Painting claimed to be among Australia’s oldest known rock art | Science News

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Painting claimed to be among Australia’s oldest known rock art

Wasps’ nest dating technique suggests minimum age of 16,000 years

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10:54am, September 16, 2016
Australian cave painting

AUSSIE ART  Researchers say they have dated this ambiguous figure, painted on a cave ceiling in northwestern Australia, to at least 16,000 years ago. If that estimate holds up, it supports the idea that some of the continent’s earliest human inhabitants created rock art.

Inside a large cave in northwestern Australia’s remote Kimberley region, someone painted an elongated, yamlike shape on a ceiling at least 16,000 years ago, new research suggests. That long-ago creation in the unnamed cavern adds fuel to the argument that rock art in Australia goes back even earlier to the continent’s first inhabitants, researchers contend.

This discovery joins a small number of drawings and paintings from Down Under that have been dated to around the same time or earlier, say archaeologist June Ross of the University of New England in Armidale, Australia, and colleagues. Some scientists have questioned the accuracy of these dates. But the new work, Ross’ team asserts, gives a critical boost to a previous, contested report that a piece of Kimberley rock art depicting a humanlike figure painted over a hand stencil dates to a minimum of about 16,400 years ago.

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