Robert G. Bednarik

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, 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);
Secretary and Editor, Australian Rock Art Research Association (AURA);
Managing Director, Archaeological Publications Inc.
Managing Director, Archaeological Soil Lab
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 600 refereed scientific publications, mostly in cognitive epistemology and palaeoart studies, also general and replicative archaeology, soil science, speleology, deontology, semiotics, neuroscience and geomorphology. In all more then 1300 publications, including several books. 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); 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 petroglyphs in central India, largest petroglyph concentration in the world (1967-1970, Dampier Archipelago, Western Australia) and much of the cave art of Australia. 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 for Aboriginal control of sites of indigenous heritage, and frequently engaged in trying to prevent the destruction of rock art worldwide.

Specific projects:
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 2002 – ongoing;
Leader of the campaign to save the rock art of the Dampier Archipelago, 1969 – ongoing;
Editing and publishing of three scientific periodicals (Rock Art Research, AURA Newsletter 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:
1990. On the cognitive development of hominids. Man and Environment 15(2): 1-7.
1990. More to Palaeolithic females than meets the eye. Rock Art Research 7(2): 133-137.
1990/91. Epistemology in palaeoart studies. Origini 15: 57-78.
1991. Asian palaeoart and Eurocentric science. Purakala 2: 71-76.
1991/92. Rock art as a cultural determinant. Survey 5/6(7/8): 11-20.
1992. Palaeoart and archaeological myths. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 2(1): 27-43.
1992. Palaeolithic art found in China. Nature 356: 116.
1992. Prioritetnye napravleniya v rabotakh po konservatsii pamyatnikov naskal’nogo iskusstva. In Naskal’nye risunki evrazii, Pervobytnoe iskusstvo, pp. 8-13. Novosibirsk ‘Nauka’, Sibirskoe otdelenie, Novosibirsk.
1992. On Lower Paleolithic cognitive development. In S. Goldsmith, S. Garvie, D. Selin and J. Smith (eds), Ancient images, ancient thought: the archaeology of ideology, pp. 427-435. Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Chacmool Conference, University of Calgary.
1992. Mehr über die rote Farbe in Vorgeschichte. Almogaren 23: 179-189.
1992. Natural line markings on Palaeolithic objects. Anthropologie 30(3): 233-240.
1993. European Palaeolithic art – typical or exceptional? Oxford Journal of Archaeology 12(1): 1-8.
1993. Shi jie shang zui gu lao de yan hua. Mei Shu 8(308): 82-83.
1993. About Palaeolithic ostrich eggshell in India. Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association Bulletin 13: 34-43.
1993. Die Bilzingslebener Gravierungen im Lichte altpaläolithischer Beweise kognitiver Fähigkeit. Ethnographisch-Archäologische Zeitschrift 34(4): 549-553.
1994. Art origins. Anthropos 89: 169-180.
1994. A taphonomy of palaeoart. Antiquity 68(258): 68-74.
1994. On the scientific study of palaeoart. Semiotica 100(2/4): 141-168.
1994. The Pleistocene art of Asia. Journal of World Prehistory 8(4): 351-375.
1994. The oldest art in the world. Espacio, Tiempo y Forma Serie I, 7: 75-91.
1995. Metamorphology: in lieu of uniformitarianism. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 14(2): 117-122.
1995. Concept-mediated marking in the Lower Palaeolithic. Current Anthropology 36(4): 605-634.
1995. Refutation of stylistic constructs in Palaeolithic rock art. Comptes Rendus de L’Académie de Sciences Paris 321(série IIa, No. 9): 817-821.
1995. The Côa petroglyphs: an obituary to the stylistic dating of Palaeolithic rock-art. Antiquity 69: 877-883.
1995. Contexte eurasien de l’art paléolithique chinois. L’Anthropologie 99(2/3): 459-466.
1995. Traces of cultural continuity in Middle and Upper Palaeolithic material evidence. Origini 18: 47-67.
1995. Untertag-Bergbau im Pleistozän. Quartär 45/46: 161-175.
1996. Crisis in Palaeolithic art studies. Anthropologie 34(1): 123-130.
1996. Early rock art in the Americas: a contextual study. Survey 10: 119-131.
1997. Rock art as reflection of conditional visual perception. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 7(2): 255-259.
1997. More reflections of perceived realities. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 7(2): 263-268.
1997. (With Kalyan Kumar Chakravarty) Indian rock art and its global context. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited, Delhi, and Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya, Bhopal. First edition, ISBN 81 208 1464 9.
1997. The origins of navigation and language. The Artefact 20: 16-56.
1997. The global evidence of early human symboling behaviour. Human Evolution 12(3): 147-168.
1997. About ostrich eggshell beads. Acta Archaeologica 68: 153-161.
1998. Über die Urkunst der Welt. Almogaren 28: 21-49.
1998. The ‘australopithecine’ cobble from Makapansgat, South Africa. South African Archaeological Bulletin 53: 4-8.
1998. Mariners of the Pleistocene. Institute of Nautical Archaeology Quarterly 25(3): 7-15.
1998. An experiment in Pleistocene seafaring. The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 27(2): 139-149.
