Australia’s earliest contact rock art found

July 24th, 2010 - 6:31 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, July 24 (ANI): Scientists have found evidence of Southeast Asian sailing vessels visiting Australia in the mid-1600s — the oldest contact rock art in Australia.

The team taking part in the Picturing Change fieldwork project in the Wellington Range, Arnhem Land, made the discovery.

The researchers are studying at Djulirri, which has nearly 1200 individual paintings and beeswax figures.

“This site includes at least 20 layers of art,” quoted Dr Sally K. May of Australian National University as saying.

“And importantly, it has also yielded the oldest date yet recorded for contact rock art in Australia. A yellow painted prau (Southeast Asian sailing vessel) is found underneath a large beeswax snake.

“This snake was radiocarbon dated by Dr Stewart Fallon at ANU to between AD1624 - 1674, meaning that this is a minimum age for the sailing vessel painting,” she added.

It is the first rock art evidence found that dates the visits to the northern parts of Australia from Southeast Asian ships back to the 17th century.

“Djulirri has more diverse contact period rock art than any other site in Australia” said Paul Tacon of Griffith University.

“Besides the oldest dated paintings of Southeast Asian ships, there are European tall ships and many other forms of watercraft, all of which can be placed in chronological sequence,” he added.

The research would be published in Australian Archaeology. (ANI)

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