James Cook University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Battle site shows the Norman conquest took years longer than 1066 and all that


Battle site shows the Norman conquest took years longer than 1066 and all that

Helen Birkett, University of Exeter

The possible discovery of the site of a 1069 “sequel” to the Battle of Hastings is a reminder that the Norman Conquest wasn’t just a case of 1066 and all that. In fact William the Conqueror faced repeated threats to his power from both inside and outside the kingdom during his reign.

Writer Nick Arnold claims to have identified the site of a battle in 1069 which marked the last major attempt of Godwine and Edmund, the sons of the Anglo-Saxon king Harold Godwinson, to regain power following their father’s defeat at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Historical sources tell us that the 1069 encounter took place at the mouth of the River Taw in North Devon and, by combining this with scientific data, Arnold has narrowed down the location to a spot between Appledore and Northam. While an interesting piece of historical detective work in its own right, the potential identification of this site is a reminder that the Norman Conquest took years, not days.

Challenges to William’s rule

Admittedly, in the history of medieval military encounters, the Battle of Hastings was unusually decisive. This hard-fought battle resulted in the deaths of King Harold and a large portion of the English aristocracy. With the removal of much of the ruling elite, William the Conqueror and his Norman allies (in reality a mixture of men drawn from various regions of France and Flanders) took over the controls of a remarkably centralised Anglo-Saxon state.

But it would be wrong to think that the Norman Conquest ended there. While much of the population probably accepted that the country was, in effect, under new management, not everyone welcomed the change. The late 1060s and 1070s saw significant challenges to William’s rule in England, of which the attempted invasion by King Harold’s sons in 1069 was just one.

Our most reliable witness to events at this time, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, tells us that in 1069 “Harold’s sons came from Ireland at midsummer with sixty-four ships into the mouth of the Taw”. The naval force mentioned was almost certainly supplied by the Norse kingdom of Dublin and reflects previous ties between King Harold and Dublin’s overlord, King Diarmait of Leinster.

This was the second attempt by Harold’s sons to mount an invasion and the second time that they had targeted the south-west. In 1068 they had attacked Bristol and ravaged Somerset, before being seen off by English forces under Eadnoth the Staller, who was killed in the encounter. They were repelled again in 1069, this time by a Breton lord, Count Brian, who seems to have taken over responsibility for defence of the area.

‘Harrying of the North’

The north of England paid a price for rebelling against William.
Ulrich Harsch

The brief return of the Godwinsons in 1069, however, was a mere sideshow compared to the full-scale rebellion in the north later that year. This was led by English earls in support of Edgar the Ætheling, who claimed the throne as the closest male relative of William and Harold’s predecessor, Edward the Confessor. Like the attempted invasion by Harold’s sons, this rebellion was made possible through an alliance with a foreign power: in this case, King Sweyn of Denmark, who provided a fleet of 240-300 ships. William’s response was to gather his army and “utterly ravage and lay waste” to the region in what became known as the Harrying of the North, forcing the northern earls into a truce.

The Danes, meanwhile, remained a disruptive force in England until the following summer, when they left laden with plunder largely taken from the abbey at Peterborough. All of which underlines that the events playing out in England were part of political struggles in the context of her European neighbours. For the Normans, conquest was an ongoing campaign that lasted years, not something that was handed to them by virtue of Harold’s death at Hastings.

Battleground England

Although Arnold’s purported discovery of the 1069 battle site can be admired as an ingenious piece of detective work, only archaeologists will be able to prove his claims. In reality, this announcement adds only a limited amount to our current knowledge of historical events, which means any identification of the site in which the Godwinsons made their last great bid for power is probably of more significance to a local audience than to a national or academic one.

But if anything it should remind us of the turbulent years after 1066, when the Norman conquest was by no means assured – and it seemed as if Hastings’ immediate legacy had been to turn England itself into a battleground.

The Conversation

Helen Birkett, Lecturer in Medieval History, University of Exeter

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


Greece: Thessaloniki’s Past Unearthed


The link below is to an article reporting on the ruins of Thessaloniki’s ancient past, which is being discovered beneath a construction site.

For more visit:
http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com.au/2013/11/metro-works-unearth-second-pompeii.html


Article: Peru – Mochica Capital Dig


The link below is to an article reporting on the findings of an archaeological dig in northern Peru at the site of a Mochica capital.

For more visit:
http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com.au/2013/09/archaeologists-explore-last-capital-of.html


Article: Kosovo – Roman Site Found in Dresnik


The link below is to an article reporting on an archaeological dig that has discovered a Roman site in Kosovo at Dresnik.

For more visit:
http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com.au/2013/08/kosovo-hails-discovery-of-ancient-roman.html


Australia: Aboriginal Sacred Site Destroyed


The Aboriginal Sacred Site known in English as ‘Two Women Sitting Down,’ north of Tennant Creek at Bootu Creek in the Northern Territory was destroyed in 2011. The link below is to an article reporting on the fining of the company responsible.

For more visit:
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/breaking-news/nt-miners-guilty-of-aboriginal-desecration/story-fn3dxiwe-1226690069366


Article: Archaeology – Aztec Mass Sacrifice Find in Mexico City


The link below is to an article (with pictures) reporting on the discovery of a mass sacrifice pit under Mexico City, on the site of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan.

For more visit:
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/08/pictures/120829-aztec-sacrifice-templo-mayor-bones-archaeology/


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