Robert G. Bednarik
Welcome to the homepage of Robert G. Bednarik.
My principal interests are in the origins of the human ability to create constructs of reality, and in a variety of fields providing supplementary information in that quest. This includes the beginnings of art and language, and technological developments providing a measure of early human capacities, such as seafaring and the use of beads. For instance, I study rock art and portable palaeoart of the Ice Age, and I conduct experiments in replicative archaeology. In my spare time I edit three scientific journals and two monograph series, co-edit several more journals, write academic books and articles, organise conferences, make TV documentaries and travel the world in search of sites and specimens. Naturally, I am totally uneducated and like most autodidacts regard education as a hindrance to understanding. So I can barely write my name, but I have published more scientific works on archaeology than any other person in history. My work has appeared in 32 languages but I am not fluent in any one of them.
I hold the following offices:
Convener, CEO and Editor, International Federation of Rock Art Organisations (IFRAO);
Chair Professor, International Centre of Rock Art Dating, Hebei Normal University;
Secretary and Editor, Australian Rock Art Research Association (AURA); Editorial Board Member, Humanities; Editorial Board Member, Advances in Anthropology; Editorial Board Member, Progress in Arts and Humanities
Managing Director, Archaeological Publications Inc.
Patron, Life Member, Honorary Member or Member of numerous scholarly associations worldwide;
Permanent Chairman of the AURA Congress;
National Coordinator of CAR, International Comite pour l’art Rupestre, ICOMOS.
Chief Scientist, The First Mariners Expeditions
Director, International Institute of Replicative Archaeology
Member, UISPP Commission on Rock Art
I have produced over 700 refereed scientific publications, mostly in cognitive epistemology and palaeoart studies, also general and replicative archaeology, soil science, speleology, deontology, semiotics, neuroscience, psychology and geomorphology. In all more then1400 publications, including a series of books and edited volumes. I have appeared in 18 film documentaries, presented some 275 papers at professional meetings and invited lectures, and have given about 565 interviews to the printed and electronic media, in many parts of the world.
Field research in various thematic and geographical areas: especially in central, northern, eastern, western and southern Europe; Siberia, India, China, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Canada, U.S.A., Mexico, Caribbean, various South American countries, southern Africa, Morocco, all regions of Australia.
Innovations: first in the world to date rock art directly with radiometric methods (reprecipitated carbonates in Malangine Cave, Australia, 1980); developed first non-interfering rock art dating method (microerosion method, first applied at Lake Onega, Russia); introduced advanced statistics in Australian archaeology (Brainerd-Robinson method). Developed new techniques for assessing weathering of silica minerals, and for studying cave climate; invented an instrument to measure the porosity of rock; conducted first comprehensive study of wall markings in caves, first to investigate Pleistocene seafaring, established taphonomic logic in 1993, metamorphology in 1995. Responsible for major scientific discoveries in various countries, including oldest known rock art in the world, first Palaeolithic art of China, first Palaeolithic rock art of central Europe, largest petroglyph concentration in the world (1967-1970, Dampier Archipelago, Western Australia) and much of the cave art of Australia. Established the role of exograms in 1987, discovered KEM (kinetic energy metamorphosis) in 2014 and compressive-tensile rock markings in 2019. Founded Archaeological Soil Lab in 1980, Archaeological Publications and AURA in 1983, and co-founded IFRAO in 1988. Conducted extensive ethnographic research among Aborigines before it became fashionable, campaigned actively and successfully for Aboriginal control of sites of indigenous heritage, and frequently engaged in trying to prevent the destruction of rock art worldwide.
Gudenus Cave 1963 – ongoing (oldest known occupation site of Austria);
Promenadensteig Cave 1960-1966;
Direct dating of rock art 1965 – ongoing;
Discovery of the major Pilbara rock art concentrations in Western Australia 1967-1970;
Parietal Markings Project 1975 – ongoing (cave art in Australia and abroad, included the discovery of 37 of the 45 known sites of Australian cave art);
Cave habitability and speleoclimatic study project 1980 – 2000;
Patination of sedimentary silicas and other minerals 1973 – 1981;
Numerous geomorphological and sedimentary/pedological projects 1962 – ongoing;
Portable Palaeolithic art of Eurasia, and beginnings of art and symbolism 1971 – ongoing;
Pleistocene underground mining evidence of the world 1979 – 1992;
Paroong Cave Preservation Project 1986 – 1988;
Colour calibration and re-constitution by computer 1991 – 1995;
Project with Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya, Bhopal, India 1994 – 2000;
Pleistocene seafaring and maritime replication studies 1994 – ongoing;
Early Indian Petroglyphs (EIP) Project, 2000 – ongoing.
