Archaeology of rock art and symbolic behaviour

In a series of separate but related projects across northern Australia and Torres Strait, our research has focused mainly on how an understanding of past symbolic behaviours can inform us on aspects of social emplacement, territoriality and inter-regional interaction. By studying rock images (rock paintings and drawings, engravings, stencils, prints), we have aimed to explore the sharing of symbolic conventions between regions, and symbolic discontinuities across space.


2006 by B. DAVID, B. Barker & I. McNiven (eds). The Social Archaeology of Australian Indigenous Societies . Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra.
2006 by B. DAVID. Archaeology and the Dreaming: toward an archaeology of ontology. In I. Lilley (ed.), Archaeology of Oceania: Australia and the Pacific islands , pp. 48-68. Blackwell, London.
2005 by B. DAVID and I. McNiven. The sea, the spirits and the ancestors. In S. Wright (ed.), Sesserae: the works of Dennis Nona , pp. 7-10. Queensland College of Art, Brisbane.
2005 by B. DAVID & I.J. McNiven. The spirits in the art. In Fremantle Arts Centre, Print Matters , pp. 32-33. Fremantle Arts Centre, Fremantle.
2005 by B. DAVID. Rock art and oral traditions in Torres Strait. The Courier Mail 3 May, p. Headst@rt 3.
2005 by B. DAVID. Review of T. Heyd and J. Clegg’s Aesthetics and Rock Art . Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society . Internet WWW document, at URL : http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prehistoric/index.html
2004 by U. Zoppi, B. DAVID, M. Wilson, Q. Hua, A. Williams & A. Watchman. AMS radiocarbon dating of micro samples from the rock paintings of Malakula (Vanuatu). In T. Higham, C.B. Ramsey & C. Owen (eds), Radiocarbon and Archaeology , pp. 73-82. Oxford University School of Archaeology Monograph 62, Oxford.
2004 by B. DAVID, I. McNiven, W. Bowie, M. Nomoa, P. Ahmat, J. Crouch, L. Brady, M. Quinnell & A. Herle. Archaeology of Torres Strait turtle-shell masks: the Badu cache. Australian Aboriginal Studies 2004 (1): 18-25.
2004 by B. DAVID. Bruno David’s tips to see the invisible. In H. Burke and C. Smith, The Archaeologist’s Field Handbook , pp. 224-225. Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest.
2004 by I. McNiven, B. DAVID, L. Brady & J. Brayer. Kabadul Kula rock-art site, Dauan Island, Torres Strait. In I. McNiven & M. Quinnell (eds), Torres Strait: archaeology and material culture. Special Issue of Memoirs of the Queensland Museum, Cultural Heritage Series 3(1): 227-255.
2004 by I. McNiven & B. DAVID. Torres Strait rock-art and ochre sources: an overview. In I. McNiven & M. Quinnell (eds), Torres Strait: archaeology and material culture. Special Issue of Memoirs of the Queensland Museum, Cultural Heritage Series 3(1): 209-225.
2004 by L. Brady, B. DAVID, L. Manas, Mualgal (Torres Strait Islanders) Corporation, I. McNiven. Rock paintings of Mua Island: initial results from western Torres Strait. Rock Art Research 21(1): 27-46.
2004 by B. DAVID, I. McNiven, L. Manas, J. Manas, S. Savage, J. Crouch, G. Neliman & L. Brady. Goba of Mua: archaeology working with oral tradition. Antiquity 78: 158-172.
2004 by B. DAVID. Rock-art and the experienced landscape: the emergence of late Holocene symbolism in north-east Australia. In C. Chippindale and G. Nash (eds), The Figured Landscapes of Rock-Art: Looking at Pictures in Place , pp. 153-181. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
2004 by M. Langton & B. DAVID. Art as social momentum: coming into being in Yolŋu art. Archaeological Review from Cambridge 19(1): 47-60.
2003 by B. DAVID, I. McNiven & J. Brayer. Colourful past. British Archaeology 73: 14-15.
2002 by B. DAVID. Landscapes, Rock-art and the Dreaming: an archaeology of preunderstanding . Leicester University Press, London.
2002 by B. DAVID and M. Wilson (eds). Inscribed Landscapes: marking and making place . University of Hawai’i Press, Honolulu.
2002 by I. McNiven, B. DAVID & L. Brady. Torres Strait rock-art: an enhanced perspective. Australian Aboriginal Studies 2002 (2): 69-74.
2002 by B. DAVID. Hand Shelter (Ngarrabullgan), Cape York Peninsula, Australia: site report. The Artefact 25: 19-25.
