Australian Rock Art

Australian Rock Art

A pink painting of a bicycle was placed over several layers of more traditional imagery. It may be a depiction of the first bicycle seen in this part of Arnhem Land, ridden by a photographer taking pictures of buffalo hunters in the early 1900s.

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  • Title: Bicycle
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1900/1940
  • More Info: Archaeology journal, Place, Evolution and Rock Art Heritage Unit
  • Finding: Djulirri, Western Arnhem Land
  • Culture: The Djulirri rock art site is located in the Wellington Range of Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia. It forms part of the Maung language group’s traditional territory and is located at the western side of senior traditional owner Ronald Lamilami’s Namunidjbuk clan estate. Across a 52 m length of dissected sandstone, Djulirri’s main gallery was found to contain more than 1100 paintings, 17 stencils, one print, and 46 figures made from native beeswax in three adjacent wall/ceiling areas. There are a further 52 panels with at least another 2000 examples of rock art, making it the largest known pigment site yet documented in Australia. The site is arranged in a horseshoe-like shape measuring about 180 m by 120 m, oriented roughly northwest–southeast, with a cluster of other sites nearby. Paintings made with combinations of red, yellow, white and black pigment, typical of the region’s recent rock art, including introduced contact period subject matter, are concentrated in Djulirri’s main shelter and the rest of the southern wing of the horseshoe. Representative subject matter of all previous Arnhem Land rock art forms and styles is concentrated in the northern wing, with a few mixed panels towards the back. It is within the main shelter that most of the beeswax art can also be found. A few of these designs lie over or under painted depictions of watercraft, including European tall ships and Southeast Asian sailing vessels (praus). This allowed us to use radiocarbon dating to obtain minimum or maximum ages for some diagnostic contact period paintings superimposed over or under the beeswax figures. The site was intensively documented between 2008-2011 by a Griffith University led team of archaeologists and local Aboriginal people as part of Picturing Change, an Australian-wide investigation into contact period rock art.
  • Type: painting

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