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date: 21 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The Harris Matrix was developed in the 1970s to correctly interpret the sequence of data derived from archaeological excavations. When layers of pigment are applied over surfaces to make rock art, they also form sequences through time. Understanding motif superimpositions is a key to understanding sequential changes in rock art repertoires. The use of the Harris Matrix in rock art research was first proposed by Chippindale and Taçon in the 1990s and was used to derive a firm sequence for western Arnhem Land rock art in northern Australia. Their work was amplified in subsequent larger projects in South Africa that clearly demonstrated the potential of the Harris Matrix in rock art studies. Despite these successes, the Harris Matrix has been little employed elsewhere; this chapter is a timely re-evaluation of the method and its underlying principles.

Keywords: Harris Matrix, superimposition, sequence, chronology

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