2002 by M. Wilson & B. DAVID. Introduction. In B. DAVID and M. Wilson (eds), Inscribed Landscapes: marking and making place , pp. 1-9. University of Hawai’i Press, Honolulu.
2002 by B. DAVID & M. Wilson. Spaces of resistance: graffiti and indigenous place markings in the early European contact period of northern Australia. In B. DAVID and M. Wilson (eds). Inscribed Landscapes: marking and making place , pp. 42-60. University of Hawai’i Press, Honolulu.
2002 by B. DAVID. Review of J.L. Pearson’s ‘Shamanism and the Ancient Mind: a cognitive approach to archaeology’. Oceania 73(1): 81-82.
2002 by B. DAVID. Review of J. Doring’s ‘Gwion Gwion: secret and sacred pathways of the Ngarinyin Aboriginal people of Australia’. Rock Art Research 19: 140.
2002 by B. DAVID. Comment on Winkelman’s ‘Shamanism and Cognitive Evolution’. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 12: 88-89.
2001 by B. DAVID, J. Brayer, I. McNiven & Alan Watchman. Why digital enhancement of rock paintings works: rescaling and saturating colours. Antiquity 75: 781-792.
2001 by B. DAVID, R.A. Armitage, M.W. Rowe & E. Lawson. Landscapes in transition? New radiocarbon dates on cave paintings from the Mitchell-Palmer limestone belt (northeastern Australia). American Indian Rock Art 27: 107-116.
2001 by R. Goodall & B. DAVID. Mineralogical and chemical analyses of an ochred rock, Ngarrabullgan Cave (N Qld, Australia). Rock Art Research 18: 58-60.
2001 by B. DAVID. Review of David S. Whitley’s ‘Handbook of Rock Art Research’. The Artefact 24: 47-48.
2001 by B. DAVID. Lino-print exhibition tours Canada and England. Torres News 455 (20-26 July), pp. 1, 3.
2000 by B. DAVID. Painted Ell: further evidence for late Holocene abandonment of Ngarrabullgan (north Queensland). The Artefact 23: 35-40.
2000 by M. Wilson, J. Sanhampath, P.D. Senembe, B. DAVID, N. Hall & M. Abong. ‘Tufala kev blong devil’: people and spirits in north west Malakula, Vanuatu – implications for management. Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites 4: 151-166.
2000 by I. McNiven, B. DAVID & J. Brayer. Digital enhancement of Torres Strait rock-art. Antiquity 74: 759-760.
2000 by B. DAVID, C. Tuniz, E. Lawson, Q. Hua, G.E. Jacobsen, J. Head & M. Rowe. Dating charcoal drawings from Chillagoe, north Queensland. In G.K. Ward & C. Tuniz (eds), Advances in Dating Australian Rock-Markings: papers from the First Australian Rock-Picture Dating Workshop , pp. 84-89. Occasional AURA Publication 10, Australian Rock Art Research Association, Melbourne.
2000 by A. Watchman, B. DAVID, I.J. McNiven & J. Flood. Micro-archaeology of engraved and painted rock surface crusts at Yiwarlarlay (the Lightning Brothers site), Northern Territory, Australia. Journal of Archaeological Science 27: 315-325.
2000 by B. DAVID. Review of A. and A-M. van Albada’s ‘La Montagne des Hommes-Chiens: art rupestre du Messak Libyen. Rock Art Research 17 (2): 136-137.
2000 by B. DAVID. Review of J. Elkins’ ‘On Pictures and the Words That Fail Them’. Rock Art Research 17 (2): 136.
1999 by B. DAVID, C. Tuniz, E. Lawson, Q. Hua, G.E. Jacobsen, J. Head & M. Rowe. New AMS determinations for Chillagoe rock art, Australia, and their implications for northern Australian prehistory. In D. Seglie (ed.), NEWS95 – International Rock Art Congress: North, East, West, South, 1995 IRAC. Proceedings , p. 49. Centro Studi e Museo d’Arte Preistorica, Pinerolo.
1999 by B. DAVID, R.A. Armitage, M. Hyman, M. Rowe & E. Lawson. How old is north Queensland’s rock-art? a review of the evidence, with new AMS determinations. Archaeology in Oceania 34 (3): 103-120.
1999 by B. DAVID, M. Lecole, H. Lourandos, A.J. Baglioni Jnr & J. Flood. Investigating relationships between motif forms, techniques and rock surfaces in north Australian rock art. Australian Archaeology 48: 16-22.
1999 by B. DAVID & H. Lourandos. Landscape as mind: land use, cultural space and change in north Queensland prehistory. Quaternary International 59: 107-123.
