When did humans first set foot in Australia, and was life a struggle to survive, or was there time for art and ceremony? Has any art of the first Australians escaped the ravages of time and, if so, what does it tell us about their origins, cultural links, way of life and environment? This book is devoted to trying to answer some of these questions, for art is a unique window into the past: one picture is worth a thousand stone tools.
The first new overview of Australian Aboriginal rock art written by an archaeologist for nearly forty years, this book takes the reader on an exciting journey through prehistory to give us a glimpse into a world very different from our own, when now-extinct giant creatures were common. These are portrayed in rock art, together with scenes of hunting, fighting, ceremonial activities, love-making and dancing. In addition to major bodies of rock art such as the huge mouthless Wandjina spirits of the Kimberley and X-ray style of Arnhem Land, many previously unpublished discoveries are included, with a special focus on the hitherto neglected area of the most distant past.