Phase 1 - Archaeology

Mass artefacts on site
Mass artefacts on site
Image: Kerry Platt
Source: GML/LaTrobe University

Completed November 2009

Landscape archaeology

An archaeological investigation of the site sought traces of historic garden beds and other landscape features that would guide the restoration of the German garden's structure. 

Archaeologists from Godden Mackay Logan and La Trobe University carefully peeled back the layers beneath the asphalt and mapped their findings, included various soil deposits, the edge of the circular driveway, a brick plinth footing and timber pad.

Particularly significant findings included footings from the 1888 temporary annexe, pathways from Edward La Trobe Bateman’s garden layout of the 1850s and the circular path and garden edging from 1890, overlaying the 1880 layout.

The search for the German Kiosk

Phase 1 of World Heritage, World Futures hoped to uncover traces of the 'German Kiosk' that was planned for the original garden. Since it was thought possible that the kiosk was sold after the International Exhibition closed in 1881 and removed from the site intact, the museum also sought help from the public for information or photos.

During the last days of the archaeological dig, the team discovered a set of foundations which they believe was designed to support such a structure, however there was no evidence that the building was ever actually constructed on the foundations.

Nightsoil artefacts

The 1,556 artefacts removed from the site comprise the Royal Exhibition Building Western Forecourt Collection. Most of the artefacts were recovered from nightsoil deposits on the site, which were particularly rich in ceramics, glass and food refuse such as animal bones and oyster shells.

Open Day

On Saturday 14 November over 200 visitors came to the Royal Exhibition Building archaeological dig Open Day. Museum Victoria curators and program staff, and archaeologists from La Trobe University and Godden Mackay Logan talked with visitors about the process of the dig, the history of the building, the different phases of the project and the artefacts uncovered over the past few weeks.