Dr Sean Ulm


Room: A4-213, School of Arts and Social Sciences, Cairns Campus
Tel. +61 (07) 4042 1194
Fax: +61 (07) 4042 1380
Email: sean.ulm@jcu.edu.au
Postal Address: Department of Anthropology, Archaeology and Sociology

School of Arts and Social Sciences
PO Box 6811
Cairns QLD 4870

Sean Ulm is Director of the Tropical Archaeology Research Laboratory in the Department of Anthropology, Archaeology and Sociology at James Cook University Cairns, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, an Honorary Senior Fellow at The University of Queensland, an Honorary Associate of the Queensland Museum and a Fellow of the Cairns Institute. Sean's research focuses on cultural and environmental change in coastal regions of the Pacific Basin over the last 10,000 years. He has made major contributions to our understanding of coastal life ways and to improving radiocarbon chronologies based on marine materials throughout the Australasian region. His work has been funded by the Australian Research Council, Australian Institute of Nuclear Sciences and Engineering, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Australian Learning and Teaching Council and French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. His publications include more than 50 articles on the archaeology of Australia and 5 books, including Coastal Themes: An Archaeology of the Southern Curtis Coast, Queensland (2006). Sean has conducted research in Australia, Honduras, Chile, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific. He has served as the Editor-In-Chief of Australian Archaeology (2006-2011), the leading journal for the publication of original archaeological research in Australia and nearby regions, and is a former President of the Australian Archaeological Association Inc. (2002-2003). He is currently the Editor of Queensland Archaeological Research and sits on the Editorial Advisory Boards of Australian Archaeology and Queensland Historical Atlas and is chair of the Australian National Committee for Archaeology Teaching and Learning.

Currently Teaching

  • AR1001 The World of Archaeology
  • AR2405/3405 Rock Art Field School
  • AR2521/3521 Archaeology of the Ancient Maya: A Tropical Rainforest Civilisation
  • AR3008/5007 Peoples of the Coast & Sea

Research Interests

  • Coastal and island archaeology
  • Marine carbon reservoirs
  • Impacts of people on new environments
  • Cultural heritage management and climate change
  • Refining archaeological chronologies
  • Improving archaeology teaching and learning

Qualifications, Memberships and Consultancies

  • BA (Hons), PhD Qld
  • Fellow, Society of Antiquaries of London
  • Honorary Associate, Queensland Museum
  • Honorary Senior Fellow, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit, The University of Queensland
  • Fellow, Cairns Institute
  • Convenor, Archaeology and Geoscience Specialist Committee, Australian Institute of Nuclear Sciences and Engineering
  • Junior Representative, Southeastern Asia and the Pacific, World Archaeological Congress
  • Life Membership for Outstanding Contribution to the Australian Archaeological Association Inc.
  • Editorial Advisory Board, Australian Archaeology
  • Editorial Board, Queensland Historical Atlas
  • Editor, Queensland Archaeological Research
  • Chair, Australian National Committee for Archaeology Teaching and Learning
  • Chair, Work Experience Subcommittee of Australian National Committee for Archaeology Teaching and Learning
  • Co-Director, Oceania Marine Reservoir Dating Project
  • Member, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
  • Member, Australian Archaeological Association Inc.
  • Full Member, Australian Association of Consulting Archaeologists Inc.
  • Member, Australasian Society for Historical Archaeology
  • Member, World Archaeological Congress
  • Member, Australasian Quaternary Association
  • Member, Australasian Institute of Maritime Archaeology
  • Member, Archaeological and Anthropological Society of Victoria
  • Member, Royal Society of Queensland
  • Member, ICAZ Archaeomalacology Working Group
  • Member, Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association
  • Member, World Archaeological Congress Code of Ethics Committee
  • Member, Australian National Committee for Archaeology Teaching and Learning
  • Editor, Australian Archaeology (2006-2011)
  • Chairperson, Australian Association of Consulting Archaeologists Inc. Queensland Chapter (2004-2007)
  • Membership Secretary, Australian Association of Consulting Archaeologists Inc. (2002-2004)
  • President, Australian Archaeological Association (2002-2003)
  • Treasurer, Australian Archaeological Association (1995-1996)

Selected Publications

Dr Ulm has published 5 books and edited volumes and over 50 refereed articles and book chapters. Following are a selection of key publications.

