Tropical Southeast Asia is a critically important region for reconstructing the mode and tempo of Late Pleistocene modern human (Homo sapiens) dispersals out of Africa and across the globe. There are an increasing number of archaeological and fossil sites from the region that are yielding information regarding this process, and even a single tooth holds the potential to re-write (and re-route) the history of our species. This being the case, the stratigraphic and depositional context of these finds needs to be very precisely constrained. In this seminar I will explore how geoarchaeology should be employed to provide such fine-grained contextual information to archaeological and palaeoanthropological material. Using the cave site Liang Bua—home to Homo floresiensis, aka. ‘The Hobbits’—as a case study, I will show how geoarchaeological techniques can reconstruct the depositional and post-depositional histories of an archaeological site. I will also showcase new geoarchaeological methods and approaches that are helping shed light on the processes that form, preserve or destroy sites located in humid, tropical environments.

About the Presenter

Mike Morley is a geoarchaeologist and Research Fellow at the Centre for Archaeological Science, University of Wollongong. After initially starting out as an archaeologist working on Lower Palaeolithic sites in the UK, he spent the best part of a decade working in commercial archaeology as Senior Geoarchaeologist at the Museum of London Archaeology Service (MoLAS). After completing an MSc in Quaternary Science (Royal Holloway University London), and a PhD in Physical Geography and Geoarchaeology (University of Manchester), he held a senior research and consultancy position at Oxford Brookes University from 2008–2014. Mike moved to Australia and UOW in 2014 to work as lead geoarchaeologist on an ARC Laureate project, investigating the Late Pleistocene human colonisation of Eastern Eurasia and Southeast Asia. He specialises in archaeological site formation and preservation processes, archaeological landscape reconstruction, and the study of past human–environment interactions. Mike has worked in a range of climate zones and depositional environments, from the deserts of the Rub’ al Khali, to the mountains of Lesotho, to the rainforests of Southeast Asia.

About Archaeology Working Papers

The Working Papers in Archaeology seminar series provides a forum for dissemination of archaeological research and ideas amongst UQ archaeology students and staff. All students are invited to attend the series and postgraduate students, from honours upwards, are invited to present their research. The aim is to provide opportunities for students, staff and those from outside UQ, to present and discuss their work in an informal environment. It is hoped that anyone interested in current archaeological directions, both within and outside the School and University, will be able to attend and contribute to the series.


Level 4, Michie Building (09), St Lucia Campus, The University of Queensland