Scientists have identified a 6-foot-long image of a kangaroo as Australia’s oldest intact petroglyph. The drawing is about 17,300 years old, the researchers report in the scientific journal Nature Human Behaviour.
The artwork is painted in red ocher on the ceiling of a shelter. It was discovered in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, known for its Aboriginal rock paintings.
The age of the sketch was determined by radiocarbon dating of old mud wasp nests near the drawing. “It’s an important find,” said researcher Damien Finch. “Because through these initial estimates, we further expand our understanding of the world in which these ancient artists lived.”
Researcher Sven Ouzman adds that the drawing offers insight into the history of the original inhabitants. “This image resembles the petroglyphs made on islands in Southeast Asia,” said Ouzman. “This suggests a possible cultural link.”
The researchers want to further investigate the rock carvings of Aboriginal people in the Kimberly region. By once again examining wasp nests surrounding petroglyphs, researchers hope they can pinpoint when which art period began and ended. Rock paintings in various styles have been found in the area over the years.
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