Artefact of the month

Check out my feature in the Australasia Society for Historical Archaeology –
Artefact of the month



Atherton Chinatown Pig Oven Dig – Day 6

Final day of excavation for Atherton Chinatown pig oven so it was trowels down, buckets up.

We had a few more squares to open up before lunch and artefacts were still coming out by the sieve load.

Like this piece of stoneware jar/container – it looked complete in situ but as we excavated around it was clearly broken.



We had to also make sure that all recording was complete, all levels taken and artefacts bagged and put away.


Now to clear up the site for the final photos and drawings.


After cleaning up the site I couldn’t believe how many artefacts we had discovered (not to mention exciting) in such a relatively small area.


Reflecting on the entire dig, the days have gone very quickly.  We uncovered stone features and artefacts from nineteenth-century Atherton Chinatown, with the hopes of locating the area of the Chinese pig oven.  Next is to catalogue the artefacts and write up our findings.

I would like to give acknowledgment to all our volunteers that helped us out (whether digging, cleaning or cooking), we all had a good laugh and share an interest in Chinese heritage (and historical archaeology) of Australia.

Till next time.


Atherton Chinatown Pig Oven Dig – Day 5

We started the day continuing where we last left off and surprisingly more artefacts were coming out.


The team found what looked to be a metal fragment in situ.


It turned out to be a horse shoe and what good luck it gave us.


We also found a complete Ink bottle (made out of glass)


I had a far less interesting hole to dig so the team planted some ‘modern’ day artefacts (bucket handle) for me to find – Thanks guys.


As we finished following the stone feature, it seemed to form a straight line next to the tree.  Charcoal was present on one side of the stones and brown soil present on the other.


At the end of the day we gathered around to discuss what we had found.


We also had a guess at what some items were used for.


All in all a very productive day, it left the group intrigued at what other objects lay beneath the surface.


Atherton Chinatown Pig Oven Dig – Day 4

It was important to spend time reflecting on what we had discovered and where to excavate next (which meant a lot of time spent staring).


I kept myself busy by drawing the features in each square, I’m not a very good drawer and rather not do it.

I asked everyone if they were good at drawing, unfortunately for me the answer was always no.  I had a sneaking suspicion this might be the case.





After lunch we continued to locate the pig oven by using the old historical photo and matching it up to the angle of the temple in the background.IMG_0480

Back to digging holes we found broken glass, Chinese ceramics, metal and brick (hopefully associated with the oven).



Tomorrow we will continue to investigate new squares adjacent squares with artefacts to see what more could be revealed.

Atherton Chinatown Pig Oven Dig – Day 3

First official day of the dig and hooray more help arrived.
Operating two dig teams, we opened up a broader area.


Getting a good rhythm going our buckets were taken to be sieved and artefacts coming out of the buckets.




Tours of Atherton Chinatown peeked interest as we explained what our aims of the dig were.  Often people asked whether we found any gold.

Behind the scenes prepping for site photos.


All in all the day went quickly and we made good progress.

Tomorrow we strategise on what other squares to open in the hope of finding the pig oven wall.


Atherton Chinatown Pig Oven Dig – Day 2

Each morning we setup the dumpy level to assist with site recording (levels, direction and distance).  The sun was out and I was hopeful it would stay that way so we could start digging.

Safety first, gloves are a must.


After recording some surface finds I was able to break ground.



In the first square, rock started to show up, with dark soil located on the other side.  It looked promising but we decided to open up another square after lunch.


Our lunch room (aka temple hall)

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This seat (which doubles as a sign) was located outside of the Fong On store on Main Street in Atherton.

After lunch, we started on the second square to see if rock was also present – it was, but we needed to dig deeper to see if any patterns start to emerge.  After finishing up the paperwork and bagging all the finds, mainly fragments of glass, we were ready to call it a day.

Tomorrow we will chase the features to see if we can find the structure of the pig oven.