Astronomical symbolism in Australian Aboriginal rock art

Ray P. Norris, Duane W. Hamacher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
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Traditional Aboriginal Australian cultures include a significant astronomical component, perpetuated through oral tradition and ceremony. This knowledge has practical navigational and calendrical functions, and in some cases extends to a deep understanding of the motion of objects in the sky. Here we explore whether this astronomical tradition is reflected in the rock art of Aboriginal Australians. We find several plausible examples of depictions of astronomical figures and symbols, and also evidence that astronomical observations were used to set out stone arrangements. However, we recognise that the identification of astronomical themes as a dominant feature of Aboriginal rock art is not yet unequivocal, and describe our plans for further research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-106
Number of pages8
JournalRock Art Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Publisher [2011]. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Aboriginal
  • archaeoastronomy
  • Australia
  • ethnoastronomy
  • rock art


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