Parramatta Road, Camperdown
Dixon Street, Haymarket
Lee Wharf, Newcastle
Parramatta Road, Camperdown
AMAC Group brings an integrated and hands-on approach to all projects. With 30 years of experience in all facets of archaeology and heritage, your project will achieve compliance with every relevant statute and all applicable DA conditions in the minimum possible time.
Our integrated approach ensures that all the compliance issue 'clocks' are running simultaneously and that field works under the relevant Acts are conducted by the same team at the same time.
In Australia, archaeology is often understood as falling into two main categories: 'Historical Archaeology' (also, Non-Aboriginal or European) or 'Aboriginal Archaeology' (also, Indigenous Archaeology or Pre-Historic). AMAC Group's integrated approach means that our team is experienced in the simultaneous management of both Historical and Aboriginal archaeology. Both fields of study and their relevant Acts are explained in detail below along with AMAC Group's services. This page explains how both fields of study are administered in New South Wales and the range of services offered by AMAC Group.
AMAC Group believe that an appreciation of Australian archaeology is important to civic life and that modern re-developments pose a unique opportunity to communicate the history and significance of a place to the people that inhabit it. Excellence in this field is recognised by Marrickville Council with the Marrickville Medal. The medal was awarded to AMAC Group, Otto Cserhalmi and Partners, City Freeholds and Bates Smart in 2014 for the 'Gantry' re-development at Parramatta Road, Camperdown.
New South Wales has many archaeological sites and there is constant development pressure on those limited resources of evidence for our nation’s history. AMAC Group provides statutory advice, historical research, site analysis, significance assessments and excavation services to ensure that the historical archaeology of New South Wales is appropriately managed under the relevant Acts. Historical archaeology is sometimes also referred to as Non-Aboriginal or European Archaeology.
Professional standards for Historical Archaeologists in New South Wales are set out by the Code of Practice and Excavation Director Criteria issued by the NSW Heritage Council. For an in-depth view of AMAC Group’s professional standards and experience, please see our About Us page.
NSW Legislation and Decision-Making
In New South Wales, historical archaeology is protected by the Heritage Act 1977 and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. Where projects rely on the State Significant Development or State Significant Infrastructure planning process, the EP&A Act 1989 alters the application of the NSW Heritage Act 1977 but does not nullify it.
The Heritage Act 1977 established the Heritage Council of New South Wales as an independent statutory body to advise the Minister and manage the care and protection of archaeology and heritage places and items. HCNSW are a decision-making body under the Heritage Act and delegates decision-making to Heritage NSW and, in certain cases, Place Management NSW, Sydney Living Museums, Sydney Water and City of Sydney Council.
NSW Heritage Act 1977 and Permits
In New South Wales, the Heritage Act 1977 requires that a person must not excavate any land knowing, or having reasonable cause to suspect, that a relic may be disturbed – unless that disturbance is carried out under a Section 140 Excavation Permit or a Section 139(4) Exception Notification. Or, when an Interim Heritage Order or State Heritage Register listing applies to a place, building, work, relic, moveable object, precinct or land – a person must seek a Section 60 Permit or Section 57(2) Exemption to undertake particular activities, including exposing or damaging a relic.
A relic means any deposit, artefact, object or material evidence that relates to the settlement of the area that comprises New South Wales, not being Aboriginal settlement, and is of State or local heritage significance.
Historical Archaeology IN NSW
Historical Archaeology Services
A preliminary desktop study for historical archaeological sites that identifies: the relevant local, State or Federal legislation or other planning controls for a study site; historical evidence for who occupied the site and what activity has taken place there in the past and what archaeology might be present as a result and how significant that archaeology might be and whether it is a relic under the Heritage Act 1977. Archaeological Assessments meet guidelines published by the Heritage Council of NSW in 1996. The goal of an Archaeological Assessment is to make appropriate recommendations for how to manage future activity at the site such as redevelopment and as such often includes a review of proposed development plans in order to make a Statement of Archaeological Heritage Impact.
Historical Studies or Research
AMAC Group is staffed by confident and experienced researchers who are well versed in the historical resources available in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. As a result, AMAC Group can make valuable contributions to history projects of all kinds for individuals or organisations.
Section 139(4) Exception Notification
An Archaeological Assessment is submitted to the NSW Heritage Council (or its delegate) as supporting documentation, along with a statement explaining the expected level of impact to a site or relic. Depending on the proposed works, the Assessment could be accompanied by an Archaeological Work Method Statement or, in the case of Archaeological Test Excavation, a Research Design and Excavation Methodology. The Exception Notification can take two forms, either 1B or 1C, depending on the expected archaeology at the site and how much ground disturbance is proposed. The application is for an ‘Exception from the need for a Section 140 Excavation Permit’ and can be used variously in Test Excavation or Archaeological Monitoring. The s139(4) form is included here.
