ARCY2004 Archaeology of Rock Art

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 option in the Archaeology major sequence
  • The area of knowledge for this unit is Society and Culture
  • Category A broadening unit for Bachelor of Arts students where relevant according to the broadening requirements for each student
  • Level 2 elective
This unit addresses rock art as a global but culturally diverse phenomenon that helps us define what it means to be 'human'. The unit covers the last 100,000 years of human history. Topics, taught by world experts from UWA's renowned Centre for Rock Art Research and Management, are drawn from across the globe and include: rock art dating, pigment analysis, interpretation of rock art, Indigenous perspectives, symbolic behaviour, conservation and management and intellectual property issues.The unit aims to provide students with the skill to understand visual communication cross-culturally and the ethics of such interactions, as well as providing an informed evaluation of a cultural heritage.
Students are able to (1) demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of rock art, the antiquity of rock art and its cultural heritage value in a global context; (2) demonstrate an understanding of the methods archaeologists use to identify and record rock art in a culturally appropriate manner, as well as recognise the emerging role of digital technology in this process; (3) describe ethical considerations and behaviour involved in the archaeological study of rock art; (4) identify and critically analyse the range of methods used to date rock art; (5) develop an awareness of the various techniques archaeologists use to analyse and interpret rock art assemblages; (6) describe, compare and contrast the various theoretical frameworks used to interpret rock art; (7) explain current conservation practices used in the management of rock art and their implications for archaeology; (8) comprehend archaeological literature, specialised terminology and data, and communicate this in an appropriate manner both orally and through written expression; (9) demonstrate presentation skills by preparing a tutorial presentation and concomitant group communication skills in discussing the presentation; and (10) demonstrate critical reading skills and source criticism.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) essay; (2) test; and (3) tutorial assignments. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit except in the case of a bachelor's pass degree student who has obtained a mark of 45 to 49 overall and is currently enrolled in this unit, and it is the only remaining unit that the student must pass in order to complete their course.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Professor Benjamin Smith
Unit rules
any Level 1 Archaeology unit
VISA1001 Art Technology and Society
VISA1000 Great Moments in Art
ANTH1001 Being Human: Culture, Identity and Society
ANTH1002 Global Change, Local Responses
ANTH1001 Being Human: Culture, Identity and Society
Contact hours
lectures: 1 x 45 minutes; Practical Classes: 1 x 45 minutes per week

Optional but recommended:

McDonald, J. & Veth, P. 2012 A Companion to Rock Art. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

Smith, B. W., Helskog, K. & Morris, D. 2012 Working with Rock Art: recording, presenting and understanding rock art using indigenous knowledge. Johannesburg: Wits University Press.

Whitley, D. S. 2001. Rock art and rock art research in worldwide perspective, in Whitley, D. S. (ed.), Handbook of rock art research: 7–51. Lanham, CA: Altamira Press. 

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