We revisited Parramatta’s archaeological past to reveal the deep-time history of the heart of Sydney

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Abstract

We know quite a lot about the past 200 years of history in Parramatta. Located in Sydney’s geographical centre, on the Parramatta River, it was the first township to be established outside Sydney Cove’s penal colony after the First Fleet arrived at Port Jackson in 1788.
Parramatta became the breadbasket of the early European colony, with land clearing and farming dispossessing the Darug people of the Cumberland Plain. This formed the focus of Aboriginal resistance, culminating in the 1797 Battle of Parramatta led by the great freedom fighter Pemulwuy.
Parramatta’s European history is evident to those who wander through it today — with the remains of old buildings and signs of historical events on almost every corner.
But what about before 1788?
Our analysis fills an important gap in the Indigenous past of one of the oldest townships in Australia. It reinforces the importance of undertaking heritage assessments in areas which are thought to already be “disturbed”.
It also provides a timely reminder these archaeological and cultural landscapes are finite, and are being lost at an unprecedented rate.

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