Western cavity Pudjinuk Rockshelter study. Credit: Amy Roberts, Flinders University
Original Published Date: 
Monday, May 25, 2020

Full article issued by Flinders University.

ARC-supported archaeologists at Flinders University have analysed 188 engravings in a remote South Australian rockshelter, which record symbols of conflict—including a swastika symbol—and stand as a record of frontier conflict and the strife brewing in Europe ahead of World War Two.

The ‘graffiti’ has been etched over or adjacent to Aboriginal rock art at a culturally significant rockshelter in limestone cliffs of the Murray River near Waikerie in South Australia. The first European historical inscriptions were engraved by members of volunteer police parties on punitive expeditions, and were part of a historical trajectory that later culminated in the Rufus River Massacre.

The engravings reveal the deep Aboriginal significance of the rockshelter, the traumatic period of European invasion, and the frontier conflict and ongoing impacts of colonial settlement, says lead author, Associate Professor Amy Roberts, and leader of the Linkage Projects grant, who works with members of the local Aboriginal community.

Fiona Giles, co-chair of the River Murray and Mallee Aboriginal Corporation, says: “We need to tell these stories to protect our history and heritage so that our culture is respected and not lost.

“For us, as traditional owners, this rockshelter is a highly significant and special place. It tells the stories of our ancestors and shows our deep connection to the river and reminds us of how our people lived before Europeans invaded our world,” she says.

Photo credit: 

Western cavity Pudjinuk Rockshelter study. Credit: Amy Roberts, Flinders University.