CAR Seminar series

Presented by ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences and ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

The Rock Art of Aboriginal Australia from Pleistocene to the Present

Dr Josephine Flood presents a brief overview of the character and development of Australian rock art and what it tells us about the continent's pre-history. Dr Flood's synthesis is based on four decades of fieldwork in south-eastern Australia, Cape York and the Northern Territory and is an update of her book, Rock Art of the Dreamtime. Her focus, particularly on Australia's earliest art and the issues of its origins, affinities, homogeneity, conservatism and the value of ethnography in its interpretation.

Earliest dates, forms and sequences of rock art are discussed, especially in Tasmania, and then it turns to the 'Land of the Lightning Brothers' in the Victoria River region lying between the Kimberley and Arnhem Land. This project involved archaeological excavation, recording and conservation of rock art and ethnographic recording from Wardaman traditional owners, and emphasize conservatism in Aboriginal art. Valuable ethnographic information has been gathered on the what, who, how and why of rock art, especially such questions as "Why cupules?", "Why hand stencils?" and "Why circles?".