Australian Association Of Consulting Archaeologists Inc

Member Profiles: Alan Williams



Extent Heritage Pty Ltd
Pyrmont NSW 2009
P: 02 9555 4000
F: 02 9555 7005
M: 0408 203 180
Send Alan an email

All States
Ph.D. Archaeology, The Australian National University (2015)
M. Sc. Quaternary Science, Royal Holloway, University of London (2001)
B. Sc. (Hons) Joint Geography and Archaeology, University of Leicester (1999)

Professional Associations and Positions

Associate Investigator, Centre of Excellence of Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (UNSW Node)
Honorary Lecturer, Climate Change Research Centre, UNSW
Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London


  • Site Survey
  • Site Recording
  • Excavation

Special Fields

  • Bayesian statistics
  • Time-series analysis
  • Radiocarbon dating

Consulting Experience

Alan is one of the leading archaeological consultants in Australia. He has mentored a team of ~20 archaeologists, managed annual budgets of ~$1.5 million, and has produced over 200 reports on archaeological sites (and associated developments) across all parts of Australia. Alan has personally been involved in some of Extent’s most extensive projects over the last ten years, and is considered an expert in the investigation of deep sand deposits which often contain ancient and significant Aboriginal sites (including the Pitt Town sand sheet (NSW), Parramatta Terrace sand sheet (NSW), and the Glenrowan sand sheet (NSW)). He routinely publishes projects undertaken by Extent, many of which now form the foundational and/or seminal works for the past Aboriginal history of the Sydney Basin especially (examples of these are included in the profile).

Alan’s academic research includes a number of important and well-cited research outputs in the field of sum probability analysis (i.e. radiocarbon data as a proxy for past human activity), providing a series of continental and regional models of demographic change for researchers to utilise as a framework, ground-truth, and refine into the future. Globally, the analyses undertaken remain at the forefront of the technique, and are routinely used, applied and critiqued across the world. He remains heavily involved in the technique and its applications, undertaking frequent reviews for journals such as PNAS, Quaternary Science Reviews, PLOS One, and Radiocarbon, and participating in academic debate of the method.

Selected Publications

Williams, A.N. (2012) The use of summed radiocarbon probability distributions in archaeology: A review of methods. Journal of Archaeological Science, 39: 578-589.

Williams, A.N., Mitchell, P., Wright, R.V.S., Toms, P. (2012) A Terminal Pleistocene Open Site on the Hawkesbury River, Pitt Town, NSW. Australian Archaeology, 74: 85-97.

Williams, A.N. (2013) A new population curve for prehistoric Australia. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 280: 20130486.

Williams, A.N., Atkinson, F., Lau, M., Toms, P. (2014) A Glacial cryptic refuge in southeast Australia: Human occupation and mobility from 36,000 years ago in the Sydney Basin, New South Wales. Journal of Quaternary Science, 29(8): 735-748.

Wheeler, J., Williams, A.N., Kennedy, S., Toms, P., Mitchell, P. (2014) A Pleistocene date at Chelsea Heights, Victoria: Evidence for Aboriginal occupation beneath the Carrum Swamp. In C. Spry, D. Frankel, S. Lawrence, I. Berelov, S. Canning (eds.) Excavations, Surveys and Heritage Management in Victoria. Volume 3, 2014. La Trobe University, Melbourne, pp. 23-32.

Williams, A.N., Veth, P.M., Steffen, W., Ulm, S., Turney, C.S.M., Reeves, J. Phipps, S, Smith, M., (2015) A Continental Narrative: Human Settlement Patterns and Australian Climate Change over the last 35,000 Years. Quaternary Science Reviews 123, 91-112.

Doelman, T., Webb, J., Williams, A.N., May, J., Barry, F. (2015) Paleochannels and patches: A geoarchaeological assessment of silcrete sources in the Cumberland Plain, Eastern Australia. Geoarchaeology, 30: 495-510.

Tobler, R., Rohrlach, A., Soubrier, J., Bover, P., Llamas, B Tuke, J., Bean, N., Abdullah-Highfold, A., Agius, S., O'Donoghue, A., O'Loughlin, I., Sutton, P., Zilio, F., Walshe, K., Williams, A.N., Turney, C.S.M., Williams, M., Richards, S.M., Mitchell, R.J., Kowal, E., Stephen, J.R., Williams, L., Haak, W., Cooper, A. (2017) Aboriginal mitogenomes reveal 50,000 years of regionalism in Australia. Nature doi:10.1038/nature21416

Smith, M.A., Williams, A.N., Ross, J. (2017) Puntutjarpa rockshelter revisited: A chronological and stratigraphic reappraisal of a key archaeological sequence for the Western Desert, Australia. Australian Archaeology DOI: 10.1080/03122417.2017.1351673

Williams, A.N., Burrow, A., Toms, P., Brown, O., Richards, M., Bryant, T. (2017) The Cranebrook Terrace Revisited: Recent Excavations of an Early Holocene Alluvial Deposit on the banks of the Nepean River, NSW, and their Implications for Future Work in the Region. Australian Archaeology, DOI: 10.1080/03122417.2017.1392834

O’Connell, J.F., Allen, J., Williams, M.A.J., Cooper, A., Williams, A.N., Turney, C.S.M., Spooner, N.A., Kamminga, J., Brown, G. (2018) When did Homo Sapiens firs reach Southeast Asia and Sahul? Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (Perspectives), www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1808385115.

Williams, A.N., Toms, P.S., Marcus, D., Yousif, A., McGuinness, J., O’Sullivan, A., Barry, L., Bryant, T., Wood, J.C. (2019) The first successful application of Optically Stimulated Luminescence Dating to a colonial era. Journal of Archaeological Science Reports, 24: 900-1002.