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About Dr Mike Smith

About Dr Mike Smith

Dr Mike Smith is a pioneering Australian desert archaeologist and a Senior Research Fellow at the National Museum of Australia's Centre for Historical Research. For more than 30 years he has been piecing together a picture of the human and environmental histories of Australian deserts.

Mike has worked on some of the oldest sites of human settlement in Australia, tracing 50,000 years of occupation at remote locations from south of Perth through to Kakadu in the Northern Territory.

Dr Mike Smith
Photo: Dragi Markovic.

At the Puritjarra rock shelter, 350 kilometres west of Alice Springs, Mike helped to reveal the prehistoric life of Aboriginal people. His work traced the movement of communities across the desert in the intense drought, cold and wind of the ice age.

Mike slept under the stars and travelled to remote oases in African and South American deserts while working on the National Museum's Extremes exhibition, which looked at survival in the great deserts of the Southern Hemisphere.

Apart from his current work at the National Museum, Mike is an Adjunct Professor at the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the Australian National University.


Mike has published widely and he recently contributed a chapter to the National Museum of Australia Press publication A Change in the Weather. Read Mike's chapter on Palaeoclimates: an archaeology of climate change (PDF file size 195kb). 

Mike also co-edited 23 Degrees South: Archaeology and Environmental History of the Southern Deserts.

Mike is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, and of the Society of Antiquaries in London. In 2006 the Australian Archaeological Association awarded Mike the Rhys Jones Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Australian Archaeology.

Trace Mike's adventure Into the Simpson Desert on the Expedition map.

Investigate more of Mike Smith's publications