Professor Peter Hiscock

BA ANU PhD UQ DSc ANU
Tom Austen Brown Chair of Australian Archaeology

A14 - The Quadrangle
The University of Sydney

Telephone +61 2 9351 3118
Fax +61 2 9351 3918

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Biographical details

Peter was appointed as the inaugural Tom Austen Brown Professor of Australian Archaeology in 2013. He was Professor of Archaeology at the Australian National University 2008-2013, Director of the Centre of Archaeological Research and Head of the School of Archaeology and Anthropology at the ANU. He had earlier been a lecturer at University of Queensland, Northern Territory University (now Charles Darwin University) and the Australian National University. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, and a Research Associate of the Australian Museum, Sydney. In 2012 he was awarded a D.Sc. by the Australian National University for his contribution to the fields of lithic technology and Australian Archaeology. In 2013 Professor Hiscock delivered the Annual Academy Lecture to the Australian Academy of the Humanitie. Professor Hiscock delivered his inaugural lecture titled 'Coming to Australia: The first migration of humans to Australia and its global significance'. The lecture was recorded by the Australian Broadcasting Commission and you can listen to it or download it at: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bigideas/coming-to-australia-first-migrations/5083216.

Research interests

Peter’s research explores a number of concerns, including studying the human occupation of Australia prior to European settlement, characterising patterns of technological evolution and exploring the implications of those patterns for the cultural evolution of hominids, and reading the representations of archaeologists in movies. Reconstructing Australian pre-history through studies of the archaeological record is a pursuit that has led Peter to question simple depictions of directionality in cultural evolution, the use of ethnographic information in interpreting the past, the operation of cultural process at different scales, and the articulation of social systems with ecological contexts. His extended treatment of these themes was published as Archaeology of Ancient Australia (Routledge), a book which won the Mulvaney Book Award in 2008. He continues to pursue these concerns in his fieldwork on the History of Desert Landuse Project in South Australia, his collaborative Lake George project (Landscape evolution, environmental change and human occupation history of Lake George), his exploration of religious change in ancient Australia, and his analysis of technological evolution in Australia.

Peter’s second research focus is the description of how hominids made their stone artefacts, and why they changed their technological practices over time and across space. This work has led him to develop conceptual and methodological tools for describing lithic technology, and to challenge many of the standard procedures and interpretations that grew from nineteenth century perspectives. His work has also reconstructed sequences of technological change and the articulation of technology to occupational strategies and environment. This has been the focus of his research on Australian archaeological assemblages, where he has redescribed the nature of the technology and technological changes, work for which he was awarded his D.Sc. He also participates in research projects in South Africa, examining the Middle Stone Age occupation of the Western Cape, and in France, examining Neanderthal technology in the Dordogne. These research endeavours have been facilitated through collaborations with a number of key researchers, including (but not limited to) Val Attenbrow, Sue O’Connor, Alex Mackay, and Chris Clarkson. Peter is also currently pursuing research into niche construction theory and its capacity as a framework with which to understand shifts in lithic technology, work he is carrying out with Kim Sterelny.

A third research theme Peter actively pursues is interpreting representations of archaeologists and archaeology in movies. In this context his research interests touch on other disciplinary areas including film studies, philosophy and science education. Consequently his publications in this area have often been in non-archaeological journals (such as Numen) and in preparation of museum displays and public lectures.Peter’s research interests include the role of technology in cultural evolution, the global dispersal of humans, the human occupation of Australia, scientific and pseudo-scientific research into the past, and the representation of archaeologists in film. He currently directs projects in desert, temperate and tropical Australia. This work reconstructs sequences of technological change and the articulation of technology to occupational strategies and environment. He also participates in projects in South Africa examining the Middle Stone Age occupation of the Western Cape. Previous projects included analyses of lithic technology in North Africa and in Western Europe. Peter spent two years analysing the Neanderthal assemblages from Combe Grenal in France. He has presented a synthesis of Australian prehistory and is now examining the implications of Australian evidence for stories of global human colonisation. Peter’s books cover topics such as desert occupation, quarrying activities and lithic assemblage variation in Australia. His book Archaeology of Ancient Australia, published by Routledge, won the Mulvaney Book Award.

Teaching and supervision

Professor Hiscock teaches four undergraduate units: ARCA2605 Ancient Australia; ARCA2637 Archaeology in film; ARCA2638 Global dispersal of humans and ARPH2617 Analysis of Stone Technology.

He is available to supervise in topic about Aboriginal pre-history in Australia, lithic artefacts and Palaeolithic technology, hominid cultural evolution and global dispersals of hominids.

