Joakim Goldhahn

Professor, Rock Art Australia Ian Potter Kimberley Chair

  • The University of Western Australia (M004), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


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Personal profile


Professor Joakim Goldhahn holds the Rock Art Australia Ian Potter Kimberley Chair. Goldhahn started to read archaeology in 1999 at Umeå University (Sweden), and defended his PhD at the same university in 2000. His main research interests includes rock art as a meaning-creating phenomenon, explored both through formal and informed methodologies. He has conducted fieldwork in Australia (2000, 2010-), northern Europe including northern Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and north-west Russia (1990-), Scotland (2002-2007), Spain (2003-2006), and Kenya (2020). His research interests also encompass the European Bronze Age – with a focus on burial rituals, monumentality, landscape perception, and ritual specialists, Theoretical Archaeology in Practice, the History of Archaeology as well as Multi-Spieces Intra-Action.

Professor Goldhahn is the author of over 210 research publications, including the recent monographs Birds in the Bronze Age: A north European perspective (Cambridge University Press, 2019) and Sagaholm: North European Bronze Age Rock Art and Burial Ritual (Oxbow Press, 2016). He also the editor of three special issues of peer-review journals: Rock Art Worldings for the journal Time and Mind (2019), a special issue on Contact Rock Art for the journal Australian Archaeology (2019, co-edited with Dr. Sally K. May, the Univeristy of Adelaide), and Human-animal relationship from a long-term perspectives for the journal Current Swedish Archaeology (2020, co-edited with Professor Kristin Armstrong Oma, Stavanger University, Norway).

Besides these recent outcomes, Goldhahn has been involved with editing for and publishing in key archaeology journals and international publishing houses, including: Antiquity, Archaeology in Oceania, Archaeopress, Australian Archaeology, British Archaeological Report International Series, Blackwell, Cambridge University Press, Current Swedish Archaeology, Equinox Publishing, Fornvännen: Journal of Swedish Antiquarian Research; History Australia, International Journal of Historical Archaeology, Journal of Archaeological Science, Journal of Field Archaeology, Norwegian Archaeological Review, Oxbow Books, Oxford University Press, Prehistoric Society (UK), Rock Art Research, Routledge, Terra Australis, and Time and Mind.

Recent research articles include:

Goldhahn, J., S.K. May and P.S.C. Taçon (2021). Revisiting Francis Birtles’ painted car: Exploring a cross-cultural encounter with Aboriginal artist Nayombolmi at Imarlkba Gold Mine, 1929–1930. History Australia.  Access it here.

Brady, L.M., B. Gunn and J. Goldhahn 2021. Rock art modification, and its ritual and relational context. In Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Australia and New Guinea, I. McNiven and B. David (eds.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Access it here.

Goldhahn, J. et al. 2021. "Our dad's painting is hiding, in secret place:" Reverberations of a rock painting episode in Kakadu National Park, Australia. Rock Art Research 38(1): 59–69. Access it here.

Goldhahn, J. et al. 2021. ‘I Have Done Hundreds of Rock Paintings’: On the ongoing rock art tradition among Samburu, Northern Kenya. Cambridge Journal of Archaeology 31(2): 229-246. Access it here.

Goldhahn, J. et al. 2020. Children and rock art: A case study from western Arnhem Land, Australia. Norwegian Archaeological Review 53(1): 59-82. Access it here.

Taçon, P.S.C. et al. 2020. Maliwawa figures—a previously undescribed Arnhem Land rock art style. Australian Archaeology 86(3): 208-225. Access it here.

An overview of his research publication can be found and downloaded here.


Goldhahn is engaged in several ongoing research projects including:

Art at a crossroads: Aboriginal responses to contact in northern Australia (2021-2023, ARC SR200200062). This project aims to investigate historical Aboriginal responses to ‘contact’ with newcomers to their land. It will generate new knowledge using systematic recordings of rock art and bark paintings created during the last 400 years in western Arnhem Land. The analysis of these key visual first-hand records of Australia’s history, together with documentation from digital archives and other media, will lead to new ways of understanding Aboriginal history. Drawing on multiple forms of media, we will examine how Aboriginal people used graphic systems to navigate threats and opportunities in northern Australia, with the main benefit to Australia being a more comprehensive and inclusive written history. This project is lead by Dr Sally K. May at the University of Adelaide, and it also includes Professor Paul Tacon (Griffith), Associate Professor Liam Brady (Flinders), Dr Daryl Wesley (Flinders), Dr Laura Rademaker (ANU), Dr Andrea Jalandoni (Griffith), and Dr Luke Taylor (Griffith). 

