Shades of red : Peter Worsley’s rock art research on Groote Eylandt

Ursula K. Frederick, Anne Clarke

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The term ‘Golden Age’ was first used in the context of Groote Eylandt by the anthropologist Peter Worsley, whose doctoral dissertation and subsequent publication ‘Early Asian contacts with Australia’ (Worsley 1955a) presents his study of the history and kinship system of Groote Eylandt. Worsley referred to the Golden Age as a remembered period of contact between Groote Eylandters and Makassan outsiders, a past that we argue has historically influenced both the production and the perception of Groote Eylandt rock art. A little-known fact about Worsley’s time on Groote Eylandt is the effort he made to document, characterise and synthesise the rock art made by Anindilyakwa-speaking people. In this paper we draw attention to Worsley’s work and, in doing so, bring to light one of the largely unknown histories of Australian rock art research.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHistories of Australian Rock Art Research
EditorsPaul S.C. Taçon, Sally K. May, Ursula K. Frederick, Jo McDonald
Place of PublicationAustralia
PublisherANU E Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9781760465353
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sept 2022


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