Petroglyphs of Dampier—preface. In Archaeology and Petroglyphs of Dampier (Western Australia), an Archaeological Investigation of Skew Valley and Gum Tree Valley, ed. Graeme K. Ward and Ken Mulvaney
[Excerpt] The multiple beginnings of this book are spread over nearly one half century, dating from only a few years after the initial archaeological and anthropological reconnaisances of the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Much earlier, of course, is the Indigenous Australians’ habitation of the area now known as the Dampier Archipelago, Burrup Peninsula and Murujuga. There are good reasons why we think that this initial occupation happened during the Pleistocene period and to have endured for tens of thousands of years, with land use and subsistence patterns adapting to the progressive inundation of the western coastal shelf. The evidence of this occupation is multi-facetted but its most evident and indeed spectacular component—and the one that most concerns us here—is the presence of the Dampier petroglyphs. There are probably hundreds of thousands of decorated rocks and many more individual and group images; they bear witness to the artistic endeavours of many generations. These images catch the attention of the visitor because when they were carved the original light colour of the rusty-weathered rock-faces was exposed; and because their diverse subject matter reveals much about the cultures and societies of those who carved them. It has been argued that the Dampier petroglyphs represent the most extensive and intensive example of ancient rock art and that they have cultural values of World Heritage significance. …
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