The research activities of the unit focus on rock art and material culture as forms of expression that not only reflect individual and group identity but also how past peoples responded to and symbolically expressed relationships to changing cultural and natural landscapes.
Current grants and projects
Present major grants:
2016-2021 ARC FL160100123 (Taçon) Rock art history, conservation and Indigenous well-being, $2,553,00.
Summary: The contemporary significance of Australia’s rock art heritage and reasons why rock art is important for Indigenous identity and well-being but undervalued by others is a focal point of this project. New national strategies and knowledge about rock art will be produced to enhance Indigenous empowerment and well-being. Threats to Australian rock art and problems with its conservation will be addressed to ensure this rich and ancient element of national heritage is better protected for future generations. Innovative ways to manage and promote the rock art of Australia will be developed in collaboration with Indigenous peoples, especially in northern Australia, a region experiencing unprecedented development that threatens rock art landscapes.
2016-2018 ARC DP160101832 (Taçon et al.) History places: Wellington Range rock art in global context, $490,100.
Summary: The project aims to investigate one of Australia’s most extraordinary bodies of rock art, spread across Arnhem Land’s Wellington Range, in order to answer important archaeological research questions, provide Traditional Owners with a comprehensive digital record of their rock art heritage and develop a long term management plan. Field research will include survey, 2-D and 3-D rock art recording, limited excavation and sampling for dating. The project is designed to situate Wellington Range rock art in regional and global contexts in order to better understand long-term north Australian Aboriginal experience and its expression in relation to other hunter-gatherer groups and to gain new insight into human cultural and cognitive development.
Collaborators: Dr S. K. May (ANU), Dr L. Brady (Monash), Dr D. Wright (ANU), Prof J. Goldhahn (Linnaeus U., Sweden), Prof I. Domingo Sanz (U. Barcelona, Spain).
2014-16 ARC DE140100254 (Aubert), Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA), The oldest rock art in Asia and the early human occupation of island Southeast Asia, $395,205.
Summary: Recent research revealed that humans were producing rock paintings on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi by at least 39 thousand years ago (and possibly up to 46 thousand years ago). The rock art, therefore, is essentially contemporaneous with the earliest cave art in Europe and may be the world’s oldest given the arrival of Homo sapiens in Australia at least 50 thousand years ago. This project will further investigate the early rock art of Sulawesi as well as other key Indonesian islands located along likely migration routes from Borneo to New Guinea. The results will have major implications for our understanding of the cultural behaviour and dispersal of the earliest modern humans to colonise Southeast Asia and Australia.
Collaborative researchAt Griffith University PERAHU works closely with other areas of the School of Humanities, Languages and Social Science, the Ancient DNA Sequencing Laboratory (Science, Environment, Engineering and Environment), the Complex Active Visualisation Lab, School of Information and Communication Technology and other sections of the university.
In Australia, PERAHU collaborates closely with Indigenous Australians wherever research is undertaken. It also conducts collaborative research with archaeologists, anthropologists, dating experts, geomorphologists and many other scientists at The Australian National University, The University of New England, The University of New South Wales, The University of Western Australia and The University of Queensland on a range of research projects. PERAHU is working with Various Aboriginal communities and academics at other university’s to establish a national rock art institute in order to coordinate resources and training for rock art research, conservation and management.
Across the globe PERAHU collaborates closely with individuals and institutions in Canada, China, South Africa and throughout South East Asia.