The future of Archaeology’s heritage and antipodean myopia in accessibility for all. 

Indiana Don’t!

Welcome to tonight’s annual accessibility archaeology post from me as the Lonely Archaeologist. I started this blog because I thought there was something fundamentally wrong with the way archaeology is practiced in Australia if you are not able bodied and  *normal*; I’ve had significant challenges to overcome in studying my masters but I see my tenacity and persistence as character traits a good archaeologist needs along with the communication skills to explain to a diverse public and community what we are doing and why.

Don’t get mad, write a blog post.

So I started this blog as a way of practicing those skills in heritage appropriate and adjacent areas for a disabled archaeologist like myself because in the current culture of heritage management and industry in Australia, I’m no better than broken goods. I’ve been denied field work opportunities because of my situation.

So I sought out opportunities on my own initiative where I found some smaller opportunities, a demonstration at the SAM and a presentation for National Archaeology Week which is where I first noticed the problem of disability within archaeology. Yet I’m unable to find placement as a volunteer to excavate anywhere or even considered for survey work. The resistance is such that I can’t dive for medical reasons so maritime archaeology  isn’t open to me at Flinders (I even tried to enrol  in a conservation fieldschool as a terrestrial archaeologist last year but was rejected). It was because I wasn’t going to be “able” or physically  strong enough to join in carrying heavy equipment because of my chronic pain.

I can’t even get work as tour guide at a library, local museum or any other state institutions though I’ve applied for many open positions despite doing extra training on my own time and being in the leadership program run by Flinders careers called The Horizon Award. That’s me with the head of the SAM at a Night Lab event in 2016, I actually  I volunteered at the previous one less than half a week after being hit by a tram. That’s how much I love archaeology.

Curious Beasts Night Lab event, 2016.

I spoke up on this little blog about my difficulties in finding acceptance at Flinders by other archaeologists & students and I quoted the only blog post I could find even addressing rates of disability and archaeologists. The Enabled Archaeology Foundation found me, a group of dis/Abled and Enabled who have created a family of archaeologists, allies and students from a wide international community. We have a model of archaeology that aims to be inclusive and accessible for all who want to be involved, in so many different ways, across so many branches of archaeology that is a whole lecture in itself [Edit: given October 2017].

I’ll detail them over the near future if I can get my ten minutes of fame at Flinders, but if you’ve been reading this blog at all, you know I’m a gigantic academic fan of Doctor Who and time travel in general. In fact, last year I almost had a chapter published based on queer attitudes in archaeology and in science fiction in Beyond Indy and Lara. 

That is me on a ghost hunt at the Old Gaol trying to get review experiences of Haunted Horizon’s award winning tour. I started a blog to try and showcase local tourism and arts. It ended up becoming a vechicle that gave me a research interest! So I merged my love of Doctor Who with my new found interest in Enabled archaeology and discovered my disability was actually a dis/Ability according to Doctor Who’s representation of archaeologists.

A conclusion I reached, when I was studying Doctor Who’s vision of archaeology in the future for the EAF conference in Feb 2018, is that dis/Ability doesn’t matter and accomodations for it weren’t questioned in the television program. I was encouraged that most well known archaeologist in New Who, Professor River Song, was a psychopath.

There was also Jack Harkness, a pansexual time agent who was pretty close to Lara Croft’s tally of historical misdemeanours in hisattitude to antiquity and the sale of black market artefacts, but deviated from the Indiana Jones stereotype (of a rugged Howard Carter manly adventuring tomb raiding mythology type) to a queer and deviant figure. Sadly even poor Lara had to be more macho than the men and was prey to toxic masculinity so Jack was a breathe of fresh air.

Here are some famous British examples of archaeology of the speculative future and neither of them are like the models we have in Australia. In Australia, I was told you have to be physically fit to be an archaeologist by the local chapter of ACCAI (when doing research for a talk about “archaeology 101”). I wonder at the you have to “be fit”  comment in particular (part of me is wondering if my plus size had to do with it?!). After giving that NAW talk and parroting that archaeology requires spectacular levels of awesomeness, I realised that what I’d presented was wrong. I decided to try and change what I could in my own sphere of influence.

River Song  fought against her mental illness/injury her entire augmented life span and yet no one asked her if she should really be an archaeologist with her mental health condition.