McNiven, I.J., B. David, K. Aplin, J. Mialanes, B. Asmussen, S. ULM, P. Faulkner, C. Rowe and T. Richards 2012 Terrestrial engagements by terminal Lapita maritime specialists on the southern Papuan coast. In S.G. Haberle and B. David (eds), Peopled Landscapes: Archaeological and Biogeographic Approaches to Landscapes, pp.121-156. Canberra: ANU E Press.

Langley, M.C., C. Clarkson and S. ULM 2011 From small holes to grand narratives: The impact of taphonomy and sample size on the modernity debate in Australia and New Guinea. Journal of Human Evolution 61:197-208.

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.

Rowland, M.J. and S. ULM 2011 Indigenous fish traps and weirs of Queensland. Queensland Archaeological Research 14:1-58.

ULM, S. 2011 Coastal foragers on southern shores: Marine resource use in northeast Australia since the late Pleistocene. In N.F. Bicho, J.A. Haws and L.G. Davis (eds), Trekking the Shore: Changing Coastlines and the Antiquity of Coastal Settlement, pp.441-461. Interdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology. New York: Springer.

O’Brien, S., S. ULM, D. Trigger and M. Williams 2010 Berajondo and Mill Point: Remembering place and landscape. Queensland Historical Atlas 2009/2010 http://www.qhatlas.com.au/berajondo-and-mill-point-remembering-place-and-landscape.

ULM, S. and G. Mate 2010 Conflict: How people contest the landscape. Queensland Historical Atlas 2009/2010. http://www.qhatlas.com.au/essay/conflict-how-people-contest-landscape.

Williams, A.N., S. ULM, I.D. Goodwin and M.A. Smith 2010 Hunter-gatherer response to late Holocene climatic variability in northern and central Australia. Journal of Quaternary Science 25(6):831-838.

Ross, A. and S. ULM 2010 Online heritage: Accommodating interpretation of a living Aboriginal heritage site. In Australia: Proceedings of the NAI International Conference Townsville, Queensland, Australia, April 13–17, 2010, pp.175-180. Fort Collins, CO: National Association for Interpretation. http://www.interpnet.com/ic/downloads.shtml/.

O’Connor, S., S. ULM, S.J. Fallon, A. Barham and I. Loch 2010 Pre-bomb marine reservoir variability in the Kimberley region, Western Australia. Radiocarbon 52(2-3):1158-1165.

ULM, S., N. Evans, D. Rosendahl, P. Memmott and F. Petchey 2010 Radiocarbon and linguistic dates for occupation of the South Wellesley Islands, northern Australia. Archaeology in Oceania 45(1):39-43.

ULM, S., K. Vernon, G. Robertson and S. Nugent 2009 Historical continuities in Aboriginal land-use at Bustard Bay, Queensland: Results of use-wear and residue analysis of Aboriginal glass artefacts. Australasian Historical Archaeology 27:111-119.

ULM, S., F. Petchey and A. Ross 2009 Marine reservoir corrections for Moreton Bay, Australia. Archaeology in Oceania 43(3):160-166.

Bowman, J. and S. ULM 2009 Grants, gender and glass ceilings? An analysis of ARC-funded archaeology projects. Australian Archaeology 68:31-36.

Petchey, F., A. Anderson, A. Zondervan, S. ULM and A. Hogg 2008 New marine DeltaR values for the South Pacific Subtropical Gyre region. Radiocarbon 50(3):373-397.

Langley, M.C., C. Clarkson and S. ULM 2008 Behavioural complexity in Eurasian Neanderthal populations: A chronological examination of the archaeological evidence. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 18(3):289-307.

