Professor Ian McNiven

Professor in Archaeology, School of Geography and Environmental Science, Monash University. Ian’s contribution to Connecting Country is underwritten by his strong commitment to ensuring that excavation of Indigenous places is matched by theoretical perspectives that interweave Indigenous worldviews into archaeological practice and interpretations of the past. Using state-of-the art, fine-grained excavation techniques, Ian will contribute archaeological information that will form the basis of detailed insights into the long-term history of Jawoyn engagements with their land- and spiritscapes.

Ian is an elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries London and the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. In 2007-2009 he was President of the Australian Archaeological Association Inc. Ian is an Honorary Associate of Melbourne Museum and the Queensland Museum, and in 2010-2011 was made a Visiting Scholar at The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research and Life Member of Clare Hall College (both of Cambridge University), and awarded a Visiting Fellowship with the Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

Over the past 30 years Ian has directed numerous archaeological excavations in Australia and Papua New Guinea. He specialises in the archaeology of Australian Indigenous coastal societies, in particular the Queensland coast and the islands of Torres Strait. His research focuses on understanding the long-term development of specialised maritime societies with a focus on the archaeology of seascapes and ritual and spiritual relationships with the sea. Other archaeological research projects with which he is closely involved include the colonial history of Indigenous archaeology, Aboriginal eel aquaculture in western Victoria, and coastal societies of southern New Guinea. The results of his research have been presented in over 100 publications, including nine books and edited volumes.

Ian’s publications include:


McNIVEN, I.J. and M. Green (eds) 2010. Archaeology of Southern New Guinea and Torres Strait. Papers in Honour of Ron Vanderwal. The Artefact 33.

David, B., B. Barker and I.J. McNIVEN (eds) 2006. The Social Archaeology of Australian Indigenous Societies. Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra.

McNIVEN, I.J. and L. Russell 2005. Appropriated Pasts: Indigenous Peoples and the Colonial Culture of Archaeology. AltaMira Press, Walnut Creek.

McNIVEN, I.J. and M. Quinnell (eds) 2004. Torres Strait Archaeology and Material Culture. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum, Cultural Heritage Series 3(1). Queensland Museum, Brisbane.

Hall, J. and I.J. McNIVEN (eds) 1999. Australian Coastal Archaeology. Research Papers in Archaeology and Natural History 31. ANH Publications, Department of Archaeology and Natural History, RSPAS, The Australian National University, Canberra.

McNIVEN, I.J., L. Russell and K. Schaffer (eds) 1998. Constructions of Colonialism: Perspectives on Eliza Fraser’s Shipwreck. Leicester University Press, London.

McNIVEN, I.J. 1994. “Relics of a By-Gone Race”?: Managing Aboriginal Sites in the Great Sandy Region. Ngulaig Monograph Series 12. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia.


McNIVEN, I.J., J. Crouch, T. Richards, Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation, N. Dolby and G. Jacobsen 2011. Dating Aboriginal stone-walled fishtraps at Lake Condah, southeast Australia. Journal of Archaeological Science.

McNIVEN, I.J. 2011. Torres Strait Islanders: The 9000-year history of a maritime people. In The Torres Strait Islands, pp. 210-219. Queensland Art Gallery / Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane.

McNIVEN, I.J., B. David, T. Richards, K. Aplin, B. Asmussen, J. Mialanes, M. Leavesley, P. Faulkner and S. Ulm 2011. New direction in human colonisation of the Pacific: Lapita settlement of south coast New Guinea. Australian Archaeology 72:1-6.

McNIVEN, I.J. 2011. The Bradshaw debate: Lessons learned from critiquing colonialist interpretations of Gwion Gwion rock paintings of the Kimberley, Western Australia. Australian Archaeology 72:35-44.

McNIVEN, I.J. 2010. Navigating the human-animal divide: Marine mammal hunters and rituals of sensory allurement. World Archaeology 42(2):215-230.

McNIVEN, I.J., B. David, Goemulgau Kod and J. Fitzpatrick 2009. The great kod of Pulu: Mutual historical emergence of ceremonial sites and social groups in Torres Strait, NE Australia. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 19:291-317.

McNIVEN, I.J. and A.C. Bedingfield 2008. Past and present marine mammal hunting rates and abundances: Dugong (Dugong dugon) evidence from Dabangai Bone Mound, Torres Strait. Journal of Archaeological Science 35:505-515.

McNIVEN, I.J. 2008. Sentient sea: Seascapes as spiritscapes. In B. David and J. Thomas (eds), Handbook of Landscape Archaeology, pp. 149-157. Left Coast Press, Walnut Creek.

McNIVEN, I.J. and L. Russell 2008. Towards a decolonisation of Australian indigenous archaeology. In R.A. Bentley, H. Maschner and C. Chippindale (eds), Handbook of Archaeological Theories, pp. 423-443. AltaMira Press, Walnut Creek.

McNIVEN, I.J. 2003. Saltwater People: Spiritscapes, maritime rituals and the archaeology of Australian indigenous seascapes. World Archaeology 35:329-349.

McNIVEN, I.J. and R. Feldman 2003. Ritually orchestrated seascapes: Hunting magic and dugong bone mounds in Torres Strait, NE Australia. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 13:169-194.