Desert Rock Art: Social Geography and Stylistic Variability at the Local Scale
Jo McDonald [+]
University of Western Australia
Australia’s 50,000 year old desert occupation chronology is matched by a deep-time style sequence. Changing symbolic repertoires (i.e. stylistic change) and the ways that these changing graphic vocabularies are used to mark the land demonstrate how desert people have mapped their social geographies through time. Focussing on the rock art production a single Western Desert range, this paper explores the structure of this symbolic landscape at the local scale. The Western Desert style sequence can be perceived as change in a combination of form, subject, technique, medium, character and scale, but also placement. The different ways that the landscape has been inscribed through time is evidence for an enacted and perceived social geography. By focusing at this micro-scale – this chapter develops a time-series approach to rock art as a way of understanding changes in the deep time production histories for arid zone symbolic behaviour.