• The University of Western Australia (M257), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


  • 762 Citations
  • 10 h-Index
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Personal profile


Joe is an archaeologist with wide experience in academic research and heritage management. He  completed his PhD at UWA on Aboriginal responses to environmental changes in south-western Australia during and after the last glacial period, from 20,000 years ago to present.

Since then he has investigated archaeological evidence for Late Pleistocene faunal extinctions, researched past Aboriginal burning and landscape management in south-western Australia, and collaborated with geneticists and Aboriginal stakeholders on ancient and modern DNA analysis.

He’s advised communities and industry on archaeological heritage, completing more than 200 heritage assessments for Aboriginal organisations, resources companies, private developers and government agencies.

Joe has delivered courses in archaeological field and lab methods, applied theory, and the intersection of environmental and social sciences (e.g. ARCY3003, ARCY4101, INDG2700 and ARCY3013). 

In 2015-2018 he managed research on behalf of a large research team on the Dampier Archipelago as part of an ARC Linkage project, Murujuga: Dynamics of the Dreaming, and supervised Honours and PhD students on this project.

He is currently a Heritage Advisor at Rio Tinto, assisting the company on Aboriginal heritage matters in the Pilbara.

Roles and responsibilities

Research Manager/Murujuga: Dynamics of the Dreaming

Funding overview

Australian Research Council:
Partner investigator, 2012-2014, "Ancient DNA from cave sediments: a new horizon in the archaeology of Aboriginal Australia", Discovery Project with Murdoch and Copenhagen Universities.
Research Associate, 2007-2009, "Aboriginal Landscape Transformations", Linkage Project with Department of Environment & Conservation, South-West Catchments Council, South Coast NRM; co-authored application with CIs J. Balme and J. Dodson.
Australian Post-doctoral Fellow, 2003-05, "Taphonomy of megafauna sites". University of Sydney.

For other funding (industry and community grants) see Socrates page.

Previous positions

Director, Eureka Archaeological Research & Consulting, UWA
Research Fellow, Archaeology, UWA

Current projects

Field and lab project management for ARC Linkage Project: Murujuga: Dynamics of the Dreaming
Archaeological interpretation of ancient DNA from cave sediments.
Study of past Noongar landscape management, through assessment of fire ecology, palaeo-ecology and fine-scale environmental, archaeological, historic and oral records.
Grinding stones and their environmental contexts in the Pilbara, Western Australia.

Industrial relevance

Joe has worked outside academia for most of his career. He still provides advice on cultural heritage management and interpretation to commercial, government and community organisations.

Teaching overview

2017 - INDG2700 Knowing Country - From the Dreaming to Darwin
2016 - ARCY4101 Archaeological Theory
2014 - ARCY3003 Archaeological Laboratory Methods
2010 - ARCY7486 Honours - Professional Archaeology

PhD students (years) - share of supervision:
C. Byrne (2014-) - 25%
A. Lullfitz (2014-) - 5%
C. Monks (2013-2017) - 75%
D. Murray (Curtin University) (2013-2016) - 10%

Supervised Honours students in Archaeology (except where shown otherwise):
2018: N. Suehrcke 

2017: G. Buck (Biological Sciences)

2014: S. Murray (Natural Resource Management)
2013: N. Bush, D. Tassone, K. Hudson, Z. Shepherd.
2011: K. Forde, S. Curry-Bowran.
2009: R. Cameron, J. Huizen, S. Johnston, I. Seah, E. Rusack, K. Lee (U. Sydney)
2008: H. Worrell
2004: B. Ngo (U. Sydney)

I'm open to supervising PhD, Masters or Honours projects on a variety of topics within my core interests:
-Aboriginal/Indigenous lifeways
-Human interaction with environment


Environmental archaeology; niche construction; Australian Aboriginal archaeology; ethnography and archaeology; taphonomy; faunal remains analysis; macroscopic charcoal analysis (anthracology); ancient DNA in archaeology.




  • Animal Bones
  • Ancient DNA
  • Environmental History
  • Human Origins
  • Heritage
  • Environmental archaeology including taphonomy, zooarchaeology and anthracology
  • Australian Aboriginal archaeology
  • Ethnography and archaeology
  • Stone artefact analysis
  • Cultural heritage management
  • Application of geographical information systems in archaeology

Fingerprint Fingerprint is based on mining the text of the person's scientific documents to create an index of weighted terms, which defines the key subjects of each individual researcher.

  • 11 Similar Profiles
cave Earth & Environmental Sciences
marsupial Earth & Environmental Sciences
occupation Earth & Environmental Sciences
Pleistocene Earth & Environmental Sciences
Last Glacial Maximum Earth & Environmental Sciences
extinction Earth & Environmental Sciences
tunnel Earth & Environmental Sciences
Holocene Earth & Environmental Sciences

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Projects 2012 2015

Research Output 1994 2019

So ends this day: American whalers in Yaburara country, Dampier Archipelago

Paterson, A., Ross, A., Mulvaney, K., de Koning, S., Dortch, J. & McDonald, J., 18 Feb 2019, In : Antiquity: a quarterly review of archaeology. 93, 367, p. 218-235 18 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Rock Art
coastal plain
land management
habitat mosaic
1 Citations (Scopus)

Genetic diversity and drivers of dwarfism in extinct island emu populations

Thomson, V., Mitchell, K., Eberhard, R., Dortch, J. C., Austin, J. & Cooper, A., 4 Apr 2018, Biology Letters.

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

genetic variation
Dromaius novaehollandiae

Murujuga Rockshelter: First evidence for Pleistocene occupation on the Burrup Peninsula

McDonald, J., Reynen, W., Ditchfield, K., Dortch, J., Leopold, M., Stephenson, B., Whitley, T., Ward, I. & Veth, P., 1 Aug 2018, Quaternary Science Reviews, 193, p. 266-287.

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

rock art

Archaeology in the age of alternative facts: archaeological investigations and Roe 8

Dortch, J. & Hook, F., 2017, Never again: reflections on environmental responsibility after Roe 8. Gaynor, A., Newman, P. & Jennings, P. (eds.). Crawley, WA: UWA Publishing, p. 107-116 10 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapter