RHYS JONES MEDAL FOR OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO AUSTRALIAN ARCHAEOLOGY

This is the first time we have made a joint award for the Rhys Jones Medal.  Some may say we have become soft, and cannot make up our minds, but this is far from the truth.  We genuinely found that these two people were of equal calibre in meeting the requirements of the Rhys Jones Medal.

It is my very great pleasure to announce that the joint winners of the 2016 Rhys Jones Medal are Professor Jo McDonald and Professor Paul Taçon.

Jo’s long history of engagement with rock art studies began in her undergraduate days and continued into her PhD on the Dreamtime Superhighway, which demonstrated the connection between rock art and mainstream archaeological interpretations.  Jo spent many years as a cultural heritage practitioner, where she revolutionised Cumberland Plain open site management through large-scale open-area excavations working with local Aboriginal communities. She developed strong links with industry and government, and has been involved as an expert witness in Native Title and Land and Environment Court cases, as well as providing advice to governments on heritage matters and policy.  But it is for her work on Australian Aboriginal rock art that Jo is best known.  In 2012 she co-edited the first global synthesis of rock art papers (Wiley’s Companion to Rock Art) which is now a leading text book internationally.  She pioneered the direct dating of pigment art sites in Australia and advanced the acceptance of rock art as a valid archaeological artefact; she has been a champion of the development of increasingly sophisticated data bases and recording methods relating to rock art.  That the study of this extensive and rich cultural resource of Australia has been given such an enormous forward momentum is largely a result of Jo’s work, her administration, and her dedication, all of which are testimony as to why she is considered among the most important of Australian archaeological researchers.

Jo is a most worthy winner of the 2016 Rhys Jones Medal.