Bears Grease among early 19th century artefacts found at Christchurch convention centre site
"Bears Grease" hair product, children's cutlery, and 19th century pharmaceuticals are among artefacts found at the new Christchurch Convention Centre site.
Archaeologists have found the remains of a well, walls, and rubbish pits possibly dating back to Christchurch's earliest days of European settlement.
The first European settlers established themselves in the area in the 1840s and 1850s.
Archaeologists found several interesting items at the convention centre site, including a pot of "Russian Bears Grease".
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"Russian Bears Grease was a hair care product sold throughout the 19th century, but this particular pot dates back to the 1840s," Underground Overground Archaeology's Jessie Garland said.
The product was supposed to make hair grow better and help with baldness.
"We think the logic behind it was probably that bears are hairy."
Grease made from actual bears was hard to get, so this product was likely goose fat.
A bone handle found at the convention centre site had "for a good boy" carved on the side, leading Garland to believe it was from a children's cutlery set.
"It looks like it's hand-carved as well."
There was also a black glass jar with "Hockin" on the side, dating back to the 1840s.
"Charles Hocken was a pharmacist in London who also made photography chemicals and things like that," Garland said.
"It's another sign that a lot of the stuff we're finding at the convention centre is relatively early for Christchurch."
She said a decorative mason jug found at the site had unusually bold colours.
"The jug itself is probably made in the 1820s, which suggests . . . someone moving out to Christchurch in the 1850s brought it with them as a family heirloom."
Archaeologist Hamish Williams said the team was researching old plans to find out what building the ruins belonged to.
"It had been demolished in the 19th century."
The brick-lined well indicated it was probably built in the early 19th century, before the city's water table dropped.
Williams said the archaeologists had to wait for this week's rain to stop before completing the dig, but the excavation would not delay earthworks for the convention centre.