The International Federation of Rock Art Organisations (IFRAO) is a federation of national and regional Organisations promoting the study of palaeoart and cognitive archaeology globally. It was established in September 1988 in Darwin, Australia, by nine founding members (see history of IFRAO). Currently, IFRAO has 60 regional member organisations covering most of the globe.
Offices of the IFRAO Representatives
American Rock Art Research Association (ARARA)
c/o Jack Wedgwood
1884 The Alameda
San Jose, CA 95126-1733
Prof. Dr Herta Mandl-Neumann
Anisa, Verein für Alpine Forschung
A-8967 HAUS i. E.
Arqto. Ruby De Valencia
Archivo Nacional de Arte Rupestre – Venezuela (ANAR)
Edificio TAMAYO & Cia, Piso 1
Av. Nueva Granada
Fernando Javier Costas Goberna
Asociación Arqueológica Viguesa (AAV)
Parque de Castrelos c/n
Professor Hipólito Collado Giraldo
Asociación Cultural ‘Colectivo Barbaón’ (ACCB)
Míralrío, we 13, 3e E
Professor José Julio García Arranz
Asociación Cultural Instituto de Estudios Prehistóricos (ACINEP)
c/- John Lennon, nº 3
06800 Mérida (Badajoz)
Professor Roy Querejazu Lewis
Asociación de los Valles Cruceños de Arte Rupestre (AVCAR)
Santa Cruz de la Sierra
Dr Leslie Zubieta
Asociación Mexicana de Arte Rupestre, A.C. (AMARAC)
Calle Siempreviva 38
Coyocán, Mexico City
Amics Valltorta Gassulla (AVG)
Avgda. Puig Roda, 34
Juan Cristóbal Quiroga
Asociación de Estudios del Arte Rupestre de Cochabamba (AEARC)
Pantaleon Dalence #1435
Association Isturitz & Oxocelhaya – Arts & Sciences (AIO)
Saint Martin d’Arberoue
Gori Tumi Echevarría López
Asociación Peruana de Arte Rupestre (APAR)
Alameda Julio C. Tello 274 Dpto No. 303
Torres de San Borja
Professor Niede Guidon
Associaçao Brasileira de Arte Rupestre (ABAR)
Centro Cultural Sérgio Motta, s/n.
São Raimundo Nonato – PI
CEP : 64770 – 000
Professor Mila Simões de Abreu
Associaçao Portuguesa de Arte e Arqueologia Rupestre (APAAR)
c/o Departamento de Geologia, Unidade de Arqueologia
Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro
5000-911 VILA REAL
Dr Jean-Loic Le Quellec
Association des Amis de l’Art Rupestre Saharien (AARS)
F-85540 – St-Benoist-sur-Mer
Professor Philippe Hameau
Association de Sauvegarde, d’Etude et de Recherche pour le patrimoine naturel et culturel du Centre-Var (ASER)
Maison de l’Archéologie
21 rue République
83143 Le Val
Dr Abdelkhalek Lemjidi
Association Marocaine d’Art Rupestre (AMAR)
Massira III, C
Tarablous residence, IMM.685, N°26
Dr Jean Clottes
Association pour le Rayonnement de L’Art Pariétal Européen (ARAPE)
11, rue du Fourcat
Professor Robert G. Bednarik
Australian Rock Art Research Association (AURA)
P.O. Box 216
CAULFIELD SOUTH, Vic. 3162
Professor Talhee Lee
Bangudae Forum (BF)
University of Ulsan
P.O. Box 18
Republic of South Korea
Professor Robert G. Bednarik
Cave Art Research Association (CARA)
P.O. Box 216
CAULFIELD SOUTH, Vic. 3162
Professor Mila Simões de Abreu
Centro Camuno di Studi Preistorici (CCSP)
7 Via Marconi
25044 CAPO DI PONTE (Bs)
Centro Regional de Arte Rupestre, Murcia (CRAR)
Carretera de Campo de San Juan, Km. 6, s/n,
30440 MORATALLA (Murcia)
Professor Luiz Oosterbeek
Centro Europeu de Investigação da Pré-História do Alto Ribatejo (CEIPHAR)
Instituto Politécnico de Tomar
Estrada da Serra
Professor Dario Seglie
Centro Studi e Museo d’Arte Preistorica (CeSMAP)
Viale Giolitti, 1
10064 PINEROLO (TO)
Professor Wang Jianping
China Rock Art Academy
The Secretariat of China Rock Art Academy
Hetao Liquor Building
Ke Er Qin North Road
Inner Mongolia 010010
Dr Mara Basile
Comite de Investigación del Arte Rupestre de la Sociedad Argentina de Antropología
Av. Santa Fe 983, 4 piso A
1059 BUENOS AIRES
Prof. Dr Thomas W. Wyrwoll
Deutscher Arbeitskreis für Felsbildforschung und Archäologisch-Zoologische Tierbildkunde e.V. (DAFAZT)
Albert-Schweitzer-Strasse 52 – III
DE-60437 Frankfurt am Main
Dr Fidelis T. Masao
East African Rock Art Research Association (EARARA)
P.O. Box 70566
DAR ES SALAM
Dr H. Denise Smith
Eastern States Rock Art Research Association (ESRARA)
1600 Peachtree Street NW
Atlanta, GA 30309
Dr Antti Lahelma
Finnish Society for Prehistoric Art (SuMu)
Minna Canthin katu 1 a 1
Georgian Association of Rock Art (GARA)
4, Kipiani Street
Groupe d’Études, de Recherches et de Sauvegarde de l’Art Rupestre (GERSAR)
P.O. Box 724
Chilmark, MA 02535
Dr Racso Fernández Ortega
Grupo Cubano de Investigaciones de Arte Rupestre (GCIAR)
Calle Amargura No. 203 entre Aguiar y Habana
Professor Guillermo Muñoz C.
