2014 Hall Annual Lecture
Where shall we have lunch? The first colonisation of Australia 48,000 years ago.
This lecture presents an update on archaeological understanding of the first colonisation of Australia about 48,000 years ago. Arriving by boat, almost certainly on deliberate voyages, the founding population of Australia consisted of hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of people mainly of African origin, but with Asians also contributing to the mix. The effect of human arrival on Australian ecosystems is controversial, but there are good reasons to think it was less dramatic than has often been claimed. The record of later technological, economic and social change is uniquely Australian - quite different from that created by other African-derived populations spreading across Europe and Asia at about the same time, with differences perhaps relating to the harsh climatic and environmental conditions characteristic of the Ice Age Southern Continent.
About the presenter:
James (Jim) O’Connell completed his PhD at the University of California (Berkeley) in 1971 and subsequently held a five-year Research Fellowship in the Department of Prehistory, Research School of Pacific Studies, ANU. He joined the Anthropology Faculty at the University of Utah in 1978 and retired in 2013 with the rank of Distinguished Professor. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, and a member of the US National Academy of Sciences.
Jim's main research interests are in the ecology of prehistoric and modern hunter-gatherers, with extensive field experience in the archaeology of western North America, and studying traditional foraging groups in central Australia (Alyawarr) and East Africa (Hadza). He is best known for his work on the early human colonisation of Australia and on the application of theoretical models from behavioral ecology to problems in human evolution.