This seminar presents an update on the establishment of an ‘Australasian Portable x-ray fluorescence (pXRF) Archaeological Research Collective’ that seeks to address common issues faced by archaeological and First Nations researchers wanting to use pXRF. Researchers in archaeological science frequently employ and adapt methods from the hard sciences to answer questions about the past. The benefits of such approaches are also appreciated by First Nations communities seeking to reclaim ownership of information and gather their own data from cultural materials often held in museums or other institutions. PXRF is a preferred technique for chemical characterisations of artefacts because it is non-destructive. It is also appealing because pXRF instruments are often marketed as ‘out-of-the-box-ready-to-go’, however the practical realities for research are not always so straight forward. This extends to training communities on these instruments. Key issues include custom calibrations, radiation safety (state legislation), realistic field applications and data quality. The solution to these issues requires much more collaboration between researchers and institutions in Australasia. Importantly, our current research must now confront how archaeologists curate databases for Open Science to meet the UNESCO “Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable” and “Collective Benefit, Authority to Control, Responsibility, Ethics” (FAIR and CARE) principles especially when working with First Nations communities. Work towards solutions is being achieved through this project by connecting multiple archaeology departments in different institutions across Australia and New Zealand to establish a network of accessible research-ready instruments across Australasia.

About the presenter

Michelle is a Lecturer in the Department of Archaeology and History at La Trobe University. She completed her doctorate at the Australian National University in 2021 with her thesis, Challenging typology: Re-evaluating historical and prehistoric exchanges of Polynesian adzes and pounders with pXRF. Her thesis drew on research in museum collections to understand the history of archaeology in the Pacific, as part of the ARC Laureate Fellowship project The Collective Biography of Archaeology in the Pacific (CBAP) at the ANU. She is interested in interdisciplinary research that intersects between archaeological science, disciplinary history, heritage, and museum studies. Her research requires her to work collaboratively with academics, museums and with First Nations communities. Michelle conducted research in over 20 museums for her PhD including the British Museum, Pitt Rivers Museum, Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and the B.P. Bishop Museum. She has research field work experience from a variety of sites ranging from Neolithic Boncuklu Höyük in Turkey, Quispisisa obsidian source in Peru, contemporary ruins in Detroit, as well as excavations and surveys in Portugal, Greece, Italy and Jordan. She also has 15 years’ experience working as a heritage consultant on historical and Aboriginal sites in NSW, as well as on Australian National Heritage sites; Port Arthur Historic Site in Tasmania and, the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea. Michelle has recently completed a Grad Dip in Environmental Law with a heritage law focus. She is a full international member of Australia ICOMOS and the newly formed ICOMOS Pasifika.

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.


443; Michie Building (9)