Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Timeline of Sites Where Ochre has Been Found in Sahul (Greater Australia)
  1. 116,000   Jinmium, Northern Territory (very controversial, not accepted by most, if not all, workers in the field)
  2. 42,800    Carpenter's Gap, Windjana Gorge National Park, Napier Ranges, western Kimberley
  3. 42,000    Lake Mungo 3, Willandra Lakes Region, western New South Wales
  4. 40,000    Karolta 1, Yanta Springs, Wharton Hill, Panaramitee North, South Australia. (dates no longer accepted)
  5. 35,000    Southwest Tasmania -  Wargata Mina, Ballawinne, Keyhole Cavern,
  6. 34,000    Mandu Mandu Creek Rockshelter, Cape Range Peninsula, northwestern Australia
  7. 33,000    Devil's Lair, southwestern Australia
  8. 33,000    Cuddie Springs, western New South Wales
  9. 32,000    Riwi Cave, southern Kimberley
  10. 32,000    Malangangerr, Arnhem Land
  11. 32,000    Puritjarra Rockshelter, Cleland Hills, central Australia
  12. 30,000    Nawamoyn & Nauwalabila I, Arnhem Land
  13. 28,000    Widgingarry Shelter 1, the Kimberley (late Pleistocene)
  14. 28,000    Widgingarry Shelter 2, the Kimberley (late Pleistocene)
  15. 28,100    Walkunder Arch Cave, Chillago
  16. 28,000    Sandy Creek I, Laura Region, Cape York Peninsula
  17. 28,000    Malangine Cave, Mt Gambier Region, South Australia
  18. 26,000    Fern Cave, Cape York Peninsula (possibly 30,000 BP)
  19. 25,000    Arnhem Land sites
  20. 24,000    Sandy Creek II, Laura Region
  21. 23,000    Jinmium, Northern Territory
  22. 22,000    Drual, Grampians-Gariwerd Region, western Victoria
  23. 22,000    Cave Bay Cave, Hunter Island, Tasmania
  24. 21,000    New Guinea II, Snowy River, eastern Victoria
  25. 20,000    Koonalda Cave, South Australia
  26. 20,000    Laurie Creek, Northern Territory. The date is no longer accepted by one of the original research group.
  27. 20,000    Tari Region, Papua New Guinea
  28. 19,000    Malakunanja II, Arnhem Land (possibly 50,000 years ago)
  29. 19,000    Widgingarry Shelter 2, the Kimberley
  30. 19,000    Early Man Shelter, Laura Region, Cape York Peninsula
  31. 18,500    Gum Tree Valley, Dampier Region, Western Australia
  32. 17,000    Mackintosh 90/1 western Tasmania
  33. 17,000    Batari, Papua New Guinea
  34. 16,400    Kimberley Region
  35. 16,000    Kenniff Cave, Central Queensland Highlands
  36. 14,400    Sandy Creek 1, Laura Region, Cape York Peninsula
  37. 11,500    Magnificent Gallery, Laura Region, Cape York Peninsula
  38. 11,000    Jinmium and Granilpi (this date is considered problematic)
  39. 10,000    Koongine Cave, Mt Gambier Region, South Australia
  40. 10,000    Sturt's Meadows, western New South Wales
  41. 10,000    Mickey Springs 34, North Queensland Highlands
  42.   9,000    Nangalor (Nangaluwurr)Baroalbar Springs, Ngarraj Warde, Djobkeng, Snake site, Cannon Hill, Spirit Cave (Angbangbang), Northern Territory.
  43.   7,000    Puntutjara Rockshelter, Warburton Ranges, central Australia
  44.   6,000    Gnatalia Creek, Sydney Basin. A date of about 30,000 is considered to have been contaminated.

