Attributes, preservation and management of dendroglyphs from the Wet Tropics rainforest of northeast Australia

Buhrich, Alice, Ferrier, Åsa, and Grimwade, Gordon (2015) Attributes, preservation and management of dendroglyphs from the Wet Tropics rainforest of northeast Australia. Australian Archaeology, 80. pp. 91-98.

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Abstract

This paper describes the attributes, preservation and management of Aboriginal dendroglyphs in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area of northeast Australia, the only known dendroglyphs recorded in a tropical rainforest environment worldwide. Our research identifies that dendroglyphs are usually single trees with abstract linear or figurative designs carved into their outer bark and are often associated with Aboriginal walking tracks and other cultural sites. Using existing historical field notes and records, including a fibreglass model of one carving made in 1991, we conclude that the dendroglyphs have changed little over 20 years. They appear to be more resilient to extreme climatic events than previously predicted, and the main threat to their preservation appears to be vulnerability from the effects of ageing, such as insect and fungal attack. Difficulties for traditional owners in accessing dendroglyphs within the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area highlight tensions between natural and cultural site management practices.

Item ID: 39073
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: dendroglyphs; culturally modified trees; Aboriginal archaeology; Wet Tropics World Heritage Area; cultural heritage management
ISSN: 0312-2417
Projects and Grants: Wet Tropics Management Authority
Date Deposited: 25 Jun 2015 23:34
FoR Codes: 21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2101 Archaeology > 210101 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Archaeology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9503 Heritage > 950302 Conserving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage @ 100%
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