Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Iconic Imagery – The Development of Rock Art Across Northern Australia

According to Mulvaney a date of sometime prior to 45,000 BP is generally agreed upon for the peopling of Sahul, and by 30,000 BP most parts of the continent being colonised. All parts of Sahul where the first settlers left their mark there is rock art, which comprises both engraved and painted images. Mulvaney asks the question ”Did this artistic endeavour come with the people or was this an expression of being in Sahul?” There are aspects, such as cupules and hand stencils, which have parallels in other parts of the world, though there are other aspects suggesting separate artistic traditions and conventions present which have continued ever since. There is a vast body of rock art, spread across an area of more than 1 million km2 (386,000 miles2), that extends in an arc for more than 2,000 km from the coast of the Pilbara through the Kimberley and into Arnhem Land, which demonstrates the existence of differentiation in the symbolic structuring of people’s lives at a relatively short time after the beginning of colonisation. Mulvaney contends that this supports the notion that within Sahul regionalisation is not simply a Holocene expression.

Sources & Further reading

Mulvaney, Ken. "Iconic Imagery: Pleistocene Rock Art Development across Northern Australia." Quaternary International 285, no. 0 (2/8/ 2013): 99-110.


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                                                                                           Author: M.H.Monroe  Email:     Sources & Further reading