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Articles on Rock art

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This Warty Pig is part of a panel dated to more than 45,500 years in age. Basran Burhan/Griffith University

How climate change is erasing the world’s oldest rock art

The ancient cave paintings have only begun to tell us about the lives of the earliest people who lived in Australasia. The art is disappearing just as we are beginning to understand its significance.
December 1972: Billy Miargu, with his daughter Linda on his arm, and his wife Daphnie Baljur. In the background, the newly painted kangaroo. Photograph by George Chaloupka, now in Parks Australia's Archive at Bowali.

‘Our dad’s painting is hiding, in secret place’: how Aboriginal rock art can live on even when gone

How does rock art matter? New research finds it can act as a kind of intergenerational media –even when no longer visible to the eye.
Detail of the ceiling paintings of the San people in the Drakensberg, South Africa. Courtesy © Stephen Townley Bassett

An ancient San rock art mural in South Africa reveals new meaning

The team from Wits University returned to a well-known ceiling panel in the Maloti-Drakensberg mountains, armed with new knowledge about the beliefs of the San people who made the paintings.
This hunting scene, painted 44,000 years ago, is the oldest known work of representational art in the world. Ratno Sardi

Indonesian cave paintings show the dawn of imaginative art and human spiritual belief

A recent cave art discovery in remote Indonesia is changing our understanding of the beginnings of art and the emergence of religious-like thinking in the early human story.
Ranger Trevor Bramwell on the walk up to the Split Rock art galleries in Cape York’s Quinkan Country in 2017. Rebekah Ison/AAP

Budj Bim’s world heritage listing is an Australian first – what other Indigenous cultural sites could be next?

The World Heritage Listing for Victoria's Budj Bim fish traps was ground-breaking. Here are five other Australian Indigenous sites that also deserve greater attention.
The Enderby Island ship image depicting His Majesty’s Cutter Mermaid, which visited the Dampier Archipelago in 1818. Courtesy: Murujuga Dynamics of the Dreaming ARC Project

The Murujuga Mermaid: how rock art in WA sheds light on historic encounters of Australian exploration

An image of a ship on a rock in Western Australia's Dampier Archipelago depicts HMC Mermaid – the main vessel of Phillip Parker King, an unsung hero of Australian exploration.
Detail of the Connecticut Inscription, with image enhancement. Centre for Rock Art Research and Management database

Rock art shows early contact with US whalers on Australia’s remote northwest coast

Etchings over much earlier Aboriginal engravings show foreign whalers made contact with Australia's remote northwest long before colonial settlement of the area.
Paintings of human figures from East Kalimantan. NB: The human figures, originally mulberry-coloured, have been digitally traced over to enhance the art. Pindi Setiawan

Borneo cave discovery: is the world’s oldest rock art in Southeast Asia?

The cave paintings in Borneo show people and animals and are now thought to be the world's oldest example of figurative art.
Third-year archaeology student Dominic Coe replicates a painting of rhino based on the original image in France’s Grotte Chauvet. Supplied

Why we built an artificial cave to teach our students about ancient art

In an ideal world, students might visit original cave sites to see ancient paintings in their natural setting. This isn't possible, so the idea of an artificial cave set-up at a university was born.
Many threats – the lower paintings at this site at Malarrak in Arnhem Land are being removed by feral animals rubbing against the wall. Paul Tacon

Australian rock art is threatened by a lack of conservation

Australian rock art is under threat from both natural and cultural forces impacting on sites. But what saddens me the most is that there is so much government lethargy in Australia when it comes to documenting…

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