The Oldest 17,300-Year-Old Kangaroo Painting Discovered In Australia

A life size red ochre  kangaroo painting has been discovered in  Australia. The ancient artwork has been dated to around 17,300 years old and the researchers are calling it “the oldest dated painted figure in an Australian rock shelter.” What can it tell us about the ancient history of Australia?

The Kimberley region of Western  Australia is sparsely settled and known for large swaths of rugged mountain ranges and deep gorges. Set amidst a semi-arid savanna and greatly isolated coastline, the region contains thousands of rock paintings similar to the one that features in this article.

Dating such images has always been a problem for researchers. But now, professor Damien Finch from the  University of Melbourne  has dated a series of ancient paintings in eight rock shelters in Balanggarra Country, which lies in the north-eastern Kimberley region.

Finch and his colleagues worked in conjunction with the  Balanggarra Aboriginal Corporation , which represents the traditional owners of the land. Rock cannot be dated because it is not organic, but what did contain ancient data was “the radiocarbon signal from ancient wasp nests that lie beneath and on top of the artwork.” The  kangaroo was discovered painted on a rock behind the nests, that when dated are said to have been created some where between “17,500 and 17,100 years ago.”

Cissy Gore-Birch, Chair of the Balanggarra Aboriginal Corporation, said that this rock painting “is the oldest known painting in an Australian  rock shelter .” The painted kangaroo is about 2 meters (6.56 ft) in length and it was one of 15 other images that were analyzed during the recent project.

According to an article in the  New Scientist , the team of researchers also measured a 3-meter-long (3.28 ft) snake, “and a lizard-like creature,” as well as other kangaroo-like animals. It was concluded that this “naturalistic style” of animal paintings proliferated in this region for Australia between 17,000 and 13,000 years ago.

While this kangaroo painting represents Australia ‘s oldest rock painting inside a shelter, or cave, humans arrived around 65,000 years ago so it’s far from the  first art works  ever discovered in Australia. In 2009  Antiquity published an article about the discovery of  rock art , including engravings, or carvings, depicting now extinct megafauna such as  Genyornis and Thylacoleo from the Pleistocene era.

While the discovery of the 17,300-year-old kangaroo painting is indeed a remarkable find, it falls way short of the impact of Jeff During’s 2000 work:  Gwion Gwion: Secret and Sacred Pathways of the Ngarinyin Aboriginal People of Australia . This research presents what is “the oldest firmly dated rock art painting in Australia.”

This unique charcoal drawing was discovered on a rock fragment found during the excavation of the Narwala Gabarnmang rock shelter in south-western Arnhem Land, in the Northern Territory in the 1990s which was dated “at 28,000 years old.” This location is described as “one of the oldest known pieces of  rock art  on Earth with a confirmed date”.

Read more:

6 Incredible Facts About the Prehistoric Altamira Cave Paintings

How This 30,000-Year-Old Figurine Continues to Captivate Today

15,000-Year-Old Bison Sculptures Are Perfectly Preserved in a French Cave

“Sistine Chapel of the Ancients”: Researchers Discover Thousands of Ice Age Rock Paintings

The 17,300-year old kangaroo painting is far from being Australia ’s oldest known  rock art , but what it does do is further illustrate the emerging picture of life in Australia during the Paleolithic. Cave art has been discovered in caves in Spain dated to 65,000 years ago, and according to  National Geographic  this “includes the oldest cave art ever found” that predates the arrival of modern  Homo sapiens  to Europe, which means someone else must have created them.

And that someone else were the  Neanderthals, who were  painting in caves around the same time we  Homo sapiens  were arriving on the shores of Oz.

Damien Finch, the lead author of the research paper, pioneered a method of testing mud wasp nets with carbon dating. To date the kangaroo, the researchers used the fossilized mud wasp nests surrounding the painting. After deciphering the specific layer of ocher belonging to the kangaroo (under more recent artwork), the team tested a nest below the ocher as well as one above. This gives a date range for when the kangaroo was drawn.

The results suggested the kangaroo is between 17,500 and 17,100 years old, with 17,300 years old being the best estimate. The team was lucky to find nests providing such a close date range. “This makes the painting Australia’s oldest known in-situ painting,” Finch said.

According to Cissy Gore-Birch, Chair of the Balanggarra Aboriginal Corporation, partnership and knowledge sharing are critical to preserving this history. Gore-Birch commented, “It’s important that Indigenous knowledge and stories are not lost and continue to be shared for generations to come… The dating of this oldest known painting in an Australian rock shelter holds a great deal of significance for Aboriginal people and Australians and is an important part of Australia’s history.”

Archaeologists Make ‘Very Special’ Viking Era Discovery in Norway

Almost one thousand years after the end of the Viking Age, Norwegian archaeologists have made a sensational find near Halden in the south-east of Norway. The burial mound and adjacent field harbour several longhouses and at least one ship burial. Digital data visualizations reveal the well-defined 20-meter-long ship-shaped structure, with indications that the lower part is well preserved. Incredibly, the ship lies just below the topsoil, with just 50cm separating it from the fresh air.

Source: Archaeologists Make ‘Very Special’ Viking Era Discovery in Norway

Archeologist Spends Over 35 Years Building Enormous Scale Model of Ancient Rome – Jessica Stewart


Tucked in the residential Roman neighborhood of EUR, a sprawling 1:250 scale model displays the glory of ancient Rome. Known as the Plastico di Roma Imperiale, the plaster model was commissioned by Mussolini in 1933 and depicts Rome in the 4th century AD at the time of Constantine I. It now sits in the Museum of Roman Civilization, a museum opened in the 1930s to demonstrate the history of ancient Rome.The plaster model is a masterpiece created by archaeologist Italo Gismondi, who worked on the piece throughout his life…….


Read more:

25+ Blossoming Works of Art Made Out of Real Flowers – Kelly Richman-Abdou


From still-life depictions to blooming landscapes, flowers have been a tried and true inspiration for nature-loving artists throughout the course of art history. In addition to traditional paintings and photographs, however, many of today’s artists have taken a more avant-garde approach to the floral craft by creating works of art made out of real flowers. As evident in this collection of flower art, there are a myriad ways that artists incorporate real-life blooms and blossoms into their practice. Some, like Duy Anh Nhan Duc and Marina Malinovaya, organize them onto flat surfaces to……..

Read more:



Your kindly Donations would be so effective in order to fulfill our future research and endeavors – Thank you

Photo Essay: A Staircase as Art — atmtx photo blog

Library Stairs – Austin, Texas As I was shooting around the new Austin Central Public Library, I became fascinated by the staircase that leads to the parking garage. Perhaps more than I should. But it was shiny, colorful and architectural. The hard geometry made it interesting, with a look that can change noticeably, just with […]

via Photo Essay: A Staircase as Art — atmtx photo blog




Your kindly Donations would be so effective in order to fulfill our future research and endeavors – Thank you


%d bloggers like this: