City of Parramatta Archaeological Collection
Archaeological Collections Assessment
Archaeological Collections Management Framework Report
Cataloguing and high-resolution photography of artefacts
City of Parramatta Council
City of Parramatta
Over the last 30 years, the City of Parramatta Council has amassed an extensive collection of artefacts unearthed from over a dozen archaeological excavations at the historical core of the Parramatta CBD. The collection lay untouched in storage for years.
GML helped Council rethink and revamp this significant resource.
We assessed, catalogued and standardised the collection, providing pragmatic recommendations to help with its maintenance and management into the future. The aim was to increase the public’s access to this significant collection and enhance opportunities for education and interpretation.
Preliminary investigation showed that the size of the collection had been underestimated and primary data associated with nearly all excavations was missing.
It was back to basics. We opened all 3,645 artefact boxes and reviewed all associated excavation records, characterising the archaeological collections for each site. From this we selected 1009 historically interesting, diagnostic artefacts with high interpretive potential to be catalogued in detail and published online along with high-resolution images.
Once we helped to organise and catalogue the collection, we created tools and systems to help with its ongoing maintenance.
- updating the fields in Council’s collections management software, Vernon Systems, to ensure that they were used in a manner consistent with other archaeological practitioners;
- creating a handbook for Council staff and volunteers to standardise data collection for artefacts and set a quality benchmark for all future data entry; and
- preparing an Excel template to enable archaeological consultants to prepare data that could be uploaded directly into Vernon and published online, improving both workflows and data quality.
This work informed the Archaeological Management Framework we prepared for Council. This framework contains recommendations to allow Council to manage its existing collection and new acquisitions in future. Crucially, it provides a means for Council to become the central repository for significant archaeological data.
Innovatively, it will be published online, creating a publicly accessible digital museum of significant artefacts and plain English excavation summaries across the LGA—opening up Parramatta’s archaeology to the public.
The framework also explored options for the future, such as mandatory acquisition of significant collections, establishment of a fee-based repository and a collections rationalisation scheme to inform storage and deaccession of artefacts by significance.
Implementation of the framework will improve public engagement. It will also generate improved interpretive outcomes for new developments in areas of archaeological sensitivity. This was a key influence, given the urban growth and transformation underway throughout Parramatta.