Thursday, July 25, 2013

New England Passings - death of Mike Morwood

Mike Morwood

The untimely death of the archaeologist Professor Mike Morwood will, I hope, be properly recorded. The UNE coverage is here, although other places have claimed him too.

Mike's best known work was leadership of a team that in 2003 discovered a possible new human species, Homo floresiensis, nicknamed ‘the Hobbit’, on the island of Flores in East Indonesia, UNE VC James Barber notes that the discovery of the skeleton of a tiny woman, who died about 18,000 years ago, has been hailed as one of the most important finds in human evolution since the discovery of the Neandertals in the middle of the nineteenth century. "

I think that there is still debate on this point, but it was a remarkable discovery. During his 32 years association with UNE, Professor Morwood worked as a Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Associate Professor, Professor of Archaeology, and Adjunct Professor, a position he stood down from earlier this year. His long and outstanding contribution to scholarship included research in the fields of human dispersal and evolution, culture contact and change, Aboriginal rock art, and ethnoarchaeology.

Since Isabel McBryde came to UNE as the first lecturer in archeology and prehistory, the University has established a proud tradition in these fields. It is also one that I can claim a tiny part as a member of Isabel's first prehistory honours group. All these years later, I am still writing in the area although as an amateur historian.

Necessarily, the University's focus broadened beyond Northern New South Wales, my main area of interest. That has actually left a gap. But I can take great pride in Mike's work and the contribution he made to students. That was very much in the UNE tradition.    

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