23.02.2021 – 13:49
Echidna, goanna, fish, handprints, boomerangs, and kangaroos: the oldest rock paintings on the continent that have been identified and dated for the first time.
In a network of rock cavities in the Kimberley region of northwestern Australia, the oldest rock paintings on the continent are identified and dated for the first time. An exhibit of sea urchins, goats, fish, handprints, monkeys and various kangaroos, dating back more than 17,000 years. They have a common style of realistic, life-size reproductions of what artists saw in everyday life. Assertive dating is an important milestone, after decades of attempts to dedicate scientific histories to rock art, in hundreds of caves and rocky paths across the region.
In a study just published in Nature Human Behavior, University of Melbourne researchers Damien Finch and Sven Ozman write that meticulous dating is a major step forward in establishing a detailed chronology of artistic activity across northern Australia over thousands of years. After years of hard work, scientists discovered that many of the paintings were covered or covered with nests of a type of wasp that they built out of mud, inside crevices, or on rock walls. These include an image of a two-meter-long kangaroo that has been identified as dating between 17,500 and 17,100 years ago, making it the oldest known photograph painted in Australia to date. Unlike the panels themselves, scientists have proven that these nests can be dated reliably through radiocarbon dating. Scientists explained that mud wasps and humans have many common needs for protection from the bright sunlight and shelter from floods in the rainy season. So the same rock shelters with rock art also housed nests for mud wasps, often painted by many indigenous artists.
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