Staff profile

Dr Jillian Garvey


Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
School of Humanities

Melbourne (Bundoora)


BA/BSc Hons (La Trobe); PhD (La Trobe)

Membership of professional associations

Australian Archaeological Association (AAA); International Council for Archaeozoology (ICAZ); Australian Quaternary Association (AQUA)

Area of study


Brief profile

I am an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow investigating human occupation and use of the landscape in the late Quaternary of the central Murray River valley, in northwest Victoria. This long-term landscape archaeology project is based at Neds Corner Station (owned by Trust for Nature) and the adjacent Murray-Sunset National Park. This project seeks to address the gaps in understanding of when Indigenous people first inhabited this region. The aim is to investigate long-term human behavioural response and adaptive strategies to environmental change during the late Pleistocene era, a time of significant climatic variability. It is further hoped that this study will provide important information that will assist in the development of cultural heritage management plans for the region, help to formally register archaeological sites and provide information to the three traditional owner groups: Ngintait, Latji Latji and Nyeri Nyeri, on whose country this project is based.

I have a particular research focus on zooarchaeology, with formal qualifications in both archaeology and zoology. I have been involved in a variety of archaeology research projects on late Quaternary Australia including: southwest Tasmania; Lake Mungo, NSW; and Cuddie Springs, NSW. I have also worked on faunal assemblages in Middle Palaeolithic China. I have integrated my zoological background into my research on modern Australian vertebrates and invertebrates by conducting experiments including: fatty acid nutritional analyses; economic utility or anatomy experiments; and butchery and cooking experiments. These modern experiments are combined with evidence from the ethnographic record to provide an interpretation of patterns in the archaeological record. I also have extensive teaching experience, having lectured and tutored a variety of archaeology and biology subjects since 1999. With a PhD in palaeontology, I am also interested in studying natural faunal assemblages, and what this can infer about past palaeoenvironments and palaeoecology. In particular I am interested in the causes behind the extinction of Australia's megafauna during the late Pleistocene era.

Research specialisation

- Archaeology of Australia

Teaching units

Archaeology of Animals ARC2ZOO / ARC3ZOO (subject co-coordinator 2014)


I am a Registered Cultural Heritage Advisor with the Office of Aboriginal Affairs Victoria. I am a specialist the identification of animal bones (both native and introduced species) and invertebrates

Recent publications

1. Garvey, J. 2014. Palaeoenvironments and human adaptation in the semi-arid Murray River Valley of northwestern Victoria. Excavations, Surveys and Heritage Management in Victoria, Volume 2: 119–124.

2. Davies P., and Garvey, J. 2013. Early zooarchaeological evidence for Mus musculus in Australia. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 23(1): 106–111.

3. Field, J.H., Wroe, S., Trueman, C.N., Garvey, J., and Wyatt-Spratt, S.J. Looking for the archaeological signature in Australian Megafaunal extinctions Quaternary International 285:76–88.

4. Garvey, J. 2013. Review of The Australian Heritage Council, Australia’s Fossil Heritage: A Catalogue of Important Australian Fossil Sites. Quaternary Australia 30(1):34–36.

5. Garvey, J. 2011. Bennett’s wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus) bone marrow quality vs quantity: evaluating human decision making and seasonal occupation in late Pleistocene Tasmania. Journal of Archaeological Science 38: 763–783.

6. Garvey, J., Cochrane, B., Field, J., and Boney, C. 2011. Emu butchery and economic utility: Implications for understanding Australian zooarchaeology and megafauna extinctions. Environmental Archaeology 16.2: 97–112.

7. Garvey, J. 2011. Review of Aziz F., Morwood M.J., van den Bergh, G.D. (eds) Pleistocene Geology, Palaeontology and Archaeology of the Soa Basin, Central Flores, Indonesia. Australian Archaeology 72:52–54.

8. Garvey, J., and Field, J. 2011. Recent studies in Australian palaeoecology and zooarchaeology: a volume in honour of the late Su Solomon. Environmental Archaeology 16(2):79–81.

9. Garvey, J. 2010. Economic utility of the Bennett’s wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus): implications for understanding human hunting strategies in late Pleistocene Tasmania. Quaternary International 211(1-2):144–156.

10. Cosgrove, R., Field, J., Garvey, J., Brenner-Coltrain, J., Goede, A., Charles, B., Wroe, S., Pike-Tay, A., Grün, R., Aubert, M., Lees, W., and O'Connell, J. 2010. Overdone overkill – the archaeological perspective on Tasmanian megafaunal extinctions. Journal of Archaeological Science 37(10):2486–2503.

11. Garvey, J. and Sandy, J.R. 2009. The first record of palaeopathology from the zooarchaeological record of late Pleistocene Tasmania. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 19(6):742–748.

12. Garvey, J. and Hasiotis, S. 2008. An ichnofossil assemblage from the Lower Carboniferous, Snowy Plains Formation, Mansfield Basin, Australia. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 258:257–276.

13. Pike-Tay, A., Cosgrove, R., and Garvey, J. 2008. Systematic seasonal land use by late Pleistocene Tasmanian Aborigines. Journal of Archaeological Science 35(9): 2532–2544.

14. Wang, S., Lu, H., Zhang, H., Zhao, J., Cosgrove, R., Yi, S., Sun, X., Wei, M., Garvey, J., and Ma, X. 2008. A preliminary survey of Palaeolithic artifacts and loess deposit in the middle south Luohe River, Eastern Qinling Mountains, central China. Quaternary Sciences 28(6):988–999.

