Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (Honours)


School of Earth, Atmospheric and Life Sciences


Luke Gliganic


Since the development of modern human behaviour, humans have been producing art to visually represent thoughts, emotions, and desires. Rock art provides a visual archive of the past, as one of the most widespread and enduring records of cultural expression. Dating is vital to the interpretation of rock art, in that it provides a temporal framework of when cultural changes have occurred. Dating rock art is, however, a very difficult process. The development of methods for the direct dating of petroglyphs remains a challenge for the archaeological community globally (Bednarik 2010). This thesis will test the feasibility of a new and developing method —luminescence-surfaceexposure- dating—and its potential application to rock engravings made into gabbro at Murujuga, Western Australia. By conducting a controlled laboratory experiment, mimicking the luminescence- surface-exposure process, a relationship between exposure time and bleaching depth for gabbro at Murujuga was able to be determined. The experiment demonstrated that bleaching increased for longer exposure durations. Though not definitive, initial results suggest that there is a possibility that the luminescence-surface-exposure-dating method could be applied to rock engravings made into gabbro at Murujuga to try to obtain ages of when the engravings were produced. In the future, if permission is granted to attempt to date the engravings from Murujuga using the luminescence-surface-exposure dating method, this thesis has compiled a database of engravings made into gabbro that may be potentially suitable for dating. In supporting the cultural significance of Murujuga, dating of the rock art could potentially play a significant role in protecting the heritage of this cultural landscape, from the impacts of encroaching industries.

FoR codes (2020)

430103 Archaeology of Australia (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander), 430101 Archaeological science



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.