Current projects

  • ARC Linkage Project ‘Landscape evolution, environmental change and human occupation history of Lake George - an outstanding natural archive’
  • History of desert landuse, with Philip Hughes and Marjorie Sullivan (HEH Pty Ltd) and Amy Tabrett.
  • Eastern Sequence Project, with Val Attenbrow (Aus Mus)
  • Technology and behavioural evolution in late Pleistocene Africa, with Alex Mackay (Wollongong)

Associations

  • Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities
  • Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London
  • American Archaeological Society
  • Rock Art Research Association

Awards and honours

  • John Mulvaney Book Award, 2008
  • Elected Fellow of Society of Antiquaries, 2008
  • Elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, 2009
  • Higher Doctorate (DSc), ANU 2012

PhD and master's project opportunities

Selected grants

2012

  • Landscape evolution, environmental change and human occupation history of Lake George - an outstanding natural archive; Pillans B, Hiscock P, Dosseto A, Papp E, McPhail D; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Linkage Projects (LP).

2009

  • Technology and behavioural evolution in late Pleistocene Africa, Europe and Australia; Hiscock P; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP).

2007

  • Evolution of technology and tool use in 10,000 years of Aboriginal History; Hiscock P, Attenbrow A; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP).

2004

  • A reappraisal of Western European Mousterian tools from Australian perspectives; Hiscock P; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP).

Selected publications

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Books

  • Hiscock, P. (2008). Archaeology of Ancient Australia. London: Routledge.
  • Hiscock, P., Attenbrow, V. (2005). Australia's Eastern Regional Sequence Revisited: Technology and Change at Capertee 3. Oxford, UK: Archaeopress.

Edited Books

  • Veth, P., Smith, M., Hiscock, P. (2005). Desert Peoples: archaeological perspectives. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.

Book Chapters

  • Hiscock, P. (2014). Archaeology in Film. In Claire Smith (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology, (pp. 2779-2781). New York: Springer.
  • Bellwood, P., Hiscock, P. (2013). Australia and the Pacific Basin during the Holocene. In Scarre, C. (Eds.), The Human Past: World Prehistory and the Development of Human Societies, (pp. 264-305). New York: Thames & Hudson Ltd.
  • Hiscock, P. (2013). Early Old World migrations of Homo sapiens: archaeology. In Immanuel Ness, Peter Bellwood (Eds.), The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration, (pp. 1-11). Chichester, United Kingdom: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing.
  • Hiscock, P. (2013). Occupying New Lands: Global Migrations and Cultural Diversification with Particular Reference to Australia. In Kelly E Graf, Caroline V Ketron, Michael R Waters (Eds.), Paleoamerican Odyssey, (pp. 3-11). Texas: Center for the Study of the First Americans.
  • Hiscock, P. (2013). The human colonization of Australia. In Immanuel Ness, Peter Bellwood (Eds.), The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration, (pp. 1-6). Chichester, United Kingdom: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing.
  • Hiscock, P. (2012). Australia and New Guinea: Aboriginal Peoples of Australia. In Brian M. Fagan (Eds.), The Oxford Companion to Archaeology, (pp. 161-164). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Hiscock, P. (2012). L'Archaeologue dangereux. Ou comment le cinema present l'archeologie comme une menace pour le monde. Silence on Fouille, (pp. 112-127). France: Roissy Porte de France.
  • Hiscock, P. (2012). Mines and Quarries: Australia Mines. In Brian M. Fagan (Eds.), The Oxford Companion to Archaeology, (pp. 405-406). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Hiscock, P., Attenbrow, V. (2011). Technology and technological change in eastern Australia, the example of Capertee 3. In Ben Marwick and Alex Mackay (Eds.), Keeping your Edge: Recent Approaches to the Organisation of Stone Artefact Technology, (pp. 21-32). Oxford, UK: Archaeopress / British Archeology Reports.
  • Aplin, K., Ford, F., Hiscock, P. (2010). Early Holocene human occupation and environment of the southeast Australian Alps: New evidence for the Yarrangobilly Plateau, New South Wales. In Simon Haberle, Janelle Stevenson, Matthew Prebble (Eds.), Altered Ecologies: Fire, Climate and Human Influence on Terrestrial Landscapes, (pp. 187-212). Canberra, ACT, Australia: ANU E Press.
  • Hiscock, P., Bellwood, P. (2009). Holocene Australia and the Pacific Basin. In Christopher Scarre (Eds.), The Human Past: World Prehistory and the Development of Human Societies, (pp. 264-305). London, UK: Thames & Hudson Ltd.
  • Hiscock, P. (2009). Quina procurement and tool production. In Brian Adams, Brooke Blades (Eds.), Lithic Materials and Paleolithic Societies, (pp. 232-246). Wiley-Blackwell Publishing.
  • Hiscock, P. (2009). Reduction recycling and raw material Procurement in Western Arnhem Land. In Brian Adams, Brooke Blades (Eds.), Lithic Materials and Paleolithic Societies, (pp. 78-94). Wiley-Blackwell Publishing.
  • Hiscock, P. (2008). The construction of morphological diversity: a study of Mousterian implement retouching at Combe Grenal. In Davd Carrasco (Eds.), Lithic Technology, (pp. 106-135). UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Attenbrow, V., Hiscock, P. (2005). Reduction Continuums and Tool Use. In Clarkson, C and Lamb, L (Eds.), Lithics 'Down Under': Australian Perspectives on Lithic Reduction, Use and Classification, (pp. 43-55). Oxford, UK: Archaeopress.

