The rock art of Ingaanjalwurr, western Arnhem Land, Australia
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The painted and beeswax rock art of Ingaanjalwurr rockshelter in western Arnhem Land is a unique assemblage of art within an unassuming rockshelter. By combining a variety of approaches and methods to the study of Ingaanjalwurr, we were able to draw together an important archaeological context for inferring the antiquity of the painted rock art, as well as direct dates for the age of beeswax art. This chapter provides an overview of the rock art at Ingaanjalwurr, ethnographic information regarding the use and production of art at the site, archaeological information relevant to understanding the antiquity and context of painted rock art, and the results of direct dating of beeswax art. It has been argued that rock art on the northwestern Arnhem Land plateau provides evidence for ‘outbursts of art production’ as opposed to ‘a steady, constant rate over time’ (Taçon 1993:113). Taçon (1993) reached this conclusion by examining the chronology of different styles within his study areas, and counting the number of images representing each style. He suggests that two of the most significant such outbursts are represented by Dynamic Figure art and the later Freshwater, Recent X-ray art (Taçon 1989, 1993), with relatively little rock art production between these two periods (Taçon 1993:113). A similar conclusion is reached by Gunn et al. (2012:61) for Nawarla Gabarnmang in Jawoyn Country, western Arnhem Land, arguing that a large quantity of rock art was produced in that site within the past c. 350 years (see also Chapters 11 and 12; David et al. 2011:76; Gunn et al. 2012:61). The Ingaanjalwurr site provided an opportunity to further explore such ‘outbursts of art production’ for western Arnhem Land.
The Archaeology of Rock Art in Western Arnhem Land, Australia
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Archaeology