Australia’s oldest recognized rock shelter portray has been dated at 17,000 years outdated in a discovering that will unlock higher understanding of Indigenous cultural historical past.
The kangaroo portray was discovered on Balanggarra nation within the northeast Kimberley area of Western Australia.
It’s the oldest recognized portray nonetheless on the wall of a rock shelter in Australia.
Researchers from the College of Western Australia and College of Melbourne labored with conventional homeowners, utilizing radiocarbon courting on mud wasp nests over and below 16 rock artwork work to find out their age.
The outcomes, revealed in Nature Human Behaviour, type a part of Australia’s largest rock artwork courting venture.
UWA archaeologist Sven Ouzman mentioned the portray would enhance our understanding of the historical past of Indigenous tradition.
“This iconic kangaroo picture is visually just like rock work from islands in South East Asia dated to greater than 40,000 years in the past, suggesting a cultural hyperlink – and hinting at nonetheless older rock artwork in Australia,” Dr Ouzman mentioned.
“Relationship rock artwork extra precisely means we will higher perceive how Aboriginal folks lived from their starting proper as much as the current, the place rock artwork remains to be being made and nation managed.
“Certainly this rock portray makes us rethink what it means to be ‘Australian’, combining everybody’s private historical past with the deep time stewardship of the nation by Aboriginal folks.”
Researchers hope to develop a time scale for Aboriginal rock artwork within the Kimberley.
Balanggarra Aboriginal Company chair Cissy Gore-Birch mentioned it was necessary to utilize conventional data in preserving Australia’s cultural historical past.
“It is necessary that Indigenous data and tales should not misplaced and proceed to be shared for generations to return,” she mentioned.
“The courting of this oldest recognized portray in an Australian rock shelter holds quite a lot of significance for Aboriginal folks and Australians, and is a vital a part of Australia’s historical past.”
UWA archaeology chair Peter Veth mentioned the preservation of Kimberley rock artwork was outstanding, describing it as “one in every of our most important cultural estates”.
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