Grupo de Investigación de Arte Rupestre Indigena (GIPRI)
Carrera 54A 174-12
SANTAFÉ DE BOGOTÁ, D.C.
Dr George Dimitriadis
Hellenic Rock Art Centre (HERAC)
GR 640 03 Krinides
Dr Sada Mire
Horn Heritage Organisation (HHO)
Edna Adan Hospital Road
Ahmed Dhagah Area
Dr Pindi Setiawan
Indonesian Association of Rock Art (IARA)
Daniel Seuart Castillo Benitez
Instituto de Investigación de Arqueología y Antropología ‘Kuelap’
Chachapoyas – Amazonas
Institutum Canarium (IC)
Professor Nobuhiro Yoshida
Japan Petrograph Society (JPS)
P.O. Box 11
Kokuranishi Post Office
Mid-America Geographic Foundation, Inc.
4636 Island View Dr.
Oshkosh, WI 54901
Dr Arsen Faradjev
Moscow Centre of Rock Art and Bioindication Research
St. Arkhitektora Vlasova 15-1-26
Kundishora T. Chipunza
National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe
Penrose Hill, No. 107 Rotten Row
P.O. Box CY 1485
Dr Uzi Avner
Negev Rock Art Center (NRAC)
ADSSC and AIES
Dr Angus R. Quinlan
Nevada Rock Art Foundation (NRAF)
1201 Terminal Way, Suite 215
Reno, Nevada 89502
Professor Wu Jiacai
North China Rock Art Research Institute (NCRARI)
29 Airport Road
Hohhot, Inner Mongolia
People’s Republic of China
Northern Cape Rock Art Trust
P.O. Box 316
Prehistory Society of Zimbabwe (PSZ)
P. O. Box 876
Dr Liu Wuyi
Rock Art Centre of Juci Mountain (RACJ)
186 Renmin Road
Professor Zhang Yasha
Rock Art Research Association of China (RARAC)
School of Ethnology & Sociology
Minzu University of China
27 Zhongguancun South Avenue
People’s Republic of China
Professor Giriraj Kumar
Rock Art Society of India (RASI)
Faculty of Arts
Dayalbagh Educational Institute
DAYALBAGH, Agra 282 005
Dr Steven J. Waller
San Diego Rock Art Association (SDRAA)
P.O. Box 153421
San Diego, CA 92195-3421
Professor Lyubov Ermolenko
Siberian Association of Prehistoric Art Researchers (SAPAR)
Michurin Street 15 – 16
Lic. Freddy Taboada
Sociedad de Investigación del Arte Rupestre de Bolivia (SIARB)
c/o Matthias Strecker
Professor Angelo Fossati
Società Cooperativa Archeologica Le Orme dell’Uomo
Piazzale Donatori di Sangue, 1
25040 CERVENO (Brescia)
Dr Jean Clottes
Société Préhistorique Ariège-Pyrénées
11, rue du Fourcat
Tadjik Centre for the Study of Petroglyphs (TCSP)
Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnography
Tadjik Academy of Sciences
The Trust for African Rock Art (TARA)
P.O. Box 24122
Charles Robert Bailey
Upper Midwest Rock Art Research Association (UMRARA)
1513 72nd Avenue North
BROOKLYN CENTER, Minnesota 55430
Office of the IFRAO Convener
Robert G. Bednarik
P.O. Box 216
Caulfield South, Vic. 3162
The International Federation of Rock Art Organisations (IFRAO)
IFRAO was formed in Darwin, Australia, on 3 September 1988, during the first major international academic conference dedicated entirely to the study of pre-Historic rock art. Nine rock art organisations decided to form an international federation of independent national or regional bodies. At the founding meeting it was decided that IFRAO should be a common forum and initiator of policies, projecting or representing the common interests of member organisations without interfering in their autonomy. It would operate as a democratic advisory body in which each member organisation would hold one vote, exercised by an official representative. International meetings would be held by nominating suitable rock art conferences as official IFRAO congresses at regular intervals.