Gongora, J., N.J. Rawlence, V.A. Mobegi, H. Jianlin, J.A. Alcalde, J.T. Matus, O. Hanotte, C. Moran, J.J. Austin, S. ULM, A. Anderson, G. Larson and A. Cooper 2008 Indo-European and Asian origins for Chilean and Pacific chickens revealed by mtDNA. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105(30):10308-10313.

Pettersen, O., N. Bordes, S. ULM, D. Gwynne, T. Simmich and B. Pailthorpe 2008 Grid services for e-archaeology. In W. Kelly and P. Roe (eds), Sixth Australasian Symposium on Grid Computing and e-Research (AusGrid2008). Conferences in Research and Practice in Information Technology 82. Wollongong, January 2008.

Rosendahl, D., S. ULM and M. Weisler 2007 Using foraminifera to distinguish between natural and cultural shell deposits in coastal eastern Australia. Journal of Archaeological Science 34(10):1584-1593.

Nunn, P.D., R. Hunter-Anderson, M.T. Carson, F. Thomas, S. ULM and M.J. Rowland 2007 Times of plenty, times of less: Last-millennium societal disruption in the Pacific Basin. Human Ecology: An Interdisciplinary Journal 35(4):385-401.

ULM, S. 2006 Coastal Themes: An Archaeology of the Southern Curtis Coast, Queensland. Terra Australis 24. Canberra: ANU E Press. 314pp.

ULM, S. 2006 Australian marine reservoir effects: A guide to DeltaR values. Australian Archaeology 63:57-60.

Bordes, N., S. ULM, O. Pettersen, K. Murphy, D. Gwynne, W. Pagnon, S. Hungerford, P. Hiscock, J. Hall and B. Pailthorpe 2006 Data grid for the management, reconstruction, analysis and visualisation of archaeological data. In S. Ulm and I. Lilley (eds), An Archaeological Life: Papers in Honour of Jay Hall, pp.251-264. Research Report Series 7. Brisbane: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit, University of Queensland.

ULM, S. and D. Vale 2006 The antiquity of marine fishing in southeast Queensland: New evidence for pre-2000 BP fishing from three sites on the southern Curtis Coast. In S. Ulm and I. Lilley (eds), An Archaeological Life: Papers in Honour of Jay Hall, pp.161-176. Research Report Series 7. Brisbane: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit, University of Queensland.

ULM, S., S. Cotter, M. Cotter, I. Lilley, C. Clarkson and J. Reid 2005 Edge-ground hatchets on the southern Curtis Coast, central Queensland: A preliminary assessment of technology, chronology and provenance. In I. Macfarlane (ed.), Many Exchanges: Archaeology, History, Community and the Work of Isabel McBryde, pp.323-342. Aboriginal History Monograph 11. Canberra: Aboriginal History Inc.

ULM, S., S. Nichols and C. Dalley 2005 Mapping the shape of contemporary Australian archaeology: Implications for teaching and learning. Australian Archaeology 61:11-23.

ULM, S. 2004 Themes in the archaeology of mid-to-late Holocene Australia. In T. Murray (ed.), Archaeology from Australia, pp.187-208. Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing.

ULM, S. 2002 Marine and estuarine reservoir effects in central Queensland, Australia: Determination of ΔR values. Geoarchaeology: An International Journal 17(4):319-348.

Hlinka, V., S. ULM, T. Loy and J. Hall 2002 The genetic speciation of archaeological fish bone: A feasibility study from southeast Queensland. Queensland Archaeological Research 13:71-78.

ULM, S. 2002 Reassessing marine fishery intensification in southeast Queensland. Queensland Archaeological Research 13:79-96.

ULM, S. and J. Reid 2000 Index of dates from archaeological sites in Queensland. Queensland Archaeological Research 12:1-129.

