• Mike Smith
  • fellow
  • Professor Emeritus Mike Smith AM FSA FAHA
  • Fellow Type: Fellow
  • Elected to the Academy: 2006
  • Section: History / Archaeology

  • Biography:
  • Mike Smith trained at the Australian National University (ANU), before taking up a post as field archaeologist with the Northern Territory Museum from 1980-88. Based in Darwin and then in Alice Springs, he had a roving brief to survey, record and excavate archaeological sites in the Territory. At the end of the 1980s, he joined the Department of Prehistory at ANU, as a Research Fellow. This department combined archaeological exploration of the continent with a strong investment in archaeological science. There, he developed his desert research into a fine-grained study of the archaeology of Puritjarra rock shelter, then the only Australian desert site with a long cultural and environmental sequence extending back to 30,000 years, well into the last ice-age. He also worked closely with colleagues Rhys Jones, Richard Roberts and Chris Turney using state-of-the–art dating methods on some of the oldest sites of human settlement in Australia, dating back to 50,000 years ago. After a teaching post as a lecturer in archaeology (also at the ANU), Mike joined the National Museum of Australia in 1996, initially as Head of the People and Environment section and later as Director of Research and Development at the Museum. In 2006, he was awarded the Rhys Jones medal, the highest award offered by the Australian Archaeological Association, for his contributions to archaeology. Mike Smith’s research interests lie in three complementary areas: the prehistory and human ecology of the Australian desert (including history of ideas about Australian drylands), the timing, nature and impact of early human colonisation of the Australian continent, and the presentation of environmental history in museums.

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