 

  1. Jinmium, Northern Territory, a series of TL dates on quartz, 116,000 +/- 12,000 to 73,300 +/- 7,000. These are the earliest dates recorded for ochre. For a buried sandstone slab that has pecked cupules the earliest date is 58,000 +/- 6,900 BP & 75,000 +/- 7,000. All these dates are very controversial and are not accepted as accurate. Fullagar et a., (1996); sf, Roberts et al.,(1998); Watchman et al., (2001). 7 AMS dates on charcoal from the upper 2/3 of the deposit at Jinmium ranged from 1,1100 +/- 60 BP to 3,300 +/- 100 BP. A series of OSL dates from individual quartz grains from the deposit ranged from 300 +/- 30 BP to 22,000 +/- 1,200 BP. (Roberts et al., 1998). Among 16 AMS dates on oxalate in the crust covering cupules were 1,400 +/- 110 BP,  and from  5,840  +/- 65 BP to 11,050 +/- 650 BP. The 11,000 BP date is considered inconsistent because the disparity "between the thickness of the crust and it sage wgen compared with the other crusts in the Keep River region" (Watchman et al., 2000: 7). Watchman (2000); Watchman (2001).
  2. Carpenter's Gap, Windjana Gorge National Park, Napier Ranges, western Kimberley. A pellet of red ochre was found between layers dating to 42,800 +/- 18,50 BP and 33,600 +/- 500 BP. The composition of this pellet differed from that of the red substance found on a rock fragment from the wall that was found in the same level. (O'Connor & Fankhauser, 2001). The fragment from the wall had red pigment on it. The earlier date was from 2 cm below the slab, the later date 5 cm above the slab, giving a minimum age of 40,000 BP. The nature of the painting as it occurred on the wall prior to the fall of the slab is indeterminate. (O'Connor, 1995; Flood, 1997; O'Connor & Fankhauser, 2001; Moorwood, 2002)
  3. Lake Mungo 3, Willandra Lakes Region, western New South Wales. This was a grave containing a body that had been covered with red ochre that dated to between 42,000 & 38,000, an OSL date of 40,000 +/- 2,000 BP. (Flood, 1995; Bowdler, 1998; Bowdler et al., 2003).
  4. Karolta 1, Yanta Springs, Wharton Hill, Panaramitee North, South Australia. (dates no longer accepted). A series of cation-ratio dates on desert varnish that covered the engravings at the site, as well as AMS dates from the organic matter beneath the varnish. The dates range from 43,140 +/- 3,000 BP to 1,510 +/- 50 BP. The dates have since been rejected by Dorn. (Dorn et al., 1988; Nobbs & Dorn 1988, 1993; Dorn & Nobbs, 1992)
  5. Southwest Tasmania - Wargata Mina, Ballawinne, Keyhole Cavern. These sites were occupied from about 35,000 BP until about 10,250 years ago, after which they were abandoned. On their walls were red hand stencils, ochre smears and a roughly drawn circle. The wall paintings were covered by a thin layer of calcite that is believed to have been deposited  in the terminal Pleistocene during a wet phase. The "blood residue" in pigments from Wargata Mina gave dates of 10,730 +/- 810 BP and 9,240 +/- 820 BP. These dates have since been rejected by one of the original dating team.  (Jones et a., 1988; Cosgrove & Jones, 1989; Loy et al., 1990; McGowan et. al., 1993; Gillespie, 1997; Porch & Allen, 1995; Moorwood, 2002)
  6. Mandu Mandu Creek Rockshelter, Cape Range Peninsula, northwestern Australia. Ochre is found throughout the layers of this site, the high point being between 25,000 and 20,000 years ago. (Moore, 1993b).
  7. Devil's Lair, southwestern Australia. The lowest level of the site dates to 31,400 +/- 1,500 BP and the most recent to 30,590 +/- 1,810 BP. Fragments of red ochre have been found in the deposit, one of which came from a hearth that was originally dated to 27,700 +/- 700 BP. A number of large ferruginous nodules of ochre were found, one of which weighed 13 g. It is believed these nodules were brought to the cave by the occupants, but smaller are thought to have possibly washed into the cave. (Dortch & Merrilees, 1973; Dortch, 1984; Dortch & Dortch, 1996; Dortch, 2004)
