How old is Aboriginal art?

You may be surprised to learn Aboriginal art is one of the oldest art forms in the world, spanning tens of thousands of years.

What are the oldest know Aboriginal art pieces?

The oldest known examples of Aboriginal rock art are found in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, but pinpointing the exact oldest piece of art is difficult due to the perishable materials used.

In the Kimberley, the Bradshaw Rock Paintings (or Gwion Gwion) is estimated to be around 20,000 years old, perhaps more.

Radiocarbon dating of three wasp nests found under a two meter painting of a Kangaroo in the Kimberly region suggest, with confidence, the artwork is between 17,100 and 17,500 years old. Similar rock dating, in collaboration with the University of Melbourne, has dated artwork spanning 16 paintings over 8 rock shelters to be between 13,000 and 17,000 years old.

Other, more crude, animal drawings in the Kimberly region are believed to be up to 40,000 years old.

Can you imagine?

What do these artworks show?

These intricate rock paintings show human figures in dynamic poses, often wearing distinctive headdresses and clothing.

The Bradshaw Paintings are highly significant to Aboriginal history as they provide insights into the artistic traditions and cultural practices of those ancient communities.

It is believed, and likely, Aboriginal art dates back to the earliest known human occupation of the Australian continent, and that makes Aboriginal art one of the oldest continuous artistic traditions on Earth.

The rock art created by Aboriginal people may even be as old as 60,000 years, depicting various aspects of their lives, spiritual beliefs, and connection to the land.

These ancient artworks provide valuable insights into the rich cultural heritage and traditions of Australia’s First Nations.

Aboriginal art continues to evolve and thrive in contemporary forms, reflecting the ongoing artistic expressions and cultural resilience of Aboriginal communities.

Australia is a vast continent (I know, because I’ve been around it more than once), and new discoveries of ancient Aboriginal art continue to be made.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest posts

  • Choosing a Visual Arts Bachelor Degree in Australia

    Pursuing a Visual Arts Degree in Australia is an exciting time I remember all too well! However, navigating the rather diverse landscape of artistic education can be overwhelming as well as thrilling, which is why we’ve put together this guide to help you choose the right Visual Arts degree for you! This guide is crafted…

    Read more

  • Charles Conder (1868 – 1909)

    Having been referred to as “the last bohemian”, the unconventional life of the gifted artist, Charles Conder has made him one of the most intriguing artists of the late 19th century. Leaving a lasting impression on the Australian and international art world he is considered to have played a large role in establishing the great…

    Read more