Indigenous dating

Members of their ranger groups accompanied the researchers on their field trips to learn more about their sacred sites and ensure they were not damaged.Their focus was on analysing the tiny samples of material taken from both under and on top of the painting, to narrow down the period in which it was created.

The geologist pioneered a technique to date tiny crusts of dirt that form over an imagine in the hundreds, or thousands of years since it was created."We can see where a crust has formed over the squiggles of pigment, so we can use a small chisel to chip off a little piece," she said."It will let us know that the art underneath that is older than the age that we get for that crust."She said she was now in lockdown at the university's laboratories processing hundreds of tiny samples."You're just really eager once you've collected all the samples to get in the lab and get the results, so yes it's a really exciting time for us," Ms Green said.Watching on closely are the Dambimangari and Balanggarra people.More than a dozen scientists took part in two field trips to study remote faces on Dambimangari and Balanggarra country.They used pioneering techniques to collect and analyse hundreds of samples to narrow down the timeframes in which the striking images of people, animals and shells were made.In Australia, dating has been relatively limited, but dates of between 13,000 to 15,000 years old have been recorded in Queensland, and up to 28,000 years in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory.

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Given that Aboriginal people are believed to have arrived in northern Australia up to 50,000 years ago, Professor Veth said there was potential for older dates to emerge.

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