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Dr Ian Moffat

Dr Ian Moffat

Commonwealth Rutherford Fellow

McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research
Downing Street

Office Phone: +44 (0)1223 339354


I am a Commonwealth Rutherford Fellow within the Charles McBurney Laboratory for Geoarchaeology and a Research Associate at Homerton College. I also hold the position of ARC DECRA Research Fellow in Archaeological Science at Flinders University, Australia.  I was previously a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Institute for Mediterranean Studies in Crete and have worked in commercial roles for Precipice Training, Archaeometry Pty Ltd and Ecophyte Technologies.  I hold a PhD from the Australian National University and a BA and BSc (Hons) from the University of Queensland.

Research Interests

  • Geoarchaeology
  • Archaeological Geophysics
  • Isotope and Trace Element Geochemistry
  • Geomatics and 3D Modelling

I am an archaeological scientist specialising in the application of geological techniques (particularly geophysics, geochemistry and geoarchaeology) to archaeological research questions.  I have active research projects in Australia, Indonesia, Greece, South Africa, Cambodia, Mongolia, France, Israel, Italy and Kiribati covering archaeological material of Mid-Palaeolithic to WWII age.

These projects largely sit within the following thematic areas:

Hominin and Faunal Response to Climate Variation:

My principal research focus, currently funded through Australian Research Council grant "The Drumbeat of Human Evolution: Climate Proxies from Rockshelter sediments" and a Commonwealth Rutherford Fellowship, is examining the effect of climate variation on human evolution.  I am undertaking this research on sediments from archaeological rock shelter sites in South Africa, Indonesia and Australia that have long records of human occupation.  I am applying methods including geophysics, sediment analysis and isotope geochemistry to develop new climate proxies and understand the depositional history of these sites.  I intend to extend this research through the analysis of the oxygen isotope composition of silica plant fossils from these sites, facilitated by a new facility supported by Australian Research Council grant "Mass spectrometry for next generation isotope analysis of silicate minerals".

A related area of interest, which I first developed during my PhD, is the isotopic and trace element analysis of biogenic carbonates (including tooth, bone and otoliths) to examine mobility, diet, maternal behaviour and climate.  This includes the analysis of the mobility of animals in Palaeolithic France and Israel, the maternal behaviour of Neanderthals from the archaeological site of Payre and the diet and mobility of colonial era migrants in Adelaide.  This research makes use of recent developments in the field of laser ablation analysis to undertake spatially resolved in-situ measurements which provide much detailed life history records than was previously available.

Landscape Scale Investigations of Archaeological Sites:

This research takes advantage of new advances in survey technology, including RTK GPS, UAV’s and multi-sensor geophysical instruments, to study archaeological sites on a landscape scale in three dimensions.  This research was undertaken during my Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Institute for Mediterranean Studies in Crete, a George Chaloupka Fellowship at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory and has recently been supported by Australian Research Council Linkage grants "White People had the Gun: Interrogating the Riverland's Colonial Frontier" and "Sugarbag and Shellfish: Indigenous foodways in colonial Cape York Peninsula".  Specific projects include investigating the spatial organisation of Neolithic and classical archaeological sites in Greece, the transition to pastoralism in Mongolia, examination of Angkorian and post-Angkorian period sites in Cambodia, studying rock art sites in Northern Australia, investigating the history of frontier conflict in the South Australian Riverland and examining Indigenous relationships to food on a landscape scale on Cape York.

