On this page...
This guide is a starting point for people interested in the archaeological investigation of Aboriginal Sydney and New South Wales. Some works give context to Aboriginal cultural sites and to the archaeological collections at the Australian Museum. Aboriginal technology, art, and settlement and occupation patterns have been unearthed through archaeological investigations. Archaeological evidence and frameworks may also make positive contributions to native title claims, and First Nations Peoples in other countries have successfully used archaeology as evidence in this way. Communities may find archaeological studies emphasising place and sites especially useful for researching their local histories, local tourism opportunities, and issues of heritage site deterioration/preservation.
Descriptions and analyses of different types of sites may be found in these resources including: shell middens, occupation sites, fishing, stone tool production sites, rock art, and carved trees.
All publications listed in this guide are held by the Australian Museum Research Library unless otherwise stated.
Please note: This guide is to help start your research and is not reflective of the extensive materials available in the Library's collection.
Recommended reading and resources
Books by Australian Museum staff relating to Australian Archaeology
- Australian Aboriginal Rock Art, 4th ed. / Frederick D McCarthy. Sydney: Australian Museum, 1979
- Guide to the Archaeological Collection in the Australian Museum / Stan Florek; compiled with the assistance of Kerry Attard ... [et al.] Sydney: Australian Museum, 1992
- Guide to the NSW Archaeological Material in the Australian Museum / Stan Florek. Sydney: Australian Museum, 1994
- Sydney’s Aboriginal Past: Investigating the Archaeological and Historical Records, 2nd ed. / Val Attenbrow. Sydney: UNSW Press, 2010
- The Port Jackson Archaeological Project: Report on stage I / by Val Attenbrow. Sydney: Australian Museum 1990
Other Australian Museum resources relating to Australian Archaeology
Australian Archaeology: The Australian Museum is the custodian of material from Aboriginal archaeological sites in NSW under s.88 of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (the Act). Australian Museum publications contain further information about some of these sites.
Records of the Australian Museum and Records of the Australian Museum, Supplement: Articles about New South Wales sites, stone tool technology and rock art can be found in Records. Localities include regions: Sydney, north and south coast of NSW, western NSW, Hunter Valley, Hawkesbury. Specific NSW or Sydney localities include: Angeldool, Balls Head (Port Jackson), Bathurst, Bombaderry Creek, Bundanoon, Capertree Valley, Clybucca, Conjola, Copmanhurst (Clarence River), Dubbo, Glen Davis, Kuringai, Lapstone Creek, Mootwingee, Morna Point, Singleton, Balmoral Beach (Sydney), and Tamworth.
- All 1000 articles (as at February 2018) can be browsed as a hyperlinked list which can be sorted by Year or First Author.
- Search options are: article title, author, and keyword.
- Limit searches by Journal Title or Year.
- Full text search of each PDF is possible once the PDF is opened.
Other books relating to Australian Archaeology
- Archaeology of the Dreamtime: The Story of Prehistoric Australia and its People, revised edition / Josephine Flood. Marleston, South Australia: Gecko Books, 2010
- Long History, Deep Time: Deepening Histories of Place / Ann McGrath and Mary-Anne Jebb. Acton, ACT: ANU Press, 
- The Aborigines of New South Wales / [Christine Haigh and Wendy Goldstein, eds.] Sydney: National Parks and Wildlife Service, [1980?]
- The Right to Protect Sites: Indigenous Heritage Management in the Era of Native Title / Dr Pamela McGrath (ed.) Canberra: AIATSIS, 2016
- The Social Archaeology of Australian Indigenous Societies / Bruno David, Bryce Barker and Ian J. McNiven (eds.) Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 2006
Below is a list of journals which publish research in Australian archaeology in by the Australian Museum Research Library. Click through to the catalogue links to see which volumes and years are held.
Please note that full-text articles of these journals cannot be accessed via the Australian Museum, as the Library holds print versions of these journals only.
- Archaeology & Physical Anthropology in Oceania. [A.P.A.O, continued by Archaeology in Oceania
- Australasian Anthropological Journal, continued by Science of Man and Australasian Anthropological Journal and Science of Man and Journal of the Royal Anthropological Society of Australasia
- Australian Aboriginal Studies: Journal of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies
- Australian Archaeology: AA. [Newsletter]
- Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales
- Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria
- Queensland Archaeological Research
- Records of the Geological Survey of New South Wales
- Rock Art Research: The Journal of the Australian Rock Art Research Association (AURA)
- The Australian Journal of Anthropology
- The Oceania Monographs
- World Archaeology
Reports from archaeological investigations required to be carried out under NSW planning laws can provide valuable information about Aboriginal sites and associated cultural material. These reports are usually submitted to government agencies or private sector companies undertaking major infrastructure projects. These reports may be deposited with State, specialist and regional libraries or held by councils and government departments.
Some reports are held in the Library, for example:
- Mangrove Creek Dam: Salvage Excavation Project / Valerie Attenbrow. (1981)
- An Investigation of the Aboriginal Archaeological Record in the Tenterfield E.I.S. Area: A Report to the Forestry Commission of New South Wales / Denis Byrne (1993)
- Research into the Aboriginal Occupation of the Hunter's Hill Municipality / Val Attenbrow (1988)
For more archaeological reports undertaken by the Australian Museum, see the Recommended Readings section above.
Go to our Library Catalogue and use some of the following search terms in the subject field:
- Aboriginal Australians (used very broadly and only with Sydney or NSW as a narrower term)
- Archaeology and Australia
- Carved trees
- Excavations (Archaeology)
- Historic sites (often but not always includes Aboriginal archaeological sites)
- Rock art, carving, engraving
Go to our Library Catalogue and use some of the following search terms in the author field:
- Attenbrow, Valerie, 1942-
- Mathews, R. H. (Robert Hamilton), 1841-1918.
- McCarthy, Frederick D. (Frederick David), 1905-1997.
- McDonald, Josephine
- Megaw, J. V. S. (John Vincent Stanley)
Thanks to Val Attenbrow, Senior Fellow, Australian Museum Research Institute, for guidance with this topic and related resources.