  8. Cuddie Springs, western New South Wales. Ochre in this deposit dated to between 33,600 +/- 530 BP and 30,280 +/- 450 BP. (Fullagar & Field, 1997; Field & Dodson, 1999).
  9. Riwi Cave, southern Kimberley. A level dated to 31,860 +/- 450 contained ochre, smaller amounts of ochre were found in a lower, undated, level. (Balme, 2000).
  10. Malangangerr, Arnhem Land. 447 nodules of ochre have been found in this deposit. There are red, yellow, orange, white and purple ochre. The colour range matches that of the ochre in a more recent midden at the site. The middens date between 24,000 BP and 18,000 BP. 201 ochre pieces, dating from 6,000 BP to recent rimes, have been found in the shell midden, as well as a piece of shell that is believed Celoina shell, that appears to have possibly been used as an ochre palette. In a "transitional zone", between the sand deposits of the late Pleistocene and the later midden deposits, were found another 115 ochre pieces. (Schrire, 1982).
  11. Puritjarra Rockshelter, Cleland Hills, central Australia. In levels dating to between 32,000 BP and 18,000 BP, in the centre of the shelter floor, small fragments of ochre were found that weighed 0.1 g. From 13,000 BP onwards, larger amounts of ochre were found in deposits against the walls adjacent to a panel on the wall of stencils and paintings. The earliest identifiable was found that came from this period. It was a piece of very fin-grained yellow pigment, 10 mm across, that is believed may have been a droplet of thick paint that had been moulded on a small brush (Rosenfeld & Smith, 2002). It contained about 30 % organic matter, whci is consistent with it being prepared paint. (Smith, 1989; Rosenfeld & Smith, 2002).
  12. Nawamoyn & Nauwalabila I, Arnhem Land. Many pieces of ochre, many with use/grinding facets, have been found from a period of time between 30,000 BP and 20,000 BP. (Schrire, 1982; Jones 7 Johnson, 1985b).
  13. Widgingarry Shelter 1, the Kimberley (late Pleistocene). O'Connor, 19990.
  14. Widgingarry Shelter 2, the Kimberley (late Pleistocene). There were 25 nodules of ochre in this deposit, red, yellow and orange, that were dated levels between 28,060 +/- 600 BP and 18,900 +/- 1,800 BP. (O'Connor, 1999).
  15. Walkunder Arch Cave, Chillago. A "starburst" motif and the area next to red anthropomorophous figures have been dated to 7,085 +/- 135 BP and 9,470 +/- 120 BP using oxalate AMS on the mineral crusts covering the rock art. Haematite and goethite layers in a gypsum-oxalate lamination encrusting a boulder have been dated to 28,100 +/- 400 BP, 25,800 +/- 3280 BP, 16,100 +/- 130 BP and 10,400 +/- 90 BP. No visible motifs. The art was apparently being applied to the walls sometime before there was any accumulation in the floor deposited indicating occupation. (Campbell & Mardaga-Campbell, 1993; Campbell et al., 1996; Watchman & Hatte, 1996; Campbell, 2000; Watchman, 2001; Morwood, 2002).
  16. Sandy Creek I, Laura Region, Cape York Peninsula. 2 fragments of striated red ochre dated to 32,000 BP and 2 fragments of yellow ochre dated to 28,000 BP and 25,900 BP. (Cole et al., 1995; Morwood et al., 1995a; Flood, 1997).
  17. Malangine Cave, Mt Gambier Region, South Australia. The same sample of calcite taken from between 2 layers of rock art (finger markings and non-figurative engraved motifs) gave a date of 28,000 +/- 2,000 BP using the uranium-series method and 5,550 +/- 55 using radiocarbon dating. (Bednarik, 1999).
  18. Fern Cave, Cape York Peninsula (possibly 30,000 BP). The lowest layer in this deposit has been dated to 26,010 +/- 410 BP, but it is believed the deposit actually extends back to about 30,000 BP according to extrapolation based on the age-depth curve. (David, 1991).
  19. Arnhem Land sites. An age greater than 25,000 BP has been suggested for painting of what is thought may be the extinct giant marsupial Palorchestes. There are also paintings of what some believe are other extinct marsupials, Zaglossus, Sthenurus, and Thylacoleo. (Chaloupka, 1984; Murray & Chaloupka, 1984).
