Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Earth, Atmospheric and Life Sciences


Southeast Asia plays a key role in understanding the dispersal of anatomically modern humans through southern Asia and on to Australasia, and the routes our ancestors took are still highly debated. The timing of dispersals out of Africa is also a point of discussion and multiple scenarios are possible, mainly focussed on Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 3 (57—30 ka) and/or MIS 5 (130—70 ka). Environmental conditions in Myanmar and Vietnam would have allowed for diverse nutrition strategies and options for shelter. Caves and rock shelters commonly contain evidence of human activity (stone artefacts, fossil remains, etc.) that can give insights into which group of hominin species were present at a location and their possible routes of dispersal. Establishing secure chronologies for the archaeological and fossil remains found in such sites using luminescence dating methods can help to provide evidence for dispersal routes and occupying hominin species.

A range of dating methods, such as U-series, radiocarbon dating, luminescence dating, and paleomagnetism, may be used to date archaeological sites. Luminescence dating is particularly suited to dating sites of modern human dispersal (MIS 1—5) as it utilises two of the most abundant minerals (quartz and potassium-rich feldspars) and deposits up to several hundreds of thousands of years can be dated. But only a few sites in southeast Asia have been dated using this method. Advances in this field over the last 30 years have led to a better understanding and easier application of the methods and an expanding net of luminescence chronologies throughout the world.

FoR codes (2008)

040303 Geochronology, 040606 Quaternary Environments, 210102 Archaeological Science, 210103 Archaeology of Asia, Africa and the Americas



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.