Archaeologists Dr Annie Clarke and Dr Ursula Frederick have long been interested in what we can learn from looking at graffiti through archaeologists’ eyes – whether it’s made by homesick people in a 19th century quarantine station, or contemporary urban street artists living on the wild side of the law.

In the latest issue of the journal Australian Archaeology, released this week, the archaeologists have gathered a range of studies which present a unique snapshot of contemporary archaeology.

The studies look at how graffiti was produced on historic droving routes, urban streetscapes, 19th century penal transportation sites, maritime environments and Aboriginal landscapes.

Dr Frederick, an archaeologist at the Australian National University and an artist herself, said “Together the papers reveal the enduring tendency of human beings to want to mark their place in the world.

All of the authors consider what we might learn from this activity by examining it through archaeological techniques.”

An important aspect of the collection is looking at what the graffiti meant at the time it was made, rather than just playing into common stereotypes of the graffiti artist.

For more information please contact Dr Ursula Frederick on 0439 497 454 or Dr Annie Clarke on 0400 434 993


Australian Archaeology is a peer-reviewed academic journal produced by the Australian Archaeological Association Inc. (AAA). AAA is the largest archaeological organisation in Australia, representing a diverse membership of professionals, students and others with an interest in archaeology. AAA aims to promote the advancement of archaeology; to provide an organisation for the discussion and dissemination of archaeological information and ideas; to convene meetings at regular intervals; and to publicise the need for the study and conservation of archaeological sites and collections. For more information about the AAA please visit, or contact Dr Alice Gorman on 0428 450 418.