Artefacts and Community Transformations: A Material Culture Study of Nineteenth Century North Dunedin
Large quantities of artefacts have been recovered from development-based archaeological investigations in North Dunedin during the last decade. There has been no attempt, however, to draw this material together and develop a picture of the neighbourhood as a whole. This area, as with the rest of Dunedin, experienced major economic and social transformations during the second half of the nineteenth century as a result of colonisation, the gold rush of the 1860s, economic depression once this boom was over and the process of industrialisation in the 1880s and 1890s. The aim of this thesis was to discover whether these transformations are visible in the material culture record and if the artefacts can add to our understanding of these processes and how they affected the people living in North Dunedin at this time. This analysis of the nineteenth century North Dunedin community was conducted without the highly contextual household information that usually forms the basis of community studies, instead using the evidence gathered from the material culture itself. The artefacts from one primary study site (234-242 George Street) were analysed directly while the material from the rest of the study area sites was evaluated through data presented in excavation reports. Evidence relating to the massive influx of wealth and people that came with the gold rush, the hardship faced by many businesses after this gold ran out and the social and economic effect of industrialisation were all able to be identified in the material culture, as was the development of a distinct North Dunedin identity. Comparisons were then made between the North Dunedin findings and other colonial communities that have been studied in a similar way, which revealed that parallel processes were affecting many British colonial cities at the end of the nineteenth century, but the ways in which they were handled was often unique and contributed to each city’s character. These results not only demonstrated the possibilities of less context driven community studies but also highlighted the potential of development-based archaeological investigations and reports as invaluable academic resources.
Advisor: Smith, Ian
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: Anthropology and Archaeology
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Dunedin; historical archaeology; material culture
Research Type: Thesis