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Western Australia home to world's earliest rock art

Bradshaw rock paintings found in the north-west Kimberley region of Western Australia.TimJN1 - Bradshaw Art

(Image: CC BY-SA 2.0)

KIMBERLEY, AUSTRALIA. Western Australia is home to what researchers argue could be the “the world’s earliest rock art” dating back to the ice age. A three year long project has been working on the longest, most impressive rock art sequence found anywhere in the world, in the northwest Kimberley.

The art work is important as it could challenge Western Europe as the location for the production of the world’s earliest rock art.

Lead author and Archaeologist from the University of New England, Dr June Ross says the new timeline for the beginning of rock art in Sulawesi in Indonesia around 39,000 years ago, together with evidence from excavations in the northwest Kimberley show that humans with sophisticated artistic skills settled along the northern coastline as early as 36,000 years ago.

“Our results demonstrate that at least some phases of Kimberley art are of great antiquity – and may date to a time when sea levels were lower, the continent was much larger and environmental conditions were more challenging – perhaps the oldest art is now submerged off the Kimberley coastline,” Dr Ross said.

The collaborative Australian Research Council project documented, analysed and dated more than 200 art sites across the Kimberley region, with a focus on the Lawley and Mitchell river basins.

For full story see Perth Now


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