Over the subsequent twelve years, the number of affiliate members quadrupled to almost forty, and the current members of IFRAO cover most of the world. The combined memberships of these organisations include about 7000 rock art specialists, i.e. practically all such specialists in the world.
Until the late 1980s, individual rock art researchers as well as rock art organisations around the world operated largely without being aware of the work conducted in other parts of the world — sometimes even in their own country or region of activity. As a result the discipline experienced a great diversity of research approaches and terminology, reflected in a multitude of idiosyncratic constructs, sequences, chronologies, names and definitions. Therefore one of IFRAO’s initial principal concerns was the standardisation of those aspects of the discipline that are essential for effective communication and collaboration: methodology, terminology, ethics, and the technical standards used in analysis and recording. These subjects were addressed through extensive consultation of specialists and, where appropriate, the deliberations of appointed sub-committees.
For instance, to establish a uniform code of ethics (see below) for all rock art researchers in the world, IFRAO appointed a sub-committee at its 1998 meeting in Cochabamba, Bolivia, which produced a draft ratified two years later in Alice Springs, Australia. Consultation has also been the basis of determining a uniform terminology, now enshrined in a multi-language dictionary. Methodology has experienced a more subtle process of standardisation, in which unrigorous practices have gradually been weeded out, through debate, editorial practices and good example.
The IFRAO members produce about twenty specialist periodicals, whose flagship is Rock Art Research, the official organ of the federation.
IFRAO has been particularly effective in the area of rock art protection and preservation, achieving sometimes spectacular successes, such as the electoral defeat of recalcitrant governments in 1995 and 2002. The federation has become the principal international body pursuing the conservation of pre-Historic rock art effectively. Another of its greatest achievements to date has been its successful campaign of empowering traditional indigenous societies to secure the return of rock art sites into their care and possession.
Robert G. Bednarik, President of IFRAO 2000-2004
The IFRAO Code of Ethics
(approved 14 July 2000)
See Spanish version
See Chinese version
1(1). This Code of Ethics describes general guidelines which IFRAO recommends to its members.
1(2). Rock art provides a window to our collective past, helps us make sense of the present and contributes to our future. Some of it has been handed down to us by many generations preceding us, to safeguard it for many generations to follow us. Unless we can trace our lineage directly to those who created the rock art and have retained aspects of its original cultural context, it does not belong to us in any way.
1(3). The cultural significance of a rock art site is embodied in the entire fabric of the site, in addition to the actual art present; in the traditional use of the place and the activities that occurred there; and in the meanings and intangible qualities of the place.
1(4). Understanding the cultural significance of a place is fundamental to its care, and where such understanding is inadequate, any interference may be regarded as inappropriate.
1(5). The ‘patina of history’ apparent in the fabric of a rock art site is important evidence and forms an integral part of that fabric. It includes natural or artificial changes or traces.
Fabric all physical aspects of a rock art site, including accretionary deposits, the art itself, traces of later human responses, modifications, even traces of vandalism in cases, lichen, and so forth.
Geomorphic exposure any rock surface.
Graffiti collective term describing recent anthropic graphic markings or inscriptions that are incompatible with the known or presumed uses of the rock art on the same panels.
IFRAO the International Federation of Rock Art Organisations.
Indigenous cultural custodians descendants of people who created rock art, who are obligated by their cultural traditions or beliefs to act as the custodians or curators of rock art.
Management administrative control over the management of rock art sites, including preservation, access control, public presentation.
Massive intervention significant changes to the environmental conditions under which the rock art survives. This includes housing in a building, or removal of the supporting bedrock to another location.
Members the members of IFRAO.
Peer approval the approval of an action or proposed action by relevant specialists who have no pecuniary involvement in the project in question.
Rock art the surviving graphic markings of cultural activities found on rock surfaces.
Triumvirate of IFRAO the ruling council of IFRAO, consisting of the immediate past president, president and incoming president [assuming that my proposal to form such a council is approved in Portugal].
Traditional owners see Indigenous cultural custodians.
3. Issues of Ownership
3(1). Traditional owners and indigenous cultural custodians: In areas where indigenous peoples live whose lifestyles and beliefs continue traditions associated with rock art, members recognise their ownership of the sites, and all research, conservation or management of such sites are subject to the full approval of the traditional owners. In areas where such indigenous peoples and traditions are no longer present, members shall endeavour to understand and promote management practices consistent with such beliefs in so far as they are known from ethnographic or archaeological evidence. In the absence of such evidence to the contrary, provisional concepts of such beliefs (e.g. non-human sources of authority, nature of the sacred, non-linear time/space) should be projected from similar societies and traditions elsewhere.
