Relating to Rock Art in the Contemporary World

Navigating Symbolism, Meaning, and Significance

edited by Liam M. Brady and Paul S. C. Taçon

Paperback Price $42.00
Ebook Price $34.00
30-day ebook rental price $17.00

Buy Now

Choice Outstanding Academic Title, 2017

“A compelling, important, and overdue work on the state of rock art in the world today.”
—Sven Ouzman, Centre for Rock Art Research and Management, University of Western Australia

​"​​[R]epresents the best of ​[anthropology and archaeology's] perspectives and intentions ​. . . . The chapters prove conclusively that, even in some of the oldest cultural products on earth, meanings can never be settled and closed once and for all.​"

Anthropology Review Database

"In a series of case studies, the authors bring rock art out of the realm of prehistory to which it is usually assigned and offer a unique insight into the meanings of these symbolic forms for the present day. This pathbreaking work is written in a highly accessible way and offers excellent illustrations (particularly those in color). For a wide readership. Summing Up: Essential."


“Professionals in archaeology, anthropology and cultural resource management will find the theoretical points and specific studies absorbing. Applied anthropologists and policy makers involved with public heritage will find it a valuable resource. The book will also appeal to students and scholars of art history, race relations, and identity, legal and public policy, cultural engagements and consultations.”
Australian Aboriginal Studies

“[Relating to Rock Art in the Contemporary World] is an achievement and all of the authors and editors are to be congratulated. . . .I recommend it for those interested in rock art research and heritage management. It is excellent food for thought and it offers some interesting theoretical considerations in terms of human responses to rock art imagery across space and time.”


Rock art has long been considered an archaeological artifact reflecting activities from the past, yet it is also a phenomenon with present-day meaning and relevance to both indigenous and non-indigenous communities. Relating to Rock Art in the Contemporary World challenges traditional ways of thinking about this highly recognizable form of visual heritage and provides insight into its contemporary significance.

One of the most visually striking forms of material culture embedded in landscapes, rock art is ascribed different meanings by diverse groups of people including indigenous peoples, governments, tourism offices, and the general public, all of whom relate to images and sites in unique ways. In this volume, leading scholars from around the globe shift the discourse from a primarily archaeological basis to one that examines the myriad ways that symbolism, meaning, and significance in rock art are being renegotiated in various geographical and cultural settings, from Australia to the British Isles. They also consider how people manage the complex meanings, emotions, and cultural and political practices tied to rock art sites and how these factors impact processes relating to identity construction and reaffirmation today.

Richly illustrated and geographically diverse, Relating to Rock Art in the Contemporary World connects archaeology, anthropology, and heritage studies. The book will appeal to students and scholars of archaeology, anthropology, heritage, heritage management, identity studies, art history, indigenous studies, and visual theory, as well as professionals and amateurs who have vested or avocational interests in rock art.

Contributors: Agustín Acevedo, Manuel Bea, Jutinach Bowonsachoti, Gemma Boyle, John J. Bradley, Noelene Cole, Inés Domingo, Kurt E. Dongoske, Davida Eisenberg-Degen, Dánae Fiore, Ursula K. Frederick, Kelley Hays-Gilpin, Catherine Namono, George H. Nash, John Norder, Marianna Ocampo, Joshua Schmidt, Duangpond Singhaseni, Benjamin W. Smith, Atthasit Sukkham, Noel Hidalgo Tan, Watinee Tanompolkrang, Luke Taylor, Dagmara Zawadzka


"Rock art expert honoured with national award"
"One man's battle to save and document Australia’s heritage"


Liam M. Brady is senior lecturer in the Monash Indigenous Centre at Monash University. Since 2001 he has been working with indigenous communities in northern Australia, Canada, and the United States on partnership-based research projects aimed at understanding how people use rock art and visual heritage as symbolic modes of communication. He is the recipient of postdoctoral fellowships from the Australian Research Council and the University of Western Australia, and in 2015 he was awarded an Ethel-Jane Westfeldt Bunting Fellowship at the School of Advanced Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Paul S. C. Taçon FAHA FSA is an Australian Research Council Australian Laureate Fellow, chair in Rock Art Research, and professor of anthropology and archaeology in the School of Humanities, Griffith University, Queensland. He also directs Griffith University’s Place, Evolution and Rock Art Heritage Unit. He is coeditor of The Archaeology of Rock, edited the special issue on maritime rock art of The Great Circle (the journal of the Australian Association for Maritime History), and has published over 230 academic and popular papers on prehistoric art, body art, material culture, color, cultural evolution, identity, and contemporary Indigenous issues. He was awarded the Rhys Jones Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Australian Archaeology by the Australian Archaeological Association in 2016.

University Press of Colorado Logo


  • Paperback Price: $42.00
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-60732-779-0
  • Ebook Price: $34.00
  • 30-day ebook rental price: $17.00
  • EISBN: 978-1-60732-498-0
  • Publication Month: December
  • Publication Year: 2016
  • Pages: 426
  • Illustrations: 139 figures
  • Discount Type: Short
  • Author: edited by Liam M. Brady and Paul S. C. Taçon
  • ECommerce Code: 978-1-60732-497-3
  • Get Permissions: Get Permission

Related Titles

Browse Related Titles Tagged Under:

University Press of Colorado University of Alaska Press Utah State University Press University of Wyoming Press