David, B.O., Geneste, J.-M., Petchey, F., Delannoy, J.-J., Barker, B., & Eccleston, M. (2013). How old are Australia's pictographs? A review of rock art dating. Journal of Archaeological Science, 40 (1), 3-10.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/6734
Australia contains some of the world's richest and apparently longest traditions of rock pictographs. Dating this art, however, has been problematic, with few 'direct' and reliable dates of Pleistocene or early Holocene age having been obtained from visible, representational imagery. This paper critically reviews the evidence for the antiquity of pigment rock art in Australia by examining the various dating techniques employed. The accurate and reliable dating of rock art worldwide is crucial to understanding the evolution of modern human symbolism and whether cognitive modernism came about after, rather than with, the first signs of full biological modernism; understanding the pitfalls and devising proper methods are crucial prerequisites. Towards these ends, this paper reviews the results and techniques that have been employed to date the apparently earliest known pictographs in Australia.