Paul Taçon

Paul S.C. Taçon (born 1958) is an anthropologist and archaeologist who has spent over thirty years conducting field work in destinations ranging from Australia, Botswana, Cambodia, Canada, China, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, South Africa and the United States. In 2011, he was appointed the first Chair in Rock Art research[2] at Griffith University on the Gold Coast, Australia. Paul S.C. Taçon has made several key archaeological discoveries in Australia, most notably in western Arnhem Land (NT) and Wollemi National Park (NSW). These include the earliest rock art evidence of warfare in the world,[3] the origins of the Rainbow Serpent,[4][5] significant new Arnhem Land rock art sites,[6][7][8] rock art discoveries in Wollemi National Park [9][10][11][12] and the oldest rock paintings of Southeast Asian watercraft in Australia.[13][14]

Paul S.C. Taçon
External image
Paul Tacon
Born1958 (1958)
NationalityAustralian, Canadian
OccupationAnthropologist, Archaeologist at Griffith University
Known forRock art, radiocarbon dating of beeswax rock art
Academic background
EducationAustralian National University
Academic work
DisciplineAnthropology, Archaeology
Main interestsrock art


Paul S.C. Taçon received his MA in Anthropology from Trent University in 1984 and his PhD from the Australian National University in 1990. He was based at the Australian Museum[15] in Sydney from 1991 to 2005, acting as a principal research scientist in anthropology from 1998 to 2005 and Head of the Museum's People and Place Research Centre from 1995 to 2003. In 2005, Paul S.C. Taçon joined Griffith University and has since led two ongoing research programs, "Picturing Change" and "Late Pleistocene Peopling of East Asia".[16] He has pioneered the use of radiocarbon dating of beeswax rock art,[17] and his research team was the first to use uranium-series direct dates for rock art in China.[18] Currently, he is leading the use of innovative three-dimensional laser scanners to conserve vulnerable rock art sites.

Place, Evolution and Rock Art Heritage UnitEdit

Paul S.C. Taçon recently established the Place, Evolution and Rock Art Heritage Unit (PERAHU) at Griffith University. This research unit is located within the School of Humanities and advocates multidisciplinary, multicultural and scientific approaches to rock art and cultural evolution research. He has close collaborations with the Rock Art Research Centre at the Australian National University and the Centre for Rock-Art Studies at the University of Western Australia. Together, these three research groups are the foremost authority on rock art research in Australia.

"Protect Australia’s Spirit” campaignEdit

He recently launched the “Protect Australia’s Spirit” campaign [19] in May 2011 with actor Jack Thompson.[20][21] This campaign aims to create a fully resourced national archive to bring together information about rock art sites, as well as planning for future rock art management and conservation.[22]

Selected publicationsEdit

  1. 1989. Taçon, P.S.C. Art and the essence of being: symbolic and economic aspects of fish among the peoples of western Arnhem Land, Australia. In H. Morphy ed., Animals into art, pp. 236–50. London: Unwin Hyman.
  2. 1991. Taçon, P.S.C. The power of stone: symbolic aspects of stone use and tool development in western Arnhem Land, Australia. Antiquity 65(247):192-207.
  3. 1994. Taçon, P.S.C. Socializing landscapes: the long term implications of signs, symbols and marks on the land. Archaeology in Oceania 29(3):117-29.
  4. 1994. Taçon, Paul S.C. and C. Chippindale. Australia’s ancient warriors: changing depictions of fighting in the rock art of Arnhem Land, N.T. (with comments from 10 leading authorities and reply). Cambridge Archaeological Journal 4(2):211-48. doi 10.1017/S0959774300001086
  5. 1996. Taçon, P.S.C., Wilson, M and Chippindale, C. Birth of the Rainbow Serpent in Arnhem Land rock art and oral history. Archaeology in Oceania 31(3):103-24.
  6. 1998. Chippindale, C. and Taçon, P.S.C., eds. The Archaeology of rock-art. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (391 pgs.).
  7. 2002. Taçon, P.S.C. , Pardoe, C. Dogs Make Us Human. Nature Australia, Vol. 27(4), Australian Museum pp. 52–61
  8. 2010. Taçon, P.S.C., Li, G., Yang, D., May, S.K., Liu, H., Aubert, M., Ji, X., Curnoe, D. and A.I.R. Herries. Naturalism, nature and questions of style in Jinsha River rock art, northwest Yunnan, China. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 20(1):67-86.
  9. 2010. Taçon, P.S.C., May, S.K., Fallon, S.J., Travers, M., Wesley, D. and R. Lamilami. A minimum age for early depictions of Southeast Asian praus in the rock art of Arnhem Land, Northern Territory. Australian Archaeology 71:1-10.
  10. 2011. Mokhtar, S. and P.S.C. Taçon. The recent rock drawings of the Lenggong Valley, Perak, Malaysia. Antiquity 85 (328):459-475.
  11. 2011. Taçon, P.S.C. Special places and images on rock; 50,000 years of Indigenous engagement with Australian landscapes. In J. Anderson (ed.), Cambridge companion to Australian art, pp. 11–21. Cambridge University Press, Melbourne.
  12. 2012. Taçon, P.S.C., June Ross, Alistair Paterson, and Sally May. Picturing change and changing pictures: Contact period rock art in Australia. In J. McDonald and P. Veth, eds., A Companion to rock art. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012. ISBN 978-1-4443-3424-1

