Digital Enhancement of Torres Strait Rock-Art

By Mcniven, Ian J.; David, Bruno et al. | Antiquity, December 2000 | Go to article overview

Digital Enhancement of Torres Strait Rock-Art


Mcniven, Ian J., David, Bruno, Brayer, John, Antiquity


Eight thousand years ago, the land bridge linking New Guinea and Australia into a single landmass finally sundered under post-glacial rising seas. Today, over 150 rocky, muddy and sandy islands form Torres Strait. The region is home to numerous inter-connected Islander communities who still maintain their specialist maritime fishing and hunting ways along with totemic associations with the sea. A key question for Torres Strait archaeology is to what extent settlement was dependent upon ceremonial, economic and socio-political alliances between islands and between islands and adjacent mainland areas (see McNiven 1998). Similarly, were long-term developments in linkages and boundaries across Torres Strait expressed stylistically in material culture?

Such questions are being addressed through a new archaeological project investigating rock-art styles and pigments (ochres) across Torres Strait, from southern Papua to the tip of northeastern mainland Australia (Cape York Peninsula). To date, 33 rock-art sites and seven ochre sources have been recorded on Torres Strait islands (McNiven et al. in press). Our project, the first systematic study of Torres Strait rock-art, is exploring spatial patterning of specific artistic conventions and pigments through time to determine the changing geography of cultural influences. Yet in such tropical, coastal settings many of the older rock paintings can be expected to have faded beyond visibility, and so recording methods need to employ techniques that maximize our chances of recovering this art. Here we report our first attempts at exploring such a possibility, using digital image enhancement techniques on the rock painting site of Kabadul Kula on Dauan Island.

Kabadul Kula is a large granite boulder with a shallow overhang under which 44 red paintings are evident. Islander history recalls that the paintings were made some time ago (possibly 19th century) by a group of Kiwai Island raiders (Kupamal) who had canoed 140 km down from the mouth of the Fly River to the northeast. After their secret landing, the raiders drew pictures with red ochre (parma) on the underside of the granite boulder now known as Kabadul Kula. The next morning, they attacked the village of Bull, killing many with their stone-headed clubs (gabagaba) and cutting off their victims' heads with bamboo knives (upi). The raiders managed their escape, but not before a number were killed by Dauan warriors (Lawrie 1970: 143-7).

Many of the paintings at Kabadul Kula remain clear today. In April 2000, we visited the site, recording each painting with conventional and digital photography (FIGURE 1). The initial enhancement, undertaken principally by increasing the contrast and saturation (purity) of colours with Adobe Photoshop, was always applied to an entire photograph. When previously unknown or faded paintings were revealed, they were re-photographed and further enhanced by manipulating images in Photoshop's HSB, RGB, CMYK and Lab enhancement modes (various means of describing and digitally manipulating colour balances) (see Adobe Photoshop 5. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Digital Enhancement of Torres Strait Rock-Art
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.