Thesis abstract ‘Aboriginal Art at Lofty Heights: The Distribution and Pattering of Aboriginal Art Sites in the South Eastern Lofty Ranges of South Australia’

13th January 2014

April Blair

MLett., Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, Adelaide, January 1997

The aims of this research were to attempt to ascertain something of the dynamism of an Aboriginal group, about which extremely little is known, through a synthesis of their rock art. For this purpose, the study focuses on two principal components. Firstly, the examination, definition and analysis of art styles at both inter- and intra-site levels and secondly, on the spatial patterning of the art sites within the landscape. This analysis identifies twelve distinct art styles and four site types.

Integration of the two components has not, unfortunately, yielded anything definitive, although there is compelling evidence for the preservation of group identity and boundary maintenance as a direct result of intergroup competition, which in this instance is aided and abetted by the geographical confluence of the Lofty Ranges with the River Murray. This is one of the basic convictions of advocates of the information exchange theory of style, but in this instance intergroup differentiation through style appears to have been extended to intragroup differentiation, as stylistic changes became increasingly localised. Similarly, there is the suggestion that the Aboriginal occupation of the region may never have been particularly dense, despite favourable water and food resources.

It is none the less recognised that the nature and distribution of the art sites is the final result of one range of natural and cultural processes which reflect the social institutions of the makers. The extreme stylistic variation which encompasses all of Maynard’s (1977) simple and complex, figurative and non-figurative categories within one aggregation, are thought to show how style plays a crucial role in the mediation of cultural information exchange over time. In this instance style was a specific means of proclaiming territorial ownership and affiliations, at both inter and intra-group levels, and a means of expressing site function.

Blair, A.
Thesis abstract 'Aboriginal Art at Lofty Heights: The Distribution and Pattering of Aboriginal Art Sites in the South Eastern Lofty Ranges of South Australia'
December 1997
45
63–64
Thesis Abstracts
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