Harrietville Chinese Mining Village
Archaeological Excavation - 9-28 October 2017

Dig Update

Highlights of the Harrietville Chinese Mining Village excavation can be viewed on the blog of team archaeologist Melissa Dunk at oschinesearch.wordpress.com

46 people took part over the three weeks of the excavation at the Harrietville Chinese Mining Village. Four sites in the village were excavated - a possible dwelling site (designated as WC1) in the western end of the village, a mysterious stone feature set into a bank of earth (SF1) which expanded upon excavation into extensive stone flagging of a building’s floor, and two sections of the now-disused water race which once supplied water for the village and its vegetable gardens.

Surveying of the site, which includes many small terraces on the bank of the East Branch of the Ovens River, indicated that perhaps up to 30 buildings may have been built there.

 Extensive stone flagging at site SF1

Extensive stone flagging at site SF1

Trenches dug into the water race demonstrated that it was substantial, almost half a metre deep, and would have provided abundant water for the residents’ domestic and garden use. The impervious nature of the subsurface clay means it would not have needed lining.

888 artefacts catalogued by the end of the excavation.

Highlights of the finds include two Chinese coins dating from the reign of the Kangxi Emperor (1662-1722). Such coins were minted by the millions, and remained in circulation for centuries after minting.

Domestic residence by Chinese was confirmed by the presence of many fragments of brown-glazed food storage jars, a winter-green patterned spoon and bowl, and what possibly may be a wok-stirrer. Also present were numerous European tablewares, which suggest either adaptation to European practices by the Chinese miners, or using European plates to serve a Chinese food purpose, or the later occupation of the site by Europeans.

 One of the 'Asiatic Pheasant' (British plates inspired by Chinese patterns) found in the excavation.

One of the 'Asiatic Pheasant' (British plates inspired by Chinese patterns) found in the excavation.