Archaeologist finds oldest rock art in Australia

Jun 18, 2012 by ROD McGUIRK
In this May 2012 photo provided by Bryce Barker, a fragment of Aboriginal rock art on granite found in Australian Outback is seen on a plastic bag. University of Southern Queensland archaeologist Bryce Barker said Monday, June 18, 2012 that tests show the Aboriginal rock art in the cave was made 28,000 years ago, making it the oldest in Australia and among the oldest in the world. The rock art was made with charcoal, so radiocarbon dating could be used to determine its age. (AP Photo/Bryce Barker) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

An archaeologist says he 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 dating of one of the thousands of images in the Northern Territory rock shelter known as Nawarla Gabarnmang will be published in the next edition of the .

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

He said the was made with , so could be used to determine its age. Most rock art is made with mineral paint, so its age cannot be accurately measured.

"It's the oldest unequivocally dated rock art in Australia" and among the oldest in the world, Barker said.

In this May 2012 photo provided by Bryce Barker, University of Southern Queensland archaeologist Bryce Barker investigates Aboriginal rock art in a cave in the Australian Outback. Prof. Barker said Monday, June 18, 2012 that tests show the Aboriginal rock art in the cave was made 28,000 years ago, making it the oldest in Australia and among the oldest in the world. (AP Photo/Bryce Barker) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

The oldest known rock art is in Spain, where hand stencils and red disks 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.

Australian National University archaeologist Sally May, who is not involved with Barker's research, described his find as "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 added.

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

Explore further: Archaeologists, tribe clash over Native remains

3.6 /5 (9 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Rock analysis suggests France cave art is 'oldest'

May 07, 2012

Experts have long debated whether the sophisticated animal drawings in a famous French cave are indeed the oldest of their kind in the world, and a study out Monday suggests that yes, they are.

Ancient rock art found in Brazil

Feb 22, 2012

Researchers have discovered an extremely old anthropomorphic figure engraved in rock in Brazil, according to a report published Feb. 22 in the open access journal PLoS ONE.

Recommended for you

Bloody souvenir not from decapitated French king: DNA

19 hours ago

Two centuries after the French people beheaded King Louis XVI and dipped their handkerchiefs in his blood, DNA analysis has thrown new doubt on the authenticity of one such rag kept as a morbid souvenir.

Archaeologists, tribe clash over Native remains

Apr 23, 2014

Archaeologists and Native Americans are clashing over Indian remains and artifacts that were excavated during a construction project in the San Francisco Bay Area, but then reburied at an undisclosed location.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (3) Jun 18, 2012
It's really not a competition, guys.

The more interesting question is: What does it all mean? Anybody who even superficially investigates petroglyphs will come to learn that there exist enigmatic similarities in the morphologies. For instance, Anthony Peratt has identified 84 "archaic classes" of petroglyphs which correspond to fundamental morphologies observed in high-intensity laboratory plasma discharges. Furthermore, the association of the very ancient vajra form, as well as the shapes shown in Zeus' hand, with "thunderbolt" demand serious scrutiny. These "thunderbolts" look nothing like terrestrial lightning. We had to build massively expensive plasma laboratories to see these morphologies, which begs the very important question:

How did the ancients come to associate that form with the thunderbolt?

More news stories

Google+ boss leaving the company

The executive credited with bringing the Google+ social network to life is leaving the Internet colossus after playing a key role there for nearly eight years.