Monuments to Symbolic Behaviour in the Dampier Archipelago, Western Australia

Author(s): Emma Beckett

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "The Art of Archaeology" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

The Dampier Archipelago in Northwest Australia is famous for containing dense concentrations of spectacular rock art that reflect varied and changing landscape use over time. Standing stones are another important site type found throughout the archipelago and they range from single, isolated stones to large clusters of propped or chocked uprights. These features are underexamined despite their prevalence, and can be found in association with a range of other archaeological material including: rock art, stone structures, quarries, artefact scatters and middens.

This paper explores the spatial patterning of standing stones in conjunction with rock art and other archaeological material. The variety in location and extent placement suggests that these features were being used both in association with, and independent of other symbolic forms of communication such as rock art. Being both visually impressive and visible over reasonable distances means these features could have functioned to signal across significantly larger distances than the rock art. This does not preclude previous interpretations of these features as Thalu or increase sites; instead, it provides a more nuanced understanding of these features in context as another medium for inscribing the landscape.

Cite this Record

Monuments to Symbolic Behaviour in the Dampier Archipelago, Western Australia. Emma Beckett. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 452033)


Indigenous Other

Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: 111.797; min lat: -44.465 ; max long: 154.951; max lat: -9.796 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 24496