THE HON WARREN SNOWDON MP
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on the Centenary of Anzac
10 April 2011
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister assisting the Prime Minister on the Centenary of Anzac, Warren Snowdon, said the first phase of fieldwork in the most significant archaeological survey of the battlefields of Gallipoli since the First World War has now been completed.
Mr Snowdon said the preliminary findings from the Joint Historical and Archaeological Survey (JHAS), an initiative of the Australian, Turkish and New Zealand Governments reveal extensive trench systems, boundary markers and tunnels created during the Gallipoli campaign.
Mr Snowdon said it was important to release the findings in the lead up to Anzac Day on 25 April.
The survey aims to increase our knowledge of the Gallipoli campaign, and provide further research into the historical, cultural and sociological significance of the area.
Despite the historical importance of the Gallipoli battlefield, our knowledge of this area to date has been based on maps and written accounts. This area has never been studied in detail through modern archaeological survey methods.
This is the first time that we have had the opportunity to corroborate and further explore the events surrounding the Gallipoli campaign which proved such a defining moment in the formation of our nations identity.
Some 50,000 Australians served during the Gallipoli campaign and more than 8,700 lost their lives. This is a significant chapter in the history of our country and we owe it to those who made the ultimate sacrifice in war to learn all we can about this period.
The survey was undertaken by a team of 13 eminent archaeologists, historians and researchers from Australia, New Zealand and Turkey who used non-invasive, advanced mapping, and GPS technology which records positions accurate to within 30 centimetres.
The research explored and mapped many of the surviving Australian and Turkish front line trenches between Johnstons Jolly Cemetery to Quinns Post on the Second Ridge which contains the most visible remains of the Anzac trench system.[See link to map below]
So far the fieldwork has documented:
- 4000 meters of trench
- 12 cemeteries
- eight boundary markers
- seven collapsed tunnels
- 36 dugouts;
- 69 recovered artefacts including metal fragments of food containers, buckets, bands, bullet shells, complete bullets, shell cartridges, buttons, belt buckles and glass shards of beer bottles and medicine jars;
- and the paraphernalia of a rudimentary Turkish camp.
University of Melbourne Survey archaeologist Professor Antonio Sagona said, over the course of the field exercise, the team had gained a greater respect for all those involved in the Gallipoli campaign and an increased understanding of what happened on the battlefields.
While it is still early days we believe we may have found evidence to corroborate the famous Anzac assault on the so called German Officers Trench, for example, he said.
The study aims to increase our knowledge of the Gallipoli campaign which, to date, has been based on old maps and written accounts including those of famous war correspondent, Charles Bean.
Mr Snowdon thanked the team of archaeologists, historians and researchers from Australia, New Zealand and Turkey for their tremendous work on the project to date. He said he looked forward to hearing about the findings of the next phase of the research in the five-year project.
Maps of the survey area, including images of some of the findings, and further background on the survey is available at www.dva.gov.au/media.
Minister Snowdon: Alice Plate 0400 045 999
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203