We can all change.

These two characters and adding the space archaeologist, Berenice Summerfield ( in the Big Finish extended Whovian universe), are holding space (quite literally) for diverse, Enabled archaeologists like me to be included as part of that interpretation of the future. Enabled archaeology and the EAF starting in Britain is a huge part of this shifting consciousness of inclusion and accessibility in archaeology but that’s not the case in Oz. My new mission is about expanding the experiences and diversity in the cultural heritage as a discipline.

Still many of the archaeology establishment in Australia haven’t the foresight to see this how times are changing that accomodations are accepted rather than the exception. I’ll post more on this and how it all relates to a book with the title “Time travelling and the future of the past” by Professor Cornelius Holtorf and how my ideas were received in conversation around the visit to Flinders about these changes happening all over the world. I imagine after looking through Holtorf’s book that lived experience and the futurism of archaeology is going to be a fascinating conversation.

Clara Santill, 2017


In case of a mental health emergency, someone is watching, caring and available to you! 

Sharing this here, please spread it widely it if you were intending to spread the “Someone is always watching and cares!” memes. I do care 💚.

This has updated and comprehensive information on managing a mental health crisis including depression, anxiety, self harming, disturbing thoughts and suicidal feelings IN AUSTRALIA.  Many of these services also include chat features but you need to visit the websites to find out. It is okay not to be okay! It is even better to find help and access your options because talking about depression, PTSD, anxiety and panic attacks, self harming, suicidal thoughts and other disturbing ideas doesn’t mean you’re more likely to act on them. It actually gives you the power to start a dialogue and access your options. Wellness and recovery are possible with the right combination of help and support. Sending you 💛. 
In Australia, for a mental health crisis emergency the first number you call is 000 (or 112) and ask for an ambulance. Or go to the Emergency Department of your nearest hospital. The Mental health acute care team is available at 131 465 is also available day or night. I’ve used them myself. 
In Australia, the number for the free counselling service at Lifeline is 13 11 14, any time, night or day. 
There is also the Suicide Callback Service has a 24/7 hotline that can be reached at 1300 659 467. They also have a website at:

A concerned friend or family can call the police for a welfare check on someone (no matter how long or little time they have been missing despite what TV tells you, 24 hours is not necessary for asking for help) on 131 444. If you are worried about their health, state of mind, haven’t heard from them or they are behaving out of character, the police these days are trained to be first responders to this. I’ve even been taken for an assessment based on a worried phone operator and the worst outcome is you waste a bit of your time at the emergency department but get medically accessed. It’s better to go and not need it! 
The next best personal option if you feel mentally unwell, is to contact your family or a personal GP or the local community health centre (or a walk in medical centre if you don’t have a doctor). They can write you a referral you to appropriately qualified professionals and often free resources, though there can be a demand on them so if it’s an emergency or you feel urgently unwell, please got to the ER. They will have the doctors on hand. 
If you have a bit more luxury of time with yoor condition if you feel unwell but are not in immediate danger, generally living in a place like a city or regional centre, there is private help or hospital outpatient programs. These have access to qualified professionals like psychiatrists, counsellors, mental health nurses, social workers, NGO case workers and psychologists. If you see a GP, you can usually see them under a mental health plan for 10 sessions a year or have them put you in a program to help you change your life for the better for minimal cost. I use a psychologist and psychiatrist who work with my GP. 

A lot of bigger employment groups have EAP (employees assistance schemes) you can access mental health care with and some places like universities or TAFEs have their own counselling and medical services for students. 
Other web resources for Australian mental health and suicide awareness include:
•The Black Dog Institute:


•RU Okay:

•Sane Australia:

•Mind Australia:

•Kids helpline:

•Project Semicolon:

Clara Santilli, 2017. 