1999 by B. DAVID & M. Wilson. Constructed Landscapes: rock art, place and identity. Session rationale, 3rd AURA Congress, 2000. Rock Art Research 16 (1): 64.
1999 by B. DAVID. The first Regional Training Course on Rock-Art Painting Conservation for SE Asia and the Pacific, Indonesia. Rock Art Research 16 (1): 55-56.
1999 by B. DAVID, C. Tuniz, E. Lawson, Q. Hua, G.E. Jacobsen, J. Head & M. Rowe. New AMS determinations for Chillagoe rock art, Australia, and their implications for northern Australian prehistory. In D. Seglie (ed.), NEWS95 – International Rock Art Congress: North, East, West, South, 1995 IRAC. Proceedings , CD ROM. Centro Studi e Museo d’Arte Preistorica, Pinerolo.
1999 by J. Brayer, H. Walt & B. DAVID. Quantitative Assessment of Rock Art Recording . Internet WWW document, at URL : http://www.rupestre.net/tracce/newport.html
1998 by B. DAVID, I. McNiven, V. Attenbrow, J. Flood & J. Collins. Of Lightning Brothers and White Cockatoos: dating the antiquity of signifying systems in the Northern Territory, Australia. In T. Murray (ed.), Archaeology of Aboriginal Australia: a Reader , pp. 290-304. Allen & Unwin, St. Leonards. Paper originally published in 1994 in Antiquity 68: 241-251.
1998 by B. DAVID. The rock art. In B. DAVID (ed.), Ngarrabullgan: Geographical Investigations in Djungan Country, Cape York Peninsula. Monash Publications in Geography and Environmental Science 51, pp. 143-156. Monash University, Melbourne.
1998 by B. DAVID & H. Lourandos. Rock art and socio-demography in northeastern Australian prehistory. World Archaeology 30 (2): 193-219.
1998 by R.A. Armitage, B. DAVID, M. Hyman, M.W. Rowe, C. Tuniz, E. Lawson, G. Jacobsen & Q. Hua. Radiocarbon determinations on Chillagoe rock paintings: small sample Accelerator Mass Spectrometry. Records of the Australian Museum 50 (3): 285-292.
1998 by B. DAVID. Rock art of southeast Cape York Peninsula: Bonney Glen Station. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 1(1): 127-136.
1998 by B. DAVID, R.A. Armitage, M.Rowe, M. Hyman & E. Lawson. AMS Radiocarbon determinations for north-eastern Australian rock art: testing the regionalisation model of mid to late Holocene change. In M.S. de Abreu (ed.), Congresso International de Arte Rupestre: Atravessando Fronteiras. Programa Official , p. 33. University of Tras-os-Montes and Alto Douro, Vila Real.
1998 by J. Brayer, H. Walt & B. DAVID. A quantitative assessment of freehand drawing and some suggestions for its imporvement as a rock art recording method. In M.S. de Abreu (ed.), Congresso International de Arte Rupestre: Atravessando Fronteiras. Programa Official , p. 30. University of Tras-os-Montes and Alto Douro, Vila Real.
1998 by B. DAVID. Review of R. Bradley’s ‘Rock Art and the Prehistory of Atlantic Europe: Signing the Land’. Rock Art Research 15 (1): 51.
1998 by B. DAVID, R.A. Armitage, M. Rowe, M. Hyman & E. Lawson. AMS radiocarbon determinations for northeastern Australian rock art: testing the regionalisation model of mid to late Holocene change. In M.S. de Abreu (ed.), Atravessando-Fronteiras: Congresso Internacional de Arte Rupestre-International Rock Art Congress, 1998 , CD ROM: file///D|IRAC/ingles/simposios/contents/simp5/esq_frames.html. Unidade de Arqueologia da UTAD, Vila Real.
1997 by B. DAVID & H. Lourandos. 37,000 years and more in tropical Australia. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 63: 1-23.
1997 by B. DAVID, H. Walt, H. Lourandos, M. Rowe, J. Brayer & C. Tuniz. Ordering the rock paintings of the Mitchell-Palmer limestone zone (Australia) for AMS dating. The Artefact 20: 57-72.
1997 by H. Walt, B. DAVID, J. Brayer & C. Musello. The International Rock Art Database Project. Rock Art Research 14 (1): 44-50.
1997 by B. DAVID. Review of P. Ucko’s (ed.) ‘Theory in Archaeology: a World Perspective’. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 63: 421-422.
1997 by B. DAVID. Review of C. Carr and J.E. Neitzel’s (eds) ‘Style, Society, and Person: Archaeological and Ethnological Perspectives’. Australian Archaeology 45: 65-66.
1997 by L. Hall & B. DAVID. A rock in time. Australian Geographic 46: 106-121.
