Humans Through Time and Space > Coastal and Maritime Adaptations

Submerged landscape archaeology is an under-researched field in Australia and represents a major opportunity to address knowledge gaps in world prehistory such as early human migrations, the archaeology of land bridges and coastal-hinterland cultural exchange.

Follow our progress on our project blog


Project Team and Partner Institutions

  • Dr Jonathan Benjamin (Flinders University); Lead-CI
  • Dr Ingrid Ward (Flinders University); Postdoctoral Researcher
  • Prof. Sean Ulm (James Cook University)
  • Prof. Peter Veth (The University of Western Australia)
  • Dr Michael O'Leary (Curtin University of Technology)
  • A/Prof. Jorg Hacker (Flinders University and Airborne Research Australia)
  • Prof. Jo McDonald (The University of Western Australia)
  • Prof. Mads Holst (Aarhus Universitet, Denmark)
  • Prof. Geoff N Bailey (Flinders University and University of York, UK)


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 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 archaeology 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. Further, an adaptation of method from the world’s only confirmed submarine middens, in the Baltic Sea of modern Denmark, will contribute to broader questions of site submergence and preservation as well as cultural response to rising sea levels and shifting shorelines. A suite of cutting edge marine and aerial survey techniques will be developed to investigate physical and cultural submerged landscapes.

1 March 2017 to 28 February 2020

Australian Research Council (Discovery Project DP170100812)

Humanities, Arts and Social Science

Key Words
Archaeology, Submerged Landscapes, Maritime and Underwater Archaeology, Indigenous Archaeology, European Prehistory