Today my research has taken an unexpectedly self-referential turn. While working my way through the catalogue of the museum collection that forms one portion of my PhD research, I came upon a number of new acquisitions – objects associated with fieldwork undertaken by the Quarantine Project, with which my own research is affiliated.
This small sample of objects represents numerous field seasons spread over 3 years at the quarantine station, spent recording the historic inscriptions in sandstone and slate which proliferate around the site. The objects chosen to be accessioned include some of the fairly typical detritus of fieldwork – a pencil, eraser, measuring tape, clipboard and photographic scale. These are accompanied by a khaki shirt and straw hat, both emblazoned with the University of Sydney Archaeology logo (and on the hat, a glittering butterfly embellishment) and both worn by my own PhD supervisors during fieldwork at the site.
The presence of these objects in the collection leads me to wonder what else we might have left behind. While these items were intentionally accessioned, what unintended marks may we have left on the site? What traces remain from our seasons living and working at the station?