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Significant Archaeological Dig Due In Lawrence

15 March 2005

Significant Archaeological Dig Due To Start In Lawrence

Archaeologists from Otago University and the Historic Places Trust are gearing up to start work on the historic Chinese Camp in Lawrence this week.

The first significant archaeological dig in the Otago goldfields since the 1980s is expected to turn up invaluable information, according to University of Otago team leader, Richard Walter.

“This site has only been lightly ploughed, and we expect it will reveal some exciting information. The Empire Hotel and surrounding areas are our first targets,” Dr Walter says.

“The significance of the work is that it will also allow us to contribute to a unique heritage development. There will be valuable long-term research possibilities for the site. The New Zealand Historic Places Trust is working in partnership with us, reflecting its national significance,” he says.

The dig is due to begin this Thursday, 17 March and will involve two full weeks in the field. The local community has rallied round and provided equipment so that team members can stay in the old hotel.

Volunteers from the University of Otago and across the country are joining the dig and the public is welcome to visit the site during open days while the dig is underway. Dates will be confirmed shortly.

The Chinese Camp is a heritage site, registered by the Historic Places Trust. Located on SH 8, 0.3 kilometres from Lawrence, it is easily accessible.

The Lawrence Chinese Camp Charitable Trust, led by Dr Jim Ng of Dunedin, has plans to restore the site and create a major visitor experience, including a hotel, on the site.

Dr Ng said the Chinese Camp was formed in 1867 and was the largest Chinese camp in the country. As the gateway to the Central Otago goldfields it attracted top merchants, interpreters and doctors and had the only two Joss Houses in Otago.

“This dig has been made possible with support from the University of Otago and The Community Trust of Otago and the Historic Places Trust. In addition, the Chinese Camp Trust has had wonderful support from the local community. We are looking forward to people coming to see the work in progress,” Dr Ng said.


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