Australian rock art is under threat from both natural and cultural forces impacting on sites. But what saddens me the most is that there is so much government lethargy in Australia when it comes to documenting and protecting Australia’s rock art.
The Weekend Australian reported that 1,700 engraved boulders were removed to make way for the North West Shelf gas plant on Western Australia’s Burrup Peninsula in the early 1980s were relocated to a ridge. They sat in a fenced compound for 30 years alongside others damaged due to neglect. Although the original landscape context of the art was destroyed at least they are now out of what was called the “the graveyard”.
But now, impending changes to the Aboriginal Heritage Act by the Western Australian government means Aboriginal heritage will be worse off than ever before. This is because one person, possibly without relevant expertise, will be given the power to say yes or no to site destruction for development rather than a committee of experts. Read more.
In Australia these days, China seems to shadow the antipodean nation’s future. China’s appetite for natural resources has reshaped Australia’s economy, and the disruptive threat of its expanding navy has led Australian officials to approve the deployment of U.S. marines on Australian soil.
We hear far less about China’s role in the continent’s far past. But a team of amateur Australian archaeologists found a curious piece of evidence linking the Chinese to a much earlier age in Australia’s history. On a recent expedition to a remote island off the coast of the Northern Territory, the archaeologists, who call themselves the Past Masters, unearthed an 18th-century Qing dynasty coin. “It certainly shows the contact between Northern Australia and the trade with the Middle Kingdom, with China,” Mike Owen, a member of the expedition, told Australia’s ABC television network. Read more.
PERTH.- A stunning exhibition of treasures once thought lost to the world opened at the Western Australian Museum, Perth.
WA Museum CEO Alec Coles said the Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul exhibition contained more than 200 rare and beautiful objects dating back to the Bronze Age, from a place that was once at the crossroads of the world’s great civilisations.
“Standing as it did at the heart of the ancient Silk Road, Afghanistan was the historic link between Iran, Central Asia, India, and China and became a trading place for gold, glass, ceramics and precious stones with civilisations as far away as Rome, Greece and even Egypt,” Mr Coles said.
“The objects in this exhibition span 2,000 years of exquisite craftsmanship, and the fact we even have them here at all is an incredible story in itself.” These objects were thought to have been stolen or destroyed during Afghanistan’s years of conflict, when thousands of irreplaceable antiquities were lost. But a brave group of five staff from the National Museum in Kabul hid them, risking their lives to save their cultural heritage for future generations. (source)
Graffiti is easy to spot in every Australian city but archaeologists are viewing it with fresh eyes.
From convicts to drovers, to today’s street artists, graffiti has a long history in Australia and archaeologists are only starting to study it as a continuous body of work.
Australians have been etching their thoughts on walls since Indigenous people began drawing on rocks and caves.
Archaeologist Ursula Frederick, from the Australian National University, is one of a group of archaeologists collecting the evidence. Read more.
Archaeologists have found artefacts dating back 45,000 years in a cave in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
Animal bones and charcoal have been dug up in the Ganga Maya Cave, known to traditional owners of the land as “house on the hill”, and is now believed to be the earliest human settlement in Australia.
However Kate Morse, Director of Archaeology at Fremantle heritage consultancy Big Island Research, has said it is too early in the excavation process to officially determine the site’s significance. Read more.
Rock art in Western Australia’s Pilbara region believed to be up to 60,000 years old has been attacked by vandals.
Tourist guide and Ngarluma man Clinton Walker said he had discovered a defaced piece of rock art on the Burrup Peninsula in Murujuga National Park.
"Someone has actually etched into a rock right above where some of the rock art is and wrote: ‘go and work for a living’," he said.
The Burrup Peninsula is home to the world’s biggest collection of Aboriginal rock art and gained national heritage listing in 2007.
Greens MP Robin Chapple said he was shocked and disappointed to learn of the fresh vandalism reports. Read more.
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA — Archaeologists say remains of a rare, circular 1850s prison block unearthed at the former Pentridge Prison is of world significance in penal history.
The public will next month be able to view the extraordinary bluestone foundations of the panopticon, shaped like a Trivial Pursuit token, which experts say is one of the few examples of its type to survive.
It was part of a brutal 19th-century movement to keep prisoners in solitary contemplation, under total surveillance.
Pentridge had three: this one, next to A Division on the north of the site is the first to be unearthed. Later in May, excavation will start on two more next to B Division to the south. Read more.
Purposely sharpened or ‘retouched’ stone axes evolved in Australia thousands of years before they appeared in Europe according to researchers studying the south-east Asian archaeological record.
They found 30,000-year-old flakes from ground-edged axes at a site near Windjana Gorge in the central Kimberley.
In a recent paper with Professor Sue O’Connor, UWA archaeologist Jane Balme says the evidence collected challenges common assumptions about paleolithic innovations.
"The suggestion that all innovation has to come from the Old World is not true because clearly ground-stone axes were created here," Prof Balme says. Read more.