The backward looking curiosity: the history of archaeology and us

Presented by ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

To understand the history of archaeology is one way to understand ourselves. Brian Fagan explores the  history of archaeology from its beginnings in epic searches for fossil ancestors and lost civilizations, to its maturity as a global, multidisciplinary science, with roots in the humanities and social sciences. He traces the slow development of world prehistory and discusses the impact of this broad perspective on the past in understanding human cultural and biological diversity. The lecture ends with a look at the future of archaeology and its fundamental importance for understanding today's complex and rapidly changing world.

Archaeologist Brian Fagan was born in England, educated at Cambridge University (BA, MA, and PhD), and worked in Central Africa as an archaeologist and museum curator before coming to the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1967. He was one of the pioneers of multidisciplinary African history. Brian is now Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Anthropology. He is the author of numerous articles and general books on archaeology, ancient climate change, and most recently histories of water, ancient seafaring, fishing, and the changing relationship between humans and animals, as well as several widely used university textbooks on archaeology. Brian is regarded as one of the world's leading archaeological writers and lectures about the past, especially ancient climate change, all over the world. His most recent books include Elixir: A History of Water and Humankind, Beyond the Blue Horizon: How the Earliest Mariners Unlocked the Secrets of the Ocean, The Attacking Ocean: The Past, Present and Future of Rising Sea Levels, and The Intimate Bond: How Animals Shaped Human History, all published by Bloomsbury Press, New York.

Brian is an enthusiastic bicyclist and cruising sailor, who has sailed thousands of miles in different parts of the world. He lives in Santa Barbara, California, with his wife Lesley, six to 24 rabbits, three cats, seven turtles, and some goldfish. This is his fifth visit to Australia.