Peter Bellwood

Professor Emeritus Peter Bellwood

  • Post Nominals: FAHA
  • Fellow Type: Fellow
  • Elected to the Academy: 1983
  • Section(s): Archaeology


Peter Bellwood grew up in Leicester (UK), studied archaeology at Cambridge University (King’s College: BA 1966, PhD 1980), and emigrated to New Zealand in 1967 as Lecturer in Prehistory at the University of Auckland. In 1973 he crossed the Tasman Sea to join the newly-founded Prehistory Department headed by John Mulvaney at the Australian National University in Canberra, where he was successively Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Reader in Archaeology until his promotion to the Professorship in 2000. He retired as an Emeritus Professor in 2013.

The research interests of Peter Bellwood include population migration in prehistory; origins of agriculture and resulting cultural, linguistic and biological developments; and the interdisciplinary connections between archaeology, linguistics and human biology. During his career at ANU he has carried out archaeological excavations with colleagues and graduate students in many regions of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. Prior to 1973 he also excavated in New Zealand, French Polynesia and the Cook Islands. He has written and edited several books, including Man’s Conquest of the Pacific (1978); The Polynesians (1978 and 1987); Prehistory of the Indo-Malaysian Archipelago (1985, 1997, and 2007); The Austronesians (co-edited 1995); Examining the Farming/Language Dispersal Hypothesis (co-edited 2002); Southeast Asia: from Prehistory to History (co-edited 2004); First Farmers: the Origins of Agricultural Societies (2005); First Migrants: Ancient Migration in Global Perspective (2013); The Global Prehistory of Human Migration (edited 2015); and First Islanders: the Prehistory of Island Southeast Asia (2017).

Peter Bellwood was Secretary-General of the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association until 2009 and editor of the former Bulletin of the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association (now Journal of Indo-Pacific Prehistory). He was elected a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy in 2016. See also biographical details by Hsiao-chun Hung in Terra Australis volume 45, pp. 1-42 (ANU Press, 2017).

In July 2021 he was awarded the prestigious International Cosmos Prize.

Acknowledgement of Country

The Australian Academy of the Humanities recognises Australia’s First Nations Peoples as the traditional owners and custodians of this land, and their continuous connection to country, community and culture.