Research Centre for Deep History

Deep History is a global project, in which Australia’s deep past will find its place in the wider history of the world.

What is deep history?

We see it as expanding history’s time scale and scope. In order to better appreciate the full human history of Australia in a global context, we will expand the study of history beyond the modern and ancient and into deep time. The Research Centre for Deep History will think differently about the practice of history and how it is seen and experienced. We will learn from Indigenous history, being inspired by its ways of thinking about time, people’s embeddedness in Country, stories, and song over such a long span. In order to achieve this, we are committed to community-collaborative research.

We use the term ‘Rediscover’ quite intentionally. We wish to signal that as researchers, we are not seeing anything for the first time; we are not ‘discovering’ something as such. Rather, we are revisiting pasts that were lived out.

We aim to Return archival knowledge to communities and reciprocate in ways that have real value to Indigenous communities. We are committed to Repatriation of knowledge back to Indigenous communities. We will spare you too many more ‘Re’ words just now, but the deep human past is not about a static culture. It is about history. People of the deep past invented things, named them, nurtured the land, lived and loved in it. We cannot claim to be the first to ‘discover’ their histories. In Australia, stories of deep time have been told, performed, and marked in the landscape for a very long time.

To research deep human history, we follow a collaborative and transdisciplinary approach, which includes working with Indigenous knowledge custodians, scientists, archaeologists, historians and other relevant experts. We invite as many interested people as possible to join our endeavours and to collaborate wherever possible.

The Research Centre for Deep History builds on the ARC Laureate program ‘Rediscovering the Deep Human Past: Global Networks, Future Opportunities’. The Centre is made up of a stellar team of senior and early career researchers and postgraduate students, Collaborating Scholars, Collaborating Partner Institutions, both international and national, plus a large network of interested scholars, including Early Career Scholars, from many different backgrounds.

The Research Centre for Deep History is in the School of History at the Australian National University. For information on other centres, visit:

Laureate program

Rediscovering the deep human past: global networks, future opportunities (FL170100121)

This 5 year program aims to expand the practice of history by experimenting with transdisciplinary methodologies. These include working with communities and learning about Indigenous modes of historical practice. We aim to develop a data base of ancient memory narratives, so that this important knowledge source is no longer neglected by historians. Working closely with Indigenous communities, we will develop an interactive digital atlas which will map selected journey routes – the song, trade, corroboree and marriage pathways of the deep human past and present. We anticipate that these epic journey stories will stress exciting themes such as origin stories, and also feature stories of continuity, discovery, invention and change. We hope that this will prove a useful resource about Australia’s deep past for school teachers and the future generations.


The Laureate Project has convened various symposia, including

We have also been working with Yawuru and are developing research partnerships with various other Indigenous communities.

Further information about the project and Laureate scheme can be found on the the ARC website 2017 Laureate profile page.

Rediscovering the Deep Human past is funded by the Australian Government through the Australian Research Council

Global reach of research and collaboration

In the media