1996 by R. Goodall, B. DAVID & J.P. Bartley. Non-destructive techniques for the analysis and characterisation of pigments from archaeological sites: the case of Fern Cave. In S. Ulm, I. Lilley & A. Ross (eds), Australian Archaeology ’95: Proceedings of the 1995 Australian Archaeological Association Annual Conference . Tempus 6: 183-187. University of Queensland, Brisbane.
1996 by B. DAVID. Review of M. Shanks & C. Tilley’s ‘Reconstructing the Past’. Australian Archaeology 42: 69-70.
1996 by H. Walt, B. DAVID, J. Brayer & C. Musello. The International Rock Art Database Project: Introduction . Internet WWW document, at URL : http://www.uq.edu.au/~asdbruno/
1995 by B. DAVID & D. Chant. Rock Art and Regionalisation in North Queensland Prehistory . Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 37 (2). Queensland Museum, Brisbane.
1995 by B. DAVID, A. Watchman, R. Goodall & E. Clayton. The Maytown ochre source. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 38 (2): 441-445.
1995 by V. Attenbrow, B. DAVID & J. Flood. Mennge-ya 1 and the origins of points: new insights into the appearance of points in the semi-arid zone of the Northern Territory. Archaeology in Oceania 30 (3): 105-120.
1995 by B. DAVID, J. Collins, B. Barker, J. Flood & R. Gunn. Archaeological research in Wardaman country, Northern Territory: the Lightning Brothers Project 1990-91 field seasons. Australian Archaeology 41: 1-8.
1995 by B. DAVID. Review of M. Lorblanchet & P. Bahn’s ‘Rock Art Studies: the Post-Stylistic Era, or, Where Do We Go From Here’. Rock Art Research 12 (1): 52-54.
1995 by B. DAVID. Review of C. Tilley’s (ed.) ‘Reading Material Culture’. Australian Archaeology 40: 71.
1995 by R. Goodall, J.P. Bartley, G. Kimber, R.L. Frost & B. DAVID. Photoacoustic spectroscopy of ochre of archaeological significance. In R. Armstrong (ed.), Proceedings of 1st Australian Conference on Vibrational Spectroscopy , pp. 67-68. University of Sydney, Sydney.
1995 by R. Goodall, B. DAVID & J. Bartley. Non-destructive techniques for the analysis and provenancing of pigments from archaeological sites: the case of Fern Cave. Abstract published in Australian Archaeological Association Annual Conference Program and Abstracts , pp. 28. The University of Queensland, Brisbance.
1995 by B. DAVID. Review of G. Walsh’s ‘Bradshaws: Ancient Rock Paintings of North-West Australia’. Australian Aboriginal Studies 1995 (1): 69-71.
1995 by B. DAVID. Rock art and Australian prehistory. Current Archaeology 144: 476-480.
1995 by B. DAVID, C. Tuniz, E. Lawson, Q. Hua, G.E. Jacobsen, J. Head & M. Rowe. AMS Results from Chillagoe, Australia, and their implications for Australian prehistory. In D. Seglie (ed.), News 95 – International Rock Art Congress , pp. 35-36. Centro Studi e Museo d’Arte Preistorica, Pinerolo.
1995 by C. Tuniz, D. Fink, M.A.C. Hotchkis, E.M. Lawson, G.E. Jacobsen, Q. Hua, A.M. Smith, N. Cole, B. DAVID, J. Campbell, L. Hatte, J. Head, M. Morwood, M. Nobbs, M. Rowe & A. Watchman. The Australian program on accelerator dating of Aboriginal rock art. In D. Seglie (ed.), News 95 – International Rock Art Congress , pp. 47. Centro Studi e Museo d’Arte Preistorica, Pinerolo.
1995 by B. DAVID. Review of M. Morwood & D. Hobbs (eds) ‘Quinkan Prehistory’. Australian Archaeology 41: 63-64.
1994 by B. DAVID. Holocene. The Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia , pp. 473-474. A.A.P., Canberra.
1994 by B. DAVID, I. McNiven, V. Attenbrow, J. Flood & J. Collins. Of Lightning Brothers and White Cockatoos: dating the antiquity of signifying systems in the Northern Territory, Australia. Antiquity 68: 241-251.
1994 by B. DAVID, M. Rowe, C. Tuniz & J. Head. Dating charcoal paintings and drawings from Chillagoe: current research. Rock Art Research 11 (2): 127-128.
1994 by J. Flood & B. DAVID. Traditional systems of encoding meaning in Wardaman rock art, Northern Territory, Australia. The Artefact 17: 6-22.
