Archaeologists have discovered a painting of a 17,300-year-old kangaroo in a rock shelter in Western Australia, making it the oldest known painted figure found on the continent.

The 6.5-foot (2 meters) wide red ocher painting of the kangaroo is on the wall of a rock shelter in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. As new research paperPublished in Nature Human Behavior on Mondaybig pointing picture “The oldest radiometric… rock painting ever reported in Australia.”

In total, archaeologists identified and dated 16 different motifs found in the eight. Different sandstone shelters in the Kimberley area, including depictions of a snake, a lizard-like creature, a reclining human, and various macropods (a group of marsupials that include kangaroos, wallabies, and pademelons). The team, led by geochronologist Damien Finch of the University of Melbourne, worked closely with local I and received his approval.During these investigations, ndigenous Traditional Owners.

 

A rare human depiction seen in a reclining position. Yellowish spots on the cave wall are ancient mud wasp nests used to date artworks.

 

A rare human depiction seen in a reclining position. Yellowish spots on the cave wall are ancient mud wasp nests used to date artworks.
Picture: Pauline Heaney and Damien Finch
 

It is very difficult for archaeologists to date cave paintings, as radiocarbon dating requires organic compounds that are not always found in rock paintings. To find the age of rock art, scientists typically look for things that can be dated, such as mineral deposits covering cave paintings. In this case, Finch and his colleagues were fortunate to find evidence of mud wasp nests both in front and behind some of the pictures found in sandstone shelters.

Radiocarbon Dating these wasp nests to the locations of the 16 motifs gave a date range from 17,000 to 13,000 years ago, which means that this style of painting is at least 4,000 years old. For the kangaroo painting, the team managed to sample the three wasp nests behind the painting and three wasp nests in front. according to the paper.

“Many more dates from this period are required to determine the exact chronological scope of the pictures still visible today,” the authors wrote.

This artwork is old, but far from the oldest in the world. Earlier this year scientists discovered A 43,900-year-old depiction of a warty pig on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi makes it (probably) the oldest figurative artwork known in the archaeological record. Neanderthal art flirt It could have been even older 64,000 years ago.