I am presently involved in the following research projects in:

2018 – 2021: ARC Linkage Grant #LP170100050 Sugarbag and shellfish: Indigenous foodways in colonial Cape York Peninsula

2018 – 2021: ARC Linkage Grant #LP170100479 White People had the Gun: Interrogating the Riverland’s Colonial Frontier

2016 – 2020: ARC DECRA Grant #DE160100703 The Drumbeat of Human Evolution: Climate Proxies from Rockshelter Sediments


Other Professional Activities

Research Associate of Homerton College

Editorial Board Member of Geoarchaeology, Exploration Geophysics and Science and Technology of Archaeological Research

ARC DECRA Research Fellow in Archaeological Science, Flinders University

Adjunct Research Fellow, Geoarchaeology and Archaeometry Research Group, Southern Cross University

Key Publications

Donati, J.C., Sarris, A., Papadopoulos, N., Kalayci, T., Simon, F-X., Manataki, M., Moffat, I. and Cuenca-Garcia, C., 2017, A Regional Approach to Greek Urban Studies Through Multi-Settlement Geophysical Survey, Journal of Field Archaeology, 42(5), 450-467

Aubert, M., Williams, I.S., Boljkovac, K., Moffat, I., Moncel, M-H., Dufour, E. and Grün, R., 2012, In situ oxygen isotope micro-analysis of faunal material and human teeth using a SHRIMP II: a new tool for palaeo-ecology and archaeology, Journal of Archaeological Science, 39 (10): 3184-3194.

Moffat, I., Wallis, L.A., Hounslow, M., Niland, K., Domett, K. and Trevorrow, G., 2010, Geophysical prospection for Late Holocene burials in coastal environments: Possibilities and problems from a pilot study in South Australia, Geoarchaeology: An International Journal, 25:(5): 645-665.

Other Publications

Wesley, D., Litster, M., Moffat, I. and O’Connor, S., 2018, Indigenous built structures and anthropogenic impacts on the stratigraphy of Northern Australian rockshelters: insights from Malarrak 1, North Western Arnhem Land, Australian Archaeology, DOI: 10.1080/03122417.2018.1436238

Willmes, M., Bataille, C.P., James, H., Moffat, I., McMorrow, L., Kinsley, L., Armstrong, R.A., Eggins, S. and Grün, R., 2018, Mapping of bioavailable 87Sr/86Sr isotope ratios in France for archaeology provenance studies, Applied Geochemistry, 90: 75-86.

Sarris, A., Kalayci, T., Moffat, I. and Manataki, M., 2018, An Introduction to Geophysical Methods within Digital Geoarchaeology, Siart, C., Forbriger, M and Bubenzer, O. (eds.) Digital Geoarchaeology, Springer, 215-236

Lustig, T., Klassen, S., Evans, D., French, R and Moffat, I., 2018, Evidence for the breakdown of an Angkorian hydraulic system, and its historical implications for understanding the Khmer Empire, Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 17: 195-211.

Sarris, A., Kalayci, T., Simon, F-X., Donati, J., Cuenca-Garcia, C., Manataki, M., Cantoro, G., Moffat, I., Kalogiropoulou, E., Karampatsou, G., Armstrong, K. Argyriou, N., Dederix, S., Manzetti, C., Nikas, N., Vouzaxakis, K., Rondiri, V., Arachoviti, P., Almatzi, K., Efstathiou, D. and Stamelou, E., 2018, Opening a New Frontier in the Study of Neolithic Settlement Patterns of Eastern Thessaly, Greece in Sarris, A., Kalogiropoulou, E., Kalayci, T., & Karimali, L. (eds.), 2017. Communities, Landscapes, and Interaction in Neolithic Greece. Proceedings of International Conference, Rethymno 29-30 May 2015. Ann Arbor, MI: International Monographs in Prehistory. 27-48.

