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Michael Petraglia

Director, Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution, Griffith University

Michael Petraglia is Director, Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia. He is well known for leading and implementing large-scale interdisciplinary archaeological projects in Eastern Africa, the Middle East, the US, and in several regions of Asia, including India and China.

Michael is passionate about archaeology and human evolutionary studies. From 2001-2016, he taught at the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford, UK, and from 2016 to 2022, he was based at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Germany. He is currently a Research Associate in the Human Origins Program of the Smithsonian Institution, USA, and an Honorary Professor at the University of Queensland, Australia.

Having received his BA in Anthropology and Archaeology from New York University, he then went on to obtain his MA and PhD degrees from the University of New Mexico. Michael has served on boards and panels for multiple foundations and organisations, including the Fyssen Foundation in Paris, the Ancient India and Iran Trust in Cambridge, and the National Geographic Society, USA.

Petraglia is a strong advocate of an interdisciplinary approach in archaeology and human evolutionary studies. His work has involvedpartnerships with numerous national organisations across the globe and collaborations with dozens of scholars, including earth scientists, climate scientists, geologists, geographers, palaeontologists, biological anthropologists, and geneticists.

His research has involved a broad range of subjects concerning human evolution, including the evolution of cognition, the evolution of behaviour, and the relationship between climate change and hominin dispersals. He is best known for his archaeological research on hominin migrations across Asia, the effect of the Toba volcanic super-eruption on human communities, and the question of how environmental variability shaped hominin populations in Arabia over the last million years.

Michael regularly publishes in international, peer-reviewed venues covering a wide variety of topics in human evolution. He has authored and co-edited 10 books and published over 250 journal articles and book chapters. He is the co-editor of two Springer Press books, The Evolution of Human Populations in Arabia: Palaeoenvironments, Prehistory and Genetics (2009) and The Evolution and History of Human Populations in South Asia: Inter-disciplinary Studies in Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, Linguistics and Genetics (2007). He is co-editor of the book, Human Dispersal and Species Movement: From Prehistory to the Present (2017, Cambridge University Press).

Michael’s research is often profiled in the popular press and he is often consulted by worldwide media organisations for his views on human evolution.


  • 2022–present
    Director, Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution
  • 2016–2022
    Professor, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
  • 2009–2016
    Professor, University of Oxford
  • 2001–2009
    Senior Lecturer, University of Cambridge


Fellow, Society of Antiquaries, London