Investigating the Anthropic Construction of Rock Art Sites Through Archaeomorphology: the Case of Borologa, Kimberley, Australia

Jean Jacques Delannoy, Bruno David, Kim Genuite, Robert Gunn, Damien Finch, Sven Ouzman, Helen Green, Peter Veth, Sam Harper, Balanggarra Aboriginal Corporation, Robert Skelly

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Archaeologists usually see, and understand, rock shelters as taphonomically active, but pre-existing, physical structures onto which people undertake a variety of actions including rock art. Our aim in this paper is not only to document the changes undergone by rock shelters but also to identify traces of anthropic actions that have intentionally led to these changes. Recent research in northern Australia provides empirical evidence that for thousands of years, Aboriginal peoples altered the physical shape of rock shelters by removing masses of rock to create alcoves, restructure internal spaces and create stone-worked furniture. Through archaeomorphological research, this paper presents evidence from Borologa in Australia’s Kimberley region, where hard quartzite monoliths were shaped and engaged as architectural designs by Aboriginal people prior to painting many surfaces, making us rethink what have traditionally been distinguished as natural versus cultural dimensions of archaeological landscapes and rock art sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)631-669
Number of pages39
JournalJournal of Archaeological Method and Theory
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020


  • 3D modelling
  • Archaeomorphology
  • Kimberley
  • Landscape architecture
  • Rock art

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