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 investigates rock art as a global but culturally diverse phenomenon over the past 100 000 years that defines us as modern humans. The unit is taught by world experts from UWA's renowned Centre for Rock Art Research + Management. Topics cover: rock art dating, pigment analysis, interpretation of rock art, Indigenous perspectives, symbolic behaviour, conservation, and intellectual property issues.The unit provides students with the skill to understand visual communication cross-culturally and the ethics of images. This unit is a prerequisite for the ARCY2005 Rock Art Field School, which provides essential hands-on skills.
Students are able to (1) demonstrate an understanding of the theories and methods archaeologists use to identify, record and interpret rock art in scientific and culturally appropriate manners, as well as recognising the emerging role of digital technology in this process; (2) demonstrate an understanding and ethical appreciation of rock art, the antiquity of rock art and its cultural heritage value in a global context; (3) explain current conservation practices used in the management of rock art and their implications for archaeology; (4) comprehend archaeological literature, specialised terminology and data, and communicate this in an appropriate manner both orally and through written expression; and (5) 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 Jo McDonald
Unit rules
12 points of Level 1 study
Contact hours
Lectures: 1 x 1 hour per week
Tutorials: 1 x 1 hour per week
Note that this Unit is a pre-requisite for ARCY2005 Rock Art Fieldschool. ARCY2005 places students in live fieldwork situations working with archaeologists, Indigenous partners, Industry partners and the public and is a great Work Integrated Learning experience.

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. 

Copies of these books in the  Reid Library

  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available via the Booktopia Textbook Finder, which has the functionality to search by course code, course, ISBN and title, and may also be posted or available at the appropriate school's administrative offices. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.