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Born ‘stickybeak’ digs up career in archaeology

University of Southern Queensland graduate digs deep to find passion in archaeology

For self-confessed ‘born stickybeak’, archaeology has proven to be the perfect career fit for University of Southern Queensland graduate Dr Leanne Bateman – enjoying the privilege of uncovering the intimate details of people’s lives from hundreds of years ago.

A University of Southern Queensland student for 15 years, Dr Bateman began studying in 2005 and has since achieved a Bachelor of Science majoring in Psychology, a Bachelor of Arts (First Class Honours) majoring in Archaeology and a PhD in Archaeology.

Dr Bateman’s PhD research took her to Cape York Peninsula where she worked with a team to excavate a Native Mounted Police camp with a specific focus on Aboriginal troopers, examining the multiple elements of daily frontier life within the camp.

“The archaeological evidence found that even though an adherence to strict European ‘civilisation’ and military standards was expected, the preservation of various cultural practices was maintained by the Aboriginal troopers by turning non-traditional objects into traditional forms and by continuing to hunt native animals using their own methods,” she said. 

“This was the first time that archaeological excavations had been carried out on a Native Mounted Police camp, and it enabled us to compare and contrast the archaeological evidence to the already existing historical record and oral testimony to explore contradictions and complexities.

“The thing I enjoyed most about this fieldtrip was uncovering the really intimate aspects of people’s lives and sharing those moments with other members of the team.

“Maybe I’m a born stickybeak, but I’m intrigued by the little things like egg cups, which demonstrate that an officer ate boiled eggs for breakfast, a porcelain doll which would have been hugged by the child of an officer, or glass flakes made from a bottle base which would have been knapped by an Aboriginal trooper – you never know what you will dig up next.”

Since completing her PhD in 2020, Dr Bateman is now working for the Queensland Museum Network and has recently undertaken a shadow curator role based at Toowoomba’s Cobb & Co Museum.

University of Southern Queensland Anthropology Professor Lara Lamb said Dr Bateman is a terrific example of a student who retrained and followed her dream career.

“She gained the highest qualification in academia and went from undergraduate to honours to PhD and now works in the museum sector – so it’s kind of a perfect story,” Professor Lamb said.

“At UniSQ our archaeology and anthropology program is outstanding because it is based on research-led teaching. Some of the most prominent Australian archaeologists work at UniSQ and the program offers hands-on fieldwork opportunities in the local area and opportunities to get hands-on experience in the archaeology laboratory, both through course work and opportunities to volunteer.

“In 2022 and beyond, we are expanding our program to include a local, intensive field school as well as subjects dedicated to heritage and museum studies – it’s a great time to study archaeology at UniSQ.”

Find out more at /archaeology 

unisq graduate leaning on glass with archaeology finding
University of Southern Queensland graduate Dr Leanne Bateman