Benjamin W Smith

Benjamin W Smith
University of Western Australia | UWA · Centre for Rock Art Research and Management

PhD (Cantab)

About

67
Publications
58,066
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1,106
Citations
Citations since 2017
20 Research Items
531 Citations
2017201820192020202120222023020406080100
2017201820192020202120222023020406080100
2017201820192020202120222023020406080100
2017201820192020202120222023020406080100
Introduction
Benjamin Smith joined UWA Archaeology in 2013. He is Professor of Archaeology (World Rock Art) and was the Associate Dean, Research and Research Training from 2013 to 2021 at the University of Western Australia. His research interests include: African archaeology; World Rock Art Studies; Archaeological Theory and Method; Heritage and Society. He is interested in supervising Masters and PhD students in any of these fields.
Additional affiliations
February 2013 - present
University of Western Australia
Position
  • Professor
January 1997 - January 2013
University of the Witwatersrand
Position
  • Managing Director

Publications

Publications (67)
Article
Full-text available
This paper considers the effects of industrialisation upon one of the world’s most significant rock art sites, Murujuga (Burrup Peninsula), located in north-west Western Australia. Photographs of 26 petroglyphs taken prior to or early in the industrialisation of the area were compared with recent photographs to assess whether the presence of indust...
Article
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This article reflects on a joint journey during which three academics, a community historian, and a family historian collaborated in searching for Moon Chow, who is widely narrated as the first documented Chinese immigrant to Western Australia. This experience demonstrates how researchers from various traditions and backgrounds can work together pr...
Article
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This article documents and analyses the Chinese government’s legislative and policy framework for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage (ICH). It summarises early Chinese ICH protection measures before analysing how systemic ICH legislation and policy frameworks were put into place after China joined the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding o...
Article
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Patterns of superposition in rock art are often used to systematically construct style sequences. However, once on the rock, images can affect subsequent engagements with the art, the rock surface, the site, and its surrounding landscape, and this recursiveness can be studied through the superimpositions (significantly overlaid markings) on a rock...
Article
Full-text available
Murujuga in Western Australia has the largest concentration of ancient rock engravings (petroglyphs) in the world. However, the Murujuga rock art is potentially threatened by local industrial air pollution, in particular by acid rain, but unambiguous scientific evidence is still missing. Here, we report on results of an accelerated weathering exper...
Preprint
Full-text available
Murujuga in Western Australia has the largest concentration of ancient rock engravings (petroglyphs) in the world. However, the Murujuga rock art is potentially threatened by local industrial air pollution, in particular by acid rain, but unambiguous scientific evidence is still missing. Here, we report on results of an accelerated weathering exper...
Article
Full-text available
MacLeod and Fish have recently suggested that there is no adverse impact on the engraved rock art of Murujuga (the Burrup Peninsula) from industrial pollution. This highly controversial conclusion demands examination because it could influence future government decision-making concerning ongoing applications to expand industrial activity on Murujug...
Book
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This is the fourth volume in the ICOMOS series on the Thematic Studies on Rock Art. The three previous volumes have focused upon: Latin America and the Caribbean (2006); Rock Art of Sahara and North Africa (2007) and Rock Art in Central Asia (edited by Jean Clottes, 2011). The idea behind the series was to provide an overall yet relatively precise...
Article
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This article examines the political and institutional dimensions of archaeological practice in South Africa during the apartheid era and since the transition to democratic rule in 1994. We focus on the archaeological practices within institutional structures—the universities, heritage agencies, and museums. We examine the roles these institutions p...
Article
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Immersive digital technologies and 3D models are changing the way in which archaeology and heritage are presented to the public. Here we consider the role of physical 3D replicas and the values they hold vis-à-vis digital reproductions. We begin with a consideration of conceptions of ‘real’ versus ‘fake’ and the evolving history of academic notions...
Article
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In this paper, we explore the ‘Preservation/Heritage Values/Management’ triptych, and we propose a new method for addressing the values attributed to cultural heritage sites. Combining multidisciplinary and cosmopolitan approaches, we propose a way of moving beyond the traditional lens of assessing significance within the imposed categorical framew...
Article
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This paper is based on rock art sites of the Maloti-Drakensberg massif (South African part), where more than 600 decorated shelters have thus far been identified. Being both institutionalised heritage sites open to the public and living heritage sites associated with various social practices and utilizations, their preservation requires us to consi...
Article
Full-text available
The Burrup Peninsula in north-west Western Australia is home to one of the most substantial collections of rock engravings, or petroglyphs, in the world. These petroglyphs are carved through the dark coloured patina, commonly referred to as rock varnish, into the weathering rind of the local parent rock. Rock varnish is essentially a thin layer of...
Chapter
Full-text available
