Beau and Monique, Dogs, Dog, Travel, Australia, Photos and Pictures

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Aboriginal cave paintings in Australia

Aboriginal cave paintings in Australia

In may 2003, scientists and archaeologists from the Australian Museum uncovered a 4,000-year-old Aboriginal rock art site at Eagles Reach, literally on Sydney’s doorstep. Despite the abundance of many Aboriginal art sites in the region, the Eagles Reach find, which is located about 160 kilometers  northwest of Sydney in the wilderness section of the Wollemi National Park, is regarded as the biggest and most significant discovery in the last 50 years. The more than 200 well-preserved and stunning images at the site have been previously hidden by the region’s rugged and inhospitable landscape. The site was first located in 1995 by a group of bushwalkers who accidentally came across the rock art when they abseiled past a large sandstone shelter. While they reported their discovery to the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service, it took another eight years before a team of archaeologists, rock art specialists and Aborigines from the local Darkingung, Darug and Wiradjuri tribes were able to begin a scientific investigation. The delay was largely due to environmental factors such as floods and bushfire and to an initial underestimation of the significance of the sit. The cave is 12 meters long 6meters deep and 1 to 2 meters high, and contains 203 separate drawings, a painting and various stencils executed in charcoal, white pipe clay and yellow and red ochre. At least 12 layers of images have been superimposed, one upon the other, documenting the art and culture of many generations of Aborigines. A wide variety of birds, lizards and marsupials are depicted, including kangaroos, wallabies, goannas, leaf-tail geckoes and many other animals from the region. Also included are life-sized, delicately drawn eagles and an extremely rare design of a wombat. According to Aboriginal religious belief, some of these composite images are of ancestral beings and present on the rock walls since mythical times. Under this system of belief, human beings did not paint these images but were produced by ancient ancestors settling into the cave walls, while their spirits may have travelled on. In Australia, more than 100,000 rock art sites have been discovered; possibly more than any other country in the world; with most of the richest and colourful in the Pilbara, Kimberleys, Arnhem Land and Cape York regions of northern Australia. While the study of Aboriginal art and culture is now regarded as important, this was not always the case. During the late eighteenth and nineteenth century, after the British established Australia as a military outpost in the Asia-Pacific region against its colonial rival France, anthropological investigations of Aboriginal life and culture were of little or no interest. It was not until 1930s and establishment of an anthropology department at the University of Sydney that systematic scientific study really began.

posted by Monique at 11:43 am  

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