Queensland’s archaeological heritage includes a wide range of artefacts, places and landscapes related to human settlement, occupation and use. Archaeology investigates the physical evidence people have left behind by using documentary and oral information to interpret this evidence. Archaeological investigation increases knowledge about past people, places and activities, adds to the understanding of how people lived, what they did, and how they interacted.
Brick floor uncovered during building works, Brisbane city
Historical archaeology is the study of the recent past. In Queensland, historical archaeology is generally thought to commence in 1824 with the establishment of a convict settlement on the Redcliffe Peninsula, in Moreton Bay. Other archaeological evidence that predates actual European settlement is also relevant, for example, visits by Macassan fishermen from southern Asia and 17th century exploration of the north Queensland coast by the Dutch.
Archaeological evidence associated with contact places—those places where there is an overlap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous activity and values, such as on missions, station camps, and native mounted police camps—are also part of Queensland’s archaeological heritage.
Since the 18th century, more than 1400 ships are believed to have been wrecked or abandoned along the Queensland coastline, on fringing reefs or inland waters. Each one of these shipwrecks is an irreplaceable archaeological resource, providing information about the lives of previous generations of Queenslanders and others who visited our shores. Maritime and underwater heritage includes wrecks of ships and shipwreck relics, shore-based maritime infrastructure and other forms of historical heritage such as aircraft. Read more about maritime and underwater heritage.
Archaeological investigations are undertaken for a number of purposes including academic research or as part of the development of a place. Archaeological investigations in a Queensland Heritage Place (a place in the Queensland Heritage Register) include:
- monitoring of non-archaeological excavation works
- initial archaeological assessments, such as site survey and planning
- archaeological management plans, for individual sites, to broad areas and regions
- surface artefact recovery projects
- test pitting, trenching and open area excavation
- in-situ conservation and interpretation projects.
All archaeological investigations must:
- Be carried out in accordance with the Guideline: Archaeological investigations (under review).
- Any data and/or reports resulting from an investigation must be submitted to the department.
- Obtain a permit for any projects proposed in a Protected Area. A permit can be obtained by completing a Form: Permit to enter a Protected Area
Archaeological evidence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander occupation in Queensland is protected under the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003 and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Heritage Act 2003.
For more information about Indigenous archaeological artefacts and cultural heritage, please refer to the website of the Department of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs (DATSIMA).