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Rock Art in Australia Shows How Advanced Indigenous Communities Were

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Experts said Monday, June 18 that they were able to date aboriginal rock art found in remote Australia at 28,000 years old, putting it among some of the world’s oldest, and making indigenous communities among the world’s most advanced, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).

“One of the things that makes this little fragment of art unique is that it is drawn in charcoal... which means we could directly date it,” said Bryce Barker, who found and first analyzed the granite rock in the wilderness of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory of Australia.

Other older rock art finds include France’s Chauvet caves, which are older than 30,000 years and caves in northern Spain, which are thought to be more than 40,000 years old.

“The fact remains that any rock art that is older than 20,000 years is very unique around the world,” Barker, a professor at the University of Southern Queensland, told AFP. “So it makes this amongst some of the oldest art in the world. And we’re convinced that we’ll find older and the reason is that the site this comes from, we know that Aboriginal people started using this site 45,000 years ago.”

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The find was discovered at a rock shelter called Narwala Gabarnmang. Accessible only by helicopter, the shelter is covered with rock art.

Archaeologists were taken there five years ago by Narwala Gabarnmang’s aboriginal custodians, the Jawoyn, who according to AFP, want to preserve it but learn about it as well.

“We’ve only excavated a tiny fraction of the site and we expect there will be art older than 28,000 years in the site,” Barker told AFP.