A r t dating
However, in view of the recent discovery of the Nawarla Gabarnmang charcoal drawing, carbon-dated to 26,000 BCE and currently Australia's earliest art, it seems probable that older works in the Kimberley will be found before too long.
After all, if Oxford Professor Stephen Oppenheimer is correct in saying (in his book "Out of Eden") that Modern Man crossed the Timor Sea to get to Australia between 65,000 and 70,000 years ago, then surely he must have started painting pictographs or scratching petroglyphs by 30,000 BCE, if not sooner.
Comparison of these ages with evidence from other regions in the hemisphere demonstrates substantial artistic and stylistic variation in rock art by the Paleoindian period (circa 10,000–11,000 YBP).
This suggests that, while art may have been part of the baggage of the first immigrants, regional cultural traditions had already been developed by the Terminal Pleistocene, if not earlier.
Although rarely considered, early art has the potential to provide insight into questions that may be obscured by other kinds of evidence, particularly stone tools.
What part did art play in the peopling of the Americas?
These dates open the floodgates for researchers to ask and answer questions about the rock art that have baffled them for decades. In some sites, paintings continued to be made for more than a thousand years.
Research was conducted in the Thune Dam in Botswana, the Metolong Dam area in the Phuthiatsana Valley of Lesotho, and the Drakensberg Escarpment of the Eastern Cape in the ‘Nomansland’ region of South Africa.
A total of 43 new dates were produced from these three areas, including the first direct dates on rock paintings ever in Botswana and Lesotho.
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