Rock Art Modification and its Ritualized and Relational Contexts

Liam M. Brady, R. G. Gunn, Joakim Goldhahn

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Australia has some of the most complex and extensive examples of modified rock art (e.g., superimposed, re-painted, re-drawn, re-pecked) in the world. Typically used to document style-based chronological sequences and address questions of meaning and intention, less well known are the relational networks within which these ritual modification practices are embedded. In this article we explore the ritual rock art modification relationship to further highlight the value of a ritual-based approach to access and enhance understanding of modified rock art. Central to this approach is the idea that modified motifs do not exist in isolation—their placement, the actions, rules, and structures linked to the modification process, along with the surrounding landscape, are all part of relational networks that extend across multiple social and cultural realms. By identifying key themes associated with this ritual practice, we explore relational qualities to further understand the ritual rock art relationship to broaden archaeological and ethnographic understanding of rock art.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Indigenous Australia and New Guinea
EditorsIan J. McNiven, Bruno David
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9780190095628
ISBN (Print)9780190095611
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Jul 2022


  • rock art
  • superimposition
  • ritual
  • relatedness
  • ethnography,
  • symbolism


Dive into the research topics of 'Rock Art Modification and its Ritualized and Relational Contexts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this