Dating of rock paintings in the Wadeye-Fitzmaurice region, Northern Territory

Alan Watchman, Graeme K. Ward, Mark Crocombe, Ken Mulvaney

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    8 Citations (Scopus)


    The Wadeye-Fitzmaurice region is in the northwest of the Top End of Australia's Northern Territory. It lies between two major geographical and cultural regions of northern Australia, the Kimberley to the southwest and Arnhem Land to the northeast. Its location suggests that it has potential to address questions concerning relationships between the two, but it has been little researched archaeologically. In collaboration with Traditional Owners of the area, we undertook a survey of cultural places of much of the region, concentrating on areas in the centre and south and along the Fitzmaurice River. The initial results from the recording of rock paintings suggest presence of cultural ties with areas to the south and west. Results of direct dating of surface accretions allow identification of a sequence of painting styles changing over time from about five thousand years ago. The most recent representations were painted within the last century. The earliest images are distinctive mulberry-red representations of anthropomorphs with resonances to similar styles described for the Kimberley and Keep River. The similar antiquity of this style of painting in all three regions tends to confirm cultural connectedness over a wide area during that period.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)223-228
    Number of pages6
    JournalRock Art Research
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010


    • Cultural heritage
    • Daly-Fitzmaurice region
    • Dating
    • Regional relationships


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