Robert Edwards and the history of Australian rock art research

M. A. Smith, J. Ross, R. G. Kimber

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Working in the 1960s, Robert (Bob) Edwards was a key figure in the development of research into Australian rock art. He was one of the first rock art scholars to attempt a quantitative and comparative survey of rock engravings in south and central Australia. In this paper, we examine the development of his work on rock engravings, the intellectual context for his research, and the problems he addressed. Edwards' research took place during a decade when rock art research became more systematic, analytical and quantitative. Although Edwards' research on rock engravings was influential, his subsequent career shows a shift from an antiquarian interest in which he regarded rock art as an archaeological relic of an ancient Australia, to a more humanist perspective, where he began to appreciate that many of the sites that he regarded as ancient were part of a living tradition.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)41-51
    Number of pages11
    JournalHistorical Records of Australian Science
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

    Bibliographical note

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2020 Australian Academy of Science.

    Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


    • rock art
    • Australia
    • Indigenous Archaeology
    • Cultural heritage


    Dive into the research topics of 'Robert Edwards and the history of Australian rock art research'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this