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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

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Ole Christensen (?–1974)

by Rhys Jones

Last year was marred for the Department of Prehistory, Research School of Pacific Studies, by the death in a road accident in mid-December of Ole Christensen, 29. He had come to Australia after completing his MA in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

At ANU, he was a PhD scholar working on the prehistory of the Manim Valley, Western Highlands District, Papua New Guinea, and was well advanced on his doctoral research, having completed several field seasons under arduous conditions.

His project, analysing economic changes associated with the intensification of horticultural practices formed one of the crucial flanks of Professor Jack Golson's long-term field program in the Wahgi Valley.

Christensen's research involved excavation of four major rockshelter sites, analyses of stone tool typology, modern ethnographic observations of gardening, hunting and technological activities in the Manim and upper Wahgi valleys and investigation of palaeo-botanical materials, including pioneering work on charcoal cross-sections.

Before his death, Christensen wrote two papers on his New Guinea work which are in press in the anthropological journal Mankind, translated Professor A. Steensberg's book on New Guinea horticultural practices from his mother tongue Danish to English, compiled extensive field and laboratory notes, catalogued his finds, and had discussed his work widely with his colleagues.

When a man is cut down at the threshold of his intellectual maturity, there is perhaps a greater sense of loss than is the case at the end of his natural span, for in addition to mourning a friend, we also regret the unconsummated effort, the wastage of years of learning and of endeavour, the loss of what might have been achieved.

Ole's friends and colleagues will ensure that as much as possible of the work that he left behind will be edited and published, so that at least some of his ideas and discoveries will persist.

As a department, we wish to convey our sorrow to Alison Garnett and to Ole's parents in Calgary, Canada.

Original publication

Citation details

Rhys Jones, 'Christensen, Ole (?–1974)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 13 April 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


December, 1974

Cause of Death

motor vehicle accident

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.