LA TROBE University students have helped recreate a traditional Aboriginal oven in the Wimmera.
PhD student Maurizio Campanelli worked with Barengi Gadjin Land Council in Horsham on Friday to build an earth oven, traditionally used to cook food.
Barengi Gadjin’s registered Aboriginal party manager Darren Griffin said Mr Campanelli spent time excavating earth oven sites in the region before starting the archaeological experiment.
“The oven is essentially a pit that’s a metre in diameter and about 20cm deep,” he said. “Aboriginal people would make clay balls to put in the pit, and they would act as heat retainers.
“They then built a fire that heated the clay. It’s almost like firing the clay balls in a kiln. They retain their heat for a long time.”
Mr Griffin said the excavations helped the group determine the size and composition of the clay balls.
“They are 40 per cent sand and 60 per cent clay, and about the size of a fist,” he said.
The group took temperature readings in the oven they built. Mr Griffin said the group cooked murnong – also known as yam daisy – in the oven.
The oven building was open to the public.
“We had about 10 staff going back and forward, some traditional owners from Dimboola, and other interested people,” Mr Griffin said.
“The data we generate will be presented at an archaeology colloquium that happens each year at La Trobe.”
The group will continue its earth oven work on Saturday.
Barengi Gadjin hopes to make the recreation an annual event.