The mystery of Narrabeen Man

Step 2: Contextualise topic

Where was Narrabeen Man discovered? (Task 2)

Contextualising people and events geographically

The next step in the inquiry process is to place the discovery in its spatial context by using ICT to record the geographical location of the discovery.

For Task 2, refer to Investigation kit: the mystery of Narrabeen Man (PDF, 731 KB)


  • Use Task 2 to find the geographical location of the skeleton of Narrabeen Man.
  • Use ICT, such as Google Maps or Google Earth, to locate Narrabeen. Search for 'Octavia Street and Ocean Street Narrabeen'.
  • Examine Source A, archaeologist Dr Jo McDonald's description, and Source B, geologist Dr Peter Mitchell's description of what Narrabeen looked like in ancient times.
  • Discuss the question, How much has Narrabeen changed over time? Why did change occur?
  • Describe similarities and differences between Narrabeen in ancient times and Narrabeen today to address issues of change and continuity over time.

Useful links

The following websites provide excellent images to show the location of Narrabeen and information on the impact of changing sea levels on the Narrabeen environment over time:

A note on sea levels

Experts vary in their estimates of the difference in sea level 4000 years ago. Computer modelling sites, such as indicate that a rise of 1.5 metres to 2 metres in sea level would mean that the landscape around Narrabeen Lagoon would not have been very different to the way it appears today.

How long ago did Narrabeen Man die? (Task 3)

Contextualising people and events chronologically

Students work towards understanding relative time by comparing the estimated date for the death of Narrabeen Man to dates for important people and events in the ancient past.

For Task 3, refer to Investigation kit: the mystery of Narrabeen Man (PDF, 731 KB)


  • Use Task 3 to research these events to find out when they occurred in time.
  • Draw a timeline and put events and dates in correct chronological order.
  • Use ICT, such as Dipity to create an electronic timeline.
  • Make the task more challenging by adding more dates and events to the timeline.

A note on archaeological dating systems

Archaeologists who study prehistoric ancient societies ('prehistorians') use a different dating system to historians and archaeologists who study societies in historical periods.

Prehistorians use a relative dating system that compares past events to present time. The term they use is 'BP', meaning 'before present'. Alternatively, it may be easier to use the term 'years ago' with Year 7 students.

Because the evidence for human occupation in ancient Australia is technically 'prehistoric' (before written records), prehistorians use the terms 'BP' or 'years ago' to refer to people and events during this period of time.

The Australian Curriculum: History uses the dating terms 'BC' and 'BCE' to maintain consistency and ease of understanding for students. For this reason, 'BP' dates have been converted to BC/BCE dates in the timeline learning activity used in Task 3, shown below.

A timeline extending from around 50 000 BCE to around 1500 BCE. Task 3 timeline showing Narrabeen Man's death in context with some other prehistoric and ancient events
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