For further information about Dr Ulm’s publications please visit:


Current PhD Students

Helene Tomkins (James Cook University) The Novel Application of Trophic Analyes to Archaeological Marine Assemblages: Towards Improved Understandings of the Past, Present, and Future of Marine Fisheries and Ecosystems in Tropical Australia

Morgan Disspain (University of Adelaide) Taphonomy and Post-Depositional Modification of Otoliths

Cameo Dalley (University of Queensland) An Ethnoarchaeological Investigation of the Social Factors Shaping the Marine Subsistence Strategies of Lardil and Kaiadilt Aboriginal People of the Wellesley Islands, Gulf of Carpentaria

Sue Nugent (University of Queensland) Residue Analysis of Aboriginal Spear Assemblages

Daniel Rosendahl (University of Queensland) Wellesley Islands Archaeological Project

Mary-Jean Sutton (University of Queensland) A Comparative Study of Conservation Values for Existing Built Environments and Material Culture within Former Missions and Reserves in Queensland

Current MPhil and MSc Students

Emma Jaydeyn Thomas (University of Queensland) An Integrated Approach to Cultural Heritage Management, Recording and Mapping: Gummingurru and Kogan Ceremonial Sites

Current BA (Hons) Students

Jane Hinton (University of Queensland) Using Archaeological Shell Assemblages for Palaeoenvironmental Reconstruction: Preliminary Isotope Analysis of Polymesoda (Geloina) coaxans (Gmelin, 1791) from Bentinck Island, Gulf of Carpentaria

Elena Piotto (University of Queensland) Gummingurru Stone Arrangements

Past PhD Students

Stephen Nichols (University of Queensland, completed 2012) Public or Perish: An Ethnographic Study of Archaeology in a Southeast Queensland Community

Luke Keogh (University of Queensland, completed 2011) The Storied Landscape: A Queensland Collection

Owen Powell (University of Queensland, completed 2011) Warrego Country: Water, People, Landscape

Karen Murphy (University of Queensland, completed 2011) Domesticity and Industrialism at Mill Point

Daniel Cummins (University of Queensland, completed 2008) Formative Copán: The Ritual Transformation of an Early Mesoamerican Community

Past MPhil and MSc Students

Michelle Langley (University of Queensland, completed 2010) Identifying Behavioural Complexity in the Pleistocene Australian Archaeological Record

Oystein Pettersen (University of Queensland, completed 2006) 3D Reconstruction of Archaeological Excavations

Past BA (Hons) and BSocSci (Hons) Students

Rebecca Lockyer (University of Queensland, completed 2011) The Rural Pastoral Context of Native Title and ILUAs in Queensland: A Complex Intercultural History, Present and Future

Susan O’Brien (University of Queensland, completed 2009) The Significance of Place for Contemporary Indigenous Identity: The Berajondo Case Study, Southeast Queensland, Australia [Awarded The Bruce Rigsby Prize in Anthropology]

Emma Jaydeyn Thomas (University of Queensland, completed 2009) Use-Wear Analysis of Wardaman Burins and Associated Spalls

Clair Harris (University of Queensland, completed 2008) The Chosen Ones: A Morphological and Technological Approach to Understanding Manufacture and Selection of Stone Leilira Blades

Cassandra Venn (University of Queensland, completed 2008) Disturbing Effects: Towards an Understanding of the Impact of Ant and Termite Activities on Australian Archaeological Sites

Emma Ward (University of Queensland, completed 2008) Alternative Interpretive Landscapes: Representations of Archaeology in Australian Poetry

Bettyann Doyle (University of Queensland, completed 2007) Walking Between Two Paradigms [Awarded The Bruce Rigsby Prize in Anthropology]

Michelle Langley (University of Queensland, completed 2006) All in Good Time: Exploring Change in Neanderthal Behavioural Complexity

Robyn Jenkins (University of Queensland, completed 2006) From Midden to Sieve: The Impact of Differential Recovery and Quantification Techniques on Interpretations of Shellfish Remains in Australian Coastal Archaeology

Emma Rae (University of Queensland, completed 2005) Uncovering Mill Point: Understanding Concepts of Space at Australian Historic Sawmills

Daniel Rosendahl (University of Queensland, completed 2005) All the Small Things: The Refinement of Foraminiferal Analysis to Determine Site Formation Processes in Archaeological Sediments

Cameo Dalley (University of Queensland, completed 2004) Power, Representation and Community Archaeology in Australia