Archaeologist's Brushes

Workers have discovered historical artifacts from 19th century Brisbane while excavating on the Cross River Rail Project.

Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, and Minister for Cross River Rail, Kate Jones, recently inspected the pieces of the past.

“Cross River Rail is about setting southeast Queensland up for the future. But it’s amazing that already, this project is helping to teach us a little about our history,” the Premier said.

“We are already uncovering some very interesting bits and pieces from the early days in South Brisbane as we excavate for the future.”

“Building Brisbane’s new underground complete with four new underground stations means digging deep into the city, so there’s every chance the workforce will uncover more items of archaeological significance.”

Minister Jones said the magnitude of Cross River Rail is awesome.

“Never have workers had to tunnel so far for a major rail infrastructure project. In the months ahead, I’m sure we will get many more artifacts we had forgotten existed,” Ms Jones said.

The artifacts discovered provide an insight into everyday life in Brisbane at the turn of the 19th century.  

Finds from the Woolloongabba Station excavation site include: 

  • The Crown Perfume bottle: Lavender Salts bottle from The Crown Perfumery, London. First developed in 1885 and quickly became a global success.
  • S. Maw .Son & Thompson toothpaste container: Toothpaste container with ceramic lid dating from 1870-1905. S. Maw Son & Thompson was a pharmaceutical company in London. ‘An elegant preparation – for the cleaning and preserving of teeth and gums’
  • Lucas Bol Gin Bottle: The Erwen-style of bottle dates to 1880-1910. Lucas Bol have been distilling gin in Amsterdam since 1545
  • Inkwells and Ink bottles: Antoine & Fils Japanese ink from Paris. Exported to Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. Sold in earthen-ware bottles until 1910.
  • Udolpho Wolfe’s Aromatic Schnapps Bottle: Schnapps distilled in Schiedam and bottled in New York. Marked as medicinal and sold by chemists. Advertised in the New York Times in 1860.
  • Shoes, shoe off-cuts and a cobbler’s anvil: Suggesting the presence of a local cobbler and typical of footwear worn more than 100 years ago.

“We will ensure these pieces are shared with the community and that they add to our understanding of Brisbane’s rich history,” Ms Jones said.

“Many of the artifacts found will be housed at Queensland Museum. The historical backgrounds to each of these items and the locations they were found will become part of the evolving historical collection on display. historical collection on display.”

Queensland Museum Network CEO, Dr Jim Thompson, said projects that involve excavation work provide an opportunity to reveal items that tell a story from a period of time.

“Queensland Museum Network is excited to learn about the artifacts uncovered by Cross River Rail Delivery Authority,” Dr Thompson said. 

“These objects reveal intimate details of life in Brisbane during the 19th and early 20th century.”

Queensland Museum Archaeologist Nicholas Hadnutt said the artifacts recovered through the Cross River Rail Project all contribute to an ongoing story of those who lived and worked in the city at the turn of the 19th Century.

“The artefacts recovered to date, particularly highlight Brisbane’s ongoing position within an international trade network,” Mr Hadnutt said.

“They provide a tangible insight into the development of Brisbane as a city as well as the domestic and professional lives of its people.”

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