Survey of Saudi Arabian rock art 2001 – ongoing;
Leader of the campaign to save the rock art of the Dampier Archipelago, Australia, 1969 – ongoing;
Age estimation of petroglyphs in China, 2014 – ongoing;
Editing and publishing of scientific periodicals (Rock Art Research, AURANewsletter and Cave Art Research) and two monograph series 1983 – ongoing.
Australian Rock Art Research Association (Founder, Secretary and Editor, Past President), Rock Art Society of India (Patron and Life Member), ICOMOS-CAR (National Co-ordinator), Rock Art Research Association of China (Editorial Board Member), Centro Studi e Museo d’Arte Preistorica, American Rock Art Research Association, American Committee to Advance the Study of Petroglyphs and Pictographs, Australian Archaeological Association, Sociedad de Investigacion del Arte Rupestre de Bolivia, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and numerous others.
Selected publications of recent years:
2000. Crossing the Timor Sea by Middle Palaeolithic raft. Anthropos 95: 37-47.
2000. Age estimates for the petroglyph sequence of Inca Huasi, Mizque, Bolivia. Andean Past 6: 277-287.
2001. The oldest known rock art in the world. Anthropologie 39(2): 81-89.
2001. An Acheulian figurine from Morocco. Rock Art Research 18(2): 115-116.
2001. Replicating the first known sea travel by humans: the Lower Pleistocene crossing of Lombok Strait. Human Evolution 16(3-4): 229-242.
2001. Rock art science: the scientific study of palaeoart. Brepols, Turnhout.
2002. First dating of Pilbara petroglyphs. Records of the Western Australian Museum 20: 414-429.
2002. The dating of rock art: a critique. Journal of Archaeological Science 29(11): 1213-1233.
2002. The oldest surviving rock art: a taphonomic review. Origini 24: 335-349.
2002. Paläolithische Felskunst in Deutschland? Archäologische Informationen 25(1-2): 107-117.
2003. Seafaring in the Pleistocene. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 13(1): 41-66.
2003. A figurine from the African Acheulian. Current Anthropology 44(3): 405-13.
2003. (With Mario Consens, Alfred Muzzolini, Dario Seglie and Yakov A. Sher) Rock art glossary: a multilingual dictionary. IFRAO-Brepols Series 2, Brepols, Turnhout.
2003. A major change in archaeological paradigm. Anthropos 98: 511-520.
2004. Public archaeology and political dynamics in Portugal. Public Archaeology 3(3): 162-166.
2004. Interpretatsiyadannykh o proiskhozhdeiiiskusstva (Interpreting the evidence for art origins). Arkheologiy, etnografiy i antropologiy Evraziy (Ethnology and Anthropology of Eurasia) 20(4): 35-47.
2005. Scientific studies of Saudi Arabian rock art. Rock Art Research 22(1): 49-81.
2005. Middle Pleistocene beads and symbolism. Anthropos 100(2): 537-552.
2005. Archaeology and science: a response to Huffman. The South African Archaeological Bulletin 60(181): 39-41.
2005. (With G. Kumar, A. Watchman and R. G. Roberts) Preliminary results of the EIP Project. Rock Art Research 22(2): 147-197.
2006. Out of India? The world’s earliest rock art. Minerva 17(1): 31-32.
2006. The Middle Palaeolithic engravings from Oldisleben, Germany. Anthropologie 44(2): 113-121.
2006. Australian apocalypse. The story of Australia’s greatest cultural monument. Occasional AURA Publication 14, Australian Rock Art Research Association, Melbourne.
2007. The Late Pleistocene cultural shift in Europe. Anthropos 102(2): 347-370.
2008. Rock art. In D. M. Pearsall (ed.), Encyclopedia of archaeology, pp. 1940-1952. Academic Press, New York.
2008. The origins of symboling. Signs 2: 82-113,
2008. Early beads. In Helaine Selin (ed.), Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures, Part 2, pp. 395-399.
