Associate Professor Dougald O'Reilly

Associate Professor Dougald O'Reilly

Position: Senior Lecturer
School and/or Centres: Archaeology


Phone: 612 50622

Location: Room 225, Upper Floor, Banks Building (#44), Linnaeus Way


B.A., P.G. Dip., M.A., Ph.D., F.S.A.

Researcher profile:

Dougald O’Reilly was granted an M.A. and PhD in Archaeology by the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. His researched involved the exploration of the development of political complexity in Bronze and Iron Age Thailand. He lived in Cambodia from 1999, working as a UNESCO lecturer at the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh. From 2006 -2008 he lectured at the University of Sydney, Australia, was a visiting lecturer at Yale University in 2008-09 and is currently employed with the Australian National University.  

In response to the looting of archaeological sites in Cambodia, a non-governmental organization called Heritage Watch ( was founded by O'Reilly in an effort to combat the loss of heritage in Cambodia.  Heritage Watch established a nationwide education campaign highlighting the importance of heritage and continues to work in heritage preservation.

O'Reilly has worked extensively in the archaeology of Southeast Asia. Recent research has been focussed in Cambodia where he oversees a multi-disciplinary project examining ancient mobility, health and social organization of Iron Age settlements. He has also led research examining the rise of the state in the region with excavations undertaken in both Cambodia and Thailand, the core and periphery of empire.

His current research focusses on the enigmatic sites of the 'Plain of the Jars' in Central Laos. This is a collaborative project with Lao government archaeologists aimed at shedding more light on the origin and purpose of the megalithic jar sites.

Future projects will involve collaborating with researchers in Assam, NE India where similar jars are found.

In 2015 O'Reilly was awarded the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences Award for Programs that Enhance Learning and the Vice Chancellor's Award for Public Policy and Outreach. He was nominated in 2016 for a Vice Chancellor's Award for Programs that Enhance Learning.

The prehistory of Southeast Asia, rise of complex society, Archaeological theory, Heritage preservation.

Researcher's projects

Chief Investigator - Unravelling the Mystery of the Plain of Jars, Laos- Australian Research Council Grant (

Chief Investigator – From Paddy to Pura Archaeological Project, Cambodia/Thailand – Australian Research Council Grant (

Chief Investigator – History in Their Bones Project, Cambodia – Australian Research Council Grant (

Founder/Board Member - Heritage Watch (

Australian National Commission for UNESCO Grants Program World Heritage Status Realized: Plain of the Jars.  Meeting 1-3 July 2013, Xieng Khuang Lao PDR. 

Co-Investigator- The Monash Immersive Visualisation Platform (MIVP) CAVE2 Pilot Project Grant. 2015 Title: Unravelling the mystery of the plain of Jars, Laos:  Investigating a prehistoric cultural landscape contaminated by Unexploded Ordnance (UXO)



Available student projects

The following projects deriving from Dr. O'Reilly's research in Cambodia may be of interest to prospective Honours students;

Dental ablation a global analysis

Isotopic analysis of Cambodian human remains and fauna

Research topics related to the Paddy to Pura: Origins of Angkor project;

Glass beads - sourcing; 

Agate/carnelian characterization

Research topics related to Unravelling the Mystery of the Plain of Jars;

Project to create database for the Plain of Jars using the heritage specific 'Arches' programe. 

Current student projects

Glenn Scott - Analysis of Mortuary assemblages in Iron Age Cambodia and Thailand

Tse Siang Lim - Analysis of ceramics from selected Iron Age sites in Cambodia and Thailand

Andrew Ball - A Spatial Analysis of Megalithic Sites in Laos


Past student projects

Glen Scott- An analysis of moated sites in NE Thailand (Honours)

Amanda Zivcic - Cultural Heritage Loss in Cambodia (Honours)

Andrew Ball - Ceramic Analysis (Honours)

Samantha Rowthbottom - Skeletal analysis  (MA)

Updated:  9 February 2021/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications