Associate Professor Dougald O'Reilly

B.A., P.G. Dip., M.A., Ph.D., F.S.A.
Associate Professor
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

Areas of expertise

  • Archaeology 2101
  • Archaeology Of Asia, Africa And The Americas 210103

Research interests

The prehistory of Southeast Asia, rise of complex society, Archaeological theory, Heritage preservation.



Dougald O’Reilly was granted an M.A. and PhD in Archaeology by the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. His researched involved the exploration of the development of political complexity in Bronze and Iron Age Thailand. He lived in Cambodia from 1999, working as a UNESCO lecturer at the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh. From 2006 -2008 he lectured at the University of Sydney, Australia, was a visiting lecturer at Yale University in 2008-09 and is currently employed with the Australian National University.  

In response to the looting of archaeological sites in Cambodia, a non-governmental organization called Heritage Watch ( was founded by O'Reilly in 2003 in an effort to combat the loss of heritage in Cambodia.  Heritage Watch established a nationwide education campaign highlighting the importance of heritage and continues to work in heritage preservation, currently running a programme called Heritage for Kids. 

O'Reilly has worked extensively in the archaeology of Southeast Asia. His research in recent years has been focussed in Cambodia where he oversaw several multi-disciplinary project examining ancient mobility, health and social organization of Iron Age settlements. He has also led research examining the rise of the state in the region with excavations undertaken in both Cambodia and Thailand, the core and periphery of empire.

In 2015 O'Reilly was awarded the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences Award for Programs that Enhance Learning and the Vice Chancellor's Award for Public Policy and Outreach. He was nominated in 2016 for a Vice Chancellor's Award for Programs that Enhance Learning.

O’Reilly received an Award for Programs that Enhance Learning from the College of Arts and Social Sciences in 2017 and the ANU Vice-Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Education in 2018. His e-book ‘An Interactive Guide to Angkor’ won the Pacific Asia Travel Association’s Gold Award for best Guide Book in 2018.

His current research focusses on the enigmatic sites of the 'Plain of the Jars' in Northern Laos. This is a collaborative project with Lao government archaeologists aimed at shedding more light on the origin and purpose of the megalithic jar sites.

Researcher's projects

Chief Investigator - Unravelling the Mystery of the Plain of Jars, Laos- Australian Research Council Grant (

Chief Investigator – From Paddy to Pura Archaeological Project, Cambodia/Thailand – Australian Research Council Grant

Chief Investigator – History in Their Bones Project, Cambodia – Australian Research Council Grant

Founder/Board Member - Heritage Watch ( The organisation is currently running a project called Heritage for Kids in Cambodia which sees school children trained in heritage and environmental protection.

Australian National Commission for UNESCO Grants Program World Heritage Status Realized: Plain of the Jars.  Meeting 1-3 July 2013, Xieng Khuang Lao PDR. 

Co-Investigator- The Monash Immersive Visualisation Platform (MIVP) CAVE2 Pilot Project Grant. 2015 Title: Unravelling the mystery of the plain of Jars, Laos:  Investigating a prehistoric cultural landscape contaminated by Unexploded Ordnance (UXO)



Current student projects

Analysis of megalithic jars at selected sites in Laos - Andrew Ball (Doctoral Candidate)

Spatial analysis of megalithic sites in Laos from a GIS perspective - Nick Skopal (Doctoral Candidate)


Recently completed projects:

Chaine operatoire and Cambodian and Thai ceramics - Tse Siang Lim (Doctoral Candidate)

Analysis of manufacturing marks on megalithic jars - Simon Tenner (Honours)



Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  13 June 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers