Australian Museum Journal Radiocarbon determinations on Chillagoe rock paintings: small sample accelerator mass spectrometry

Shortform:
Armitage et al., 1998, Rec. Aust. Mus. 50(3): 285–292
Author(s):
Armitage, R. A.; David, B.; Hyman, Libbie H.; Rowe, M. W.; Tuniz, C.; Lawson, E.; Jacobsen, G.; Hua, Q.
Year published:
1998
Title:
Radiocarbon determinations on Chillagoe rock paintings: small sample accelerator mass spectrometry
Serial title:
Records of the Australian Museum
Volume:
50
Issue:
3
Start page:
285
End page:
292
DOI:
10.3853/j.0067-1975.50.1998.1287
Language:
English
Date published:
25 November 1998
Cover date:
25 November 1998
ISSN:
0067-1975
CODEN:
RAUMAJ
Publisher:
The Australian Museum
Place published:
Sydney, Australia
Digitized:
11 March 2009
Available online:
16 July 2009
Reference number:
1287
EndNote package:
EndNote file
Title page:
Title page (89kb PDF)
Complete work:
Complete work (1298kb PDF)

Abstract

Indirect dating methods have previously been applied to the rock paintings of north Queensland, utilising patterns of superimposition, depictions of material items and animals of known antiquity, the use of fragile paints such as mud and white kaolinite, and in situ pigment stratigraphies. These patterns suggest that the vast majority of Chillagoe rock paintings are relatively young, likely less than 3500 years old. We directly analysed radiocarbon in the charcoal pigments in several of the Chillagoe rock paintings. Preliminary radiocarbon results at three sites confirm that these charcoal paintings are less than 3500 years old, as predicted. A change in the geographical distribution of rock art styles across north Queensland—from widespread non-figurative forms (as evident in surviving petroglyphs) to regionally distinctive motifs—suggests a regionalisation of artistic conventions starting around 3500 years B.P. Such a regionalisation implies that major cultural changes accompanied the changes in rock painting styles.

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