Professor Rachel Popelka-Filcoff, Rock Art Australia Minderoo Chair in Archaeological Science at The University of Melbourne, is a Chief Investigator on a newly announced ARC Linkage project Reuniting cargoes: Underwater cultural heritage of the maritime Silk Route.
Beginning in the mid-1400s the Maritime Silk Route witnessed the largest known expansion of global trade. But the legacy of artefacts retrieved from this time has not been understood because the objects were mostly salvaged and dispersed without recording the archaeological details of their find-spots. This multilateral consortium aims to discover the cultural value of the largest Southeast Asian ceramic collections in Indonesia and Australia with archaeological science. By employing and enhancing international conventions, the project will generate new knowledge about this decisive epoch in world history and build capacity to preserve the underwater cultural heritage of our region for future generations.
This project also develops novel analytical approaches to the understanding of the extensive exchange of cultural heritage materials across the region. These approaches are vitally important to generate new knowledge of the cultural interactions in the archaeological record, which can be applied in Australian archaeological narratives.
Rachel is part of a large team of specialists from multiple institutions in Australia and Indonesia and brings her internationally recognised expertise in analytical chemistry and scientific analysis of cultural heritage materials to the project.