Current Work

Currently I am working on a DECRA project titled "Australia's Living Technologies: Bone Tools from First Peoples to Contact". This project will is the first major study of Indigenous Australian bone and tooth based technologies. Through employing sophisticated use wear techniques, it will deduce the cognitive, social, and technological processes behind their manufacture and use, therefore providing new insights into pre-contact Australia, as well as the development of humanity. This project forefronts the role of Modern Humans in Australia in global narratives of human cultural development and supplies a new material culture based perspective on the cultural behaviour of our earliest ancestors.

I am also undertaking technological trace analysis (reconstructing how tools/ornaments were made and used via observation of microscope marks and residues) of bone, ivory, antler, marine shell, and ochre artefacts from around the globe, collaborating with researchers based both here in Australia and abroad to understand the people who produced these artefacts.

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


Expertise Keywords

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

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: 24 (Other: 24)

Funded Griffith Research

Engagement and Impact

Learning and Teaching

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

  • 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

  • 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 -