Rock art tourism facilities at publicly accessible sites range widely from a total absence of purpose-built infrastructure to multimillion-dollar interpretation centres, and from free and unrestricted visitation to full fee-paying, highly mediated visitation experiences run by tourism professionals. This chapter addresses questions surrounding the...
Chapter
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In every part of Africa there are rich assemblages of images placed in rock shelters and on boulders. These do not require excavation in order to be studied and different sets of techniques are needed for their recording, analysis, and conservation. These images come in two main types: the first is painted or daubed onto rock surfaces using pigment...
Chapter
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Article
Burrup Peninsula in northwest Western Australia, with an estimated one million petroglyphs, has the world's largest concentration of ancient rock art. It is one of a few places in the world where a continuous history of people living with a changing environment for over 40,000 years is recorded through rock art. The art is under threat due to high...
Article
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The transition to farming is often written in the language of progress. The search has been for the oldest sedentary farming settlements, the processes of plant and animals domestication and the profound societal alterations that accompanied the choice to change lifeway. Perhaps because most of us come from long-standing farmer ancestry, we tend to...
Article
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This volume follows Siyakha Mguni’s journey to uncover the meanings and motivation behind one of southern Africa’s most enigmatic rock art images: the so-called ‘formling’. The ‘formling’ is a distinctive image category, found predominantly in Zimbabwe, and that comprises sets of segmented cloud-like shapes, sometimes associated with trees, sometim...
Chapter
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South Africa is unique in the contemporary world in that it uses indigenous rock art images in its major national symbols. For example, rock art appears at the heart of the national coat of arms and on all banknotes. One can judge whether a banknote is genuine by folding it and seeing whether the rock art lines up to create a coherent rock art pane...
Chapter
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L'article discute des enjeux de préservation et de valorisation touristique des sites d'art rupestre du massif de l'uKhahlamba–Drakensberg, Afrique du Sud. A la frontière avec le Lesotho, ce massif présente la particularité d'être inscrit depuis 2000 au patrimoine mondial de l'UNESCO en tant que bien mixte, pour ses richesses à la fois environnemen...
Article
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We review the history of rock art research in Kondoa District, Tanzania, specifically the area covered by the ‘Kondoa Rock Art Sites UNESCO World Heritage Site’. We examine why, after nearly a century of research, there is neither a broadly agreed upon stylistic sequence for the rock art of the area nor a clear ascription of authorship. We seek to...
Article
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n her special editorial to the December 2014 issue of the South African Archaeological Bulletin, the longest serving editor in Bulletin history, Janette Deacon, provides an overview of the history of this journal up until 2005, the year in which the editorship passed to the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists (ASAPA). She no...
Article
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UNESCO World Heritage List Inscription and Tourist Development: The uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site (South Africa) We consider the changing tourism and management dynamics that occur when a site is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. We use the example of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg World Heritage Site (South Africa), a mixe...
Article
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As custodians of an important section of Africa’s past and advocates for the value of the past in the present/future, archaeologists working in universities, museums and heritage agencies or as commercial consultants are in positions of high responsibility. Most often neither the scale of the work involved, nor its significance, are matched adequat...
Article
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The aim of this paper is to go beyond a binary opposition approach that pits preservation against tourism development, and to determine the ways in which tourism can contribute to the preservation of rock art sites. The results presented derive from research conducted in the region of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park (UDP) of South Africa. We examin...
Article
Full-text available
We consider the changing tourism and management dynamics that occur when a site is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. We use the example of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg World Heritage Site (South Africa), a mixed natural and cultural property listed predominantly because of its beautiful southern alpine mountain scenery and its spectacular...
Article
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This paper focuses on rock art tourism, a highly vulnerable heritage of broad public interest, only sustainable within an effective management framework. The paper explores tourism management in South Africa’s uKhahlamba-Drakensberg World Heritage Site, inscribed in 2000 for its natural landscapes and its exceptional rock art heritage. In practice,...
Chapter
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Book
This volume contains cutting edge contributions that consider new approaches to three areas: the documentation of rock art; its interpretation using indigenous knowledge; and the presentation of rock art. Working with Rock Art is the first edited volume to consider each of these areas in a theoretical rather than a technical fashion, and it therefo...
Article
Full-text available
Southern Africa has a rich heritage of hunter-gatherer, herder and farmer rock art traditions made by using both painted and engraved techniques. Until now, there have been only a handful of studies on the chemical analysis of the paint, as all previous types of analysis required the removal of pigment samples from the sites a practice which has be...
