Australia’s oldest artwork found


Click on photo to enlarge

An archaeologist says he has found the oldest piece of rock art in Australia and one of the oldest in the world: an Aboriginal work created 28,000 years ago in an outback cave…

The archaeologist Bryce Barker, from the University of Southern Queensland, said he found the rock in June last year but had only recently had it dated at the radiocarbon laboratory of New Zealand’s University of Waikato.

He said the rock art had been made using charcoal, so radiocarbon dating could be used to determine its age; most rock art is made with mineral paint, so its age cannot accurately be measured…

The oldest known rock art is in Spain, where hand stencils and red discs made by blowing paint on to the wall in El Castillo cave are at least 40,800 years old, according to scientists using a technique known as uranium-thorium dating.

Sally May, an archeologist from the Australian National University who is not involved with Barker’s research, said his find was “incredibly significant”.

“I don’t think it will surprise anyone that rock art is that old in Australia because we know people have been here a lot longer than that, and there’s no reason to believe they weren’t producing art,” she said.

Barker said he had found evidence that the cave where he found the rock art had been occupied for 45,000 years.

I love this. One of my unpublished photo collections is of petroglyphs I catalogued along the eastern rim of the southern half of the Caja del Rio – the mesa which bounds the west side of La Cieneguilla valley.

It was a fascinating exercise, clambering among the rocks edging the mesa, enjoying rock art thousands of years old. Made by the first human settlers of this region.

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