Derek John Mulvaney AO CMG FAHA (26 October 1925 – 21 September 2016), known as John Mulvaney, was an Australian archaeologist. He was the first qualified archaeologist to focus his work on Australia.


Mulvaney was born in Yarram, Victoria, on 26 October 1925.[citation needed]

He began his academic career at the University of Melbourne in Roman history, writing an MA thesis on State and Society in Britain at the time of Roman conquest. In consciously preparing himself to begin the field of Australian archaeology, he entered Cambridge University as an undergraduate, studying British, Irish, German and Danish prehistoric archaeology.[citation needed]

His first excavation in Australia was at Fromm's Landing (Tungawa)[1] on the Murray River in South Australia, from 1956 to 1960.[2]

He obtained his PhD from Cambridge in 1970.[citation needed]

During his academic career, he co-authored and/or edited 17 books.[3]

He was for many years a Commissioner of the Australian Heritage Commission. He was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 1969, the year of its foundation, serving on its Council from 1972 to 1974 and again, this time as Honorary Secretary, from 1989 to 1996.

Mulvaney died in Canberra at the age of 90 on 21 September 2016.[4][5]


Known as the "father of Australian archaeology",[6][7] Mulvaney was the "first university-trained archaeologist to make Australia his field of study".[8]

In March 2019 the Australian Academy of the Humanities launched the John Mulvaney Fellowship for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander early career researchers working in the humanities.[9]



  • Byrne, Patrick Michael; Morphy, Howard; Mulvaney, D. J. (Derek John), 1925-2016; Petch, Alison, 1956-; Brissenden collection (2000), From the frontier : outback letters to Baldwin Spencer, Allen & Unwin, ISBN 978-1-86508-317-9CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Mulvaney, D. J. (1969). The Prehistory of Australia. London: Thames and Hudson.


Further readingEdit