Connection, trespass, identity and a swastika: mark-making and entanglements at Pudjinuk Rockshelter No. 1, South Australia

Amy Roberts, Heather Burke, Catherine Morton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Pudjinuk Rockshelter No. 1 is one of two small, adjacent shelters located in the limestone cliffs of the River Murray Gorge, South Australia. While both rockshelters represent a crucial node in the cultural landscape of the region, Pudjinuk Rockshelter No. 1 is significant for its remnant pre-contact rock art and the body of historical inscriptions it contains. Site surveys recorded 188 motifs, only one of which was a pre-contact engraving, indicating that the ‘graffiti’ has almost entirely obliterated a body of Aboriginal petroglyphs. Historical research to ascertain the identities of those represented in the post-contact corpus shows the inscriptions to be the work of members of frontier conflict/punitive expeditions, local European settlers and a non-local Aboriginal man. Of the motifs that can be confidently attributed to German/European settlers from villages in nearby districts, one incorporates a swastika, probably engraved in 1932. Pudjinuk Rockshelter No. 1 reveals deep Aboriginal connection as well as interpenetrating tensions and social histories as a result of European invasion, colonisation and global events. However, even where inscriptions serve to desecrate the site they nevertheless co-exist with the Aboriginal motif, creating a new ‘dependency’—entangled for as long as they endure together on the rockshelter walls.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-251
Number of pages17
JournalAustralian Archaeology
Issue number3
Early online date14 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2020


  • Rock art
  • Graffiti
  • River Murray
  • South Australia
  • Frontier conflict
  • Entanglement
  • Colonisation


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