The World Heritage-listed Port Arthur penitentiary is one of Australia’s most visited historical sites, attracting over 400,000 visitors each year. Designed to incarcerate 480 men, between 1856 and 1877 thousands of convicts passed through it.
In 2016, archaeologists began one of the largest ever excavations of an Australian convict site. Recovering Convict Lives: Historical Archaeology of the Port Arthur Penitentiary makes their findings available to general readers for the first time. Extensively illustrated, it is a fascinating journey into the inner workings of the penal system and the day-to-day lives of Port Arthur convicts.
Through the things they left behind – the sandstone base of a prison wall, a clay pipe discarded in a washroom, gambling tokens dropped between floorboards – this book tells their stories.
Ashley Matic was excavation director at Port Arthur during the two seasons of archaeological investigation undertaken in 2013. He has worked as an archaeological consultant and is currently part of the Historic Unrecovered War Casualties team in the History and Heritage Branch of the Royal Australian Air Force.
David Roe is archaeology manager at the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority.
Jeanne Harris has 35 years’ experience in cultural heritage and resources management in the USA and Australia. She is the owner of Urban Analysts, a consultancy specialising in the analysis of historical artefacts, and is a PhD candidate at the University of New England.
Richard Tuffin is a historical archaeologist currently working as a Research Fellow at the University of New England. He has worked as a research and commercial archaeologist in Australia, the Pacific and the UK.
Sylvana Szydzik is conservation project officer at the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority.
- A short history of Port Arthur
- The story of the penitentiary precinct
- Private lives in public spaces: understanding the convict experience
- Illustrated summary of the archaeological investigations
Conclusion: one building, many stories
Size: 254 × 178 × 17 mm
b&w illustrations and colour illustrations
Copyright: © 2021
Publication: 01 Nov 2021
Series: Studies in Australasian Historical Archaeology