Digging archaeology in Australia

Uni student ambassador digs archaeology

From Australia’s Arnhem Land to Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, the world will become one big digging patch for University of Southern Queensland (USQ) Student Ambassador Elli Tonscheck after she completes her Bachelor of Arts (Archaeology) this year.

Now in her third and final year of Undergraduate studies, Ms Tonscheck is looking forward to discovering where her university qualification will take her.

To register as an archaeologist she also needs to complete a one-year Honours degree in 2016.

“I went to Europe in 2012 and can’t wait to do some more travelling and see where my qualifications take me. It’s very exciting,” Ms Tonscheck said.

“When I tell people I’m studying archaeology, they automatically think of Egypt and Rome. That’s what I imagined too at first but there’s also so much to uncover in Australia. My heart really lies with Australian Indigenous history.”

Originally from Highfields near Toowoomba, Ms Tonscheck, 20, credits her early life on the family farm and as a high school teacher for inspiring her to pursue archaeology as a career.

“My father was always interested in history and I learnt a lot from him. At high school my Ancient History teacher said you have only one chance at living a great life, so go out there and live it!”

Archaeology takes uni student to Arnhem Land

Ms Tonscheck said that although she was non-Indigenous, the work her USQ lecturers were doing in Australia’s Arnhem Land had been truly inspiring.

“USQ’s Professor Bryce Barker and Associate Professor Lara Lamb have done extensive work on the rock art in Arnhem Land at a site called Gabarnmung. They have also worked with Indigenous groups in Papua New Guinea and the Whitsunday Islands.

“What I enjoy most about their research process, is they practice community-based archaeology, where every single one of their research projects has a positive outcome for the local Indigenous community on the land they are working.

“This shows they have a deep understanding of their impact as researchers, truly caring about the Indigenous communities.

“I think it’s really important that Australia’s history is told, and not just the white history, but that of the incredible Indigenous history that surpasses 1788.”

Ms Tonscheck said that at USQ, archaeology undergraduates had the opportunity to volunteer their time to work in laboratories where they sort through excavated material.

“This is a fantastic opportunity which you would not necessarily receive at larger institutions. I find this work to not just be a fantastic learning opportunity but also an incredibly rewarding experience.”

In 2013, Ms Tonscheck was awarded the Don and Barbara Stevens Scholarship, which has a maximum value of $15,000 and is dedicated to the former USQ Chancellor Don Stevens who worked at USQ from 1996 to 2006.

“This scholarship will last the duration of my degree, assuring that I can complete my studies while getting the most out of my university experience,” she said.

“It has opened up so many opportunities and ways for me to become more involved with USQ, through which I have been able to express my immense gratitude for this incredible donation.”


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