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The Deep History of Sea Country

The Deep History of Sea Country: Climate, Sea Level and Culture

Submerged landscape archaeology is an under-researched field in Australia and represents a major opportunity to address knowledge gaps in Australian archaeology.


March 2017 – ongoing


With financial support from the Australian Research Council

Academic Group:Social Sciences
Key Words:

Archaeology, Maritime Archaeology, Submerged Landscapes, Aboriginal Australia

Project Description

Nearly one-third of Australia’s landmass was drowned after the last ice age and generations of people were displaced by sea-level change. This project will impact heritage and environmental management and underpin a future for growth in the marine heritage sector with benefits to Indigenous, business and research communities.

This pioneering, multi-disciplinary study of submerged landscape archaeology in Australia is designed to investigate the records of the now-submerged Pilbara coast (spanning 50,000 to 7000 years ago). Information from drowned contexts will help address critical debates in Australian prehistory relating to past sea-level rise, population resilience, mobility, and diet. The project integrates cultural and environmental studies and contributes a unique southern hemisphere insight into world prehistory through material analysis and an adaptation of method from the world’s only confirmed submarine middens. A suite of cutting edge marine and aerial survey techniques will be developed to investigate physical and cultural submerged landscapes.

Project Partners

  • James Cook University
  • Flinders University 
  • The University of Western Australia
  • Curtin University of Technology
  • University of York
  • Aarhus Universitet

Project Team

  • Sean Ulm (James Cook University)
  • Jonathan Benjamin (Flinders University)
  • Ingrid Ward (Flinders University)
  • Peter Veth (The University of Western Australia)
  • Jorg Hacker and Michael O'Leary (Curtin University of Technology)
  • Geoffrey Bailey (University of York)
  • Mads Holst (Aarhus Universitet)

Key contact: Chief Investigator, Professor Sean Ulm at

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