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Rice Bowls and Dinner Plates: Ceramic artefacts from Chinese gold mining sites in southeast New South Wales, mid 19th to early 20th centuryVirginia Esposito 2014 © BAR Publishing
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This volume details the results of the first intra-site examination of Chinese gold miners' camps in Australia and the compositional analyses of Chinese-made ceramic vessels found there. Ceramic collections from five southeastern New South Wales goldfields, dating from the mid-nineteenth to early-twentieth century, were examined. Traditional and non-traditional methods of ceramic analysis were used to answer major questions and thus expand the archaeology of the Chinese in Australia. The analyses enabled conclusions to be drawn about the active role of vessels in everyday life, not only within the domestic sphere but also in communal aspects of food and feasting. On a broader scale, the research considered the nature of Chinese supply networks and revealed how western-style ceramics became appropriate substitutes for Chinese-made vessels as supply sources changed. This study was also the first comparison of contemporary assemblages from Chinese and non-Chinese sites in the same region, evaluating the Chinese access to western ceramic markets, particularly British-made wares. The analysis of ceramic artefacts has given an insight into the Chinese miners' lives, from the beginning of the gold rush when many worked under the control of a headman to the later nineteenth century when families were at the camps. Overall, this research has highlighted short and long-term occupation sites and established that these camps were not homogenous or static settlements, they changed over time.
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