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Dr Helen Green

Dr Helen Green is a Research Fellow in the School of Earth Sciences at The University of Melbourne holding Rock Art Australia’s 5-year Fellowship in Rock Art Dating from The Ian Potter Foundation. The Award was granted to RAA in October 2017.

Helen was employed as a Post Doctorate Researcher on the Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project with Rock Art Australia, focussed on dating the Aboriginal rock art of the Kimberley region (2014-2018) and is a Chief Investigator on the Rock Art Dating Project-2 (2018-2022). Helen is also an Associate Investigator on the ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CABAH).

Helen’s research over the last five years has focused on analysing mineral accretions using a range of geochemical techniques to characterise and understand the formation processes occurring in relation to rock art pigments in north west Australia’s Kimberley region. These techniques include uranium-thorium dating, radiocarbon dating, stable isotope analysis along with analytical techniques such as X-ray diffraction analysis, scanning electron microscopy, electron microprobe analysis and others. Using this knowledge Helen is adapting both radiocarbon and uranium-series dating techniques to oxalate and phosphate bearing layered mineral accretions, with an aim of generating bracketing ages for different rock art styles comprising the established rock art sequence in the Kimberley region.


Dr Louise Shewan

Dr Louise Shewan is a Research Fellow in Archaeological Science – University of Melbourne’s School of Geography, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. Louise’s position as Research Fellow in Archaeological Science is funded by RAA with matching funds from the University of Melbourne for 2 years.

Louise is an interdisciplinary researcher with more than 15 years ’ experience conducting archaeological research. Louise’s research focuses on multi-isotopic analyses of environmental samples, material culture and skeletal remains. These analyses facilitate the creation of baseline ‘isoscapes’ for archaeological research including provenance studies, the examination of past resource acquisition behaviour and studies of environmental change.

To fully understand Australia’s ancient beginnings from a research perspective we must go beyond the Kimberley and Australia.  Dr Shewan has assembled a skilled team to undertake a scoping project of sites in Laos and Vietnam. Experts from the Laos Dept of Heritage, SE Asian Centre for Archaeology and the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences will join her in documenting and identifying sites for closer examination, looking for similarities to Australian rock art.  We know that ~20,000 years ago Borneo, Laos, and Vietnam, etc. were all one landmass known as Sunda, and people would have walked between them, with northern Australia nearby. Given that the ochre use, hand stencilling, and lifelike animals of the 35ka rock art found in Sulawesi and the 43ka rock art in Borneo are in a style familiar to those who know Kimberley rock art, establishing a connection or not is a research objective.



Gwion paintings were created around 12,000 years ago

Four Kimberley rock art Dating Techniques

Prof Andy Gleadow talks about the Traditional Owners involvement in the project.