How old are Australia's pictographs? A review of rock art dating

David, Bruno and Geneste, Jean-Michel and Petchey, Fiona and Delannoy, Jean-Jacques and Barker, Bryce and Eccleston, Mark (2013) How old are Australia's pictographs? A review of rock art dating. Journal of Archaeological Science , 40 (1). pp. 3-10. ISSN 0305-4403


Australia contains some of the world's richest and apparently longest traditions of rock pictographs. Dating this art, however, has been problematic, with few 'direct' and reliable dates of Pleistocene or early Holocene age having been obtained from visible, representational imagery. This paper critically reviews the evidence for the antiquity of pigment rock art in Australia by examining the various dating techniques employed. The accurate and reliable dating of rock art worldwide is crucial to understanding the evolution of modern human symbolism and whether cognitive modernism came about after, rather than with, the first signs of full biological modernism; understanding the pitfalls and devising proper methods are crucial prerequisites. Towards these ends, this paper reviews the results and techniques that have been employed to date the apparently earliest known pictographs in Australia.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. Published online 4 Sept 2012. Permanent restricted access to published version in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Arts - School of Humanities and Communication
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2012 01:01
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2014 23:23
Uncontrolled Keywords: archaeology of symbolism; Australia; pictographs; rock art dating
Fields of Research : 21 History and Archaeology > 2101 Archaeology > 210101 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Archaeology
21 History and Archaeology > 2101 Archaeology > 210102 Archaeological Science
03 Chemical Sciences > 0301 Analytical Chemistry > 030101 Analytical Spectrometry
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australia's Past
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2012.08.019

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