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Parrafin wax used to consolidate fragile excavated bones in the field by archaeologist Professor D J Mulvaney


Parrafin wax used to consolidate fragile excavated bones in the field by archaeologist Professor D J Mulvaney

Object information

Physical description

Round cake of paraffin wax wrapped in white paper with green printing. The printing reads "Paraffin Wax / BP 1932 / For The Sealing of all Household Preserves...".

Statement of significance

This collection consists of a brown vinyl suitcase, an archaeologist's kit and a 1961 model Kreisler television belonging to and donated by Emeritus Professor Derek John Mulvaney. The suitcase dates to the late 1920s and has been fitted with a new handle, and relined with wallpaper. The suitcase was used to transport the late Pleistocene-age Mungo cremation from Lake Mungo to Canberra in 1969 for dating. The archaeologist's kit contains trowels, sieves, waxes, enamelled plates and mugs, sample bags, teaspoons, forks, knives, tent pegs, rope, a ph test kit and a ceramic tile, all used in field work. The Kreisler television was used by the Mulvaney family between 1962 and 1975.

This majority of this collection consists of items from the archaeological field kit of Emeritus Professor Derek John Mulvaney, who gained acclaim as Australia's first professionally trained pre-historian, and as a leading public archaeologist, historian, intellectual and tenacious advocate of cultural heritage protection. He has also played a significant role in Aboriginal advocacy, and is regarded as a pioneer in the encouragement of Indigenous involvement in archaeology and more general trends towards cultural sensitivity. Following his introduction of new scientific methods in archaeology, Mulvaney gained acclaim in both the sciences and the humanities for his use of radiocarbon dating in the early 1960s to demonstrate Pleistocene antiquity for Aboriginal occupation of Australia. This along with stratigraphic methods that demonstrated cultural change over time, was a revelation that changed public perceptions of Aboriginality and provided perceptual tools in the Indigenous land rights and civil rights movements. Pleistocene dates also helped to put Australia on the world archaeological map and place the continent within global histories. The research of Australia's long human history also reinforced arguments for the securing of UNESCO World Heritage listing for areas such as Mungo National Park (Willandra Lakes Region World Heritage Area) and the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

Object information

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