AIA News

January 27, 2011

In Vino Veritas: Tales and Tastes of Tasmania

Archaeologist Eleanor Conlin Casella with Tasmania Minister of Tourism Michelle O’Byrne and the AIA’s Peter Herdrich

Archaeology enthusiasts, many of whom adore a good glass of wine, came out in droves in San Francisco on Tuesday evening to explore the Australian island-state of Tasmania. Archaeologist Eleanor Conlin Casella, of the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, gave a rousing talk on the early history of the island, which was founded as a penal colony. Five of these convict sites were recently added to the UNESCO World Heritage List, prompting long-overdue international attention. AIA CEO Peter Herdrich exclaimed, “With its intriguing history, stunning landscapes, delicious wine and food, and warm hospitality, you can see why Tasmania is on top of so many travelers’ Next Big Thing list.”

The event was held at The City Club, housed in the former stock exchange building, where guests enjoyed original art deco décor, Diego Rivera murals, and lively Australian folk songs played by a fiddler. Minister of Tourism, Michelle O’Bryne, joined by members of the Tasmanian delegation, enjoyed chatting with AIA members about the many wonders of the island on which she lives.


Located off the southern side of Australia, Tasmania has a diverse ecosystem including temperate rainforests, and is home to a remarkable array of flora and fauna, including of course the Tasmanian devil. An exploration of the Tasmanian environment would be incomplete without a bit of viticulture, as a sommelier explained during the reception that the island’s cooler climate is well suited for growing grapes. Wine afficionados in the United States are now able to enjoy these wines as they are increasingly locally available. Casella’s excavations uncovered contraband wine and beer bottles amidst the prisoners’ cells, prompting several guests to note—Tasmanian pinot noir in hand—that in archaeology there is also truth.


For more information on Tasmania, please visit

support Us

The AIA is North America's largest and oldest nonprofit organization dedicated to archaeology. The Institute advances awareness, education, fieldwork, preservation, publication, and research of archaeological sites and cultural heritage throughout the world. Your contribution makes a difference.