Sunday, June 19, 2011

A quick detour...

I couldn't let this news story pass me by without commenting on it here. It appears that the Jordan River Bank site, on the northern edge of suburban Hobart, Tasmania, is to have a highway built above it, despite previous coverage, and local activists and academic and consultant archaeologists attesting to its extreme importance as a likely meeting place/lithic manufacturing centre from c. 42,000BP into historic times (see here as well). Despite reassurances from engineers that the site (a sandbank separate from the river's main course) will not be disturbed by construction, the incredible artifact density (potentially up to three million stone tools or flakes left over from manufacture, left behind on several "living floors" deposited over the millennia), and the fact that the site was only discovered last year, strongly suggests there is more to uncover there. The preliminary archaeological report provides a more technical assessment of the site's importance, for those interested.

At a price tag of $60 million AUD and two additional years suggested by local governmental authorities to be needed to survey a new route for the highway, it is doubtful that calls for preservation will be heeded in the end. At the very least, perhaps further excavation can be carried out to uncover/salvage as much of the site as possible. Obviously, this post does not pertain directly to looting, and there is no reason to suggest any prehistoric (as opposed to ethnographic) artifacts from the site or region have ended up on the market, but it's impossible to know if any local surface collecting has occurred. Hopefully this won't be the case if/when a construction crew descends on the site. I will return to the post series in progress soon, but as controversial, heritage relevant stories from this part of the world often get overlooked overseas, I felt it important to share.

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