Presentation: Potsherds, stones, and human bones: German-speaking archaeologists in the Pacific and their legacy

30 Jun 2017

Talk commences at 7pm at Das Zentrum, Level 1 Griffin Centre, 20 Genge Street, Canberra City.

Early European visitors to the Pacific were fascinated by its vast expanses of ocean, its scattered islands and the diverse cultures of its inhabitants. Who were these people? Where did they come from? When and how did they first reach the Pacific? German-speaking explorers, travellers and missionaries contributed to these debates by recording local oral traditions, describing megalithic sites and prehistoric artefacts, and conducting archaeological excavations. I highlight some of their major contributions to Pacific archaeology, and discuss one of their most controversial legacies: the acquisition of human remains.


Hilary Howes is an historian. Her current research, conducted as part of the ARC-funded project 'The Collective Biography of Archaeology in the Pacific: A Hidden History', addresses the German-speaking tradition within Pacific archaeology. She was previously employed at the Australian Embassy in Berlin, where her responsibilities included facilitating the repatriation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestral remains held in German collections.