Dr Val Attenbrow

Val Attenbrow is a Principal Research Scientist in the Anthropology Unit of the Research Branch at the Australian Museum, where she began working in March 1989. She has a long-term interest in the Aboriginal occupation of southeastern Australia undertaking regional studies in the NSW far south coast for her BA(hons) in the mid-1970s, the Upper Mangrove Creek catchment for her PhD, and more recently the Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour) catchment. These studies focus on Holocene subsistence, habitation and land use patterns through the analysis of site distribution patterns and stone artefact sequences.

Prior to joining the Australian Museum, she worked as a consulting archaeologist and in several temporary positions in the then-Cultural Resources Division of the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (now NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change). Her initial archaeological work in the Upper Mangrove Creek catchment was as a consultant for the salvage excavation program for the Mangrove Creek dam. The results of these excavations were the impetus for the additional research and fieldwork undertaken for her PhD, which forms the basis of her 2004 Terra australis volume.

Her current research continues the analysis of excavated assemblages from Upper Mangrove Creek and Port Jackson, as well as museum archaeological collections. A current major project, the Eastern Sequence Project, in collaboration with Professor Peter Hiscock of ANU is reviewing and systematically evaluating FD McCarthy’s Eastern Regional Sequence – a conceptual framework widely used since the 1960s to describe chronological change in southeastern Australian stone artefact assemblages. A current ARC project with Peter Hiscock and Dr Gail Robertson of University of Queensland is investigating the changing abundance and use of backed artefacts in the Holocene in the Sydney Basin through a combined technological and integrated use-wear & residue analysis.