Europe’s oldest scientifically dated rock paintings are around 40,800 years old (El Castillo cavern, Spain) while older Art might well be discovered in the coming years. Australia meanwhile claims dates of more than 40,000 years for some of it’s paintings while Africa’s oldest dated paintings, so far, are the so-called Apollo 11 paintings found in Namibia’s Huns Mountains in 1969. These were dated at around 30,000 years old.
Africa can also claim the engraved pieces of ochre from South Africa’s Blombos Cave which were dated by an Anglo/American team to a staggering 77,000 years of age. Many experts believe that the people (modern humans) who left Africa around 75,000 years ago may well have brought artistic skills with them and that Africa may be the origin of all rock art. As compared with continents like Europe, Australia and America, Africa has typically been unable to afford expensive dating research and it is possible that some known (and unknown) paintings and engravings may be much older than we now realize.
This has been further complicated by the fact that charcoal was only rarely used in African paintings making it much more difficult to carbon-date many images. What’s more, so much of Africa’s extraordinary art was all but unknown until relatively recently and the assumption by many researchers was that they were unlikely to be old. Now come the latest revelations about rock paintings in Indonesia dated to over 35000 years and once again these discoveries are pointing to Africa as the possible origin of rock art.
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