Professor Simon John Holdaway



After finishing an MA degree in Anthropology at the University of Otago Simon moved to the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia graduating with a PhD in 1991. He taught at The University of Auckland for a year in 1992 before taking up a post-doctoral fellowship at La Trobe University in 1993. Simon subsequently lectured at La Trobe from 1994-1998, returning to The University of Auckland in 1999. He is currently Professor of Anthropology. He holds adjunct Professorial appointments at Macquarie University (in Environment and Geography) and at the University of Queensland (in Archaeology) and was recently a research associate at the University of York and the University of Leiden.

Research | Current

  • Archaeology: Australian, Egyptian, New Zealand archaeology; stone artefact analysis; archaeological theory; GIS.

Current research

  1. Human environmental relationships in the tropical north of Australia. With colleagues from Macquarie University, ANU, University of Waikato and QUT I am investigating the coastal archaeology of the Weipa region in collaboration with Rio Tinto Alcan. We are investigating the large number of shell mounds in the Weipa region studying their construction, chronology and composition. Funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant 2011-2014.
  2. Early agriculture in Egypt with colleagues from UCLA and Rijksuniversiteit. I am interested in how mobile people adapted to variable past environments. The Egyptian research deals with people who were just developing agriculture, adapting to fluctuating desert environments in the mid-Holocene but continuing to pursue a mobile lifestyle. Funded by a Marsden Grant 2012-2015.
  3. The archaeology of Great Mercury Island, New Zealand. We are investigating Maori responsiveness and decision making in a changing environment through integrating the archaeological record and the environmental history of Ahuahu Great Mercury Island. The project is a collaboration with Auckland Museum, Ngati Hei and Sir Michael Fay.

Previous projects

  1. The Western New South Wales Archaeological Project (WNSWAP) with Associate Professor Patricia Fanning, Macquarie University, investigating Holocene surface archaeology from a geoarchaeological perspective. We are particularly interested in issues of chronology and the interpretation of long-term human behaviour as well as stone artefact technology.
  2. I have a long term interest in the study of stone artefacts in general with a particular interest in Australia.
  3. I direct a research group with interests in the historic archaeology of Taranaki, New Zealand. In 2004 we excavated the site of Oropuriri, a 19th century Māori village as a contract for Transit NZ.

Teaching | Current



Availability in 2016


Special Topic: Origins of Civilisation

Semester 2

ANTHRO 206 Origins of Civilisation Semester 2

Postgraduate supervision

Current PhD students

  • Josh Emmitt (The University of Auckland)
  • Alex Jorgensen (The University of Auckland)
  • Ben Davies (The University of Auckland)
  • Gerard O’Reagan (The University of Auckland)
  • Kasey Alley (The University of Auckland)
  • Rachel Scott (The University of Auckland)

Past PhD students

  • Tessa Bryant (Macquarie University completed) 2014 “Recording archaeological landscapes – the surface Aboriginal record of Western NSW, Australia: Challenges for Cultural Heritage Management”
  • Rebecca Phillips (University of Auckland completed) 2012 “Documenting Socio-economic variability in the Egyptian Neolithic through Stone Artefact Analysis”
  • Bridget Mosley (Macquarie University completed 2012)
  • Matthew Douglass (University of Auckland, completed 2010) “The Archaeological Potential of Informal Lithic Technologies”
  • Justin Shiner (University of Auckland, completed 2004) “Place as Occupational History”
  • Mathew Felgate (University of Auckland, completed 2003) “Reading Lapita in Near Oceania”
  • Patricia Fanning (Macquarie University, completed 2002) “Beyond the Divide”
  • Trudy Doelman (La Trobe University, completed 2002) “Time to Quarry”
  • Christina Pavlides (La Trobe University, completed 1999) “The Story of Imbo”

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Douglass, M., Holdaway, S. J., Shiner, J., & Fanning, P. (2015). Quartz and silcrete raw material use and selection in late Holocene assemblages from semi-arid Australia. Quaternary International. 10.1016/j.quaint.2015.08.041
  • Larsen, B. P., Holdaway, S. J., Fanning, P. C., Mackrell, T., & Shiner, J. I. (2015). Shape as an outcome of formation history: Terrestrial Laser Scanning of shell mounds from far north Queensland, Australia. Quaternary International. 10.1016/j.quaint.2015.06.066
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Tim Mackrell
  • Phillipps, R. S., & Holdaway, S. J. (2015). Estimating Core Number in Assemblages: Core Movement and Mobility During the Holocene of the Fayum, Egypt. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory. 10.1007/s10816-015-9250-2
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Rebecca Phillipps
  • Holdaway, S. J., King, G., Douglass, M., & Fanning, P. (2015). Human-environment interactions at regional scales: the complex topography hypothesis applied to surface archaeological records in Australia and North America. Archaeology in Oceania, 50 (Suppl. 1), 58-69. 10.1002/arco.5054
  • Holdaway, S. J., & Douglass, M. (2015). Use Beyond Manufacture: Non-Flint Stone Artifacts From Fowlers Gap, Australia. Lithic Technology, 40 (2), 94-111. 10.1179/2051618515Y.0000000003
  • Linseele, V., Van Neer, W., Thys, S., Phillipps, R., Cappers, R., Wendrich, W., & Holdaway, S. J. (2014). New Archaeozoological Data from the Fayum “Neolithic” with a Critical Assessment of the Evidence for Early Stock Keeping in Egypt. PLoS One, 19 (10), 1-22. 10.1371/journal.pone.0108517
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Rebecca Phillipps
  • Holdaway, S. J., & Fanning, P. (2014). Geoarchaeology of Aboriginal Landscapes in Semi-arid Australia. Collingwood, Victoria, Australia: CSIRO.
  • Holdaway, S. J., Douglass, M. J., & Phillipps, R. (2014). Flake selection, assemblage variability and technological organization. In M. Shott (Ed.) Works in Stone: Contemporary Perspectives on Lithic Analysis (pp. 46-62). Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Rebecca Phillipps

Contact details

  • Media Contact

Primary location

Level 7 , Room 714
New Zealand

Social links

Web links