2008. Early seafaring. In Helaine Selin (ed.), Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures, Part 19, pp. 1978-1983. Springer Netherlands.
2008. Cupules. Rock Art Research 25(1): 61-100.
2008. Beads and the origins of symbolism. Time and Mind: The Journal of Archaeology, Consciousness and Culture 1(3): 285-318.
2008. [With M. Sreenathan and V. R. Rao] Paleolithic cognitive inheritance in aesthetic behavior of the Jarawas of the Andaman Islands. Anthropos 103: 367-392.
2008. Pedogenetic dating of loess strata. Journal of Archaeological Science 35(12): 3124-3129.
2008. More on rock art removal. South African Archaeological Bulletin 63(187): 82-84.
2008. The mythical Moderns. Journal of World Prehistory 21(2): 85-102.
2008. Children as Pleistocene artists. Rock Art Research 25(2): 173-182.
2008. Die Kranichberger Petroglyphen bei Glocknitz, Niederösterreich. Almogaren 39: 19-26.
2008. The domestication of humans. Anthropologie 46(1): 1-17.
2008. Zur Seefahrt im Paläolithikum. Ethnographisch-Archäologische Zeitschrift 49(3): 257-270.
2009. Fluvial erosion of inscriptions and petroglyphs at Siega Verde, Spain. Journal of Archaeological Science 36: 2365–2373.
2009. [With M. Khan] The rock art of southern Arabia reconsidered. Adumatu Journal 20: 7-20.
2009. Interpreting the evidence for art origins. Archaeology. Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia, special issue 2009: 31-47.
2009. The Middle-Upper Paleolithic transition revisited. In Marta Camps and Parth R. Chauhan (eds), Sourcebook of Paleolithic transitions: methods, theories, and interpretations, pp. 273-281. Springer, New York.
2010. Pleistocene rock art in Australia. Anthropos 105(1): 3-12.
2010. [With A. Achrati, M. Consens, F. Coimbra, G. Dimitriadis, T. Huisheng, A. Muzzolini, D Seglie and Y. A Sher] Rock art glossary: a multilingual dictionary, second edition. Occasional AURA Publication 16, Australian Rock Art Research Association, Inc., Melbourne.
2010. Bezcennenaantypodach. Archeologia żywa 2010/1: 42-49.
2010. ‘Aurignacians’ and the cave bear. In Ivana Fridrichová-Sýkorová (ed.), Ecce Homo: in memoriam Jan Fridrich, pp. 11-20. Knižnice České společnosti archeologické, o.p.s., Vydala Agentura Krigl, Prague.
2011. Ethnographic analogy in rock art interpretation. Man In India 91(2): 223-234.
2011. Palaeoart of the Lower Palaeolithic. In Lybov Ermolenko (ed.), Археология Южной Сибири. К 80-летию Я. А. Шера, pp. 31-35. Kemerovo State University, Kemerovo.
2011. The human condition. Springer, New York. Hardcover, ISBN 978-1-4419-9352-6.
2011. The origins of human modernity. Humanities 1(1): 1-53; http://www.mdpi.com/2076-0787/1/1/1/
2011. Genetic drift in recent human evolution? In Kevin V. Urbano (ed.), Advances in Genetics Research. Volume 6, pp. 109-160. Nova Press, New York, NY.
2011. [With Patricia A. Helvenston] Evolutionary origins of brain disorders in Homo sapiens sapiens. Brain Research Journal 3(2): 113–139.
2012. The utility of schist in rock art studies. Horizons in Earth Science Research 8: 1-36.
2012. Petroglyphs of the world (in Chinese). Chinese Social Sciences Today 2012(7): A-04 – A-06.
2012. An aetiology of hominin behaviour. HOMO — Journal of Comparative Human Biology 63: 319-335; doi. 10.1016/j.jchb.2012.07.004
2012. The Arabian horse in the context of world rock art. In M. Khan (ed.), The Arabian horse: origin, development and history, pp. 397-425. Layan Cultural Foundation, Riyadh.
2012. [With Patricia A. Helvenston] The nexus between neurodegeneration and advanced cognitive abilities. Anthropos 107(2): 511-527.
2012. [With M. Sreenathan] Traces of the ancients: ethnographic vestiges of Pleistocene ‘art’. Rock Art Research 29(2): 191–217.
