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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 and coastal archaeology for over 35 years including pioneering work with colleagues on the archaeology of the Western Desert, Aru Islands, Timor Leste, Torres Strait, Dampier Archipelago and Barrow Island. He has developed terrestrial and coastal archaeology projects with colleagues from Australian, US and UK Universities. ARC projects include The Archaeology of East Timor; the Archaeology of the Aru Islands; the Barrow Island Archaeology Project; The Canning Stock Route Project; Murujuga: Dynamics of the Dreaming (Dampier Archipelago); Dating Kimberley Rock Art and Kimberley Visions: style provinces of northern Australia. He is currently is a Laureate Fellow on the Desert People Project (2023-2027); a CI on a five year ARC project Desert to the Sea;  and a CI and theme leader on the ARC Centre for Excellence for Indigenous and Environmental Histories and Futures (2024 - 2030). Research carried out over several decades in the Western Desert and on 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 fluctuating sea-levels. 

Roles and responsibilities

Peter is Professor of Archaeology at UWA and an ARC Laureate Professor (2023-2027).  He  currently a Chief Investigator on a new LP Desert to the Sea starting in 2022 and a CI on the ARC Centre of Excellence for Indigenous and Environmental Histories and Futures (2024-2030). 

Future research

ARC Laureate Fellow on Desert People examining significant desert occupation sites from the Ningaloo Coast through the Pilbara and into the Western Desert. 


Funding overview

Major Nationally Competitive Grants from 2010 include:

2023 - 2027  ARC Laureate Fellowship  Desert People 

2024 - 2030 ARC Centre of Excellence for Indigenous and Environmental Histories and Futures (CI and theme leader on Culture Change) 

2022 - 2026  From the Desert to the Sea (CI and theme leader)

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)

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)

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

Previous positions

Professor of ArchaeologySchool of Social SciencesPermanentFull Time16/08/202007/01/2030The University of Western Australia
Director of the UWA Oceans InstituteDeputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)ContractFull Time25/02/201914/08/2020The University of Western Australia
Kimberley Foundation Ian Potter Chair in Rock ArtSchool of Social SciencesPermanentFull Time01/02/201330/12/2018The University of Western Australia
Professor of ArchaeologySchool of Social SciencesPermanentFull Time01/01/201201/12/2012The University of Western Australia
ReaderResearch School of Humanities and the ArtsPermanentFull Time01/01/201101/01/2012The Australian National University

Current projects

2024 - 2030 ARC Centre of Excellence for Indigenous and Environmental Histories and Futures )CI and theme leader on Culture Change) 

2022 - 2026  From the Desert to the Sea (CI and theme leader)

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 - basic
Martu - basic

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

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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