Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Earth and Environmental Sciences


The discovery in 2003 of the partial skeleton of a diminutive and primitive hominin species, Homo floresiensis, has generated wide interest and scientific debate. These remains were found buried in cave sediments at the site of Liang Bua on the island of Flores, eastern Indonesia, in association with stone artefacts and the remains of other extinct endemic fauna, such as pygmy Stegodon, marabou stork and vulture. A major reason that H. floresiensis has stirred such controversy is because the associated deposits were dated to between about 95 and 12 thousand calendar years (ka) ago. These ages implied that H. floresiensis survived on Flores long after modern humans (H. sapiens) had arrived in Australia by about 50 ka ago, thus posing a challenge to prevailing notions of modern human dispersals and human evolution in Southeast Asia and Australasia.

The research conducted for this thesis is aimed at addressing several unresolved questions arising from the original investigations at Liang Bua. A series of new excavations were conducted at Liang Bua between 2007 and 2014 to shed further light on the history of site formation and the hominin skeletal and cultural remains preserved within the cave deposits. The stratigraphic, chronological, archaeological and faunal evidence gleaned from these excavations is described and analysed in this thesis, and this information is integrated with that obtained in 2001–2004 to culminate in a new interpretation of the time of H. floresiensis extinction and H. sapiens arrival at Liang Bua.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.