Sydney rock engravings

The Sydney rock engravings are an Aboriginal rock art, consisting of engraved in sandstone humans, animals and symbols. They are located in and around Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Many thousands of such engravings are known in the region around Sydney, but the location of the most will not be published to avoid damage due to vandalism and to respect the sanctity, as they are still considered sacred among the Aborigines. Accessible are the rock engravings in Ku-ring -gai Chase National Park on the northern outskirts of Sydney.

The rock engravings are comparable to the Native American petroglyphs and rock art that is found in other places in Australia. However, those has its own style, which distinguishes it from other rock art in Sydney. The rock engravings are estimated at an age of at least 5000 years. Other engravings show European sailboats and can not be older than 200 years. Since older engravings were sometimes renewed, they can appear younger than they actually are.


The rock engravings were produced by the Aborigines who lived for about 25,000 years in the region of Sydney, so among other things, the Eora, Darug and Guringai. With current archaeological techniques, the age of the rock engravings can not be dated directly; Instead, indirect methods are used. Aborigines reached Australia's north about 50,000 years ago; the earliest evidence of settlement in the Sydney region are about 10,000 years old, as the Bidjigal reserve in the Hills District in the northwest of Sydney. In the Blue Mountains traces were found, indicating a population of about 20,000 years ago, so we hypothesized that the Sydney region has been inhabited at the same time, one has but only found no finds from this period. Traces of settlement on the coast have been flooded by rising sea levels about 10,000 years ago.


In rock overhangs that were used for the protection and temporary habitation, especially rock paintings and rock carvings are rarely appropriate. Rock engravings are mostly located on horizontal open spaces.

The rock engravings in Sydney are in a style that is referred to as " simple graphic ", firstly because the figures are presented with little detail, and secondly, these figures can be detected. Almost only the outer contours of the object to be displayed are shown.

From studies of the engravings several manufacturing steps can be derived: probably a sketch of the contours of the rock, and the surface was first scribed. A series of holes along the line was drilled with a sharp stone or shell Then what was simply because of the relatively soft sandstone in the Sydney Basin. Finally, the holes are connected to each other by a sharp stone was rubbed along the line.

This resulted in U-shaped grooves, which were typically about 2 cm deep and 2 cm wide. They are easy to be distinguished from natural grooves in sandstone, the V-shaped generally and modern grooves made ​​with steel tools, because they are usually smaller and deeper.

Cultural Significance

The cultural significance is unknown, but when compared with the rock engravings of the peoples of the Aborigines who still live today, one can derive conjectures. Some places were probably there to perform ceremonies, to increase the yield of food sources such as kangaroo or fish. It is believed that most such bodies represent mainly those animals. It has been alleged that some of the thylacine engravings and other mammals show that have become extinct in the region around Sydney for thousands of years and therefore originate from the time when they were alive. However, there is still no clear evidence for it, although, for example, in Kakadu National Park extinct animals are shown, which are tens of thousands of years old.

Other places are believed to have been used for initiation rites, in which the change from childhood to adulthood was celebrated and supported by boys. In addition, in many places were the ancestors spirits from the Dreamtime as Baiame, one striped headdress and often has a striped body represented; or Daramulan, the big chunky feet and has probably consisted in part of an emu. In other places, again one finds evidence of Aboriginal astronomy. Some places also have served several purposes.