News
Jenna Bradwell
10/12/2012

UOW plays host to Australian Archaeological Conference

The unveiling of the face of Homo floresiensis (popularly known as the ‘Hobbit’) will be one of the features of the Australian Archaeological (AAA) Conference being hosted by UOW from 9-13 December.

More than 400 participants (featuring in about 250 presentations) will be involved in this major conference which is being held at the Novotel Northbeach.

It is being officially opened today (10 December) by UOW Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Judy Raper.

The AAA conference is being hosted by UOW’s Centre for Archaeological Science. The centre was established in 2010 to develop, integrate and apply modern scientific techniques to answer fundamental questions about human evolution and the analysis of material remains of past human life and activities.

Those attending include 28 international delegates from eight countries. Seven keynote speakers (Professor Mark Collard, Professor Tim Flannery, Professor Peter Hiscock, Dr Zenobia Jacobs, Professor Julia Lee-Thorp, Professor Curtis Marean and Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith) will deliver plenary addresses. There will also be a strong Indigenous representation at this year’s conference which has the theme ‘Science and Archaeology’.

Face of the ‘Hobbit’ to be revealed for first time by UOW’s facial anthropologist

As a precursor to the conference on 8 and 9 December, Honorary Senior Research Fellow at UOW and specialist facial anthropologist, Dr Susan Hayes, conducted fun and interactive 3D and 2D workshops in evidence-based facial approximation – which involves creating the likely facial appearance of a deceased person based on the person’s skull and soft tissues. Dr Hayes has been working on the facial approximation of the ‘Hobbit’.

“In the media it's often called 'facial reconstruction', but because I'm evidence-based and work in archaeological science, we prefer the term 'facial approximation',” Dr Hayes said.

Her background is in forensic science and late last year Dr Hayes worked at the request of Sydney Homicide on the remains of a young woman found in Belangelo State Forest. 

This latest research project involved Dr Hayes applying her methods to a very different female individual which was one of the very significant remains of Homo floresiensis unearthed by Professor Mike Morwood, Thomas Sutikna and the Liang Bua archaeological team in Flores, Indonesia in 2003.

Dr Hayes described the facial approximation as an extraordinary challenge working on an archaic hominin.

“She's taken me a bit longer than I'd anticipated, has caused more than a few headaches along the way, but I'm pleased with both the methodological development and the final results.

“She's not what you'd call pretty, but she is definitely distinctive,” Dr Hayes said.

See this site for full details of the Australian Archaeological Conference – http://conference.australianarchaeology.com.au/

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  • The path Dr Hayes took to reach her facial approximation of the ‘Hobbit’.

  • Dr Susan Hayes’ facial approximation of the female ‘Hobbit’.

  • Attending the opening of the Australian Archaeology Conference are (from left) Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Judy Raper, Conference Chair Dr Richard Fullagar and Dr Susan Hayes.

  • Dr Susan Hayes (right) looking at a replica of Homo floresienses with Penny Williamson from UOW’s Earth and Environmental Sciences.