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The Mulvaney Lecture: Humans in Pleistocene Wallacea…the story thus far

26 October 2023 @ 9:15 pm - 10:30 pm



Rock Art Australia Directors invite you to the RAA Annual Lecture
at the University of Western Australia followed by refreshments

The Mulvaney Lecture: Humans in Pleistocene Wallacea…the story thus far

Distinguished Professor Sue O’Connor, FAHA


Our species embarked on the world’s first great maritime journey from Sunda (greater Southeast Asia) to Sahul (Australia and New Guinea) at least 50,000 years ago. In the process they settled Wallacea, the archipelago of thousands of islands lying between these two continental landmasses. By ~45,000 years ago they had occupied the larger islands, from Sulawesi in the north-west to Flores and Timor in the south and south-east.

Prof O’Conner will explore the archaeological and genetic evidence for this remarkable human story thus far.


DATE/TIME: Thursday 26 October at 6.15pm followed by refreshments

VENUE: Lower Colonnade & Auditorium, The University Club of Western Australia,
Hackett Drive, Crawley, Perth




About the lecture:

This maritime migration involved competent seafaring technology and flexible economies as the new settlers were able to cross strong ocean currents and prevail on depauperate island environments. It appears that these island societies were stable for about 30,000 years, as there is no evidence for major technological changes or inter-island transfers. But, at the end of the last glacial phase ~16,000 years ago things changed dramatically. Obsidian from an as yet unidentified off-island source, appears in the archaeological assemblages of at least four islands in southern Wallacea marking the onset of the world’s earliest maritime exchange network.

At the same time new highly standardised items of personal decoration and fishhooks occur in the records. Social networks provide resilience for populations on impoverished islands, and marriage partners may have been as or more important than the resources exchanged across the network.


Sue O’Connor, FAHA, is a Distinguished Professor in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific. Her research focuses on modern human migration, settlement and adaptations within the Indo-Pacific region.


26 October 2023
9:15 pm - 10:30 pm


Auditorium, UWA
The University Club, Hacket Drive, Crawley, Perth.
Perth, Western Australia Australia
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