The collecting behaviour conundrum...or not: a community as the Amazon shipwreck in Inverloch, Victoria

Author: Madhumathy Chandrasekaran

Chandrasekaran, Madhumathy, 2019 The collecting behaviour conundrum...or not: a community as the Amazon shipwreck in Inverloch, Victoria, Flinders University, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

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Shipwrecks transform from existing merely as objects in the sea, into sites deposited in the environment, consequently undergoing site-formation processes due to varying natural and cultural factors. Oftentimes, natural processes such as waves, currents, corrosion and biodegradation, control the formation of the archaeological record, ultimately causing disintegration and potential dispersal of wreck components. This wreckage pattern differs depending on the shipwreck’s location in the surrounding environment. A similar situation was encountered during the archaeological investigations of the nineteenth-century shipwreck Amazon, situated at the intertidal zone in Inverloch beach, Victoria, Australia. The wreck site is located in high dynamic environmental conditions, which possibly resulted in artefact transportation and overall site dispersal—two events normally consequential of such conditions. During the late 2018 fieldwork at

Inverloch, team members became aware of the artefact collecting activity undertaken by the local community residents. Following several conversations with the Inverloch community members, it became clear that this behaviour originated from well-meaning intentions and this study considers the possibility of the shipwreck as an influencer of this behaviour and how it has enabled this practice. This thesis attempts to explore the proposed possibility by utilising various archaeological methods and interpreting the data acquired during fieldwork.

Human interactions with a shipwreck site are components of cultural site-formation processes and are common occurrences, irrespective of the site’s location in the environment. Many times, these processes are inevitable. Such interactions encompass various aspects of relationships between humans and shipwrecks. Based on extensive archaeological evidence, certain human actions can be undoubtedly either presumed destructive or harmless to the archaeological remains. Although, there also exist some actions that are misunderstood and highly criticised in archaeology, such as the artefact collecting behaviour. Therefore, the author also presents an analysis of this behaviour by striving to understand the purpose and motivation driving this behaviour, through cultural survey questionnaires.

Keywords: collecting behaviour, site-formation processes, shallow water shipwreck

Subject: Archaeology thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2019
School: College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Supervisor: Wendy van Duivenvoorde