La Trobe University Palaeoscience is part of the Department of Archaeology and History at La Trobe University, (LTU) Melbourne (Australia) and is run by Associate Professor Andy I.R. Herries. It consists of a number of research laboratories that focus on the scientific analysis of the archaeological and hominin record (geophysics, palynology, geoarchaeology, biological anthropology), as well as visualizing and reconstructing past landscapes and environments. While the focus is on the earlier record, the labs does work on all time ranges from early hominins to historical archaeology.
The current facilities were built at LTU in 2012 and was specifically designed for work on archaeological and fossil bearing sites as part of the development of archaeological science, archaeometry and geoarchaeological research and teaching within Archaeology at LTU. The focus of the labs is to promote ‘Archaeophysics and Archaeomagnetism as Geoarchaeology’ as well as the broader use of archaeophysics and magnetic analysis in the disciplines of Archaeology, Palaeontology, Paleoanthropology and Quaternary Science. The aim is to have archaeomagnetic analysis used as a common tool on archaeological sites to answer a broad range of questions (sediment sourcing and infill history, ochre and lithic sourcing, stone tool heat treatment, geochronology, environmental reconstructions, geochemistry, geophysical prospection, site formation processes and occupation history, reconstructing fire use and pyrotechnology). This is interwoven with a strong focus on Experimental Archaeology and multi-disiplinarity (Ground Penetrating Radar, Synchrotron radiation, Neutron Tomography, X-ray microscopy [pXRF], GIS, 3D scanning, geochronology; ESR, Cosmogenics, C14, Ar-Ar, U-Th, U-Pb). The LTU VisLab2 is located next to the labs and staff and students regularly use this facility for their work for GIS and GPR work in reconstructing past landscapes.
June 8- July 29th 2018, South Africa
Drimolen palaeocave is the third richest richest hominin bearing deposit in South Africa and has yielded fossils of Paranthropus robustus, early Homo and a wealth of other species, including a vast collection of non-human primates. The site has also yielded evidence for early bone tool use. Excavations will again be taking place at Drimolen in collaboration between La Trobe University Department of Archaeology and History, the Centre for Anthropological Research at the University of Joahnnesburg, the Dept. Anatomy and Developmental Biology at Monash University and the University of Washington in St Louis (US). Excavations will be directed by Assoc. Professor Andy Herries, Prof David Strait and Ms Stephanie Baker and will take place June 8th- June 29th 2018. The previous 4 years field school excavations were a tremendous success and have yielded hominin remains, bone tools and an extensive array of fossils, including articulated partial skeletons. In 2015 the students found a partial skull of early Homo and in 2016 another 9 hominin fossils, including two aprtial Paranthropus crania. The field school has a focus on Hominin Palaeobiology, Quaternary African palaeontology and how to excavate bone as well as geoarchaeological and geophysical applications. Current student projects associated with the school can be viewed on the staff and student page. Costs apply and for information about attending the field school please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
TRANSFORMING HUMAN SOCIETIES: The lab is part of La Trobe University’s research focus on the past record of human origins, migrations and interactions with changing climate and environment. The laboratory’s main focus is on the origins and spread of humans and their technology (e.g heat treatment) throughout the globe by dating archaeological and fossil sites to understand early human biogeography.
SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE ARCHAEOMAGNETISM: The laboratory also has close links with the University of Liverpool Geomagnetism Laboratory in the UK working on southern hemisphere geomagnetic field variation through time as well as Universidad Complutense de Madrid in Spain, University of Quebec at Rimouski in Canada, University of Wellington in New Zealand and Lund University in Norway.
PHYSICS RESEARCH: The lab has close links with the Dept. Physics at LTU. The Laboratory staff and students also undertake research at ANSTO through the AINSE funding program and at the Australian Synchrotron.
INTERNATIONAL PROJECTS: The lab is currently working on projects in Australia (BIOSIS, ArchLink, QuAC, Lake Mungo Project, Heritage Victoria), China (Guangxi Museum of Nationalities and the University of Hawaii), India, Kenya (with the University of Liverpool, Kenyan National Museum and John Moores University), South Africa (University of Johannesburg, University of Cape Town, University of the Witwatersrand) and Tanzania (University of Brighton). For recent information on the labs involvement in the dating of Homo naledi see the lab publication page and/or media page.
HALLMARK & VOLUNTEER WORK: The lab has a strong focus on teaching at all levels and is part of LTUs Hallmark Program which aims to get students involved with research at an undergraduate level. However, any undergraduate students undertaking the BA Archaeology or majoring in archaeology through the BA Arts or BSc Applications in Society degrees at LTU can volunteer in the lab and learn to measure on the equipment. This can form part of their prerequisite for Honours (email to volunteer).
READING COURSES: Dr Herries also runs 2nd and 3rd year reading course subjects covering a range of subjects including, but not limited to the ‘Paleoanthropology’, ‘The Palaeolithic of southern Africa’, ‘Geochronology’, ‘Archaeometry’ and ‘Archaeological Geophysics’. The Drimolen Field School can also be taken as a reading course for which $500 is available from LTU. E-mail Dr Herries for information.
The HUMAN JOURNEY HUS1THJ: Dr Herries co-ordinates this first year course which gives an overview of Human Evolution.
LANDSCAPE ARCHAEOLOGY ARC2LAN: Dr Herries co-teaches this course with Dr Colin Smith. It focuses on understanding the geology and geomorphology of different landscapes, field research methods, as well as more theoretical aspects of landscape studies.
ARCHEOLOGICAL SCIENCE (aka Diets Dating and DNA) ARC3SCI: Dr Herries co-teaches this course with Dr Colin Smith. It focuses on the laboratory work that goes on behind the scenes of archaeological research projects and covers Geochronology, Isotopic Studies and Ancient DNA work.
FIELDSCHOOLS: TAAL runs a number of field schools covering a range of research areas. Every June-July HEkLL runs the Palaeoanthropological and Geoarchaeological Field School at the Drimolen Hominin site in South Africa with the University of Johannesburg and the Amanzi Springs Archaeological Project (ASAP) with the University of the Witwatersrand and University of Cape Town: E-mail Dr Herries for information.
Thanks to out funders and partners:
Disclaimer: please note that all views expressed on this website are the sole view of A/Prof. A.I.R.Herries and not La Trobe University.