Professorial Inaugural Lecture by Professor Sean Ulm

@JCU Professorial Inaugural Lecture by Professor Sean Ulm

Title: The Deep History of Sea Country: Colonisation, Submerged Landscapes and the Archaeology of Australia’s Coasts

Professorial Inaugural Lecture by Professor Sean Ulm – October 6 (Cairns)

sean ulm


Abstract: The sea is central to the lives of contemporary coastal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia. Indigenous histories and archaeologies show the sea to be a vital source of subsistence, raw materials, spirituality and connection with other peoples. 

Coasts, and especially islands, were a focus of occupation in the past as in the present, with high population densities linked to sedentary lifestyles along much of the Australian coast. 

But what are the antecedents of these people-sea relationships? 

Nearly one-third of Australia’s landmass was drowned after the last ice age and generations of people were displaced by sea-level change. 

In this lecture we will explore what we know, what we think we know and what we would like to know about the deep history of coastal occupation in Australia.


Professor Sean Ulm is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow and Director of the Tropical Archaeology Research Laboratory at James Cook University, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, and an Honorary Research Fellow of the Queensland Museum. 

His publications include more than 80 articles and 5 books on the archaeology of Australia.

Sean has conducted research throughout Australia as well as in Honduras, Chile, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific. 

Sean’s research focuses on persistent problems in the archaeology of tropical world where understanding the relationships between environmental change and cultural change using advanced studies of archaeological and environmental sequences are central to understanding the human past.

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