Peter Veth

Professor, Kimberley Foundation Ian Potter Chair in Rock Art, BA PhD W.Aust.

  • The University of Western Australia (M257), 35 Stirling Highway, Room 1.74A, Old Economics and Commerce Building, Perth campus

    6009 Perth


  • The University of Western Australia (M470), 35 Stirling Highway, Room 1.74A, Old Economics and Commerce Building, Perth campus

    6009 Perth


  • 385 Citations
  • 12 h-Index
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Personal profile


Peter Veth is leading archaeologist who has conducted archaeological, ethnohistoric, ethnographic and maritime studies throughout Australia, Torres Strait, Maluku Province Indonesia, East Timor and Pitcairn Island. Beginning with surveys on the Sturt Creek of the SE Kimberley in to the Great Sandy Desert in 1980, he has now carried our several hundred heritage, research and management projects, often in large multi-disciplinary teams, throughout Greater Australia. Focusing originally on the evolution and dynamics of desert hunter-gatherer societies from the Western Desert and elsewhere, Peter has overseen substantive projects on early maritime sites on the Montebello Islands and Barrow Island; art in archaeological context including the Burrup Peninsula (Murujuga), the Canning Stock Route and Kimberley; the Australian Historic Shipwrecks Preservation Project (an in situ reburial protocol with longitudinal conservation); and the systematic study of variability in Kimberley rock art - including its age, archaeological context and cultural modes of production through time. Peter has researched and published widely on the use of archaeological and claimant evidence in native title (federal court) proceedings and currently co-authored the authoritative chapter for lawyers and judges on Forensic Anthropology. Peter has long served on numerous heritage legislative review committees, made numerous multi-media presentations on Aboriginal heritage and regularly speaks to industry and regulatory forums. He has worked with ATSI communities throughout Australia helping develop new models for the integration of archaeological research and community governance, education and capacity building. Peter holds the inaugural Kimberley Foundation Ian Potter Chair in Rock Art, is a Professor of Archaeology at UWA and Honorary Professor at Sydney University and is Head Of Archaeology Section of the Australian Academy of Humanities 

Roles and responsibilities

Peter is the Inaugural Kimberley Foundation Ian Potter Chair in Rock Art in the Centre for Rock Art Research and Management. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities and Head of the Archaeology Section. He currently sits of the ARC College of Experts and is a Lead and Chief Investigator on four Australian Research Council Projects. 

Future research

Art, archaeology and social values in the Kimberley
Comparison of art across northern Australia

Archaeological and environmental reconstruction of the Limstone provinces of the northern Kimberley



Funding overview

Major Nationally Competitive Grants Last 10 Years

2007-2011 ARC Linkage - Rock Art and Jukurr Canning Stock Route Project (CI)
2010 – 2012 ARC Discovery - Two Lakes Project Lakes Gregory and Mungo (CI)
2011-2014 ARC Linkage - The Australian Historic Shipwrecks Protection Project (Lead CI)
2013-2015 ARC Discovery and DORA 3 - The Barrow Island Archaeology Project (Lead CI)
2014-2016 ARC Linkage - The Dating and Conservation of Kimberley Rock Art (CI)

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

2016 - 2020 ARC Linkage - Kimberley Visions: Rock Art Style Provinces of Northern Australia (Lead CI)

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

Previous positions

1991-2 Research Officer UWA
1992 Heritage Regulator DIA
1993-2002 Associate Professor JCU
2002-2005 Executive of AIATSIS
2005-2010 Associate Professor, ANU
2011 Reader Research School of Humanities, ANU
2012 Professor of Archaeology, UWA

Current projects

Murujuga: Dynamics of the Dreaming (CI)

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

Dating the Kimberley Rock Art Body (CI)

Industrial relevance

Senior Archaeological amd Heritage Consultant
Archaeology Expert Witness in the Federal Court

Teaching overview

1) Introduction to Archaeology (1st year)
2) Australian Archaeology (2nd/3rd year)
3) Archaeological Science (2nd year)
4) Maritime Archaeology (2nd/3rd year)
5) Archaeological Method and Theory (3rd year)
6) Critical Issues in Archaeology (3rd year)
7) Field Techniques in Terrestrial Archaeology (3rd year)
8) Field Techniques in Maritime Archaeology (2nd/3rd year)
9) Archaeology of the Ship (2nd/3rd year)
10) Honours Program (4th year and Graduate Diploma) - circa 25 Honours level as primary supervisor
11) Masters and Doctoral candidates – 30 candidates supervised as chair/primary supervisor
12) Archaeology of Indigenous Australia ARCY3005
13) Honours Method and Theory ARCY7458


* The global emergence and nature of desert hunter-gatherers
* The nature of maritime societies through time
* Rock Art in archaeological context
* Theory and method in maritime archaeology
* Archaeology and native title


Dutch - conversational
Martu - basic
Bahasa Indonesian - basic


  • Archaeology of Indigenous Australia
  • Studies of global desert hunter–gatherers
  • Rock art in archaeological contexts
  • Evolution of maritime societies
  • Archaeology and Native Title
  • Archaeological method and theory
  • Maritime archaeology
  • Australian arid zone ethnography
  • The archaeology of submerged landscapes
  • Cultural heritage management and significance assessment
  • Public education and archaeology

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  • 6 Similar Profiles
desert Social Sciences
occupation Earth & Environmental Sciences
rock art Earth & Environmental Sciences
archaeology Social Sciences
cultural heritage Social Sciences
Pleistocene Earth & Environmental Sciences
antiquity Social Sciences
sea level Earth & Environmental Sciences

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

Projects 2011 2021

Research Output 2006 2018

Coastal occupation before the “Big Swamp”: Results from excavations at John Wayne Country Rockshelter on Barrow Island

Ditchfield, K., Manne, T., Hook, F., Ward, I. & Veth, P., 1 Oct 2018, In : Archaeology in Oceania. 53, 3, p. 163-178 16 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Rock Shelter
1 Citations

Karnatukul (Serpent’s glen): A new chronology for the oldest site in Australia’s Western Desert

McDonald, J., Reynen, W., Petchey, F., Ditchfield, K., Byrne, C., Vannieuwenhuyse, D., Leopold, M. & Veth, P., 1 Sep 2018, In : PLoS One. 13, 9, e0202511.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Western Australia
rock art

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


Barrow Island Archaeology Project - General Images

Veth, P. (Creator), The University of Western Australia, 27 Feb 2013


Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) researcher images 2011

Veth, P. (Creator), The University of Western Australia, 27 Feb 2013


Investigator Images 2011 - Subterranean Shelter Close-ups

Veth, P. (Creator), The University of Western Australia, 27 Feb 2013


Chief Investigator Images 2011 - Landscape and Archaeology Images

Veth, P. (Creator), The University of Western Australia, 27 Feb 2013



management counsulting
cultural heritage
honors and awards

The University of Waikato Radiocarbon Dating Prize

Peter Veth (Recipient), 2 Dec 2016

Prize/award: Prize

radiocarbon dating