3(2). Local antiquities and cultural heritage laws: Members shall abide by all local, state or national laws protecting archaeological sites and monuments, and comply with heritage protection laws generally.
3(3). Non-traditional ownership of sites: Members shall respect the rules, laws or requests of any individuals or organisations possessing legal ownership of the land rock art sites are located on, or the land that must be traversed in order to reach the sites.
3(4). Copyright and ownership of records: In regions where traditional indigenous owners exist, they possess copyright of the rock art designs. Members wishing to reproduce such designs shall make appropriate applications. Records made of rock art remain the cultural property of the rock artists, or collectively of the societies these lived amongst.
4. Recording of Rock Art
4(1). Methods of recording: Members shall not physically interfere with rock art except as provided in Clauses 5(2) and 6. No substances shall be applied to rock art for recording purposes, except substances that are regularly applied to individual panels by natural processes (e.g. water at open air sites).
4(2). Coverage of recording: All recordings of rock art are incomplete. Therefore rock art recordings need to be as comprehensive as possible, and by multi-disciplinary means.
4(3). Conduct at sites: New uses of sites, including for purposes of research, shall not change the fabric of a site, and shall respect associations and meanings of the site and its contents.
4(4). Conduct in foreign countries: In addition to other requirements listed herein, researchers working in foreign countries shall do so in consultation with the region’s rock art organisation, and shall provide copies of reports and publications to that organisation.
5. Removal of Samples
5(1). Archaeological research: No excavation shall be undertaken at a rock art site unless it forms part of an appropriately authorised archaeological research project. This includes the removal of any sediment to uncover rock art images. Similarly, no archaeological surface remains shall be removed or relocated.
5(2). Sampling of rock art and adjacent geomorphic exposures: No samples shall be removed of paint residue, accretionary deposits of any kind, or of the support rock, except after the following requirements have been satisfied:
(a) The sample removal is to form part of a larger and specific research design that has peer approval;
(b) The sample removal has been approved in writing by two peer researchers (i.e. scientists specialising in the analytical study of rock art);
(c) The funds necessary for the best possible analytical laboratory support have been secured;
(d) The analyst has extensive first-hand experience in sampling geomorphic surfaces;
(e) Traditional indigenous custodians, where they have jurisdiction, have approved the sample removal;
(f) The relevant local or national authorities have approved the sample removal;
5(3). Excavation: No excavations shall be undertaken at a rock art site unless the expertise of identifying rock art-making tools is available to the researchers proposing such excavation.
6(1). Setting: The area around a rock art site, its setting, may contain features associated with the rock art and other evidence of its history. The visual, historical and other relationships between a site and its setting which contribute to its significance shall be retained in all conservation or preservation work.
6(2). Site fabric: In all conservation, preservation or management work at and near rock art sites, the visual, historical and scientific significance of the site fabric shall be retained. The removal or palliation of ‘graffiti’ shall be undertaken only after approval of the relevant authorities, and be effected only under the guidance of qualified rock art conservators. Massive intervention is to be reserved for situations of extreme threats to rock art, and shall be undertaken only after extensive peer review and approval.
6(3). Protection: Members will not disclose the locations of non-public and unprotected rock art sites to the general public. Ultimately, the best protection will depend on the awareness of the general public of the value of rock art. Part of any conservation effort should include the education of the public towards respect for rock art wherever it occurs.
7(1). Conduct: Members shall endeavour to treat other members in a courteous manner. In regions where traditional indigenous owners exist, members shall ensure that they are kept informed about all aspects of research work, and that copies of completed reports are made available to them. Where such reports appear in technical jargon, ordinary-language versions are to be made available.
7(2). Plagiarism: Members shall acknowledge the use of other researcher’s recordings, published comments and ideas.
7(3). Dispute settlement: Members shall make every endeavour to settle disputes among themselves, as IFRAO is reluctant to settle disputes among its members. Where a dispute cannot be settled and threatens the integrity of IFRAO, application for arbitration shall be made to the President of IFRAO, providing the relevant documentation. The dispute will then be arbitrated by the Triumvirate of IFRAO if its resolution is urgent, but preferably at the subsequent General Meeting of IFRAO.
Download the IFRAO Reports
Homepages of some of the IFRAO member organisations:
For a history of IFRAO from 1988 to 2000, click here
The Coa issue has been one of IFRAO’s major projects. Here is an analytical report on this Portuguese rock art body (PDF file, 255 KB).
The greatest confrontation over rock art protection in history is the Dampier Campaign.
The IFRAO Congress 2015 has been held in Caceres, Spain, 31 August to 4 September 2015.
The IFRAO Congress 2018 has been held in Darfo Terme Boario, Valcamonica, Italy, 29 August to 2 September 2018.
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