  20. Sandy Creek II, Laura Region. Dates from 3 haematite layers from between layers of an oxalate crust have been obtained. The results It is believed they document painting events at 6,655 +/- 80 BP, 15,000-16,000 BP and 24,600 +/- 220 BP. No visible motifs were present. (Watchman, 1993, 2001; Cole et al., 1995; Flood, 1997; Morwood, 2002).
  21. Jinmium, Northern Territory. 7 samples of charcoal from the upper 2/3 of the deposit gave dates of 1,100 +/- 60 with the AMS method. Using the OSL method produced dates ranging from 300 +/- 30 BP to 22,000 +/- 22,700 +/- 1,200 BP. (Roberts et a., 1998).
  22. Drual, Grampians-Gariwerd Region, western Victoria. The lowest levels of the site have been dated to 22,140 +/- 160 BP and 22,160 +/- 150 BP. Ochre has been found in these dated levels. (Bird et al., 1998).
  23. Cave Bay Cave, Hunter Island, off the northwest coast of Tasmania. A deposit dating to 22,750 +/- 420 BP contained quartz fragments with adhering ochre. (Bowdler, 1984).
  24. New Guinea II, Snowy River, eastern Victoria. In this cave were finger markings similar to those found in Koonalda Cave. The occupation deposit at the cave entrance has been dated to between 21,900 +900/-800 BP and 4,660 +/- 110 BP. If the rock art in the cave is of the same age as the occupation deposit it may be of similar antiquity to the art in Koonalda Cave. (Ossa et al., 1995).
  25. Koonalda Cave, South Australia. Finger markings and flint mining occurred in this cave between 24,000 BP and 14,000 BP. A date from charcoal found beneath a concentration of finger marks, that may have been the remains of a torch, in a dark part of the cave. gave a date of 19,900 +/- 2,000 BP. (Maynard & Edwards, 1971; Wright, 1971a; Mulvaney, 1975).
  26. Laurie Creek, Northern Territory. Blood residue in the pigment gave a date by AMS of 20,320 +3,100/-2,300 BP. The date is no longer accepted by one of the original research group. (Loy et al., 1990; Nelson, 1993; Gillespie, 1997; Watchman, 2001).
  27. Tari Region, Papua New Guinea. Finger markings at this site are believed to be of Plesitocene age because of human interference in the vegetation history of the area that has been dated to between 20,000 BP and 15,000 BP. (Ballard, 1992; Franklin, 1996).
  28. Malakunanja II, Arnhem Land. A 1 kg piece of haematite and a red ochre-stained grindstone were found at this site in levels dated to about 18,040 +/- 300 BP. It is believed the site may be up to 50,000 years old. (Jones & Negerevich, 1985; Roberts et al., 1990; Chaloupka, 1993).
  29. Widgingarry Shelter 2, the Kimberley. In layers dated to between 28,060 +/- 600 BO and 18,900 +/- 1,800 BP 25 pieces of red, yellow and orange ochre were found. (O'Connor, 1999, Table 5.17).
  30. Early Man Shelter, Laura Region, Cape York Peninsula. This earliest layer in which ochre has been found in Level 8 that has been dated to 18,200 +/- 450 BP. (Rosenfeld, 1981).
  31. Gum Tree Valley, Dampier Region, Western Australia. Among deeply painted figurative engravings, trumpet shell was found that has been dated to 18,510 BP (Lorblanchet, 1992).
  32. Mackintosh 90/1 western Tasmania. Ochre has been found in a layer between layers dated to 17,030 +/- 430 BP (Beta-45808 and 16,010 +/- 300 BP (Beta-46306. (Stern & Marshall, 1993).
  33. Batari, Papua New Guinea. Ochre has been found throughout this deposit that has been dated to 16,850 +/- 700 BP (ANU-40, but there is doubt that this date applies to the occupation of the site. It has been suggested that the pieces of red ochre, found throughout the deposit, may actuall date from 8,230 +/- 190 BP. (ANU-38a). (White, 1972; cf. Davidson & Noble, 1992, their Table 1).
  34. Kimberley Region. A series of 18 OSL dates were obtained from mudwasp nests overlying paintings. These dates ranged from 23,800 +/- 2,400 BP, 17,500 +/- 1,800 BP & 16,400 +/- 1,800 BP. A series of AMS dates obtained from mineral encrustations associated with paintings give dates that conflict with the OSL dates, being 1,430 +/- 180 BP (OZB351) to 3,880 +/- 110 BP (OZB126). Roberts et a., 1997; Watchman et al., 1997; Watchman, 2001).
