The archaeology of the ‘Secret War’: the material evidence of conflict on the Queensland frontier, 1849–1901

Barker, Bryce, Wallis, Lynley A., Burke, Heather, Cole, Noelene, Lowe, Kelsey, Artym, Ursula, Pagels, Anthony, Bateman, Leanne, Hatte, Elizabeth, De Leiuen, Cherrie, Davidson, Iain, and Zimmerman, Larry (2020) The archaeology of the ‘Secret War’: the material evidence of conflict on the Queensland frontier, 1849–1901. Queensland Archaeological Research, 23. pp. 25-41.

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Abstract

Although the historical record relating to nineteenth century frontier conflict between Aboriginal groups and Europeans in Queensland has been clearly documented, there have been limited associated archaeological studies. As part of the Archaeology of the Queensland Native Mounted Police (NMP) project, this paper canvasses the physical imprint of frontier conflict across Queensland between 1849 and the early 1900s, focusing specifically on the activities and camp sites of the NMP, the government-sanctioned paramilitary force tasked with policing Aboriginal people to protect settler livelihoods. At least 148 NMP camps of varying duration once existed, and historical and archaeological investigations of these demonstrate some consistent patterning amongst them, as well as idiosyncrasies depending on individual locations and circumstances. All camps were positioned with primary regard to the availability of water and forage. Owing to their intended temporary nature and the frugality of the government, the surviving structural footprints of camps are generally limited. Buildings were typically timber slab and bark constructions with few permanent foundations and surviving architectural features are therefore rare, limited to elements such as ant bed flooring, remnant house or yard posts, stone lines demarcating pathways, and stone fireplaces. Architectural forms of spatial confinement, such as lockups or palisades, were absent from the camps themselves. The most distinctive features of NMP camps, and what allows them to be distinguished from the myriad pastoral sites of similar ages, are their artefact assemblages, especially the combined presence of gilt uniform buttons with the Victoria Regina insignia, knapped bottle glass, and certain ammunition-related objects.

Item ID: 63824
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1839-339X
Copyright Information: © 2020 James Cook University. This journal provides immediate open access to its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC Discovery Project (DP160100307)
Date Deposited: 21 Jul 2020 00:55
FoR Codes: 21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2101 Archaeology > 210101 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Archaeology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australias Past @ 100%
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