2012. The removal of rock art. In S. Sullivan and R. Mackay (eds), Archaeological sites: conservation and management, pp. 407-411. The Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles.
2013. On the neuroscience of rock art interpretation. Time and Mind: The Journal of Archaeology, Consciousness and Culture 6(1): 37–40.
2013. The origins of modern human behaviour. In R. G. Bednarik (ed.), The psychology of human behaviour, pp. 1–58. Nova Press, New York, NY.
2013. Pleistocene palaeoart of Africa. Special issue ‘World rock art’, ed. R. G. Bednarik, Arts 2(1), 6-34; doi:10.3390/arts2010006
2013. Brain disorder and rock art. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 23(1): 69-81.
2013. Pleistocene palaeoart of Asia. Special issue ‘World rock art’, ed. R. G. Bednarik, Arts 2(2): 46-76; doi:10.3390/arts2020046
2013. Creating the human past. Archaeopress, Oxford.
2013. Myths about rock art. Journal of Literature and Art Studies 3(8): 482-500.
2013. Lower Palaeolithic rock art of India and its global context. Indian Journal of Physical Anthropology and Human Genetics 32(1): 113-142.
2013. African Eve: hoax or hypothesis? Advances in Anthropology 3(4): 216-228; doi: 10.4236/aa.2013.34031
2013. Cultural heritage management, ethics and rock art in Western Australia. Australian Aboriginal Studies 2013(2): 86-91.
2013. Megafauna depictions in Australian rock art. Rock Art Research 30(2): 197-215.
2013. Advances in surface luminescence dating: new data from selected monuments (with I. Liritzis, A. Vafiadou, N. Zacharias and G. S. Polymeris). Mediterranean Archaeology & Archaeometry 13(3): 105-115.
2014. Paleoart studies: scientific methods. In D. Fiore, I. Domingo and J. McDonald (eds), Encyclopedia of global archaeology, Archaeology of Art Section, pp. 5734-5740. Springer, New York.
2014. Australian paleoart. Encyclopedia of global archaeology, Geographical and Cultural Overview Essays, edited Marcel Otte and Rebecca Miller, pp. 677-686. Springer, New York.
2014. Pleistocene paleoart of Australia. Special issue ‘World rock art’, ed. R. G. Bednarik, Arts 3(1): 156-174; doi:10.3390/arts3010156; http://www.mdpi.com/2076-0752/3/1/156.
2014. Pleistocene paleoart of the Americas. Special issue ‘World rock art’, ed. R. G. Bednarik, Arts 3(1): 190-206; doi:10.3390/arts3020190; http://www.mdpi.com/2076-0752/3/2/190
2014. Archaeology and rock art science. Almogaren 44-45: 57-72.
2014. Exograms. Rock Art Research 31(1): 47-62.
2014. Pleistocene paleoart of Europe. Special issue ‘World rock art’, ed. R. G. Bednarik, Arts 3(2): 245-278; doi:10.3390/arts3020245; http://www.mdpi.com/2076-0752/3/2/245
2014. Doing with less: hominin brain atrophy. HOMO — Journal of Comparative Human Biology 65: 433-449; DOI: 10.1016/j.jchb.2014.06.0012014o.
2014. The first mariners, 1st edn. Research India Press, New Delhi, ISBN 978-93-5171-007-3.
2014. The beginnings of maritime travel. Advances in Anthropology 4: 209-221.
2015. Pleistocene fauna depictions in American palaeoart. Rock Art Research 32(1): 3-30.
2015. The tribology of cupules. Geological Magazine 152(4): 758-765; doi:10.1017/S0016756815000060.
2015. An etiology of Theory of Mind in deep time. In E. Sherwood (ed.), Theory of Mind: development in children, brain mechanisms and social implications, pp. 115-144. Nova Science Publishers, Inc., New York.
2015. Palaeoart of the Lower Palaeolithic. Progress in Arts and Humanities 1(1): 1-12.
2015. Prehistoria sin nacionalismo (Pre-History without nationalism). ISTOR: Revista de Historia Internacional 15(60): 13-36.
2015. (With P. B. Beaumont) Concerning a cupule sequence on the edge of the Kalahari desert in South Africa. Rock Art Research 32(2): 163-177.
