The oldest rock art in Australia has been discovered in Australia by University of Southern Queensland archaeologist Bryce Barker. According to Fox News, Barker came upon the piece in the Northern Territory rock shelter called Nawarla Gabarnmang last June, though he didn’t know what he had in his possession until scientists at New Zealand’s University of Waikato radiocarbon laboratory had it properly dated. The object in question is thought to be nearly 28,000 years old.
“One of the things that makes this little fragment of art unique is that it is drawn in charcoal, which means we could directly date it,” the archaeologist explained to Discovery News. “The fact remains that any rock art that is older than 20,000 years is very unique around the world. So it makes this amongst some of the oldest art in the world.”
“I don’t think it will surprise anyone that rock art is that old in Australia because we know people have been here a lot longer than that and there’s no reason to believe they weren’t producing art,” Australian National University archaeologist Sally May explained. She also added that the discovery is “incredibly significant”.
Although Barker’s rock art is considered to be the oldest unearthed in Australia, it doesn’t hold the top honor of being the oldest in the entire world. That distinction belongs to a piece discovered on a Spanish cave wall, a creation which scientists calculate is 40,800 years old.
The discovery of this charcoal artwork suggests that Australia’s indigenous communities were among the most advanced in the world at the time.