A TEAM of University of Southern Queensland archaeologists have uncovered the oldest rock art to have been discovered in Australia in a remote Northern Territory shelter.
Professor Bryce Barker, who was working with USQ researcher Dr Lara Lamb, found the charcoal drawn fragment dated at 28,000 years after excavating a small part of a massive rock shelter site named Narwala Gabarnmang.
Professor Barker and Dr Lamb are members of a major archaeological project Connecting Country in south western Arnhem Land.
"When I turned over that little piece of rock and saw that art I couldn't believe it," Professor Barker said.
"There I was sitting in the lab at USQ in Toowoomba with a piece of art that I knew had to be more than 20,000 years old."
A specialist dating team led by Dr Fiona Petchey from the University of Waikato radiocarbon laboratory took scrapings of the charcoal which subsequently turned out to date to 28,000 years ago, making it the oldest firmly dated rock art painting in Australia and amongst some of the earliest evidence of human painting in the world.