15. Garvey, J. 2007. Surviving an Ice Age: the zooarchaeology from SW Tasmania. Palaios 22(6):583–585.

16. Garvey, J. 2007. Ice age wallaby hunters. Australasian Science 28(5):30–33.

17. Holland, T.M., Warren, A., Johanson, Z., Long, J.A., Parker, K., and Garvey, J. 2007. A new species of Barameda (Rhizodontida) and heterochrony in the rhizodontid pectoral fin. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 27(2):295–315.

18. Garvey, J. 2006. Preliminary zooarchaeological interpretations from Kutikina Cave, southwest Tasmania. Australian Aboriginal Studies 2006/1:57–62.

19. Garvey, J. 2006. An Early Carboniferous Fossil Assemblage from Fish Hill, Mansfield Basin, Australia. The Royal Society of New South Wales 139:63–64.

20. Garvey, J. and Turner, S. 2006. Microvertebrates from the Early Carboniferous of Mansfield, Australia. Alcheringa 30(1):43–62.

21. Holland, T.M, Long, J.A., Warren, A., and Garvey, J. 2006. Second specimen of the lower actinopterygian Novogonatodus from the Early Carboniferous of Mansfield, Victoria. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria 118(1):1–10.

22. Harris, J.M. and Garvey, J. 2006. Palaeodistribution of pygmy-possums in Tasmania. Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania 140:1–10.

23. Garvey, J., Johanson, Z., and Warren, A. 2005. Redescription of the pectoral fin of Barameda decipiens from the Early Carboniferous of Australia. Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology, 25(1):8–18.

24. Johanson, Z., Burrow, C., Warren, A. and Garvey, J. 2005. Homology of fin lepidotrichia in osteichthyan fishes. Lethaia 38(1):27–36.

Research projects

Research projects:

Palaeoenvironments and human adaptation in the Late Quaternary of the semi-arid Murray River Valley, northwestern Victoria. This ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award project will address the gaps in our understanding of when Indigenous people first inhabited the semiarid region of the Murray River Valley in northwestern Victoria, and their subsequent long-term behavioural response and adaptive strategies to environmental change during the late Pleistocene- a time of significant climatic variability. It will provide the first integrated investigation of the history and chronology of human settlement, landscape structure, palaeoenvironment and palaeoecology for the region. The second, related significant issue to be addressed is the extinction of Australian megafauna in this region.

Establishment of an Optimal Foraging Model (OFT) for late Quaternary northwest Victoria. To supplement and enhance our understanding of human subsistence during the late Quaternary of NW Victoria, the taphonomy and palaeoecology of local modern freshwater shellfish species (freshwater river mussel Alathyria jacksoni, freshwater lake mussel shell Velesunio ambiguous and the freshwater snail Notopala hanlei) and their potential as a food source for humans in relation to Optimal Foraging Theory (OFT); how people may utilise potential food resources given different sets of environmental parameters, will be investigated. To develop an OFT model for the study area an innovative combination of: 1) taphonomic analysis of the archaeological midden assemblages; 2) ethnographic and modern studies of shellfish harvesting and cooking and; 3) seasonal analysis of the shellfish nutritional quality will be used.

Zooarchaeology of late Pleistocene southwest Tasmania. This ongoing research is investigating the rich faunal assemblages from several archaeological cave sites in southwest Tasmania. More than 950,000 bone fragments have now been recorded from south-west Tasmania, providing significant important information on the population structure and palaeoecology of the region during the last ice age. My research has predominately focused on Kutikina Cave on the Franklin River. Excavated by Rhys Jones and colleagues, it is one of Australia’s richest and best known archaeological sites. Taphonomic analysis indicates that people focused on hunting the Bennett’s or Red-necked wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus), focusing on the larger and meatier hind limbs. The long bones were regularly smashed open to access the nutrient rich bone marrow.

Modern experimental archaeology. I am interested in experiments on modern Australian animals to help interpret apparent patterns in the archaeological record. This includes: fatty acid analysis of meat, marrow and fat; economic utility or anatomy; and butchery and cooking experiments of common prey species (both vertebrates and invertebrates). Species that have been investigated include: Bennett’s or red-necked wallaby; Eastern Grey kangaroo; Red kangaroo; Common or Bare-nosed wombat; Tasmanian pademelon; Emu; Golden Perch; and Murray River mussels.

Award and Grants:

1. 2014 Research Grant, LTU Research Focus Area Transforming Human Societies ($20,000), to extract pollen cores to investigate paleoecology of late Quaternary northwest Victoria. (With Jessie Birkett-Ress and Pat Fall, LTU.)

2. 2014 AINSE Grant ALNGRA14012 ($6,960). Comparing C14 dating of charcoal and turbo opercula from a shell midden near Apollo Bay, VIC, Australia. (With Herries, A.I.R., Arnold, R., Berelov, I. Tumney, J., Birkett-Rees, J., Fall, P., Falconer, S.)

3. 2012 ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award ($348,088).

4. 2010 Junior Researcher Open Zooarchaeology Prize, International Council for Archaeozoology (second prize).

5. 2008 & 2006 La Trobe University Research Travel Grants (travel to Vancouver, Canada, and Vassar College, New York, USA)

6. 2008 La Trobe Large Research Grant ($23,814).

7. 2006–2008 La Trobe Postdoctoral Fellowship, Archaeology, La Trobe University.

8. 2006 best paper prize at Australian Archaeology Association Conference, Beechworth, Victoria.

9. 2006 La Trobe University Research Enhancement Funding Grant (with Richard Cosgrove, LTU) ($11,078).

10. 2004–2005 AIATSIS Research Grant G2004/6909 (with Richard Cosgrove, LTU) ($46,270)