Perspectives on Differences in Rock Art - Jan Magne Gjerde

Perspectives on Differences in Rock Art - Jan Magne Gjerde

21st Century Innovation in Conserving the Rock Art of Northern Australia

Perspectives on Differences in Rock Art - Jan Magne Gjerde

Paul S.C. Tacon [+-]
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 in the School of Humanities, Languages and Social Science, 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 89 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 260 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 late 2016 an edited book with Liam Brady, Relating to rock art in the contemporary world: navigating symbolism, meaning and significance (University Press of Colorado). In 2017 he co-edited a major volume on the archaeology of Arnhem Land 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.


Rock art conservation requires a holistic approach and should be maintained continuously. It is not simply using science to understand weathering processes that affect the art directly, but importantly involves other factors such as social, cultural and tourism concerns. These aspects need to be dovetailed so that information gained in one study can be disseminated to all other components. This idea underpins the Rock Art Protection Research Program that began in 2011. It has eight guiding principles: (1) Direction by, and involvement of, Indigenous owners and local communities; (2) Intellectual property and protocols for documentation; (3) Ethics and standards for conservation practice; (4) Ongoing communication and collaboration; (5) Raising public and political awareness; (6) Creating effective rock art management systems; (7) Training and support for conservation practice; (8) Realising community benefits. The overall aim of the research program is to collaboratively develop new, innovative ways to conserve and manage the rock art of northern Australia and beyond with and for the benefit of Indigenous peoples and local communities. In the process, new knowledge about rock art and its conservation will be obtained and Indigenous communities will be empowered.

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Tacon, Paul. 21st Century Innovation in Conserving the Rock Art of Northern Australia. Perspectives on Differences in Rock Art. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 360-375 Apr 2021. ISBN 9781781795606. Date accessed: 21 May 2024 doi: 10.1558/equinox.31927. Apr 2021

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