Rebuilding Rome: A life in ruins but hey we still have the plans for that fancy aqueduct and the soap…

My life as a background Slytherin in May 2017…

Where have I been and have I been on any adventures worthy of the Lonely Archaeologist? I did attend the Wizardfest Adelaide night at the Producer’s Exchange Hotel in May 2017 and I’m happy to report butterbeer was everything I’d imagined it could be and came with frothy cream and edible gold stars. I was also background Slytherin dancer on the disco floor but I’m proud to say that I did get Michael Jackson’s Thriller choreography down with Voldemort and the Death Eaters…

But largely, I’ve been living a life in ruins: academic, archaeological, personal and my dis/Abilities took me very very far from where I started when I first moved to Glenelg in 2016 and experienced the first freedom I’d had in years. The summer of Adelaide Fringe (2015-16) with my favourite artists, Ryan Adam Wells, Patrick Hercamp, the fabulous Anya Anastasia and Sound & Fury, was the first taste of being liberated from chaos and sorrow in a decade for me. Ryan in particular gave voice to my pain in Beers About Songs, gave me the strength to leave that past behind and freed me from the old shackles you carry when you’ve been abused. I’ll be reviewing it after some more therapy this year because it’s that sort of important epiphany! Darling Pat entertained me as only Pat can and rekindled my love of the Bard in Half Hour Hamlet. Anya gave this blog one of our first proper interviews and taught me that this was a tease, it wasn’t burlesque. Plus those red shoes, milady!

These artists had opened the door to so much more than personal interest blogging for me, it got me involved in trying to support the local arts agenda and the larger arts productions because Adelaide does have the potential to be an artistic centre in the Southern Hemisphere all year around. We need to create small and medium venues to nurture local talent to bigger venues and Fringes such as Perth and Edinburgh. I’m excited to see what is coming under the production of Anya and Jennifer Kingwell this year!

From Sapphire Snow, Viola Verve and Dulce Esperanza, I personally learned so much about body positivity, the arts of cabaret and burlesque (and boylesque). I learned I was perfect the way I am. Thank you, ladies for teaching me I was lovable and how to use glitter effectively.
It even gave me the courage to unusual forms of local tourism – I got to try ghost hunting at the Old Gaol and a dark history tour at the Adelaide Arcade with the award winning tourist operation, Adelaide Haunted Horizons last year. I got done by the ghost sheriff…

I reviewed some movies and television in my down time as a dis/Abled individual while being diagnosed with fibromyalgia when ghosts weren’t hand cuffing me at the Old Gaol in winter.

I had the time of my life at the SA Museum’s Night Lab event (where I meant the fabulous Tamara at Animals Anonymous!) and volunteered with 28 different kinds of flour…please don’t eat the demo damper! Like a hundred different people had touched it!

But sometimes, you can’t plan for catastrophic events and in life, it all comes tumbling down around you unexpectedly and fast. The hoard of space junk crashes into the place you’d been laying out the plans for that shiny aqueduct that would make your Roman ancestors proud. I can say I honestly tried to publish a paper on queer archaeology and Doctor Who, attend Flinders university where my tourism Hawaii assignment attracted more than Maui’s attention into my personal life and then live a normal functioning life while the steaming pile burned away and polluted the air, then scorched the earth of my well laid plans.

I’m pretty sure I know how the dinosaurs felt after an asteroid impacted the earth (as the darkness filled the atmosphere and it got really really cold). I really was a broken archaeology student in January 2017 with a proximal radial fracture on my ulna to prove it along (with a broken heart, an investment in triple milled soap production and a whole lot of nausea when I smell rotting piles of trash). It was after yet the final disaster in my book of sorrows – that was the first half of this year (where you’ll see I reviewed ’13 Reasons Why’ off Netflix) because I was suicidal and making the case for why Hanna was wrong and that I had options in place of self annihilation. Why all this now? I was tired of living in fear, under a rock and having my freedom & safety in jeopardy. I’ve had to leave some things behind to ensure I’ll be fine but it has awakened my love of adventure, science communication and writing again.
Because the blog is off hiatus, I woke up and worked out what I needed to do to love my city again and my next blog interview will be with a Spoken Word poet of great talent. This year I hope to do a focus on various local writing and poetry as an art form alongside the beginning of my archaeology research into accessible archaeology in semester 2. Thank you for the patience and let’s get this party started again!

Clara Rose Santilli, 2017
Initial photo property of Wizardfest Adelaide by Colin Peevy, 2017. Special acknowledgement of copyright (under fair use for review by Colin Peevy, 2017).

All other photos bar initial shot, copyright Clara Santilli 2016 and 2017.