About

The Tropical Archaeology Research Laboratory (TARL) at James Cook University provides a focus for research activities centred on the archaeology of the tropics worldwide. TARL offers a research hub to network the interests and expertise of staff, adjuncts, alumni and students across the JCU network and beyond to address persistent and emerging challenges in the archaeology of the tropics. TARL incorporates facilities on both the Cairns and Townsville campuses of James Cook University.

Student Excavations

JCU Archaeology focuses on archaeological science and cultural heritage studies with a geographical and thematic focus on the tropics, particularly northern Australia and near neighbours in South East Asia, Melanesia and the Pacific. Our mission is to investigate long-term trajectories of change in tropical societies in order to contribute to sustainable futures for the global tropics. Key archaeological science research strengths are geochronology, bioarchaeology, geoarchaeology and palaeoenvironmental reconstruction. JCU cultural heritage studies has an international reputation for the development and application of community-based and collaborative research methodologies.

In geochronology, research priorities have centred on pioneering innovative approaches to refining radiocarbon pretreatment and calibration procedures using hydropyrolysis, oxygen plasma ashing, alkali extraction, x-ray microtomographic imaging and marine reservoir studies coupled with isotopic studies of diagenetic alteration of charcoal in different settings. Bioarchaeology research focuses on palaeohealth, especially in South East Asia, with particular attention to palaeopathology, trauma, demography and migration. Geoarchaeological research has centred on understanding depositional contexts of early hominids in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. Palaeoenvironmental contributions have developed understandings of the interplay of human-environment interactions using geomorphology, palynology, sedimentology and isotope studies, for example in elucidating settlement responses to landscape change in Bronze-Age sites in Thailand.

Palenque, Mexico

JCU Archaeology is strongly multidisciplinary with research clusters in three colleges (Arts, Society and Education; Science & Engineering; and Medicine & Dentistry). Archaeological science is strongly supported by the cross-campus JCU Advanced Analytical Centre and eResearch Centre providing access to high-end instrumentation and high-performance computing respectively. In addition, specialist research laboratories include the Tropical Archaeology Research Laboratory; environmental isotopes laboratory; U-series and cosmogenic dating laboratory; and Tropical Dendrochronology Laboratory. JCU Archaeology has a strong strategic alignment with two of JCU's major institutional strategic research themes: Peoples and Societies in the Tropics and Tropical Ecosystems and Environment.

Range Hotel

JCU Archaeology is strongly collaborative with a focus on high-quality interdisciplinary research. JCU Archaeology researchers have mature collaborations with colleagues at the University of Oxford, University of Otago, Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre, University of Witwatersrand, Durham University, University of Waikato, University of Papua New Guinea, National Museum and Art Gallery of Papua New Guinea, Sapporo Medical University, Australian National University, University of Sydney, University of Queensland, Monash University and Queensland Museum.

Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef

 

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