The Role of Children in the Creation of Finger Flutings in Koonalda Cave, South Australia

Document Type


Publication Date


Originally Published In

Childhood in the Past: An International Journal

Volume Number


Issue Number


Page Numbers



Koonalda Cave in South Australia has long been known for having the world's largest collection of finger flutings – lines drawn with fingers in the soft surfaces of cave ceilings and walls. Until recently no research had been done to attempt to distinguish individuals or determine unique identities among the finger fluters. A preliminary study conducted in 2014 of three different panels within the ‘Art Passage’ section of the cave revealed multiple finger fluters. Among the fluters appear to be at least three individuals with hand widths corresponding to children under the age of five. This article discusses these findings as well as contextual information from anthropological records and contemporary accounts of regional Aboriginal culture to discuss the role of children in art-making and their relationship to deep caves.