Examples of ancient Aboriginal rock art with overlays,
painted by different generations over hundreds and thousands of years,
Mt Borrodaile, Arnhem Land - Northern Territory.
copyright Aboriginal Australia PL used by permission
to 1788, Aborigines occupied all of mainland Australia and most of the
inhabitable islands near the coast, including Tasmania.
'Aborigines' means the original inhabitants of a country.
Australian Aborigines use the names applicable to their own language and kinshipgroups for example, Yanyuwa (northern Australia) Pitjantjatjara, Luritje, Arrente ( central Australia). They may also use a general term like Koori, Anangu (central Australia) or Palawa (Tasmania). Torres Strait Islanders use the name of their island community to describe themselves, for example, Badu, Murray, Yam, Boigu.
Australian Aboriginals have occupied the land for so long that they have had to adapt to dramatic changes in the environment caused by continental drift and glaciation. Their ancient lore contains references to the shaping of the now volcanically quiet continent by violent eruptions and lava flows, extinct giant fauna, vanished inland seas and a warmer wetter climate. Wooden tools rarely survive in the earth, but we know from one unique archaeological find that the boomerang (and the barbed spear) was invented more than 10,000 years ago.
Rock art shows changes in wooden tools and such other perishable items as headdresses. Around 5,000 years ago there was even a radical change in the stone tools themselves, with small, delicately worked points and blades beginning to be produced.
Throughout the ancient history of the Aboriginal people there were many changes more important than technological ones. Burial practices and different styles of rock art appeared in different regions and changed from the stylised ancient engravings to the colourful X-ray art of the north and the vivid hunting scenes of east and west. The strangely elongated shape of the Emu sky figure can be seen in some rock art.
Reading and References
Encyclopedia of Australia 1996. Published by Webster Publishing, 1995.
ThinkQuest Home Southern Stars Home Activities
Links Chat Room