Journals

  • Hiscock, P. (2014). Creators or Destroyers? The Burning Questions of Human Impact in Ancient Aboriginal Australia. Humanities Australia, 5, 40-52.
  • Hiscock, P. (2014). Learning in Lithic Landscapes: A Reconsideration of the Hominid "Toolmaking" Niche. Biological Theory, 9, 27-41. [More Information]
  • Sterelny, K., Hiscock, P. (2014). Symbols, Signals, and the Archaeological Record. Biological Theory, 9, 1-3. [More Information]
  • Hiscock, P. (2013). Beyond the Dreamtime: archaeology and explorations of religious change in Australia. World Archaeology, 45(1), 124-136. [More Information]
  • Shine, D., Wright, D., Denham, T., Aplin, K., Hiscock, P., Parker, K., Walton, R. (2013). Birriwilk rockshelter: A mid- to late Holocene site in Manilikarr Country, southwest Arnhem Land, Northern Territory. Australian Archaeology, 76, 69-78.
  • Wright, D., Hiscock, P., Aplin, K. (2013). Re-Excavation of Dabangay, a Mid-Holocene Settlement Site on Mabuyag in Western Torres Strait. Queensland Archaeological Research, 16, 15-31.
  • Hiscock, P. (2012). Cinema, Supernatural Archaeology, and the Hidden Human Past. Numen, 59(2-3), 156-177. [More Information]
  • Hiscock, P. (2012). The arrival of humans in Australia. Agora, 47(20), 19-22.
  • Hiscock, P., Clarkson, C., Mackay, A. (2011). Big debates over little tools: ongoing disputes over microliths on three continents. World Archaeology, 43(4), 653-664.
  • Hiscock, P. (2011). Changing Perspectives in Australian Archaeology, Part VI. Point Production at Jimede 2, Western Arnhem Land. Technical Reports of the Australian Museum, 23, 73-82.
  • Clarkson, C., Hiscock, P. (2011). Estimating original flake mass from 3D scans of platform area. Journal of Archaeological Science, 38(5), 1062-1068. [More Information]
  • Hughes, P., Hiscock, P., Watchman, A. (2011). Terminological Debate in the Upper Hunter Valley: Indurated Mudstone versus Tuff. Australian Archaeology, 72, 45-46.
  • Hiscock, P., Tabrett, A. (2010). Generalization, inference and the quantification of lithic reduction. World Archaeology, 42(4), 545-561. [More Information]
  • Veth, P., Smith, M., Bowler, J., Fitzsimmons, K., Williams, A., Hiscock, P. (2009). Excavations at Parnkupirti, Lake Gregory, Great Sandy Desert: OSL Ages for Occupation before the Last Glacial Maximum. Australian Archaeology, 69, 1-10.
  • Robertson, G., Attenbrow, V., Hiscock, P. (2009). Multiple uses for Australian backed artefacts. Antiquity, 83, 296-308.
  • Attenbrow, V., Robertson, G., Hiscock, P. (2009). The changing abundance of backed artefacts in south-eastern Australia: a response to Holocene climate change? Journal of Archaeological Science, 36(12), 2765-2770. [More Information]
  • Hiscock, P., Clarkson, C. (2009). The reality of reduction experiments and the GIUR: reply to Eren and Sampson. Journal of Archaeological Science, 36(7), 1576-1581. [More Information]
  • Mercieca, A., Hiscock, P. (2008). Experimental insights into alternative strategies of lithic heat treatment. Journal of Archaeological Science, 35(9), 2634-2639. [More Information]
  • Clarkson, C., Hiscock, P. (2008). Tapping into the past: Exploring Palaeolithic reduction patterns through experimentation. Lithic Technology, 33(2), 1-15.
  • Hiscock, P. (2008). The first boat people. Archaeology in Oceania, 43(1), 44-47.
  • Hiscock, P., Faulkner, P. (2006). Dating the Dreaming? Creation of Myths and Rituals for Mounds along the Northern Australian Coastline. Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 16(2), 209-222. [More Information]
  • Hiscock, P., Attenbrow, V. (2004). A Revised Sequence Of Backed Artefact Production At Capertee 3, NSW. Archaeology in Oceania, 39(2), 94-99.

