Skip to navigation

Previous Ministers' releases and speeches - Senator The Hon. Michael Ronaldson

Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC
Special Minister of State

PDF version (48 KB) | Back to Media Releases & Speeches entry page

Tuesday, 16 September 2014
VA073

EXPERTS DISCOVER GALLIPOLI BATTLEFIELD CLUES

A team of eminent archaeologists, historians and researchers from Australia, New Zealand and Turkey have uncovered more than 14 kilometres of trench - much of it in the original frontline - leading to rare insights into the often forgotten struggles of those who fought on the Gallipoli Peninsula 100 years ago. They have also found evidence of ancient Roman occupation.

The Joint Historical and Archaeological Survey (JHAS) study used non-invasive, advanced mapping, and GPS technology which records positions accurate to within 15 centimetres.

The JHAS project is a landmark study which will deepen our understanding of the experience in the trenches during the Gallipoli campaign, for both sides, as well as provide a much clearer picture of what remains at Anzac 100 years on.

Since it was first announced in 2005, an expert study of the surviving aspect of the Anzac and Turkish heritage on the Gallipoli battlefields has been supported by all three Governments.

Beginning in 2010, the Survey set out to identify sites of historical significance from the Gallipoli campaign, such as the old front line from Bolton’s Ridge to the Nek, and other areas were some of the fiercest fighting occurred.

These are important findings as we approach Gallipoli 2015, and they remind us that life at Gallipoli extended beyond battle and the horror of war, to the hard physical labour of constructing an elaborate network of trenches, tunnels and dugouts in often precarious circumstances.

As part of a tri-national team of researchers, lead Australian archaeologist and University of Melbourne’s Professor Tony Sagona has said that over five fieldwork seasons, his team have integrated findings from the fieldwork with existing knowledge of the Gallipoli campaign, to produce detailed maps of the surviving Anzac and Turkish trench systems.

In addition to mapping the remaining trench lines, the team have also discovered over 1,000 artefacts, including a Turkish bayonet embedded in the base of a tree; pieces of a Navy gun shell found in a Turkish trench; unexpended bullet cartridges including some with Ottoman writing; remains of a boot, belt buckles, and metal clips; water bottles with bullet holes; many pieces of periscope glass, and bully beef tins.

The team have uncovered further evidence of an ancient Roman occupation dating back to somewhere between 200 and 500AD, confirming reports made during the campaign.

Professor Sagona’s team discovered a considerable number of ceramic shards at the Lone Pine cemetery and memorial, corroborating the diary extracts of Sergeant Cyril Lawrence of the Australian Imperial Forces 2nd Field Company (Engineers), describing his observations during work on a tunnel at Lone Pine.

Findings from the survey, when finalised, will culminate in a book to be published in both English and Turkish, along with a comprehensive Geographic Information Systems database of findings overlayed on 1915 maps, with corresponding photographs from 1915 and today.

A selection of low res images are available on the DVA Flickr page. For interview requests please contact Dale Starr on dale.starr@dva.gov.au or 0428 805 578.

Media inquiries:
Minister Ronaldson: Jordi Procel (02) 6277 7820 or 0448 232 908
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) and Veterans Line can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046

PDF version (48 KB) | Back to Media Releases & Speeches entry page