Another opportunity to explore the early settlement of Melbourne arose in October this year when a block of land in Exploration Lane was excavated as a part of historical investigations. Located off Little Lonsdale Street between Exhibition and Russel Street, Exploration Lane was occupied by a number of buildings from the early 19th century.
Excavations were undertaken by a small team of expert archaeologists in a short time frame on a tiny site.
Early maps of Melbourne from the 1850s and throughout the 19th century depict a rectangular structure on the site, mostly likely a single residence. By the early 20th century the residential structures were replaced by industrial factories and buildings.
The original 19th century buildings were uncovered from under the foundations of more modern buildings. Excavations at the site involved the removal of the factory floor, uncovering a number of structural remains attributed to the first building on the site dating to the 1850s. The remains include bluestone footings, fireplace foundations, bricked paved flooring and a water closet. Artefacts recovered indicate that the site was used for domestic purposes and may have been used by occupants of Italian, Chinese and British origin during different periods.
The artefacts included complete glass bottles, ceramic storage jars, champagne bottles and a number of smaller items such as clay pipes, silk bobbins, coins, tokens, buttons and ceramics, as well as a number of children’s toys.
Analysis of the finds is ongoing, with the age, background and origin of artefacts being investigated and catalogued. Excavations were completed over a period of four weeks and development is expected to proceed on schedule in early 2018.