2023 Wrapped

And just like that, somehow we’re only three sleeps from Christmas and another year has flown by. It always seems like time speeds up once we hit September and that the final three months of the year disappear in the blink of an eye. It’s been another big year this year, with lots of exciting finds and great archaeology. It’s also been a slightly different year this year, with 2023 really feeling like our first proper year of ‘business as usual’ and that the constant, seemingly never ending, wave of earthquake demolition and rebuild work that we’ve had for the past decade has come to an end. That’s not to say though that we’ve been quiet, as you’ll see we’ve been up and down the country excavating features and recording finds. Read on to find out our highlights from 2023!

2023 has been a year of buildings archaeology for us. We’ve recorded 15 different buildings, with these located in Christchurch and Canterbury, but also in the lower North Island. That’s meant it’s also been a year of travel, with Kirsa, Jamie and honorary Christchurch team member Braden (he works in our Dunedin office but we’re trying to steal him) probably spending more time out of the office than they have in it! Between them, Jamie and Kirsa have caught a total of 41 flights as they’ve nipped backwards and forwards between islands. We’ve done the maths and our furthest site this year was a whopping 877 km from the office, all the way over on Rēkohu (Chatham Islands). Meanwhile, our closest site was a short 350 m stroll down the road. In our travels this year we’ve seen all sorts…

Jamie’s favourite building that she recorded this year- a lovely old villa in Whanganui.

Kirsa’s favourite building that she’s recorded this year. An Arts and Crafts villa featuring a Braden.

Some old farm buildings that we recorded recently north of Christchurch.

Archaeologists caught in said old farm buildings.

We came across furry and feathered friends. These were, for the most part, still living.

On Wednesdays we scream into the void.

A new series of ‘found art’ was started. This was entitled “loos with threatening auras“.

In his travels Hamish spotted this WWII pill box on the north side of the Rangitata River. Stop and check it out yourself if you’re driving south these holidays, the view is great.

This year we excavated over 110 features! Tristan started this year off with a chart to tally how many features we would uncover in 2023. That tally is currently sitting at 110, (which is most definitely an under estimate because some of us are useless…). Those features varied from the usual historic rubbish pits, to brick floors, ovens, cultural layers and lots and lots of drains (yay drains…).

Quite a bit of time was spent down at Lyttelton Port recording some of their pre-1900 jetties. This involved working in a small punt for the team, which was great on sunny days and not so great in the middle of winter.

Archaeologists in the wild, caught mid half-section!

Neda illustrating that there can never be too many scales in a photo.

What’s that? A brick barrel drain! Everyone jump up and down with excitement! We may be a little bit jaded from drainage this year… but it is really neat to see these pre-1900 drains that are still in use today and that still form a vital part of our city’s infrastructure.

Over the course of the year we submitted approximately 30 final reports and undertook at least 96 archaeological appraisals and assessments. Some of these reports were writing up quite large projects from last year, and it was really great to see the results from these. One such project was our aerated water factory site, which we wrote three blogs on earlier in the year (you can read those here, here and here). Another was the new Court Theatre site (with blogs on the Indian Mutiny clay pipe and the large shoe shop assemblage that we found also available). Speaking of blogs, we kept our new year’s resolution of ‘2023: Year of the Blog’. We’ve really enjoyed being back online this year and sharing what we find with the public. Can confirm, no giants, Celtic shipwrecks, Minoan temples, or Phoenician artefacts this year team, but lots of black beer bottles and Willow pattern.

In terms of artefacts it was also a big year. We analysed around 22,000 artefacts this year, with these represented by over 54,000 fragments, and that’s just the historic material! It’s a bit tough to pick a favourite artefact amongst all of that, but there’s definitely been some highlights!

This is a lorgnette, which was a pair of glasses that were held by a handle, rather than being worn. We very rarely find artefacts like this in an archaeological context, so were very excited when we pulled this one out of the bag!

This Holly patterned jug was both super cute and also extremely Christmasy. We like to think that someone purchased it specifically for Christmas time, and that it was brought out every December as festive decorations!

Tristan doing the mahi sorting midden up in Kaikōura.

This year we welcomed the Christchurch Archaeology Project, who are working out of our office. We’re super excited by the work that they’re doing, and highly recommend that you follow them on socials if you’re not already (Facebook and Instagram). We sadly said farewell to Charlotte, our summer intern from last year, who we managed to convince to stay with us for half the year but eventually she had to leave us. But otherwise we’ve ended the year with the same team that we started it with!

Christchurch Archaeology Project rudely interrupted from their hard work so that they could be included in this blog post.

It’s been another great year of archaeology and we can’t wait to do it all again next year. We hope that everyone has a wonderful break, hopefully checking out some of our excellent historic sites in your travels, and we’ll be back in February with another year of Christchurch archaeology blogs.

Underground Overground Archaeology



1 thought on “2023 Wrapped

  1. Question: How does one catch an Archaeologist?.
    Answer (or in modern dialect “Anne swore!” ):
    Set a Archae~healy~grabbicus amidst the shlushy floor of any pit or drain they happen to be near. The disturbed stratas give off an irresistable aroma no good Archaeologist could ever ignore.
    Merry Christmas guys, have loved your blogications etcs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.