The Oldest Art in the World
Ancient Rock Art of the Burrup
There are more than a million rock engravings in the Burrup Peninsula
On the West Pilbara Coast of Western Australia, you find the highest concentration of ancient rock art in the world, and I really mean ancient
Some petroglyphs have been dated as 30,000 years old, with others even older. The newest were carved ten thousand years ago.
You've never heard of them? I'm not surprised.
Art from before the Ice Age
The Human Heritage of Rock Art
You've heard of the ancient art in Lascaux.
Unknown artists created glorious rock art, some as far back as 18,000 years ago in these caves in the south of France. Their work is a testament to the heritage of humanity we all share.
These beautiful depictions of animals have been extensively studied. It's been said that the figures could be prehistoric star maps, painted on cave walls which are illuminated at the Winter Solstice. Some researchers believe the art to be of a spiritual nature, made by people in an hallucinatory trance-like state. Or perhaps they're records of past hunting successes, images to bring luck in the future.
Whatever they are, they are admired the world over.
A very different approach from the ancient art of Western Australia.
The Pilbara Region
The Pilbara is a huge, dry region, roughly 5,800 kilometres ( 316,000 miles)
It's very hot here. In Summer, temperatures over 45 C (113 F) are not uncommon, with torrential rainfall between November and May. It's not really the most comfortable place to live.
Between 40,000 and 50,000 years ago, the Aboriginal peoples lived a sustainable life style across the Pilbara with strict land-use management practices.
Things changed when the Europeans arrived. The red earth signaled the enormous iron ore deposits and the economy of the West is now based on mining and petroleum.
Industry. Profit. The reasons for the disrespect shown to the oldest art in the world.
Ancient Rock Art in Australia
The spectacular art is a wonder of Aboriginal Australian heritage.
Many Figures, Human, Animal and Spirit
An immense port is planned for the Burrup to serve the iron ore industry
Depictions of Animals
At least 10,000 petroglyphs have already been destroyed
International 'Stand Up for the Burrup' CampaignClick thumbnail to view full-size
What's your view on the Burrup?
Should the ancient art be protected?
Did you know about the Burrup?
Have you ever heard of these ancient rock carvings in Australia?
© 2013 Susanna Duffy