Chair in Rock Art Research and Director of the Place, Evolution and Rock Art Heritage Unit (PERAHU), Griffith University

Paul S.C. Taçon FAHA FSA is Chair in Rock Art Research and Professor of Anthropology and Archaeology in the School of Humanities, Griffith University, Queensland. He also directs Griffith University’s Place, Evolution and Rock Art Heritage Unit (PERAHU). Prof. Taçon has conducted archaeological and ethnographic fieldwork since 1980 and has over 84 months field experience in remote parts of Australia, Cambodia, Canada, China, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, southern Africa, Thailand and the USA. Extensive field expeditions have been undertaken in rugged, wild areas of the Northern Territory and Wollemi National Park, NSW, Australia.

Prof. Taçon co-edited The Archaeology of Rock-art with Dr. Christopher Chippindale (1998 and republished 4 times) and has published over 200 academic and popular papers on prehistoric art, body art, material culture, colour, cultural evolution, identity and contemporary Indigenous issues. Prof. Taçon has made key archaeological discoveries in western Arnhem Land (NT) and Wollemi National Park (NSW) that have been published in journals and also have made world headlines. Much of his current research is related to better situating Australian archaeology and contact history in a Southeast Asian regional context and to more fully involving Indigenous peoples in archaeological research. He also collaborates nationally and internationally on human evolution research, including some projects involving ancient DNA sequencing.

Prof. Taçon has active field projects in northern Australia, Sarawak, Malaysia and Yunnan Province, China and leads the Protect Australia’s Spirit campaign devoted to raising awareness about and threats to Australia’s unique rock art heritage and the establishment of an Australian national rock art heritage strategy. In 2013 he edited the December special issue on maritime rock art of The Great Circle, Journal of the Australian Association for Maritime History.

Experience

  • 2011–present
    Chair in Rock Art Research, Griffith University
  • 2005–2011
    Professor of Archaeology & Anthropology, Griffith University
  • 1999–2005
    Principal Research Scientist, The Australian Museum
  • 1996–1999
    Senior Research Scientist, The Australian Museum
  • 1993–1996
    Research Scientist, The Australian Museum
  • 1991–1993
    Scientific Officer, The Australian Museum
  • 1989–1990
    Associate Professor, Trent University

Education

  • 1990 
    Australian National University, PhD
  • 1984 
    Trent University, Ontario, Canada, MA
  • 1980 
    University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, BA (Honours)

Publications

  • 2014
    A scientific study of a new cupule site in Jabiluka, western Arnhem Land, Rock Art Research
  • 2013
    Further geological and palaeoanthropolgocial investigations at the Maludong hominin site, Yunnan Province, Southwest China, Chinese Science Bulletin
  • 2013
    Mid-Holocene age obtained for nested diamond pattern petroglyph in the Billasurgam Cave complex, Kurnool District, southern India, Journal of Archaeological Science
  • 2012
    Uranium-series age estimates for rock art in southwest China, Journal of Archaeological Science
  • 2012
    Human remains from the Pleistocene-Holocene transition of Southwest China suggest a complex evolutionary history for East Asians, PLoS One
  • 2011
    The recent rock drawings of the Lenggong Valley, Perak, Malaysia, Antiquity
  • 2010
    A minimum age for early depictions of Southeast Asian praus in the rock art of Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australian Archaeology
  • 2010
    Painting History: Indigenous observations and depictions of the ‘other’ in northwestern Arnhem Land, Australia, Australian Archaeology
  • 2010
    New rock art discoveries in the Kurnool District, Andhra Pradesh, India, Antiquity
  • 2010
    Ancient bird stencils in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia, Antiquity
  • 2010
    Naturalism, nature and questions of style in Jinsha River rock art, northwest Yunnan, China, Cambridge Archaeological Journal
  • 2010
    The age of Australian rock art: a review, Australian Archaeology
  • 2009
    Thinking with animals in Upper Palaeolithic rock art, Cambridge Archaeological Journal
  • 2008
    Rainbow colour and power among the Waanyi of northwest Queensland, Cambridge Archaeological Journal
  • 2007
    Human dispersal into Australasia, Science
  • 2006
    Wollemi petroglyphs, NSW, Australia: an unusual assemblage with rare motifs, Rock Art Research
  • 2006
    Comparison of sedimentation and occupation histories inside and outside rock shelters, Keep-River Region, northwestern Australia, Geoarchaeology
  • 2004
    Transitional traditions: ‘Port Essington’ bark-paintings and the European discovery of Aboriginal aesthetics, Australian Aboriginal Studies
  • 2003
    Depicting cross-cultural interaction: figurative designs in wood, earth and stone from south-east Australia, Archaeology in Oceania
  • 2002
    Extraordinary engraved bird track from North Australia: extinct fauna, Dreamtime Being or aesthetic masterpiece?, Cambridge Archaeological Journal
  • 2000
    Visions of Dynamic power: archaic rock-paintings, Altered States of Consciousness and ‘clever men’ in western Arnhem Land (NT), Australia, Cambridge Archaeological Journal
  • 2000
    Minimum ages for pecked rock markings from Jinmium, north western Australia, Archaeology in Oceania
  • 1999
    All things bright and beautiful: the role and meaning of colour in human development, Cambridge Archaeological Journal
  • 1998
    The archaeology of rock-art, Cambridge University Press
  • 1997
    Cupule engravings from Jinmium-Granilpi (northern Australia) and beyond: exploration of a widespread and enigmatic class of rock markings, Antiquity
  • 1996
    Birth of the Rainbow Serpent in Arnhem land rock art and oral history, Archaeology in Oceania
  • 1994
    Socialising landscapes: the long term implications of signs, symbols and marks on the land, Archaeology in Oceania
  • 1994
    Australia’s ancient warriors: changing depictions of fighting in the rock art of Arnhem Land, N.T. (with comments from 10 leading authorities and reply), Cambridge Archaeological Journal
  • 1993
    Regionalism in the recent rock art of western Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Archaeology in Oceania
  • 1991
    The power of stone: symbolic aspects of stone use and tool development in western Arnhem Land, Australia, Antiquity

Grants and Contracts

  • 2012
    The peopling of East Asia and Australia
    Role:
    Chief Investigator
    Funding Source:
    ARC Linkage
  • 2012
    History places: Wellington Range rock art
    Role:
    Lead Chief Investigator
    Funding Source:
    Northern Territory Government
  • 2010
    Rock-art research task group: an international opportunity for the implementation of a new scientific network for the documentation, preservation and ethical management of world rock-art
    Role:
    Chief Investigator
    Funding Source:
    Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
  • 2008
    Rock-art research task group: an international opportunity for the implementation of a new scientific network for the documentation, preservation and ethical management of world rock-art
    Role:
    Chief Investigator
    Funding Source:
    Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
  • 2008
    The late Pleistocene peopling of East Asia and associated climate-environment history
    Role:
    Chief Investgator
    Funding Source:
    ARC Discovery
  • 2008
    Picturing Change: 21st Century Perspectives on Recent Australian Rock Art, especially that from the European Contact Period
    Role:
    Lead Chief Investigator
    Funding Source:
    ARC Discovery
  • 2004
    The landscape of Blue Mountains rock-art
    Role:
    Chief Investigator
    Funding Source:
    National Geographic
  • 2004
    Asia’s first people: the role of East Asia in human evolution during the past half million years
    Role:
    Chief Investigator
    Funding Source:
    ARC Discovery

Honours

Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities (FAHA); Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London (FSA)