Monday, June 20, 2011

Campaign to save Australia's rock art

A national campaign to protect Australia’s rock art led by Griffith University’s Professor Paul Tacon was recently launched in Sydney. Professor Tacon, who is Australia’s first Chair in Rock Art, warned in less than 50 years, half of Australia’s valuable rock art sites could vanish.

He said without a national heritage register of rock art, Australia’s estimated 100,000 sites were in danger of being destroyed by vandalism or industrial and urban development.

“We need a fully-resourced research institute and national register-archive to bring together diverse forms of information about rock art sites and to plan for the future management and conservation of sites.”

“Australian rock art is priceless and older than the majority of priceless artworks in galleries around the world. It offers a unique visual archive of Australia’s history going back at least 15,000 years and it tells us about our recent and ancient pasts.”

Rock art consists of paintings, drawings, engravings, stencils and figures made of native beeswax in rock shelters and caves, on boulders and platforms.

He said South Africa led the world in national rock art archives with a major repository at the Rock Art Research Institute in Johannesburg.

“Many other nations have smaller scale national registers and archives but Australia has never had one. We are way behind other countries like China, South Africa, France, India and Spain in managing rock art heritage.”

The register and digital archive will be a joint initiative between Griffith University’s Place, Evolution and Rock Art Heritage Unit and the Australian National University’s Rock Art Research Centre.

It will have strong links with Indigenous communities, museums, and other universities. Collaborative fieldwork between Aboriginal Australians, archaeologists and other scientists will take place across Australia.

For more information visit the Protect Australia’s Spirit website


2011. "Campaign to save Australia's rock art". Past Horizons. Posted: June 1, 2011. Available online:

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