Pete Veth

Professor, BA (Hons) PhD W.Aust., Professor of Archaeology UWA

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

    6009 Perth


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Personal profile


Peter Veth is a globally-recognised Archaeologist who has carried out research throughout Australia, Torres Strait and Island South East Asia. His research has engaged with desert themes and science for over 30 years including pioneering work with colleagues on the archaeology of the Western Desert, Aru Islands, Timor Leste, Torres Strait, Dampier Archipelago, Barrow and Montebello Islands. He has developed terrestrial and coastal archaeology projects at both undergraduate and doctoral levels with colleagues from Australian, US and UK Universities. ARC projects include the Australian Historic Shipwreck Preservation Project; The Archaeology of East Timor; the Archaeology of the Aru Islands; the Barrow island Archaeology Project; The Canning Stock Route Project; and Murujuga: Dynamics of the Dreaming (Dampier Archipelago). He is currently a CI on two Kimberley ARC projects dealing with the role and ages of rock art in changing cultural and natural landscapes of the northern Kimberley. A five year ARC LP awarded in 2021 Desert to the Sea will see Peter contributing data and findings on contemporary Aboriginal land uses and ethnoeconomics from the Dampier Archipelago through to the Western Desert. Research carried out over several decades in the Western Desert on the Montebellos and Barrow Island has established the earliest evidence for occupation at 50,000 years ago, including the systematic use of a broad suite of maritime resources through periods of significantly fluctuating sea-levels. Peter has just co-authored a new model for desert settlement beginning at 60,000 years ago building on his seminal biogeographic work Islands in the Interior. 

Roles and responsibilities

Peter is Professor of Archaeology at UWA and Discipline Lead. He  currently a Chief Investigator on two Australian Research Council Projects which conclude at the end of 2021 and will contribute to a new LP Desert to the Sea starting in 2022.

Future research

Desert dynamics from the Western Desert to the North West Shelf

Archaeology and environmental records of Cape Range, North-West Australia

The documentation and dating of Kimberley rock art within the Balanggarra Determination, Kimberley

Funding overview

Major Nationally Competitive Grants Last 10 Years

2016 - 2021 ARC Linkage - Kimberley Visions: Rock Art Style Provinces of Northern Australia (Lead CI, CI)

2018 - 2021 ARC Linkage - Dating the Kimberley Rock Art Body (CI)

2017 - 2018 ARC Discovery - Deep History of Sea Country (CI)

2015 - 2017 ARC Linkage - Murujuga: Dynamics of the Dreaming (CI)

2014-2016 ARC Linkage - The Dating and Conservation of Kimberley Rock Art (CI)

2013-2015 ARC Discovery and DORA 3 - The Barrow Island Archaeology Project (Lead CI)

2011-2014 ARC Linkage - The Australian Historic Shipwrecks Protection Project (Lead CI)

2010 – 2012 ARC Discovery - Two Lakes Project Lakes Gregory and Mungo (CI)

2007-2011 ARC Linkage - Rock Art and Jukurr Canning Stock Route Project (CI)

Previous positions

2012 (ongoing) Professor of Archaeology UWA

2019-2020 Director of the UWA Oceans Institute 

2012-2018 Chair of Kimberley Rock Art

2011 Reader Research School of Humanities ANU

2006-2010 Deputy-Director ANU

2002-2005 Executive Officer AIATSIS

1993-2002 Associate Professor JCU

1992 Heritage Officer DAA

1991-1992 Research Officer UWA

Current projects

Kimberley Visions: Rock Art Style Provinces of Northern Australia (CI)

Dating the Kimberley Rock Art Body (CI)

Industrial relevance

Senior Archaeological and Heritage Consultant
Heritage Expert Witness in the Federal Court

Australian Diver Accreditation Scheme 2815.2 (res) Occupational Dive Supervisor  



* The global emergence of desert societies

* The archaeology of maritime societies

* Theory and method in archaeology

* Archaeology and heritage management


Teaching overview

1) Introduction to Archaeology 
2) Australian Archaeology 
3) Archaeological Science 
4) Maritime Archaeology
5) Archaeological Method and Theory 
6) Critical Issues in Archaeology 
7) Field Techniques in Terrestrial Archaeology
8) Field Techniques in Maritime Archaeology 
9) Archaeology of the Ship 
10) Honours Program (maritime, historic and Indigenous) 
11) Archaeology of Indigenous Australia 
12) Masters and Doctoral supervision in terrestrial and maritime archaeology


Dutch - conversational
Martu - basic
Bahasa Indonesian - basic

Research expertise keywords

  • Evolution of maritime societies
  • Underwater cultural heritage
  • Rock art in archaeological contexts
  • Archaeology of Indigenous Australia
  • Maritime archaeology in Australia
  • Desert Archaeology
  • Shipwreck conservation strategies
  • Site formation processes
  • The archaeology of submerged landscapes
  • Cultural heritage management and significance assessment
  • Public education and archaeology


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