Senior Research Fellow, School of Humanities, Languages and Social Science
Associate Professor Maxime Aubert is an archaeologist and geochemist that specializes in the development and application of analytical techniques to key questions in human evolution such as the dating of rock art and hominin fossils. His research has been published in the world’s leading interdisciplinary science journal, Nature.
Rock art dating
Rock art is of global scientific importance and its accurate dating is amongst the most challenging areas of geochronology and archaeology. Associate Professor Aubert is one of the few specialists in the world working on the development and application of cutting-edge rock art dating methods, such as high-resolution uranium-series. The accurate dating of these features provides the archaeological and environmental sciences with new opportunities to investigate the interactions between rock art, material culture, human evolution, migration and environmental changes. In particular, Associate Professor Aubert pioneered the application of uranium-series with multi-collector ICP mass spectrometer to date milligrams of calcium carbonate associated with rock art. His research, as part of collaborative multi-national and multi-disciplinary research programs has led to the oldest rock art dates in various parts of the world. In 2014, Science magazine ranked his discovery (with Dr. Adam Brumm and Indonesian colleagues) of 40,000-year-old cave art on Sulawesi as one of the top 10 most important scientific breakthroughs of that year.
Dating fossil bones and teeth
Until recently, hominid and faunal fossils could only be directly dated by radiocarbon, limiting the range to approximately 40 thousand years. As a consequence, older fossils could not be dated and many important questions in our understanding of human evolution and faunal extinction could not be addressed. Associate Professor Aubert is involved in the development and application of open system uranium-series dating of fossil bones and teeth and collaborates on a number of national and international projects investigating key issues in human evolution and faunal extinction. For example, he directly dated the oldest anatomically modern human (Omo Kibish 1) to a minimum of ~155-187 thousand years ago. He also directly dated (for the first time) the fossils remains of Homo floresiensis nickname the Hobbit. The results demonstrate that the fossils are at least 60 thousand years old and that the previous age estimates of 12-18 thousand years on associated material were incorrect. This suggests that Homo floresiensis did not coexist with Modern human in the region for tens of thousands of years.
- Confirmation of a late middle Pleistocene age for the Omo Kibish 1 cranium by direct uranium-series dating
- Revised stratigraphy and chronology for Homo floresiensis at Liang Bua in Indonesia
- Science Magazine top 10 scientific achievements of 2014 (American Association for the Advancement of Science).
- United States National Academy of Sciences Kavli Fellow (2015)
- Archaeology Magazine top 10 Discoveries of 2015
- Vice Chancellor's Research Excellence Award - Outstanding Research Achievement, Griffith University (2014)
- Early Career Research Award, Arts, Education and Law Group, Griffith University (2014)