Section 140 Application for an Excavation Permit
An Archaeological Assessment is combined with two additional chapters: a Research Design and an Archaeological Excavation Methodology when a development poses specific impacts to relics. These chapters form supporting documentation for a permit to excavate land that will or is likely to result in the disturbance of relics. The methodology nominates an Excavation Director that meets the NSW Heritage Council criteria and the Section 140 can be used for Test Excavation or Full Salvage Excavation. The document is submitted to the NSW Heritage Council (or its delegate). Under certain circumstances, a Section 140 permit can be varied - this is achieved through a Section 144 Variation. Both the Section 140 Application form and Section 144 can be found here.
Section 57(2) Exemption Notification
An application for works within a State Heritage Register or Interim Heritage Order site to be recognised as a Standard Exemption. An S57 is supported by either an Archaeological Assessment or a statement demonstrating the minor impact or nature of the fill to be excavated. Depending on the proposed works, the Archaeological Assessment could be accompanied by an Archaeological Work Method Statement or, in the case of Archaeological Test Excavation, a Research Design and Excavation Methodology. A s57(2) Exemption Notification form is submitted to the NSW Heritage Council (or its delegate), the Section 57(2) application form is included here.
Section 60 Permit
An application for works to take place at a State Heritage Register site that are beyond the scope of the s57(2) Standard Exemptions. Excavation for archaeological reasons is only one of a range of works to which a Section 60 could apply. Section 60 Permits are sometimes preceded by Integrated Development Applications (IDAs). Often, the archaeologist supplies their documents alongside other consultants to support broader applications for s60 sites that can include renovations or changes to heritage listed buildings. For excavation works that could impact archaeology or relics, the Section 60 should be supported by an Archaeological Assessment with a Research Design and Excavation Methodology. The methodology nominates an Excavation Director that meets the NSW Heritage Council criteria. The documentation seeks approval to carry out Section 57(1) activities to an item or land listed on the State Heritage Register or to which an Interim Heritage Order applies. Under certain circumstances, a Section 60 permit can be varied - this is achieved through a Section 65a Variation. The Section 60 and Section 65a use the same application form.
Section 146 Notification of the Discovery of a Relic
Section 146 of the Heritage Act requires any person who believes they have discovered or located a relic (in any circumstances) to notify the Heritage Council. AMAC Group can provide archaeological advice, record the relic and prepare the documentation needed to notify the NSW Heritage Council.
Final Excavation Report
If archaeologists have conducted fieldwork, a Final Excavation Report must be published within 1 year, unless an extension is approved. Standard HCNSW reporting requires, but is not limited to: historical research; detailed excavation records with geo-referenced data; treatment, analysis and custody of artefacts; detailed responses to the Research Design; a re-assessment of the site’s heritage significance and recommendations for future management. The Final Excavation Report must be supplied to a local library and HCNSW.
Archaeological Management Plan
Formerly known as an Archaeological Zoning Plan, these studies are predictive and broad scale and are usually commissioned by Local or State governments to assist property owners, developers and archaeologists to identify high concentration areas of possible archaeological remains related to 'post-1788 European occupation.' AMPs assess that archaeology and make management recommendations, ideally at the earliest opportunity in the planning process, such as land zoning, and aim to ensure that sufficient resources are targeted at the most sensitive areas. A detailed guideline for AMPs can be found here.
Archaeological Monitoring typically involves a suitably qualified archaeologist working alongside a mechanical excavator with a driver who is experienced in detail work. Monitoring can either avoid archaeology, identify it early or ensure that a project can maximise the use of mechanical excavation. Depending on the site, monitoring can take place under a Section 139, Section 140, Section 57(2) or Section 60.
Archaeological Test Excavation is used to sample the archaeology at a site to better understand its nature, extent and significance – especially if there are State significant relics. The data gained from test excavation can improve long-term time and cost efficiencies for a project as it provides a selection of the most relevant archaeological data to inform and streamline future management of the archaeological resource well in advance of site redevelopment. All test excavations must be guided by a Research Design and Methodology and, depending on the site, they can take place under a Section 139, Section 140, Section 57(2) or Section 60.
Full Salvage Excavation
Where Archaeological Assessment, Monitoring or Test Excavation have not identified opportunities for conservation in situ, full salvage excavation may be possible. Salvage excavation is the last option available for an archaeological site if its destruction is unavoidable. Salvage offers an opportunity to investigate and record the archaeology at a site and ensure that, though it might be destroyed, the historical information that it held is understood and made publicly available. All salvage excavations must be guided by a Research Design and Methodology and, depending on the site, they can take place under a Section 140 or Section 60.
Archaeological fieldwork may require that the archaeologist collects historical artefacts from a site. Artefacts are the property and responsibility of the site owner and the site owner must provide for the long-term archival storage of artefacts, preferably on site. Standard HCNSW reporting requires, but is not limited to: cleaning, conserving, sorting, cataloguing, labelling, photography and scaled drawings of artefacts and nomination of long term repositories. Depending on the complexity or significance of the assemblage, this work is conducted by archaeologists or specialists. Artefact analysis is typically done after fieldwork and will likely fulfil conditions attached to Section 140 and Section 60 permits but may also be associated with Section 139(4) and Section 57(2) works.