Dating at kakadu

The oldest currently known rock art is in India, at such sites as Auditorium Cave and Daraki-Chattan, but similar Acheulian rock art is believed to exist in the Kalahari Desert of South Africa.

Archaeological evidence suggests that humans first arrived in Australia between 65,000 and 60,000 years ago.

Northern Australia is the most likely place for people to have travelled from south east Asia across the land bridges then sailed across the ocean gaps to northern Australia.

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Their appearance in the layers of material on the floor of the shelter is usually interpreted as the beginning of occupation at the shelter.

Charcoal may or may not have survived in the lower layers of a site, depending on local preservation conditions, and other organic material tends to survive in only the youngest part of the deposit, spanning at the most a few thousand years.

The best way to establish the age of rock art is to date the art directly (such as by dating a sample of the paint or pigment used) or indirectly (for example to obtain a minimum age for the art work by dating something that lies on top of the art - say a mud wasp's nest or a natural chemical coating - or lies in a layer of material with objects or matter that can be dated).

Australian rock art shows some of the oldest-known artistic images by modern humans.

However, there are considerable technical difficulties and uncertainties in dating rock art which make it difficult to determine the age of Australia's earliest rock art.

Australian rock art, while extensive and in places of great age, is nevertheless not the oldest in the world.Both rock art and portable palaeoart were made long before Australia was apparently first settled.In northern Australia there are numerous sandstone rock-shelters.Many of these have been used for camping and their floors are layered with charcoal and ash from camp fires, the remains of food such as shells and animal bones, stone tools and, very often, pieces of ochre.Ochre comes from soft varieties of iron oxide minerals (such as haematite - a fine-grained iron oxide which produces a strong red colour with a purple tint) and from rocks containing ferric oxide.Nauwalabila shelter in Kakadu National park, Arnhem Land Stone tools and ochre are the toughest of this camping debris.


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