2014

  • Hiscock, P. (2014). Archaeology in Film. In Claire Smith (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology, (pp. 2779-2781). New York: Springer.
  • Hiscock, P. (2014). Creators or Destroyers? The Burning Questions of Human Impact in Ancient Aboriginal Australia. Humanities Australia, 5, 40-52.
  • Hiscock, P. (2014). Learning in Lithic Landscapes: A Reconsideration of the Hominid "Toolmaking" Niche. Biological Theory, 9, 27-41. [More Information]
  • Sterelny, K., Hiscock, P. (2014). Symbols, Signals, and the Archaeological Record. Biological Theory, 9, 1-3. [More Information]

2013

  • Bellwood, P., Hiscock, P. (2013). Australia and the Pacific Basin during the Holocene. In Scarre, C. (Eds.), The Human Past: World Prehistory and the Development of Human Societies, (pp. 264-305). New York: Thames & Hudson Ltd.
  • Hiscock, P. (2013). Beyond the Dreamtime: archaeology and explorations of religious change in Australia. World Archaeology, 45(1), 124-136. [More Information]
  • Shine, D., Wright, D., Denham, T., Aplin, K., Hiscock, P., Parker, K., Walton, R. (2013). Birriwilk rockshelter: A mid- to late Holocene site in Manilikarr Country, southwest Arnhem Land, Northern Territory. Australian Archaeology, 76, 69-78.
  • Hiscock, P. (2013). Early Old World migrations of Homo sapiens: archaeology. In Immanuel Ness, Peter Bellwood (Eds.), The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration, (pp. 1-11). Chichester, United Kingdom: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing.
  • Hiscock, P. (2013). Occupying New Lands: Global Migrations and Cultural Diversification with Particular Reference to Australia. In Kelly E Graf, Caroline V Ketron, Michael R Waters (Eds.), Paleoamerican Odyssey, (pp. 3-11). Texas: Center for the Study of the First Americans.
  • Wright, D., Hiscock, P., Aplin, K. (2013). Re-Excavation of Dabangay, a Mid-Holocene Settlement Site on Mabuyag in Western Torres Strait. Queensland Archaeological Research, 16, 15-31.
  • Hiscock, P. (2013). The human colonization of Australia. In Immanuel Ness, Peter Bellwood (Eds.), The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration, (pp. 1-6). Chichester, United Kingdom: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing.

2012

  • Hiscock, P. (2012). Australia and New Guinea: Aboriginal Peoples of Australia. In Brian M. Fagan (Eds.), The Oxford Companion to Archaeology, (pp. 161-164). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Hiscock, P. (2012). Cinema, Supernatural Archaeology, and the Hidden Human Past. Numen, 59(2-3), 156-177. [More Information]
  • Hiscock, P. (2012). L'Archaeologue dangereux. Ou comment le cinema present l'archeologie comme une menace pour le monde. Silence on Fouille, (pp. 112-127). France: Roissy Porte de France.
  • Hiscock, P. (2012). Mines and Quarries: Australia Mines. In Brian M. Fagan (Eds.), The Oxford Companion to Archaeology, (pp. 405-406). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Hiscock, P. (2012). The arrival of humans in Australia. Agora, 47(20), 19-22.

2011

  • Hiscock, P., Clarkson, C., Mackay, A. (2011). Big debates over little tools: ongoing disputes over microliths on three continents. World Archaeology, 43(4), 653-664.
  • Hiscock, P. (2011). Changing Perspectives in Australian Archaeology, Part VI. Point Production at Jimede 2, Western Arnhem Land. Technical Reports of the Australian Museum, 23, 73-82.
  • Clarkson, C., Hiscock, P. (2011). Estimating original flake mass from 3D scans of platform area. Journal of Archaeological Science, 38(5), 1062-1068. [More Information]
  • Hiscock, P., Attenbrow, V. (2011). Technology and technological change in eastern Australia, the example of Capertee 3. In Ben Marwick and Alex Mackay (Eds.), Keeping your Edge: Recent Approaches to the Organisation of Stone Artefact Technology, (pp. 21-32). Oxford, UK: Archaeopress / British Archeology Reports.
  • Hughes, P., Hiscock, P., Watchman, A. (2011). Terminological Debate in the Upper Hunter Valley: Indurated Mudstone versus Tuff. Australian Archaeology, 72, 45-46.

