Dr Mike Smith

Academic Status

College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

place Humanities
GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia

Professor Mike Smith is a pioneering desert field archaeologist. For several decades he has worked across the Australian arid zone attempting to piece together a picture of its human and environmental histories. He was awarded an Order of Australia for his work in 2013 and is author of several books, including The Archaeology of Australia’s Deserts(2013, Cambridge University Press). His previous appointments include the post of field archaeologist with the Northern Territory Museum in Darwin and Alice Springs, research fellow in the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies at the Australian National University, lecturer in archaeology in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at the Australian National University and senior curator and director of research and development at the National Museum of Australia, where he set up the Museum’s Centre for Historical Research.


Bachelor of Arts (First Class Honours), Australian National University (1977)
Research thesis title: Devon Downs reconsidered: An exercise in bio-archaeology

Master of Arts, Australian National University (1980)
MA thesis title: Saltbush, sampling strategy and settlement pattern: A systematic archaeological  survey of Plumbago Station Historic Reserve, South Australia

Doctor of Philosophy, University of New England (Armidale NSW) (1988)
PhD thesis title:The Pattern and Timing of Prehistoric Settlement in Central Australia

Honours, awards and grants

Distinguished Alumni Award,2015, University of New England (Armidale NSW)

Shortlist, CHASS (Council for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences), Australia Prize for a Book, 2014, for The Archaeology of Australia’s Deserts.

Director’s Award for Exellence.2014, National Museum of Australia.

John Mulvaney Book Award – 2013, Australian Archaeological Association, for The Archaeology of Australia’s Deserts.

Order of Australia, Member (AM), 2013, ‘For significant service to archaeological scholarship, particularly of the Australian desert.’ 

Top Supervisor Award, 2011, Australian National University.

Verco Medal (2010) Royal Society (South Australia)

Contributing author to ‘Boom and Bust’ (CSIRO Press, 2009, edited by L Robin, R Heinsohn and L. Joseph), which received the 2009 Whitley Medal (Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales).

Australia Day Achievement Medallion (2009).

Elected Fellow, Society of Antiquaries, London (February 2007).

Elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities (November 2006).

Rhys Jones Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Australian Archaeology (Australian Archaeological Association - 2006).