Before Farming

Changing ecological concerns in rock-art subject matter of north Australia's Keep River region

Before Farming (2003), 2003, (3), 1–14.

Abstract

The Keep River region has a complex body of engraved and painted rock-art, distinct from but with links to regions to the east, west and south. At least four major periods of figurative rock-art have been identified with differing subject matters and ages. Significant changes in depictions of human figures and animals are evident, reflecting shifts in emphasis associated with ecological concerns and environmental change. We flesh out the relative rock-art chronology by highlighting these changes, from worlds dominated by humans to those dominated by mammals and birds, and finally to a recent world of reptiles and humans. Symbolic aspects of the imagery are also considered within a larger ecological approach.

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