2010

  • Aplin, K., Ford, F., Hiscock, P. (2010). Early Holocene human occupation and environment of the southeast Australian Alps: New evidence for the Yarrangobilly Plateau, New South Wales. In Simon Haberle, Janelle Stevenson, Matthew Prebble (Eds.), Altered Ecologies: Fire, Climate and Human Influence on Terrestrial Landscapes, (pp. 187-212). Canberra, ACT, Australia: ANU E Press.
  • Hiscock, P., Tabrett, A. (2010). Generalization, inference and the quantification of lithic reduction. World Archaeology, 42(4), 545-561. [More Information]

2009

  • Veth, P., Smith, M., Bowler, J., Fitzsimmons, K., Williams, A., Hiscock, P. (2009). Excavations at Parnkupirti, Lake Gregory, Great Sandy Desert: OSL Ages for Occupation before the Last Glacial Maximum. Australian Archaeology, 69, 1-10.
  • Hiscock, P., Bellwood, P. (2009). Holocene Australia and the Pacific Basin. In Christopher Scarre (Eds.), The Human Past: World Prehistory and the Development of Human Societies, (pp. 264-305). London, UK: Thames & Hudson Ltd.
  • Robertson, G., Attenbrow, V., Hiscock, P. (2009). Multiple uses for Australian backed artefacts. Antiquity, 83, 296-308.
  • Hiscock, P. (2009). Quina procurement and tool production. In Brian Adams, Brooke Blades (Eds.), Lithic Materials and Paleolithic Societies, (pp. 232-246). Wiley-Blackwell Publishing.
  • Hiscock, P. (2009). Reduction recycling and raw material Procurement in Western Arnhem Land. In Brian Adams, Brooke Blades (Eds.), Lithic Materials and Paleolithic Societies, (pp. 78-94). Wiley-Blackwell Publishing.
  • Attenbrow, V., Robertson, G., Hiscock, P. (2009). The changing abundance of backed artefacts in south-eastern Australia: a response to Holocene climate change? Journal of Archaeological Science, 36(12), 2765-2770. [More Information]
  • Hiscock, P., Clarkson, C. (2009). The reality of reduction experiments and the GIUR: reply to Eren and Sampson. Journal of Archaeological Science, 36(7), 1576-1581. [More Information]

2008

  • Hiscock, P. (2008). Archaeology of Ancient Australia. London: Routledge.
  • Mercieca, A., Hiscock, P. (2008). Experimental insights into alternative strategies of lithic heat treatment. Journal of Archaeological Science, 35(9), 2634-2639. [More Information]
  • Clarkson, C., Hiscock, P. (2008). Tapping into the past: Exploring Palaeolithic reduction patterns through experimentation. Lithic Technology, 33(2), 1-15.
  • Hiscock, P. (2008). The construction of morphological diversity: a study of Mousterian implement retouching at Combe Grenal. In Davd Carrasco (Eds.), Lithic Technology, (pp. 106-135). UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Hiscock, P. (2008). The first boat people. Archaeology in Oceania, 43(1), 44-47.

2006

  • Hiscock, P., Faulkner, P. (2006). Dating the Dreaming? Creation of Myths and Rituals for Mounds along the Northern Australian Coastline. Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 16(2), 209-222. [More Information]

2005

  • Hiscock, P., Attenbrow, V. (2005). Australia's Eastern Regional Sequence Revisited: Technology and Change at Capertee 3. Oxford, UK: Archaeopress.
  • Veth, P., Smith, M., Hiscock, P. (2005). Desert Peoples: archaeological perspectives. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.
  • Attenbrow, V., Hiscock, P. (2005). Reduction Continuums and Tool Use. In Clarkson, C and Lamb, L (Eds.), Lithics 'Down Under': Australian Perspectives on Lithic Reduction, Use and Classification, (pp. 43-55). Oxford, UK: Archaeopress.

2004

  • Hiscock, P., Attenbrow, V. (2004). A Revised Sequence Of Backed Artefact Production At Capertee 3, NSW. Archaeology in Oceania, 39(2), 94-99.

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