Dr Louise Zarmati

‘More than just digging: what does it mean to think archaeologically?’

Since the 1990s scholars in many countries have conducted research into what it means to ‘think historically’. It is generally agreed that when students analyse primary sources as evidence, identify bias, understand different historical perspectives and develop their own interpretations of the past they are engaged in historical thinking.

In this presentation I take a different approach to understanding how students think and learn about the past by examining what it means to ‘think archaeologically’. I propose that archaeological thinking is a different cognitive process to historical thinking that requires students to develop particular understandings of time and visual-spatial and haptic-kinaesthetic learning.www.zarwood.com.au 


Louise has worked as an archaeologist, history teacher in primary and secondary schools, and university lecturer in history education. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree and Diploma of Education from the University of Sydney and a Master’s degree in Archaeology, Museum and Heritage Management from the University of Cambridge.

In 1993 she set up the archaeology education program at the Nicholson Museum and the public education programs for the Dawes Point archaeological excavation in 1995. Since 2006 she has worked as an education consultant for Historic Houses Trust NSW, Melbourne Museum, State Library of NSW, The Whitlam Institute, Sydney Learning Adventures and Sydney Harbour YHA.

Louise has written four textbooks and numerous articles on history and archaeology, and presented lectures and seminars to teachers and students. In 2009 she designed the archaeology education programs for The Big Dig Archaeology Education Centre. In 2012 Louise was awarded a PhD from Deakin University for her research entitled, ‘Teaching history in Australian museums: pedagogy and praxis of museum educators’.

She has been toying with the idea of running this symposium for many years, particularly since beginning her doctoral research in 2007. Louise believes that classroom teachers and museum/heritage educators have been doing exciting and innovative things with archaeology in Australia for decades and it’s about time we told the world about it.