David, B., Delannoy, J-J., Gunn, R.G., Brady, L.M., Petchey, F., Mialanes, J., Chalmin, E., Geneste, J-M., Moffat, I., Aplin, K. and Katherine, M., 2017, Determining the age of a paintings at JSARN-113/23, Jawoyn country, western Arnhem Land, in David, B., Tacon, P., Delannoy, J.-J. and Geneste, J.-M. (eds.) The Archaeology of Rock Art in Western Arnhem Land, Terra Australis 48, ANU Press, Canberra. 371-422. (DOI:

Barker, B., Lamb, L. Delannoy, J-J., David, B. Gunn, R.G., Chalmin, E., Castets, G., Aplin, K., Sadier, B., Moffat, I., Mialanes, J., Katherine, M., Geneste, J-M. and Hoerlé, S., 2017, Archaeology of JSARN-124 site 3, central western Arnhem Land: determining the age of the so-called “Genyornis” painting in David, B., Tacon, P., Delannoy, J.-J. and Geneste, J.-M. (eds.) The Archaeology of Rock Art in Western Arnhem Land, Terra Australis 48, ANU Press, Canberra. 423-496. (DOI:

James, D., David, B., Delannoy, J-J., Gunn, R.G., Hunt, A., Moffat, I., Iacono, N., Stephens, S-P. and Katherine, M., 2017, Archaeology of rock art at Dalakngalarr 1, central-west Arnhem Land in David, B., Tacon, P., Delannoy, J.-J. and Geneste, J.-M. (eds.) The Archaeology of Rock Art in Western Arnhem Land, Terra Australis 48, ANU Press, Canberra. 329-370. (DOI:

David, B., Delannoy, J-J., Gunn, R., Calmin, E., Castets, G., Petchey, F., Aplin, K., O’Farrell, M., Moffat, I., Mialanes, J., Geneste, J-M., Barker, B., Sadier, B., Katherine, M., Manataki, M. and Pietrzak, U., 2017, Dating painted Panel E1 at Nawarla Gabarnmang, central-western Arnhem Land plateau, in David, B., Tacon, P., Delannoy, J.-J. and Geneste, J.-M. (eds.) The Archaeology of Rock Art in Western Arnhem Land, Terra Australis 48, ANU Press, Canberra. 245-302. (DOI:

Roberts, A., van Duivenvoorde, W., Morrison, M., Moffat, I., Burke, H., Kowlessar, J., and the River Murray and Mallee Aboriginal Corporation, 2017, They call 'im Crowie': An investigation of the Aboriginal significance attributed to a wrecked River Murray barge in South AustraliaInternational Journal of Nautical Archaeology, 46(1): 132-148.

Duke, B.J., Chang, N.J., Moffat, I. and Morris, W., 2016, The Invisible Moats of the Mun River valley, NE Thailand: The examination of water management devices at mounded sites through Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), Journal of Indo-Pacific Archaeology, 40, 1-11.

Papadopoulos, N, Moffat, I., Donati, J. Sarris, A., Kalayci, T., Cantoro, G., Argyiou, N., Armstrong, K. and Xavier-Simon, F., 2015, Geophysical mapping of a classical Greek road network: a case study from the city of Elis, Peloponnese, Archaeologia Polona, 53: 489-492.

Simyrdanis, K., Papadopoulos, N., Kim, J-H., Tsourlos, P. and Moffat, I., 2015, Archaeological Investigations in Shallow Seawater Environment with Electrical Resistivity Tomography, Near Surface Geophysics, 13, 601-611.

Moffat, I., 2015, Locating Graves with Geophysics, in Sarris, A., (ed) Best Practices of GeoInformatic Technologies for the Mapping of Archaeolandscapes, Archaeopress, Oxford, 25-33.

Simon, F-X. and Moffat. I., 2015, Identification of shapes and uses of the past landscape through EMI survey, in Sarris, A., (ed) Best Practices of GeoInformatic Technologies for the Mapping of Archaeolandscapes, Archaeopress, Oxford, 25-33.

Dosseto, A., Vigner, N., Joannes-Boyau, R., Moffat, I., Singh, T. and Srivastava, S., 2015, Rapid response of silicate weathering rates to climate change in the Himalaya, Geochemical Perspectives Letters, 1 :10-19.

Joannes-Boyau, R., Scheffers, A., Chapoulie, R., Lahaye, C., Parr, J., Orange, M., Moffat, I. and Guibert, P., 2014Thermal behaviour of organic radicals and paramagnetic centres in chert; a case study of Bergeracois brown chert, Dordogne, France, Quaternary Geochronology, 23: 26-34.