Pathways Rock Art Project (2017-2021) focusing on rock art in today’s Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory of Australia. The project is led by Dr Sally K. May (the University of Adelaide) in collaboration with, among others, Prof. Paul SC Taçon (Griffith University), Dr Andrea Jandaloni (Griffith University), Dr Iain Johnston (AIATSIS), Dr Melissa Marshall (Notre Dame University), Parks Australia (Kakadu National Park), and senior Traditional Owner of Djok Country, Mr Jeffrey Lee. This project is part of the 2016–2021 ARC Laureate Project Australian rock art history, conservation and Indigenous well-being (FL160100123) awarded to Prof. Paul SC Taçon.

Tjust Rock Art Project (2008-): Survey, documentation and publication relating to a previously unnoticed Bronze Age rock art area in south-east Sweden. This work has resulted in more than 800 new registered and documented rock art sites. This rock art area now is the fourth largest in northern Europe.

Other ongoing research includes:

  • Kimberley and Australian rock art
  • A biographical approach to known rock art artists
  • North European rock art
  • Moran (warrior) rock art among Samburu, Kenya
  • North European Bronze Age
  • Theoretical Archaeology in Practice
  • History of Archaeology

Roles and responsibilities

  • Rock Art Australia Ian Potter Kimberley Chair (2020-)
  • Editor-in-Chief for Open Archaeology (2020-)
  • Member: Rock Art Australia's Science Advicory Council (2020-)
  • Member: Center for Rock Art Research + Management (UWA)
  • Adjunct Researcher, Place, Evolution and Rock Art Heritage Unit, Griffith University (2017-2022)

Teaching overview

I am currently in a research intensive position, but I teach and supervise post-graduate students on topics related to rock art research in Australia, and overseas. I have several projects suitable for postgraduate scholars and am happy to discuss them with interested students.

Funding overview

The Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences (2019): “Rock art in northern Europe: A new synthesis”

Australian Research Council (2016-2018): “History Places: Wellington Range rock art in global context” (DP160101832), Awarded together with Prof. P.S.C. Taçon, Dr. L. Brady, Dr. S.K. May, Dr. D. Wright, and Prof. I. Domingo Sanz

Swedish Research Council (2008-2011): “Bredarör on Kivik – new light on an old monument” (translated here)

Crafoord Foundation for Social Sciences, Sweden (2008-2010): “Picturing rock art along the Swedish East Coast” (translated here)

Swedish Research Council (2002-2006): ”Similarities and differences between stationary and portable rock engravings” (translated here)


  • Australian Rock Art Research Association (2000-)
  • Australian Archaeological Association (2010-)
  • European Association of Archaeologists (1997-)
  • International Federation of Rock Art Organizations (2000-)
  • Society of American Archaeologists (2008-)
  • Swedish Association of Archaeologists (elected member, 2000-)

Industrial relevance

I am privileged to have been able to collaborate with various heritage institutions and stakeholders, including Aboriginal communities, government, and industry. Recent collaborations in Australia have been with Aboriginal community members from Djok, Mawng and Warrdjak clan groups in western Arnhem Land, The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Injalak Arts, as well as Parks Australia.

Previous positions

  • Professor of Archaeology, Linnæus University, Sweden (2010–2020)
  • Professor of Archaeology, Kalmar University College, Sweden (2009)
  • Senior Lecturer, Kalmar University College, Sweden (2006–2009)
  • Reader, University of Gothenburg, Sweden (2003–2006)
  • Lecturer, University of Lund, Sweden (2001-2002)
  • PhD Scholarship, Umeå University, Sweden (awarded in open competition, 1997-2000)


  • English
  • Swedish
  • Danish
  • Norwegian
  • German (read only)

Education/Academic qualification

Archaeology, PhD, Sagaholm - hällristningar och gravritual, Umeå University

Award Date: 11 Nov 2000

External positions

Adjunct researcher, PERAUH, Griffith University

1 Apr 201731 Mar 2022

Research expertise keywords

  • Australian Rock Art
  • European Rock Art
  • European Bronze Age
  • Archaeology of Indigenous Australia
  • Archaeological Theory in Practice
  • History of Archaeology
  • Multispecies Intra-Actions


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