The archaeology programme in the School of Social Science has developed over the past 30 years and currently has nine archaeologists and resident postdoctoral fellows whose research interests take them to nearly every continent, pursuing a broad range of topics and theoretical pursuits. Our programme is divided into an Archaeological Science stream where we routinely use “high-tech” methods to address and explore world prehistory in all its forms. We also have a Cultural Heritage stream where staff conduct archaeology with indigenous groups, government agencies and private developers. We are one of the leading archaeology teaching and research programmes in Australasia.

Our staff maintains strong international reputations; yet contribute significantly to Australian archaeology and prehistory. Students are encouraged to join staff that currently have field projects in Australia, the Pacific Islands, India, France, Turkey, Italy and Africa. Our main interest is understanding our region and the world through archaeology’s unique access to long-term human history. A sampling of our world-class research includes the following topics:

  • Understanding prehistoric subsistence practices in Australia and the Pacific Islands
  • How and why did agriculture develop in the Middle East and Papua New Guinea
  • Tracking ancient trade in Oceania through the geochemical analysis of stone tools
  • Understanding how human technologies (such as stone tools) respond to climate change, and social and economic change
  • Are ancient societies sustainable? Why do some societies succeed while others fail?
  • Understanding the dispersal and evolution of human populations in new environments.

Staff are well known for using high-tech laboratory methods to address a range of archaeological problems. Our staff are world experts in stone-tool technology and use-wear studies, identification and interpretation of faunal and flora materials from archaeological sites and geochemical analysis of stone tools. Our archaeology labs have undergone a major transformation in recent years with the acquisition of new microscopes, computers and data-projectors for lab-based teaching, expansion of our reference collections in plant, bone, stone and shell, as well as historic and prehistoric artefacts from around the world. We stress “hands-on” training where students acquire a range of laboratory and field skills that prepare them for jobs in the heritage sector where our graduates enjoy a high percentage of placement. Our PhD students have obtained professional positions in leading institutions and companies in Australia as well as overseas.

We maintain a large student population, with diverse national and overseas backgrounds that foster a stimulating intellectual environment. Our staff have won awards for research and teaching excellence and our courses consistently rank in the top percentile for student satisfaction.

Applications are welcomed for undergraduate and postgraduate studies in prehistoric and historic archaeology from national and overseas students. You can follow the relevant links for more information and feel free to contact staff with specific questions you may have.