Re: Australian finds >100 000 BP?

Geoffrey Norman Watson (
Wed, 25 Sep 1996 13:01:10 +1000

ABC (Australian National) radio had a brief discussion with some of those
involved this morning (Sep 25).

The art is in the form of cup marks on exposed rock surfaces, and some traces
of ochre have been found. This is dated to between 58 000 and 75 000 yrs from
pieces that had fallen off and found in stratified layers. The stone tools are
dated to 116 000 to 170 000 yrs. Dating is by thermoluminesence of the sand in
which the artefacts were found. There were no human remains found.

Apparently the story "broke" after a "leak" to a national newspaper and was
announced at a hurriedly arranged press conference. The radio program had
found one of the referees of the original article, who had reported
unfavourably, and had him discussing the interpretation of the finds with
the authors. His reservations were mainly about the possibility of contamination
of the sand in the layers with material weathered in situ. It seems that the article,
as it will be published, descibes the interpretation in terms of dating as preliminary.

It was suggested that the dating of the art is relatively uncontroverial, since
other sites in the Kimberly area have been dated to about 60 000 yrs and ochre
has been found at some of them.

Geoffrey Watson