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UP to one million artefacts are expected to be unearthed during archaeological digs, due to take place once buildings are demolished to build the city’s Metro Rail tunnel.
The new CBD South station will be located 30m under Swanston St, between Flinders and Collins streets, while CBD North will be built below underground between La Trobe and Franklin streets.
Archaeological digs will be carried out at both worksites before construction next year.
Artefacts are likely to be found reflecting the sites’ early history in the mid-1850s, when they were home to hotels, warehouses, foundries, offices and shops.
Heritage Victoria’s principal archaeologist, Jeremy Smith, said archaeologists expected to find building foundations under Swanston St plus artefacts associated with their early use.
“It might be as simple as little coins, buttons and beads that fall through the cracks in the floorboards,” he said.
“A recent dig at the Carlton brewery turned up a gold sovereign — Melbourne does seem to be a site where artefacts survive quite well.
“Remember in the 19th century there were no rubbish removals, so everything that came on site stayed on site.
“The finds at the two sites will be different because the nature of those sites was different — the southern end was pubs and small-scale shops while the northern end was more industrial.”
An artist impression of a proposed Metro Rail station.Mr Smith said the only discovery that would surprise archaeologists was human remains, which had the potential to delay tunnelling work.
“It is highly unlikely we would find intact Aboriginal human remains along the Swanston St corridor and there’s no reason to believe there will be historic human remains,” he said. “It would be different if we were digging at Queen Vic Market which was an early cemetery site where we think there’s still thousands of burials.”
Melbourne Metro Rail Authority spokesman Reid Sexton said it would work with Heritage Victoria to ensure all archaeological finds are appropriately managed.
“These archaeological digs are an important part of the Metro Tunnel project and will help tell previously unknown stories about Melbourne’s past,” Mr Sexton said.
“Once complete, we can start building.”
This article first appeared on www.heraldsun.com.au
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