Direct dating indicates a mid-Holocene age for archaic rock engravings in arid central Australia

M. A. Smith, A. Watchman, J. Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Archaic rock engravings are found widely across the arid interior of Australia and are thought to represent an early pan-continental tradition. A late Pleistocene age is assumed because of extensive weathering, but attempts to test this by direct dating have been unsuccessful. We use AMS 14C dating of calcium oxalate skins covering archaic engravings at two rock shelter sites in Central Australia (Wanga East and Puritjarra), constrained by 14C dates of charcoal in sedimentary layers beneath the same engraved slabs, to show this rock art is mid-Holocene in age. Despite a limited range of simple geometric designs and uniformity across the arid interior, this corpus of rock art is not associated with the initial peopling of the Australian desert, but is a later development reflecting the dynamics of established desert societies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-203
Number of pages13
JournalGeoarchaeology
Volume24
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009
Externally publishedYes

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