1998. The archaeological significance of beads and pendants. Man and Environment 23(2): 87-99.
1999. Der Kiesel von Makapansgat. Früheste Urkunst der Welt? Anthropos 94: 199-204.
1999. (With Martin Kuckenburg) Nale Tasih: Eine Floßfahrt in die Steinzeit. Jan Thorbecke Verlag, Stuttgart.
1999. (With Bob Hobman and Peter Rogers) Nale Tasih 2: journey of a Middle Palaeolithic raft. International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 26(1): 25-33.
1999. Der Beginn der Seefahrt. Almogaren 30:13-34.
1999. Sailing a Paleolithic raft. Institute of Nautical Archaeology Quarterly 26(1): 12-18.
1999. Pleistocene seafaring in the Mediterranean. Anthropologie 37(3): 275-282.
1999. Determining the maximum capabilities of Palaeolithic technologies. Praehistoria Thuringica 3: 80-97.
1999. Seefahrt im Pleistozän. Quartär 49/50: 95-109.
1999. The implications of hominid seafaring capabilities. Acta Archaeologica 70: 1-23.
2000. Crossing the Timor Sea by Middle Palaeolithic raft. Anthropos 95: 37-47.
2000. Pleistocene Timor: some corrections. Australian Archaeology 51: 16-20.
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. Cupules: the oldest surviving rock art. International Newsletter on Rock Art 30: 18-23.
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():
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 first mariners. The American Neptune 61(3): 317-324.
2002. The dating of rock art: a critique. Journal of Archaeological Science 29(11): 1213-1233.
2002. 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. Seafaring in the Pleistocene. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 13(1): 41-66.
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. On the cognitive development of hominids. Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in History and Archaeology 1(1): 30-38.
2004. Interpretatsiya dannykh o proiskhozhdeii iskusstva (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. A unified theory for palaeoart studies. Rock Art Research 23(1): 85-88.
2006. The Middle Palaeolithic engravings from Oldisleben, Germany. Anthropologie 44(2): 113-121.
2006. The cave art of Mladeč Cave, Czech Republic. Rock Art Research 23(2): 207-216.
2006. Australian apocalypse. The story of Australia’s greatest cultural monument. Occasional AURA Publication 14, Australian Rock Art Research Association, Melbourne.
2007. Experimental crossing from Sumbawa to Komodo by bamboo raft. INA Quarterly 34(2): 13-17.
2007. The Late Pleistocene cultural shift in Europe. Anthropos 102(2): 347-370.
2007. The science of Dampier rock art – part 1. Rock Art Research 24(2): 209-246.
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. The Lower Palaeolithic rock art of India. In R. G. Bednarik and D. Hodgson (eds), Pleistocene palaeoart of the world, pp. 33-39. Proceedings of the XVth UISPP World Congress, Lisbon 2006, BAR International Series 1804, Oxford.
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. The main problems in rock art research. Man in India 88(2-3): 199-213.
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. Experimental colorimetric analysis of petroglyphs. Rock Art Research 26(1): 55-64.
2009. The Dampier Rock Art Precinct, Western Australia. In L’art parietal: conservation mise en valeur communication, pp. 187–198. Edited by the Société des Amis du Musée National de Préhistoire et de la Recherche Archéologique (SAMRA), Lez Eyzies, France.
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. Lógica tafonómica para principiantes. Boletín APAR 1(2): 22-24.
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 R. Querejazu Lewis] Mysterious cup marks: proceedings of the First International Cupule Conference, BAR International Series 2073, Archaeopress, Oxford.
2010. To be or not to be Palaeolithic, that is the question. In K. Sharpe et al. (eds), European cave art, pp. 65-79. BAR International Series 2108, Archaeopress, Oxford.
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. Bezcenne na antypodach. 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.
2010. Palaeoart of the Lower Palaeolithic. In P. Chenna Reddy (ed.), Recent researches in archaeology, history and culture (festschrift to Prof. K. V. Raman), pp. 1-14. Agamkala Prakashan, Delhi.
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;

2011. Rendering humanities sustainable. Humanities 1(1): 64-71; doi:10.3390/h1010064;
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.
2011. The use of weathering indices in rock art research. In M. J. Colon (ed.), Weathering: types, processes and effects, pp. 1-67. Earth Sciences in the 21st Century, Nova Science Publishers, Inc., New York.
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. The archaeological significance of calcite. In Joana Dobrev and Petra Markoviæ (eds), Calcite: formation, properties and applications, pp. 69-94. Nova Science Publishers, Inc., New York.
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. From human past to human future. Humanities 2(1): 20–55; doi:10.3390/h2010020
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;
2014. Pleistocene paleoart of the Americas. Special issue ‘World rock art’, ed. R. G. Bednarik, Arts 3(1): 190-206; doi:10.3390/arts3020190;
2014. Archaeology and rock art science. Almogaren 44-45: 57-72.

For complete list of publications by R. G. Bednarik click here.