Skip to main content

The Rock Art Australia Minderoo Chair in Archaeological Science at the University of Melbourne

A Chair in Archaeological Science is a unique position worldwide and provides an extraordinary opportunity to progress archaeological science in Australia and beyond. Archaeological science is fundamentally a multidisciplinary field that integrates both cultural and analytical expertise and perspectives.

Prof Rachel Popelka-Filcoff, an internationally recognised expert in radioanalytical chemistry and the scientific analysis of Indigenous Australian natural mineral pigments leads archaeological science initiatives at The University of Melbourne’s School of Geography, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. Rachel’s research group explores provenance, sourcing and exchange of source geological materials and artifacts through analysis and statistical approaches, and the development of high-resolution, non-invasive characterisation of cultural heritage materials.

Rachel’s research is the first comprehensive integrative characterisation of Australian natural mineral pigments on cultural heritage materials. Her research develops novel multidisciplinary approaches to analyse cultural materials, artifacts, and landscapes. These integrated methods offer an extraordinary view into past cultures, understanding of current society, and insight into our future.

This Chair has been made possible thanks to donations from Rock Art Australia, Allan Myers AC QC, the Minderoo Foundation through RAA Patrons Andrew and Nicola Forrest and a contribution from the University.

Rock Art Australia Ian Potter Kimberley Chair at the University of Western Australia

Professor Joakim Goldhahn, an internationally acknowledged rock art scholar with more than 25 years’ experience exploring the meaning and significance of rock art, was appointed to the Chair in August 2020.

The Chair sits within the University of Western Australia’s Centre for Rock Art Research + Management and is linked to the Discipline of Archaeology, which was recently awarded the highest possible ranking in the Excellence for Research in Australia exercise by the Australian Research Council.  Prof Goldhahn replaces Prof Peter Veth (inaugural Chair 2013-2018).

The Chair is funded in perpetuity by Rock Art Australia through gifts from The Ian Potter Foundation ($1.5 million) and INPEX ($500k) with matched funding of $2 million from the University of Western Australia.


As RAA supporters know, this year we have two new scientists leading the two Chairs established by the Foundation – one in Rock Art at The University of WA, and one in Archaeological Science at The University of Melbourne.  Due to Covid-19 the events to meet them in person have not been able to take place. So we introduce them to you here!  Click on the link for a revealing 8-minute chat led by former ABC presenter Graham Phillips with Professors Joakim Goldhahn and  Rachel Popelka-Filcoff.