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Biographical entry Thorne, Alan Gordon (1939 - 2012)

1 March 1939
Neutral Bay, New South Wales, Australia
21 May 2012
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia


Alan Thorne was an anthropologist whose ideas were at the core of international debate about the origins of modern humans, especially Indigenous Australians. He gave palaeoanthropology a solid empirical foundation in the form of Pleistocene and Holocene human remains from the Australian continent and testable models for the origins of Indigenous Australians. He worked on late Pleistocene skeletons from Kow Swamp in northern Victoria and reconstructed the remains know as Mungo Lady. From this Thorne conceived the Regional Continuity Theory on the evolution of humans that contradicted the generally accepted idea of human development. His work on the Lake Mungo remains led to a significant improvement in the relationship between archaeologists and indigenous Australians in the excavation of Aboriginal archaeological sites. Thorne was an effective communicator of science to the public in several media.



Education - BA, University of Sydney
Education - MA, University of Sydney
Career event - Appointed Research Fellow (later Senior Fellow), Department of Prehistory, ANU
Education - PhD, University of Sydney
1979 - 1982
Career position - Co-editor, Australian Archaeology
Award - Riversleigh Medal, Riversleigh Society
Career position - Fellow, Australian Academy of the Humanities

Published resources

Journal Articles

  • Bowler, Jim and Brady, Maggie, 'Alan Gordon Thorne 1939 - 2012', Quaternary Australasia, 29 (1) (2012), 50-2. Details
  • Curnoe, Darren, 'Obituary: Alan Thorne: Scientist, communicator, 'bridge-builder' and mentor (1939 - 2012)', Australian Archaeology, 75 (2012), 134-5. Details
  • Groves, Colin, 'Alan Gordon Thorne 1939 - 2012', PaleoAnthropology, 2012 (2013), 28-32. Details
  • Groves, Colin, 'Alan Gordon Thorne 1939 - 2012', Annual Report, Australian Academy of the Humanities, 2012 (2013), 43-5. Details


Helen Cohn