Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Bullawinne Site

The Bullawinne Site is in the Maxwell River valley. There are 20 human hand stencils in the cave that have been estimated to have been made by 5 or more individuals, based on the sizes of the stencils. Among the stencils is one in which the first joint of the middle finger is missing, a suggestion being made that it may have been the result of an accident or a ritual amputation. It is not known if the stencils were all made at the same time or over an extended period. It has been estimated that the stencils were made about 14,000 BP, based in fragments of charcoal adhering to the them.

On parts of the ceiling of the cave there are patches of red ochre, as well as 5 patches, that are of similar size and shape, on rocks protruding from the sides of the passage leading from the outside to the stencils. It has been suggested that they may have been a guide or warning along the path to an area of special ritual significance.

The stencils are in a part of the cave beyond the reach of light from the entrance, being in complete darkness, making them unusual among known Australian stencils, that are usually in lighted areas. The fact that they are in complete darkness makes them similar to stencils from the Gravettian period in Europe, 28,000-22,000 BP, also often made with ochre, A suggestion has been made that the Tasmanian Aboriginal people brought both the ochre and the making of stencils with them as a cultural template, though this is difficult to prove.

Sources & Further reading

  1. The Tasmanians: Part 8b: Archaeology and the Oldest Tasmanians
Author: M. H. Monroe
Last Updated 21/10/2016



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