Australia: The oldest, dated rock painting shows a kangaroo

Australia: The oldest, dated rock painting shows a kangaroo

Tribal art is one of the most important of mankind. Often dotted and line-shaped characters were preserved in rock paintings that are thousands of years old on the southern continent. However, accurate dating of images poses a challenge for researchers.

This can only be achieved through stylistic features if there are comparable searches. The most reliable results are obtained using physio-chemical processes such as radiocarbon dating. However, they can be used only if the paint has retained the corresponding organic trace. To do this, a work of art usually has to suffer in order to obtain samples.

In Australia, researchers have now used an unusual method to date a two-meter photograph of a kangaroo. To determine the age, scientists working with Damien Finch of the University of Melbourne used wasp nests, which stick to the rock below and below the painting and have also been preserved for thousands of years. Researchers made their investigation inside Fachmagazin »Nature« Human Behavior Front.

They were able to date the biological material of the soil wasp’s nest using the radiocarbon method. In total, they examined 75 nests in the surrounding Kimberley area of ​​16 rock art in Western Australia.

Rock art featured many animal motifs, including several photographs that were painted in the oldest known style: it is characterized, among other things, by the fact that the bodies of the animals shown are almost entirely Individual lines, head, tail or limbs. According to the study, the rock paintings examined were approximately 13,000 and 17,000 years old.

The kangaroo painting can be most accurately dated as it partially covers three wasp nests and in turn three nests were built on it. Researchers determined ages between 17,100 and 17,500 years, the most being 17,300 years. It is the oldest rock art radiometrical dated in Australia, the researchers write. Other images are thought to be even older and could be dated back to when Aborigines colonized the continent 40,000 to 60,000 years ago. However, this can only be estimated.

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“This is an important discovery because through these initial projections we can understand some of the worlds that these ancient artists lived in,” Finch said. “We will never know what the artist was thinking when he painted the work more than 600 generations ago. But we know that the natural period goes back to the last ice age, so the region became colder and drier than today. “

Sven Ozman of the University of Western Australia says: “The iconic kangaroo’s image closely resembles the rock paintings of the islands of Southeast Asia, created over 40,000 years ago, indicating a cultural connection – and old rock in Australia Also indicates art “.

Originally, the correct age of works of art allows painted motifs to be related to the environment, such as climate change. Researchers said the climate in the region improved from 14,000 to 13,000 years ago. After some time the painting style changed – instead of animals, people were increasingly depicted. This may indicate social and cultural changes that may occur with population growth such as climate change.

However, tribal cultural sites are threatened. On the one hand, there are kutars in the rugged paintings of time. The result of weathering, fire or growth of algae is a problem for them. In addition, economic interests result in destruction.

More recently, for the second time in a year, a tribal shelter, a cave shelter, was damaged by a mining company in Western Australia. Incident occurred Newspaper »Report from Sydney Morning Herald« According to the Pilbara region, where the Australian-British raw materials company BHP is running a multi-billion dollar project to extract iron ore. According to the Banjima people, there was stonewalling and damage. What triggered the loss is still unclear.

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Scatter over blown caves

BHP issued a statement in June that it would not disrupt any of the holy sites without extensive consultation with Banjima. The company said that there is a lot of respect for the indigenous people and their heritage.

Last year, the demolition of two Australian Aboriginal sites by mining company Rio Tinto caused worldwide criticism. The company’s boss and two other top managers later resigned. In the Zulkan Gorge, also in the Pilbara region, the group blew up caves in which an archaeologist found important artifacts in 2014. Both sites were estimated to have a maximum age of 48,000 years.

Icon: Mirror

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