1994 by B. DAVID. Review of D. Mowalajarlai & J. Malnic’s ‘Yorro Yorro’. Australian Aboriginal Studies 1994 (1): 75-76.
1994 by B. DAVID & J. Flood. The Lightning Brothers: Investigating Rock Art and the Dreaming. Oz Arts Magazine 11: 117-121.
1993 by B. DAVID & L. Dagg. Two Caves. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 33 (1): 143-162.
1992 by N. Cole & B. DAVID. ‘Curious Drawings’ at Cape York: a summary of rock art investigation in the Cape York Peninsula region since the 1820s and a comparison of some regional traditions. Rock Art Research 9(1): 3-26.
1992 by B. DAVID. Analysing space: investigating context and meaning in the rock paintings of the Chillagoe-Mungana limestone belt of north Queensland. In J. McDonald and I.P. Haskovec (eds.) State of the Art: Regional Rockt Art Studies in Australia and Melanesia , pp. 159-163. Occasional AURA Publication 6, Australian Rock Art Research Association, Melbourne.
1992 by B. DAVID. Cave paintings of the Mitchell-Palmer limestone belt: preliminary results. In J. McDonald and I.P. Haskovec (eds.) State of the Art: Regional Rockt Art Studies in Australia and Melanesia , pp. 76-82. Occasional AURA Publication 6, Australian Rock Art Research Association, Melbourne.
1992 by B. DAVID. An AMS date for north Queensland rock art. Rock Art Research 9 (2): 139-141.
1992 by B. DAVID, D. Chant & J. Flood. Jalijbang 2 and the distribution of pecked faces in Australia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 32(1): 61-77.
1992 by J. Flood, B. DAVID & R. Frost. Dreaming into art: Aboriginal interpretations of rock engravings – Yingalarri, Northern Territory, Australia. In M. Morwood and D.R. Hobbs (eds.) Rock Art and Ethnography in Australia , pp. 33-38. Occasional AURA Publication 5, Australian Rock Art Research Association, Melbourne.
1992 by R. Frost, B. DAVID & J. Flood. Pictures in transition: discussing the interaction of visual forms and symbolic contents in Wardaman rock pictures. In M. Morwood and D.R. Hobbs (eds.) Rock Art and Ethnography in Australia , pp. 27-32. Occasional AURA Publication 5, Australian Rock Art Research Association, Melbourne.
1992 by I. McNiven, B. DAVID & J. Flood. Delamere 3: further excavations at Yiwarlarlay (Lightning Brothers site), Northern Territory. Australian Aboriginal Studies 1992 (1): 67-73.
1991 by B. DAVID. Fern Cave, rock art and social formations: rock art regionalisation and demographic changes in southeastern Cape York Peninsula. Archaeology in Oceania 26: 41-57.
1991 by B. DAVID & J. Flood. On form and meaning in rock art research. Rock Art Research 8 (2): 130-131.
1991 by B. DAVID, I. McNiven & J. Flood. Archaeological excavations at Yiwarlarlay 1: site report. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 30 (3): 373-380.
1990 by B. DAVID & N. Cole. Rock art and inter-regional interaction in northeastern Australian prehistory. Antiquity 64: 788-806.
1990 by B. DAVID, M. David, J. Flood & R. Frost. Rock paintings of the Yingalarri region: preliminary results and implications for an archaeology of inter-regional relations in northern Australia. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 28 (2): 443-462.
1990 by B. DAVID, I. McNiven, J. Flood, V. Attenbrow & R. Frost. The Lightning Brother’s Project: 1988 and 1989 field seasons. Australian Archaeology 31: 86-92.
1990 by B. DAVID, I. McNiven, J. Flood & R. Frost. Yiwarlarlay 1: archaeological excavations at the Lightning Brothers site, Delamere station, Northern Territory. Archaeology in Oceania 25 (2): 79-84.
1989 by B. DAVID. Prehistoric rock art of southern Cape York Peninsula. Rock Art Research 6 (2): 153-155.
1989 by B. DAVID. Review of I. Hodder’s ‘Reading the past’. Australian Archaeology 28: 155-8.
1989 by B. DAVID & A. Davis. Rocks of Sages. GEO: Australia’s Geographical Magazine 11(2): 20-27.
1988 by B. DAVID & M. David. Rock pictures of the Chillagoe-Mungana limestone belt, north Queensland. Rock Art Research 5 (2): 147-156.
1988 by B. DAVID. Comment. Rock Art Research 5 (1): 22-24.
1988 by B. DAVID. Australian archaeology and the study of rock art in the Chillagoe and Mitchell-Palmer limestone belts of north Queensland. Tropicon 1988: 109.