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AIA3000 - Archaeology of Indigenous Australia

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Arts

Leader: Dr Ian McNiven


Not offered in 2007


The subject critically examines the range of techniques and theoretical frameworks used by archaeologists to understand Australia's 50,000-year plus Indigenous history. The focus will be archaeological sites and debates associated with the interpretation of excavated cultural materials. Issues covered include the origins of the first Australians, processes of continental colonisation, responses to environmental change and sea level change, human environmental impacts, broad-scale social changes; and responses to Europeans on the colonial frontier. Students will also examine long-term changes in the development of trading networks, art, social organisation and burial practices.


The overarching aims are to provide students with a broad understanding of how archaeologists have constructed a long-term picture of Australia's Indigenous past. On successful completion of this subject, students will be able to:

  1. Appreciate the broad range of techniques used by archaeologists to infer behaviour from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural sites and material culture.
  2. Develop advanced skills in critically evaluating major debates and contentious theoretical issues in Australian Indigenous archaeology.
  3. Understand key cultural changes over the past 50,000 years of Australian's Indigenous past.
  4. Appreciate the diversity of Indigenous Australians who in different parts of the continent developed different cultures and lifeways.
  5. Appreciate debates concerning the origins of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders from an archaeological perspective.


Oral presentation (500 words): 10%
Short paper related to seminar presentation (1000 words): 20%
Essay (3000 words): 60%
Tutorial participation: 10%

Contact hours

3 hours (2 x 1 hour lectures and 1 x 1 hour tutorial) per week