  35. Kenniff Cave, Central Queensland Highlands. Ochre pieces that showed signs of use, scratched, smoothed and with longitudunal grooves were found, but according to Mulvaney & Joyce, 1965:202) "no utilised fragments were found below 4 feet" dated to 4,000 BP (4,130 +/- 90 BP; GaK 523). The earliest date obtained at the site was 16,130 +/- 140 BO (NPL 68). (Mulvaney & Joyce, 1965; Mulvaney, 1975).
  36. Sandy Creek 1, Laura Region, Cape York Peninsula. see 16. A sandstone fragment, on which there is part of an unidentifiable engraved motif, has been dated to 12,620 +/- 370 BP (Beta 51089), calibrated minimum age of 14,400 BP. The fragment is believed to have fallen from a part of the wall there are a number of engraved discs, pits, curved lines and bird tracks. Sections of the walls show signs of exfoliation. (Cole et al., 1995; Morwood, 1995a; Flood, 1997).
  37. Magnificent Gallery, Laura Region, Cape York Peninsula. In a layer dated to 11,500 BP a single piece of striated was found. (Cole et al., 1995).
  38. Jinmium and Granilpi (this date is considered problematic).
  39. Koongine Cave, Mt Gambier Region, South Australia. Finfer marks have been found on the walls, but as there is no evidence linking them to the dates obtained from occupation levels, it has been assumed they are no older than 10,000 BP. A number of dates have been obtained from the occupation levels, 9,710 +/- 180 BP (BETA-14861), 9,590 +/- 140 BP (BETA 14862), 9,240 +/- 100 BP (BETA-15996) & 8,270 +/- 400 BP (BETA-14859). (Frankel, 1986, Rosenfeld, 1993).
  40. Sturt's Meadows, western New South Wales. Dates have been obtained from calcium carbonate covering desert varnish that covers engravings suggests a possible minimum age. 10,410 +/- 170 BP (BETA-13804) and 10,250 +/- 170 BP (BETA-13804). (Dragovich, 1986).
  41. Mickey Springs 34, North Queensland Highlands. A series of 7 vertical lines on the shelter wall that was sealed by a rockfall between 9.920 +/- 250 BP (SUA 2248) and 8,080 +/- 100 BP (SUA2252). Between 8,080 +/- 100 BP (SUA 2252) and 3,360 +/- 60 BP (Beta 11734) there is a series of vertical lines and a bird track on the shelter wall. (Morwood, 1990, 1992, 2002).
  42. Nangalor (Nangaluwurr), Baroalbar Springs, Ngarraj Warde, Djobkeng, Snake site, Cannon Hill, Spirit Cave (Angbangbang), Northern Territory. A series of 8 AMS dates were obtained on oxalates in mineral crusts below and above rock paintings. The dates range from 8,888 +/- 590 BP (ANU-4271), the minimum age, AMS dates on oxalates on paint layers in a laminated mineral crust beneath paintings were 3,470 +/- 120 BP (AA-9224) & 12,250 +/- 105 BP (AA-9223). Both these dates are older than that of charcoal from the junction between the gravel base and the first stratigraphic layer. (Watchman, 1987, 1990, 2001; Chippindale & Tacon, 1993; Watchman & Campbell, 1996; Flood, 1997).
  43. Puntutjara Rockshelter, Warburton Ranges, central Australia. See 11.
  44. Gnatalia Creek, Sydney Basin. A date of about 30,000 is considered to have been contaminated. Charcoal from a large curvilinear motif gave a date of 6,085 +/- 60 BP (AA-5850) and 29,795 +/- 420 BP (AA-5851). The earlier sample if believed to have been contaminated. (McDonald et al., 1990; McDonald, 1998, 2000; Watchman, 2001).

 

Links

  1. The Pleistocene Peopling of Greater Australia: A Re-examination

Sources & Further reading

  1. Josephine Flood, Archaeology of the Dreamtime, J. B. Publishing
  2. Phillip J. Habgood & Natilie R. Franklin, The revolution that didn't arrive: A review of Pleistocene Sahul, Journal of Human Evolution, 55, 2008

 

 

Author: M. H. Monroe
Email: admin@austhrutime.com
Last updated: 30/09/2011
Home
Journey Back Through Time
Geology
Biology
     Fauna
     Flora
Climate
Hydrology
Environment
Experience Australia
Aboriginal Australia
National Parks
Photo Galleries
Site Map
                                                                                           Author: M.H.Monroe  Email: admin@austhrutime.com     Sources & Further reading