Moffat, I., 2014, Isotope Geochemistry in Archaeology, in Smith, C. (ed.), Encyclopaedia of Global Archaeology, Springer, New York, 4106-4111.

Willmes, M., McMorrow, L., Kinsley, L., Armstrong. R., Aubert, M., Eggins, S., Falguères, C., Maureille, B., Moffat, I. and Grün, R., 2014, The IRHUM (Isotopic Reconstruction of Human Migration) database - bioavailable strontium isotopes of France for geochemical fingerprinting, Earth System Science Data, 6: 761-777.

Long, K., Stern, N., Williams, I., Kinsley, L., Wood, R., Boljkovac, K., Kelly, T., Fallon, S., Kokkonen, H., Moffat, I. and Grün, R., 2014, Fish otolith geochemistry, environmental conditions and human occupation at Lake Mungo, Quaternary Science Reviews, 88: 82-95.

McKinnon, J.F., Wesley, D., Raupp, J.T. and Moffat, I., 2013, Geophysical Investigations at the Anuru Bay Trepang Site: A New Approach to Locating Macassan Archaeological Sites in Northern Australia, Bulletin of the Australasian Institute of Maritime Archaeology, 37: 106-112.

Moffat, I, Stringer, C. and Grün, R., 2012, Spatially Resolved LA-MC-ICPMS Strontium Isotope Micro-Analysis of Archaeological Fauna, Palaios, 27 (9): 667-670.

Marshallsay, J., Moffat, I. and Beale, A., 2012, Geophysical Investigations of the Tabernacle (Yilke) Cemetery, Encounter Bay, South Australia, Journal of the Anthropological Society of South Australia, 35: 91-103.

Bladon, P., Moffat, I., Guilfoyle, D., Beale, A. and Milani, J., 2011, Mapping Anthropogenic Fill with GPR for Unmarked Grave Detection: A Case Study from an Alleged Location of Mokare's Grave, Albany, Western Australia, Exploration Geophysics¸ 42(4): 249-257.

Moffat, I., David, B., Barker, B., Kuaso, A., Skelly, R. and Araho, N., 2011, Magnetometer Surveys as an Aid to Archaeological Research in Papua New Guinea: a Case Study from Keveoki I, Gulf Province, Archaeology in Oceania, 46(1): 17-22.

Wallis, L.A., Keys, B., Moffat, I. and Fallon, S., 2009, Gledswood 1 Shelter: Initial radiocarbon dates from a Pleistocene aged rockshelter site in north Queensland, Australian Archaeology, 69: 71-74.

David, B., Araho, N., Barker, B., Kuaso, A. and Moffat, I., 2009, Keveoki I: Exploring the Hiri Ceramics Trade at a Short-Lived Village Site near the Vailala River, Papua New Guinea, Australian Archaeology, 68: 11-22.

Moffat, I. and Raupp, J., 2008, A New Approach to Investigating Shipwreck Sites in Littoral Environments: Multi-Technique Geophysical Investigations of Port Elliot, South Australia, Technical Briefs in Historical Archaeology, 3: 1-7.

Moffat, I., Wallis, L.A., Beale, A. and Kynuna, D., 2008, Applications of geophysical techniques for the detection and identification of open Indigenous sites in Australia: A case study from inland northwest Queensland, Australian Archaeology, 66:60-64.

David, B., Araho, N., Kuaso, A., Moffat, I. and Tapper, N., 2008, The Upihoi find: Wrecked wooden lagatoi hulls of Epemeavo village, Gulf Province, Papua New Guinea, Australian Archaeology, 66: 1-14.

McKinnon, J.F., Smith, A. and Moffat, I., 2007, Kangaroo Island Shipwreck Shelter Huts, Bulletin of the Australasian Institute of Maritime Archaeology, 31: 63-72.