Linking cutting-edge science and ancient art

Archae-aus chief executive Fiona Hook. A team from her company will spend three years dating Aboriginal rock art in the Kimberley. Picture: Martin Kennealey www.communitypix.com.au
Archae-aus chief executive Fiona Hook. A team from her company will spend three years dating Aboriginal rock art in the Kimberley. Picture: Martin Kennealey www.communitypix.com.au

Archae-aus received the $480,000 Australian Research Council Linkage grant for a team to apply new and cutting-edge dating techniques.

Archae-aus managing director Fiona Hook said the three-year project would begin next year.

‘In the Australian context, we can relatively date some rock art and know which is older than another, but actually giving a hard date as to when it was painted has proven very difficult to determine,’ she said.

‘For example, in the Kimberley, there are the ancient Gwion Gwion figures and there are theories they are 20,000 years old, though some dating suggests the paintings might be much older than that.

‘There have been different attempts at dating rock art over the last 20 or 30 years, but this is the first project that is specifically aimed at applying a whole range of techniques to work out what are the best practices.’