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Dr Pike said: "Evidence for modern humans in Northern Spain dates back to 41,500 years ago, and before them were Neanderthals.
Our results show that either modern humans arrived with painting already part of their cultural activity or it developed very shortly after, perhaps in response to competition with Neanderthals or perhaps the art is Neanderthal art." The creation of art by humans is considered an important marker for the evolution of modern cognition and symbolic behavior, and may be associated with the development of language.
A hand stencil has been dated to earlier than 37,300 years ago and a red disk to earlier than 40,600 years ago, making them the oldest cave paintings in Europe.
Image courtesy of Pedro Saura The practice of cave art in Europe thus began up to 10,000 years earlier than previously thought, indicating the paintings were created either by the first anatomically modern humans in Europe or, perhaps, by Neanderthals.
Introduction Types Characteristics Dating History/Chronology Ubirr Rock Art (Northern Australia) Burrup Peninsula Rock Art (Western Australia) Bradshaw Rock Paintings (Western Australia) Sydney Rock Engravings (NSW) Collections Hand Stencil Painting. Handprints and cupules are believed to constitute the oldest forms of aboriginal parietal art in Australia, dating perhaps to 40,000 BCE.
However, this remains unconfirmed by carbon-dating results.
Hand stencils and disks made by blowing paint onto the wall in El Castillo cave were found to date back to at least 40,800 years, making them the oldest known cave art in Europe, 5-10,000 years older than previous examples from France.
A large club-shaped symbol in the famous polychrome chamber at Altamira was found to be at least 35,600 years old, indicating that painting started there 10,000 years earlier than previously thought, and that the cave was revisited and painted a number of times over a period spanning more than 20,000 years.
The project focus was on preservation of the American Southwest desert. Herein follows a summary of a scientific paper illustrating recent developments in rock art dating.
In any event, human occupation in Australia has been carbon-dated to at least 53,000 BCE, and the oldest Australian human fossil has been dated to around 38,000 BCE - the difference probably being due to the drowning of the earliest coastal occupation sites by rising sea-levels: a phenomenon known to Europe through the Cosquer Cave paintings, near Marseilles.
All this means that aboriginal migrants were settled in Australia some 10,000 years before their northern counterparts arrived in Europe.
To reinforce this broader understanding of identity and heritage, archaeologists, chemists, geologists, and physicists from the universities of Melbourne, Western Australia and Wollongong, Archae-Aus consultancy, and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation launched a 3 year project across the Kimberley to date rock art using an astonishing variety of scientific techniques.
In 2014 the team was privileged to begin work along the King George River in Balanggarra Country, and has continued this year along the coast of Dambimangari Country.The color resemblance to the American flag and modern claims of embellishment led archaeologists to question its prehistoric authenticity.