Archaeology of the iron barque Sepia: an investigation of cargo assemblages

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

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Abstract

The Western Australian Museum houses a large collection of artefacts from late nineteenth century iron sailing vessels, wrecked en route from Britain. The bulk of this collection comprises cargo objects, destined for sale in the Swan River colony. The protection afforded artefacts, due to the integrity of these shipwrecks, presents new research opportunites for identifying particular classes of commodities which were considered either necessary or desirable for colonial consumers. This thesis examines the notion of material consumption as reflected in shipwreck assemblages in Western Australia for the later nineteenth century, prior to Federation. The research is concerned with the notion of cultural continuity from Britain through specific product selection, as demonstrated by the archaeological assemblages of iron barques importing general merchandise into the colony. Focusing on the Sepia (1898), the objectives include an appraisal of shipwreck cargo artefacts and their applicability to questions relating to consumer behaviour. While the primary objective of this study is on the identification of cargo assemblages, it presents an opportunity to study taphonomic processes and provide a method of relating the vessel to its cargo contents in order to answer broader questions about shipping practices, with a particular focus on stowage. This research also critiques shipwreck collections comprised of selectively recovered, unprovenanced artefacts and suggests appropriate methods for using such material.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationMasters
Publication statusUnpublished - 2007

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