Dr Stephen Nichols and Dr Daniel Rosendahl (Presenter)

Archaeology and Australia’s ‘education revolution’

Effective strategies for engaging with the school education system are crucial to a decolonising public archaeology in Australia. Schools are critical social spaces where ideologies and visions of the past are produced and reproduced and they represent an important interface between archaeology and the wider world. The impending roll-out of an ‘archaeology-friendly’ national history curriculum presents Australian archaeologists with an exciting new context for engaging with Australian schools. Because of its enormous popular appeal, which extends to children of all ages, archaeology is a potentially powerful pedagogical tool for teaching across a wide range of learning areas at all levels of schooling.

One way of harnessing the pedagogical benefits of archaeo-appeal is through the development of a TARDIS, a simulated archaeological site that enables students to learn about Australia’s colonial and Aboriginal pasts through excavation and analysis of objects and contexts directly relevant to the national curriculum framework and its key cross-curriculum priorities. To fully realise the potential of archaeology within Australia’s changing educational landscape, archaeologists must seek meaningful collaborative partnerships with educational specialists and school communities who are capable of translating archaeology into the wider culture of school education. The curriculum-focused development of simulated archaeological sites and excavations provides a safety-conscious and ethically orientated model for fostering and encouraging such collaborations.

Dr Stephen Nichols – Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs (QLD)
Dr Daniel Rosendahl – Aboriginal Environments Research Centre, School of Architecture, University of Queensland (QLD)

Link to an article on TARDIS in university teaching


Dr Stephen Nichols is a government archaeologist with the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs in Queensland, where he is currently responsible for administering the state’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage legislation. He has previously held a variety of positions in both the academic and cultural heritage management sectors and has a PhD in public archaeology from the University of Queensland. In a former life, he was also a senior manager of corporate finance and strategic planning with the international consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. Stephen’s primary research interests are focussed on the nature of archaeology’s relationships with society, including archaeology and the media, archaeology and the education system, community archaeology, and the operation of heritage laws.

Dr Daniel Rosendahl has a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Archaeology, Anthropology and History (2001–2004) from the University of Southern Queensland and a Bachelor of Social Science, major in Archaeology (Hons I) from the University of Queensland (2005). He has just completed his PhD which is the first systematic archaeological investigation carried out on Mornington Island in the southern Gulf of Carpentaria. The primary focus of Daniel’s research is to test the validity of broad scale models used to define and understand change as observed in the mid-to-late Holocene Australian archaeological record (the past 6000 years) at the extreme local (small) scale. Throughout his archaeology career Daniel has presented numerous school talks and attended a number of school workshops designed to bring archaeology into the classroom and to educate students and the public about Australia’s rich archaeological past. Most recently he was involved in designing and constructing a TARDIS at Clontarf Beach State High School in Queensland that is currently being excavated by History and Ancient History students.