Scientists have discovered that Australian cave paintings dating back about 15,000 years have hidden meanings linked to changes in landforms. This discovery has provided new insights into the rock art of Arnhem Land.
In a recent study, scientists have presented an innovative approach to understanding the rock art of Arnhem Land, Australia, shedding light on its profound significance. Scientists believe that changes in the landscape influenced the drawings and this way we can learn more about the past of this place, writes Phys.org.
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Arnhem Land, in particular the Red Lily Lagoon area, is a treasure trove of archaeological wonders, including Australia’s oldest known archaeological site. The region has undergone significant transformation over the past 14,000 years.
This transition from open savannah to mudflats and mangrove swamps had far-reaching consequences for the people who inhabited the area.
The rock art in Arnhem Land reflects the different styles that have developed over thousands of years. These styles, such as the well-known X-ray style, appear to correspond to changes in the landscape caused by rising sea levels.
For example, images of marine animals appear in rock art when sea levels have risen enough to have a significant impact on the region.
Different experts often give conflicting interpretations of the same image, making it difficult to understand its true content. To overcome this subjectivity, researchers have traditionally relied on an understanding of art’s place in the landscape, assuming that contemporary landscapes are analogous to past ones. But in a land where rock art dates back more than 15,000 years and the landscape has been significantly transformed, this assumption does not hold true.
The researchers used high-resolution elevation data from aircraft and drones to comprehensively map rock art sites across the modern landscape. They also used imaging techniques to reveal buried landscapes, offering a clearer picture of how environments changed over time.
This innovative method, pioneered in Arnhem Land, has provided new insights into the motivations behind rock art at different times in history. The results showed that during the period when mangroves covered the floodplains, rock art was at the peak of its popularity. This suggests that the large amount of resources in mangroves could support a thriving human population.
Moreover, the study found that as sea levels rose, rock art was created primarily in areas that had views of open forest areas. This strategic placement may have facilitated hunting or careful management of landscapes at a time when many people were forced to leave their homes due to rising water levels.
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This research not only enriches our understanding of Arnhem Land rock art, but also demonstrates the importance of detailed landscape patterns in unraveling the mysteries of ancient human activity. Bridging the gap between past and present, these finds provide deep connections to the stories carved into stone by ancient people.
Previously Focus wrote about an unusual burial in Sweden. Next to the remains of a tall man, they found a sword about 1.2 m long. Scientists suggest that this was an influential person.
We also talked about a palace from the Xia Dynasty, which proves the existence of semi-mythical rulers of China.