Ancient Australian painting of ship

Rock art at Mabaludu depicts a Macassan perahu, or boat. Photo: Daryl GuseFrom ABC in Australia:

Australia’s oldest painting prompts history rethink

Posted Sat Jul 17, 2010 8:23am AEST

Archaeologists say a rock painting in Arnhem Land is the nation’s oldest dated picture showing Aboriginal people’s first contact with the outside world.

The rock painting is a picture of a sailing boat and it is located at a remote shelter in north-west Arnhem Land.

Archaeologist Paul Tacon says there are telling signs it is a depiction of a Perahu – a boat popular in Indonesia and Malaysia around the 17th century.

“One of the distinctive features is a tripod mast, another is a rectangular sail. And those are quite clear in this image,” he said.

He says beeswax pellets stuck to the painting have been dated back to the 1620s, making it the oldest dated picture of early contact in Australia.

He also says there is clear evidence Macassars from Indonesia were sailing to north Australia to fish for trepang in the 1700s.

The painting is forcing archaeologists to rethink when outsiders first arrived on Australian shores.

“This find is extremely significant because it is our oldest reliably dated contact rock art image,” Mr Tacon said.

“It’s also important because it hints that Aboriginal people of northern Australia were interacting with peoples from South-East Asia on a more frequent basis and over a longer period of the past than what we’ve realised.”

Archaeologists are also finding rock art showing early Indigenous contact with other cultures, including boats, knives, cups and even a monkey.

CANBERRA, Australia — An archaeologist says he found the oldest piece of rock art in Australia and one of the oldest in the world: an Aboriginal work created 28,000 years ago in an Outback cave: here.

1 thought on “Ancient Australian painting of ship

  1. Pingback: Earliest Australians earlier than thought | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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