A rare miniature and small-scale stencil assemblage from the Gulf of Carpentaria: replication and meaning in Australian rock art

Liam M. Brady
John J. Bradley
Amanda Kearney

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Recent survey in the Gulf of Carpentaria region of northern Australia has identified a unique assemblage of miniature and small-scale stencilled motifs depicting anthropomorphs, material culture, macropod tracks and linear designs. The unusual sizes and shapes of these motifs raise questions about the types of material used for the stencil templates. Drawing on ethnographic data and experimental archaeology, the authors argue that the motifs were created with a previously undocumented stencilling technique using miniature models sculpted from beeswax. The results suggest that beeswax and other malleable and adhesive resins may have played a more significant role in creating stencilled motifs than previously thought.