Charmain O'Halloran
'Submerged Heritage': A study of threats to archaeological sites on the bottomlands of Lake Hume

Supervisor: Dr. Dirk H.R. Spennemann



This dissertation aims to identify and discuss the threats impacting archaeological sites on the bottomlands of freshwater reservoirs in Australia. The specific case studies used to investigate these threats are the Old Bowna and Old Tallangatta villages, contained within Lake Hume, on the border of New South Wales and Victoria.

Surveys of the Old Bowna remains in the area resulted in the identification of historic and several Aboriginal cultural sites. Secondary surveys were completed in 2000, identifying a wide distribution of sites, covering the Bowna Water Reserve and the outskirts of the Bowna village.

The study identified the impacts affecting archaeological sites on the bottomlands of Lake Hume as wave action, water level fluctuation and human visitation during leisure activities. The wave action impact and water level fluctuation cause the deposition, removal and destabilisation of artefacts within sites on the shorelines of the reservoir. The level of damage incurred by these threats was shown to be dependent on the capacity of the dam.

Visitor impacts, including boating, fishing, swimming, horse riding, four-wheel driving, bonnet riding and metal detecting are activities observed at the reservoir which caused damage and loss of archaeological sites. Of these metal detecting and illegal excavations caused the most damage.

All the above impacts are discussed in accordance with moral and legal obligations of the protection and conservation of heritage sites in reservoir environments.


Publications resulting from this thesis

Spennemann, Dirk H.R. and O'Halloran, Charmain (2002)
Waste of recreational boating and fishing as a source of archaeological site contamination on the bottom lands of inland reservoirs. Australian Journal of Environmental Management vol. 9, March 2002, pp. 21-26.
O'Halloran, Charmain and Spennemann, Dirk H.R. (in press)
Wave Action Impact on Archaeological Sites in a Freshwater Reservoir at Lake Hume, New South Wales. Australian Archaeology in press 2002.