Book
It is largely through the work of David Lewis-Williams that San rock art has come to be understood so well, as a complex symbolic and metaphoric representation of San religious beliefs and practices. The purpose of this volume is to demonstrate the depth and wide geographical impact of Lewis-Williams’ contribution, with particular emphasis on the u...
Article
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This article considers what Geoff Blundell has called the ‘Holy Grail of southern African rock art research’ (2004:63): the vision of a South African history, based not on outsider colonial records, but on the insider evidence of rock art. It reviews two decades of research aimed at historicising our understanding of the rock art of the Maloti-Drak...
Article
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Chapter
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This paper considers successes and failures in the history of rock art management and presentation in southern Africa. It argues that public rock art sites have a key role in national identity, poverty relief, and job creation and makes a strong case for a management process in rock art tourism development based on carefully negotiated partnerships...
Article
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A distinctive geometric tradition of rock paintings and engravings has recently been introduced to rock art studies in southern Africa. The general characteristics and the overall distribution of this art are now known and the authorship of this art has been provisionally assigned to Khoekhoe herders. But, many aspects of this new art tradition rem...
Article
Full-text available
Recent archaeological research has identified a widespread southern African rock art tradition that materially affects the debate over what archaeology can tell us about prehistory in southern Africa. This tradition differs from the one attributed to the ancestors of today’s San in being dominated by rough-pecked and finger-painted geometric imager...
Chapter
Full-text available
The creation of a modern, democratic, South Africa was a long drawn out process of struggle for possession of the more obvious resources and symbols - land, political power, wealth and, not least of all, the ‘right’ to author the past. Over centuries, a general image of Africa, its peoples, and their pasts, had been created by outsiders and this im...
Chapter
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Recent decades have seen a flourishing new approach to southern African rock-art that draws on Khoi-San ethnohistory. It is instructive to see the perceptions oflandscape that lie behind both the earlier work and the current studies. And the routine approaches to landscape of the archaeologists, it turns out, lead to negligible insights -because Sa...
Article
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Research in the Northern Province of South Africa has revealed a most surprising new rock art find: a painting of a camel. This paper investigates how and why a camel came to be painted in the remote rock art of the Makgabeng hills. Analysis of archival material allows one to attribute the painting to a Northern Sotho artist who was active in the f...
Article
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from the 1980s onward one of us (Johnny van Schalkwyk) has been excavating farmer sites and collecting ethnographic data. Since the beginning of the last century various writers have portrayed the Makgabeng Plateau as isolated, enigmatic and mysterious, and all have remarked on the exceptional natural beauty of the area. Khoisan peoples (San hunter...
Article
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This paper examines the rock art of the nyau secret society of eastern Zambia and central Malaŵi. The art dates principally from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It has been known to researchers since the 1970s but has given up few of its secrets. I examine the questions of why the art was made and why the tradition ceased. Key to answ...
Article
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In this paper we examine evidence from rock shelters in the Northern Province that points towards a complex sequence of interaction between foragers and farmers. Farmers underwent radical shifts in social complexity that had a range of implications for change in the identity, status and viability of hunter-gatherers in the region. Based on a compos...
Article
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Archaeology and symbolism in the new South African coat of arms - Volume 74 Issue 285 - Benjamin Smith, J. D. Lewis-Williams, Geoffrey Blundell, Christopher Chippindale
Article
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The Dynamic figures are a distinctive component in the earlier rock-art of western Arnhem Land, north Australia. They include therianthropic (hybrid human–animal) images. Recent vision experience ethnographically known in the region, and the wider pattern of Altered States of Consciousness (ASC) in hunter-gatherer societies, are consistent with ele...
Book
Full-text available
This book is the most detailed study to date of the little known rock art of Zambia. Produced to accompany an exhibition of the same name, the book seeks to provide answers to a range of commonly asked questions: Where is the art found. What does it look like? How was the art made? Who were the artists? How old is the art? Why was the art made? Thi...
Thesis
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Cambridge, 1995. In 2 vols. Large maps relating to this thesis have not been filmed. Please apply direct to the issuing university.
Article
Full-text available
Recent archaeological research has identified a widespread south- ern African rock art tradition that materially affects the debate over what archaeology can tell us about prehistory in southern Africa. This tradition differs from the one attributed to the an- cestors of today's San in being dominated by rough-pecked and finger-painted geometric im...

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On which continent and in which country did people first start to use/employ gold?
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What is the best quality archival slide scanner now that the Creoscitex and derivative Kodak top-end scanners are out of production?

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