ATS3328 - The archaeology of world rock art - 2019

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

Monash Indigenous Studies Centre

Chief examiner(s)

Associate Professor Bruno David


Associate Professor Bruno David
Dr Liam Brady

Not offered in 2019


Twelve credit points of second-year Arts units.




A major way that archaeologists make sense of the past is through the images that people depicted on rocks and on cave walls: rock art is one of the most common, and most visually impressive kind of archaeological evidence. In this unit students will learn about the history of modern humans from 60,000-40,000 years ago into recent times across the world, through the symbols and artworks they made and used. They will learn about what cave art looks like across different regions of the world and from different periods of time, and the different kinds of theories and approaches that archaeologists have employed to try to make sense of this imagery. They will learn and be encouraged to reflect about how those theories concern not just 'other' cultures past and present, but also how they reflect on the preconceptions of the researchers themselves and their own cultures. Students will cover a range of topics from the earliest years of the discipline of archaeology to the latest writings on human symbolic behaviour, and from the Ice Age to more recent artworks.


Upon successful completion of the unit, students should be able to:

  1. discuss the earliest history of human symbolic behaviour and how it relates to the evolutionary beginnings of modern humans;
  2. understand the chronology of early modern human visual art relative to their biological evolution;
  3. explain the processes of dating and recording rock art;
  4. interpret various aspects of rock art, including the production process, subject matter, location, cultural importance, and significance for understanding past social relationships;
  5. explain the benefits of current digital technologies in the analysis of rock art;
  6. evaluate contemporary perspectives on rock art, including those from the communities of the descendants of rock artists.


Within semester assessment: 100%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. A unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study