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

Prof Paul S.C. Taçon FAHA FSA is an ARC Australian Laureate Fellow (2016-2021), Chair in Rock Art Research and Professor of Anthropology and Archaeology at Griffith University, Queensland, Australia. He also directs Griffith University’s Place, Evolution and Rock Art Heritage Unit (PERAHU) and leads research themes in the Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research and Griffith’s Research Centre of Human Evolution. He has conducted archaeological and ethnographic fieldwork since 1980 and has over 90 months field experience in remote parts of Australia, Cambodia, Canada, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, southern Africa, Thailand, the Philippines and the USA.

Prof Taçon co-edited The Archaeology of Rock-art with Dr Christopher Chippindale and has published over 280 academic and popular papers on rock art, material culture, colour, cultural evolution and identity. In 2015, he co-authored a book that outlines a new strategy for the conservation of world rock art and in 2016 and 2017 co-edited two major volumes on rock art. In December 2016 Prof Taçon was awarded the top award at the annual Australian Archaeological Association conference, the Rhys Jones Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Australian Archaeology. He also received the 2016 Griffith University Vice-Chancellor’s Research Excellence Award for Research Leadership.

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)