The world from Malarrak: Depictions of South-east Asian and European subjects in rock art from the Wellington Range, Australia
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This paper investigates contact histories in northern Australia through an analysis of recent rock paintings. Around Australia Aboriginal artists have produced a unique record of their experiences of contact since the earliest encounters with South-east Asian and, later, European visitors and settlers. This rock art archive provides irreplaceable contemporary accounts of Aboriginal attitudes towards, and engagement with, foreigners on their shores. Since 2008 our team has been working to document contact period rock art in north-western and western Arnhem Land. This paper focuses on findings from a site complex known as Malarrak. It includes the most thorough analysis of contact rock art yet undertaken in this area and questions previous interpretations of subject matter and the relationship of particular paintings to historic events. Contact period rock art from Malarrak presents us with an illustrated history of international relationships in this isolated part of the world. It not only reflects the material changes brought about by outside cultural groups but also highlights the active role Aboriginal communities took in responding to these circumstances.
Australian Aboriginal Studies
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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Archaeology
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History