Awards and Academic DistinctionsEdit

  1. Australian Laureate Fellowship, awarded 2016[1]
  2. Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, awarded 2010.
  3. Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, awarded 2009.
  4. Honorary Professor, Yunnan Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, Kunming, China, awarded 2008
  5. Kimberley Aboriginal Community award for contribution to knowledge of Aboriginal culture, awarded: 2002.
  6. Premier’s Public Sector Awards, Significant Improvement to Delivery, New South Wales Government (Premier’s Office), awarded: 1997


  1. ^ a b Marshall, Deborah (May 6, 2016). "ARC Laureate Fellowship honours rock art expert". Griffith University. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
  2. ^ "Protect Australia's Spirit - Griffith University". May 31, 2011. Archived from the original on January 17, 2012. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  3. ^ Paul Taçona1 and Christopher Chippindalea2 (December 22, 2008). "Cambridge Journals Online - Abstract". Cambridge Archaeological Journal. 4 (2): 211–248. doi:10.1017/S0959774300001086.
  4. ^ Taçon, Paul Stephen Charles; Chippindale, Christopher; Wilson, Meredith D. (September 12, 2000). Birth of the Rainbow Serpent in ... - Paul Stephen Charles Tacon, Christopher Chippindale, Meredith Wilson - Google Books. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  5. ^ "Rainbow Serpent and the Dreamtime". Aboriginal Art Online. Archived from the original on November 12, 2010. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  6. ^ "Rocks of ages: millenniums in pictures - World". September 20, 2008. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  7. ^ May, Sally. "Ancient bird stencils discovered in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia (Sally May) -". Antiquity. 84 (324): 416–427. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  8. ^ Traci Watson Contributor (May 29, 2010). "Cache of Aboriginal Art Revealed in Djulirri Rock Shelter in Australia". Archived from the original on July 20, 2012. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  9. ^ "Wollemi find an Aboriginal seat of the gods - National". April 20, 2007. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  10. ^ "Songlines across the Wollemi". September 27, 2003. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  11. ^ "Catalyst: Wollemi Rock Art - ABC TV Science". October 16, 2003. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  12. ^ "Timeline of recent rock art discoveries in Wollemi". Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  13. ^ "Australia's oldest painting prompts history rethink - Just In (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". July 17, 2010. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  14. ^   (July 17, 2010). "Australia's oldest painting prompts history rethink". Archived from the original on June 6, 2012. Retrieved December 16, 2011.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  15. ^ Australia. "nature, culture, discover". Australian Museum. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  16. ^ "Professor Paul Taçon - Griffith University". Archived from the original on March 28, 2012. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  17. ^ "Dating Australian Rock-Markings: An Interdisciplinary Challenge". Archived from the original on April 7, 2012. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  18. ^ Aubert, Maxime. "Uranium-series age estimates for rock art in southwest China (Maxime Aubert) -". Journal of Archaeological Science. 39 (2): 492–499. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  19. ^ "Protect Australia's Spirit - Griffith University". May 31, 2011. Archived from the original on January 17, 2012. Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  20. ^ Dayton, Leigh (May 31, 2011). "Jack Thompson acts to preserve rock art". The Australian.
  21. ^ Foster, Margot (May 31, 2011). "Protect Australia's Spirit - a campaign to save our rock art - 31/05/2011". Retrieved December 16, 2011.
  22. ^ "The World Today - Campaign for Aboriginal rock art database 31/05/2011". October 2, 1980. Retrieved December 16, 2011.

External linksEdit