2015. Kinetic energy metamorphosis of rocks. In Benjamin Veress and Jozsi Szigethy (eds), Horizons in Earth Science Research 13: 119-134. NOVA Science Publishers, New York.
2015. Hominin mind and creativity. In Barbora Půta and Václav Soukup (eds), The genesis of creativity and the origin of the human mind, pp. 35-44. Department of Culturology, The Faculty of Arts, Charles University. Karolinum Press, Prague.
2015. The first mariners, 3rd edn (e-book). Bentham Science Publishers, Oak Park, IL; DOI: 10.2174/97816810801921150101, eISBN: 978-1-68108-019-2, ISBN: 978-1-68108-020-8.
2016. Art in caves. Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie 60 (Suppl. 2): 139-152.
2016. An etiology of human behaviour. In Robert G. Bednarik (ed.), Understanding human behavior: theories, patterns and developments, pp. 63-93. Nova Biomedical, New York. ISBN 978-1-63485-174-9.
2016. The tribology of petroglyphs. In Robert G. Bednarik, Danae Fiore, Mara Basile, Giriraj Kumar and Tang Huisheng (eds), Paleoart and materiality: the scientific study of rock art, pp. 171-185. Archaeopress Publishing Ltd, Oxford.2016. Rock art and pareidolia. Rock Art Research 33(2): 167-181.
2016. The science of cupules. Archaeometry 58(6): 899-911; doi: 10.1111/arcm.12216.
2016. The Gondershausen petroglyphs reconsidered. International Newsletter on Rock Art 76: 23-27.
2016. Myths about rock art. Archaeopress Publishing Ltd, Oxford. ISBN 978-1-78491-474-5.
2016. (with Tang Huisheng and Jin Anni) The earliest known logboats of China. International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 45(2): 441-466.
2016. Effects of recent global paleoanthropological research on south Asian Pleistocene archaeology and rock art. Purakala 26: 5-24.
2016. History’s largest confrontation over rock art protection. Or how to save our archaeological heritage. The Digging Stick 33(3): 21-24.
2017. Palaeoart of the Ice Age. Éditions universitaires européennes, Saarbrücken. ISBN 978-3-639-56008-4.
2017. Chauvet Cave rock art by ‘Neanderthals’. AURA Newsletter 34(1): 1-9.
2017. (With Tang H., G. Kumar, Liu W., Xiao B., Yang H., Zhang J., Lu Xiao H., Yue J., Li Y., Gao W.) The 2014 microerosion dating project in China. Rock Art Research 34(1): 40-54.
2017. Equine petroglyphs in Europe. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 13: 222-228; doi: 10.1016/j.jasrep.2017.03.059.
2017. Aniconism and the origins of palaeoart. Religion 47(3): 353-365; doi.org/10.1080/0048721X.2017.1288785.
2017. Pareidolia and rock art interpretation. Anthropologie 55(1–2): 101–117.
2017. Scientific investigations into Saudi Arabian rock art: a review. Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry 17(4): 43-59.
2017. (With Majeed Khan) New rock art complex in Saudi Arabia. Rock Art Research 34(2): 179-188.
2017. Dating rock art via speleothems: a critical review of results. In Benjamin Veress and Jozsi Szigethy (eds), Horizons in Earth Science Research, Volume 17, pp. 179-196. Nova Science Publishers, New York. ISBN 978-1-53612-831-4.
2017 (1395 Shamsi). The human condition (2nd edn, in Persian: وضعیت انسان). Translated by Vahid Askerpour.
2018. Fluvial erosion of inscriptions and petroglyphs at Siega Verde, Spain. In G. Nash and A. Mazel (eds), Narratives and journeys in rock art: a reader, pp. 56-69. Archaeopress Publishing Ltd, Oxford.
2018. Characterization of petroglyphs. In Sandra L. López Varela (ed.), The encyclopedia of archaeological sciences. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken.
2018. [Liritzis, I., R. G. Bednarik, G. Kumar, G. Polymeris, I. Iliopoulos, V. Xanthopoulou, N. Zacharias, A. Vafiadou and M. Bratitsi]. Daraki-Chattan rock art constrained OSL chronology and multianalytical techniques: a first pilot investigation. Journal of Cultural Heritage, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.culher.2018.09.018.
For complete list of publications by R. G. Bednarik click here.
For access to all publications by this author that are available of the Web visit R. G. Bednarik Library.