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Socialising Landscapes: The Long-Term Implications of Signs, Symbols and Marks on the Land

Paul S. C. Tacon
Archaeology in Oceania
Vol. 29, No. 3, Social Landscapes (Oct., 1994), pp. 117-129
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40386997
Page Count: 13
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Socialising Landscapes: The Long-Term Implications of Signs, Symbols and Marks on the Land
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Abstract

The long-term implications of marking landscapes with rock paintings, engravings and stone arrangements are explored. In the process many of the ways in which humans socialise landscapes are outlined. It is argued that the development of rock art throughout the world is a reflection of an increased sense of 'ethnic' identity among human groups as well as a concern for communicating knowledge visually. It is also contended that the 'dawn of art', or more precisely, the beginnings of the symbolic marking of the landscape is reflective of the concept of time having acquired increased importance among anatomically modern humans about 40,000 years ago. In other words, the marking of landscapes with stone is illustrative of a group of people being concerned not only about a present' but also a 'past' and a 'future'. The nature of time is not static, however, and changes in marking behaviour can be correlated to changes in the notion of time within particular societies. Regional examples are drawn from a diverse range of societies but particular emphasis is placed on the Northern Territory of Australia.

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