MQ Ancient World HDR: Zac Roberts

By MQ Ancient World HDR

This week, it’s time to move away from Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia, and hear from an up and coming Indigenous Historian, Zac Roberts, who will be telling us about his MRes project, his fusion of archaeology with Indigenous Studies concepts, and, well, Bush Turkeys…


Wallawani everyone, my name is Isaac Roberts and I’m an Aboriginal man from the South Coast Mob, though I was raised between Murri country in far-north Queensland, and D’harawal country in Wollongong. I completed a Bachelor of Arts majoring in both Ancient and Modern history in 2018, and am now in the second year of the Master of Research (MRes) program. I am enrolled in the Department of Indigenous Studies, where I’m also a tutor for ABST1000 and ABST2060. My research interest lies in Indigenous History, and the (so far) unspoken space of Indigenous narratives within the broader national history of Australia.


My MRes research is centred around a critical reading of the archaeological work of McCarthy, using Lester-Irabinna Rigney’s Indigenist critique as methodology. I use McCarthy’s rock art research on the Cobar Pediplain as a case study, examining the colonial foundations of the archaeological field and how colonial mentalities inform the framework of archaeological research. I then go on to discuss ways to decolonise archaeology, particularly research around Indigenous ancestral sites, drawing on the concept of archaeology as transformative practice. My thesis is loosely titled “The interpretation is the personal opinion of the author” which draws on McCarthy’s own claim that, as he didn’t speak to any Aboriginal people during his research, the interpretation of the rock art is his own guesswork. As this research works between archaeological and Indigenous Studies concepts, I have two supervisors: Dr. Tristan Kennedy in the Department of Indigenous Studies, and Associate Professor Yann Tristant in the Department of Ancient History.

Things learnt…

One thing I’ve learnt recently is that the ancient history staff cannot be trusted with Australian Bush Turkeys. Evidence can be found here and here. Also, writing a thesis is hard, and it is okay to have off-days. Sometimes, you really do just need to re-watch Avatar: The Last Airbender in its entirety, and that is okay (or, that is what I’m telling myself).

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MQ Ancient World HDR

'MQ Ancient World HDR' is a Blog series edited by Ewan Coopey (MRes) covering some of the amazing HDR research (and researchers) at Macquarie University, Sydney. Be prepared to learn about excellent upcoming theses, interdisciplinary research, study advice, challenging the status quo, and more!