Our Australasian region preserves some of the earliest rock art yet known, and it is weathering at an alarming rate. In this seminar I will present evidence for haloclasty (salt crystallisation) on the Pleistocene-aged rock art panels in Maros-Pangkep and show accelerating degradation of the paintings in recent decades. I argue that climate-catalysed salt efflorescence is responsible for increasing exfoliation of the limestone cave surfaces that house the~ 45 to 20-thousand-year-old paintings in the limestone karsts of southern Sulawesi. These artworks have survived in the world’s most atmospherically dynamic region, the Australasian monsoon domain of the Equatorial tropics. But time is short. If we do not take immediate drastic action to ameliorate climate change, we risk losing this unique record of the human past.


About the presenters

Jillian Huntley is an archaeological scientist based in the Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research and an Affiliate member of the Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution. Her current focus is rock art conservation—identifying mechanisms of degradation to inform mitigation and management strategies. She is a specialist in the physicochemical characterisation of ochres (mineral pigments), rock art and shelter/cave environments. Jillian uses these methods to investigate past peoples’ interaction with each other, and their landscapes. Her work traverses the rugged sandstone escarpments of the Cape York Peninsula, the Kimberley, Sydney Basin and Arnhem Land; the BIF gorges of the central Pilbara; and the limestone caves of Island Southeast Asia.

For those who will be attending in person on campus, please be aware that we are still operating under Covid-19 regulations during public events.  You will be asked to check in via the official QLD QR code as a condition of entry. Those who are feeling unwell, who have travelled in from overseas or a Covid-19 hotspot in the last 14 days or have been in contact with Covid-19 positive persons, are asked not to attend the seminar. Hand sanitizers will be provided for attendee-use at venue​. In addition, the wearing of face masks is now required in UQ teaching spaces.

For Working Papers enquiries, contact: j.kariwiga@uq.edu.au


About Archaeology Working Papers

The Working Papers in Archaeology seminar series provides a forum for dissemination of archaeological research and ideas amongst UQ archaeology students and staff. All students are invited to attend the series and postgraduate students, from honours upwards, are invited to present their research. The aim is to provide opportunities for students, staff and those from outside UQ, to present and discuss their work in an informal environment. It is hoped that anyone interested in current archaeological directions, both within and outside the School and University, will be able to attend and contribute to the series.