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Current Work

Currently I am working on a ARC DECRA project titled "Australia's Living Technologies: Bone Tools from First Peoples to Contact".

This project is the first major study of Indigenous Australian bone- and tooth-based technologies, employing sophisticated use wear techniques in order to deduce the cognitive, social, and technological processes behind their manufacture and use. This project forefronts the role of Australia's peoples in global narratives of human cultural development.

I am also undertaking traceology of bone, tooth, ivory, antler, marine shell, and ochre artefacts produced from some of the earliest communities from around the globe, collaborating with researchers based both in Australia and abroad.

My research centres around understanding the origins and development of human cognitive/behavioural uniqueness, with particular focus on:
- Hunter-gatherer technologies
- Australian archaeology;
- Neanderthal behavioural complexity and interaction with Modern Humans;
- Palaeolithic Europe; and
- Identifying children in the deep past.

Related Media Items


Expertise Keywords

  • Archaeology
  • Australian Archaeology
  • Childhood Archaeology
  • Human Behavioural Evolution
  • Hunter Gatherer Technologies
  • Neanderthal Behaviour
  • Origins of Symbolic Behaviour
  • Palaeolithic Europe
  • Traceology

Subject Area Codes

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Archaeology
  • Archaeological Science
  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology of Asia, Africa and the Americas
  • Archaeology of Europe, the Mediterranean and the Levant

Country Affiliations

  • France

Research Publications and Outputs

Recent Publications

Publications: 36 (Other: 36)

Funded Griffith Research

Engagement and Impact

Learning and Teaching

Current and Past Courses

  • Perspectives on Human Evolution (3029NSC)
    Convenor, Mixed Model, Nathan Campus, Summer semester (Nov/Dec), 2018.
  • Perspectives on Human Evolution (3029NSC)
    Teacher, Mixed Model, Nathan Campus, Summer semester (Nov/Dec), 2018.

Research by Higher Degree Supervision or Scholarship

Supervision Overview

Open to expressions of interest from prospective candidates interested in pursuing graduate studies in Australian archaeology, human behavioural evolution, archaeology of children, and traceology (use wear analysis) at Griffith University.



Dr Michelle C. Langley is a DECRA Research Fellow in the Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution at Griffith University, and has previously held a research position at the Australian National University in Canberra. Michelle received her PhD in Archaeology from the University of Oxford in 2014.

Dr Langley's research focuses on the use by early human communities of hard animal materials -- bone, tooth, antler, ivory, claw, quill, shell -- to create technology. Her research has resulted in overturning the belief that bone tools were not used in Australia for tens of thousands of years through the identification of a 46,000-year-old pointed kangaroo bone ornament excavated by Prof. Sue O'Connor from the Kimberleys. This tool -- the oldest example of a bone ornament used by Modern Humans (Homo sapiens) and the oldest bone tool/ornament in Australia -- has sparked renewed interest in bone technologies in Australia.

Dr Langley is on the Editorial Advisory board for Archaeology in Oceania (AO) and Queensland Archaeology Research (QAR) and has been involved in unveiling some of the earliest ornaments, bone tools, and shell artefacts throughout the Australian and Southeast Asian regions.

Dr Langley's research has been funding by the Australian Research Council and the Clarendon Fund, and has been published in PLoS One, Quaternary Science Reviews, and the Journal of Human Evolution, and highlighted in National Geographic, New Scientist, Archaeology Magazine, and Australasian Science Magazine, as well as NITV, SBS, and the ABC.

Issues surrounding the development and use of symbolic behaviour and social signalling technologies within Pleistocene Neanderthal and Modern Human populations remains the underlying focus of her research.

Education and Training

  • DPhil Doctor of Philosophy, University of Oxford 2011 - 2014
  • MPhil Master Of Philosophy, The University of Queensland 2008 - 2009
  • BA Bachelor Of Arts With Honours, The University of Queensland 2003 - 2007

Academic experience

  • Research Officer, The Australian National University 2013 - 2016
  • Tutor, The University of Oxford 2011 - 2012
  • Research Officer, The University of Queensland 2007 - 2010

Awards and Honours

  • Queensland Young Tall Poppy Science Award 2018, Australian Institute of Policy and Science 2018 - 2018
  • The Eureka Prize for Excellence in Archaeological Interpretation, Australian Archaeological Association 2011 - 2011
  • High Commendation for Best Overall Paper Prize, Australian Archaeological Association 2009 - 2009
  • High Commendation for Student Poster Prize, Australian Archaeological Association 2006 - 2006
  • Best Student Paper Prize, Australian Archaeological Association 2007 - 2007

Internal service roles

  • Archaeology Theme Member, Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution 2017 -

External service roles

  • Awards Sub-Committee, Australian Archaeological Association 2019 -
  • Editorial Advisory Board Member, Queensland Archaeological Research 2017 -
  • Exective Board Member, European Society for the Study of Human Evolution 2015 - 2017
  • Editorial Advisory Board, Archaeology in Oceania 2017 -

Professional memberships

  • AAA Member, Australian Archaeological Association 2004 -
  • ESHE Member, European Society for the Study of Human Evolution 2013 -
  • SSCIP Member, Society for the Study of Childhood in the Past 2016 -