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19th-century game pieces found at Tasmanian penitentiary

Ceramic and lead game tokens have been unearthed during excavations at the 19th-century penitentiary building at the Port Arthur Historical Site in Tasmania.

Although we have only just finished excavating the topsoil, we have already found some very interesting artefacts. The highlight would have to be a number of gaming tokens. Crafted from offcuts of lead and ceramic, no doubt pilfered by the convicts during their daily work, these tokens are an indisputable sign that the convicts were engaged in illicit gaming and potentially gambling activities. This is exciting, as we know that the authorities strove hard to eradicate such behaviour. In the day room the demolition deposits have begun to yield clay smoking pipes (bowls and stems), metal and wooden buttons, nails, window and bottle glass. All these were likely dropped or deliberately deposited by the convicts during their occupation of the building and were jumbled-up amongst all the broken building material when it was demolished.

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Story: Port Arthur Historical Site | Photo: Port Arthur Historical Site

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