Dr Mike Smith

BA Hons (1st Class – ANU 1977), MA (ANU 1980 ), PhD ( UNE 1988) FAHA, FSA, Rhys Jones Medal (2006), Verco Medal (2010). Order of Australia (AM, 2013)
Honorary Associate Professor, Department of Archaeology and Natural History, School of Culture, History & Language
ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
T: 0419-496581

Areas of expertise

  • Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Archaeology 210101
  • Curatorial And Related Studies 2102

Research interests

Prehistory and human ecology of Australian deserts.

Late Pleistocene archaeology and initial human settlement of Australia. 

The archaeology of northern  Australia

The emergence of Aboriginal societies in their ethnographic form


Dr Mike Smith is a pioneering desert field archaeologist. For several decades he has worked across the Australian arid zone attempting to piece together a picture of its human and environmental histories. He was awarded an Order of Australia for his work in 2013 and is author of several books, including The archaeology of Australia’s deserts (2013, Cambridge University Press).  His previous appointments include the post of field archaeologist with the Northern Territory Museum in Darwin and Alice Springs, research fellow in the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies at the Australian National University, and lecturer in archaeology in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at the Australian National University. He 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. He set up the Museum’s Centre for Historical Research.

Researcher's projects

I am currently working on a book-length synthesis of the archaeology of northern Australia

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