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Simple pictographs, petrograms and petroglyphs were also made.

This early phase is also known as the Cupule, Pit and Groove Period, and corresponds roughly to the era of Aurignacian art in Europe.

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However, in view of the recent discovery of the Nawarla Gabarnmang charcoal drawing, carbon-dated to 26,000 BCE and currently Australia's earliest art, it seems probable that older works in the Kimberley will be found before too long.

After all, if Oxford Professor Stephen Oppenheimer is correct in saying (in his book "Out of Eden") that Modern Man crossed the Timor Sea to get to Australia between 65,000 and 70,000 years ago, then surely he must have started painting pictographs or scratching petroglyphs by 30,000 BCE, if not sooner.

However, as in the case of Burrup Peninsula rock art to the west and Ubirr rock art to the east, most of Kimberley's ancient art remains uncatalogued and undated, and the little scientific dating that has occurred has failed to pinpoint any artwork that predates the Last Glacial Maximum, around 18,000 BCE.

As it is, the oldest Stone Age art in the Kimberley are cupules, dated to 17,000 BCE, and a Bradshaw tassel painting dated to at least 15,500 BCE.

Art from this period is also known as "Wararrajai", or "Clothes Peg Figures" and corresponds roughly to the era of Mesolithic art in Europe.

Arguably the most diverse of all the styles, at least in terms of motifs used, Painted Hand art is typically applied with broad brush strokes superimposed over earlier paintings.

Modern humans were carving prehistoric sculpture and creating hand stencils in European rock shelters as early as 39,000 BCE, so it seems only reasonable to suppose that Aussie moderns did the same.

To see how Kimberley's rock art fits into developments around the world, see: Prehistoric Art Timeline (from 2.5 million BCE).

Not unlike Paleolithic art in Europe, the oldest art in the Kimberley region consists of petroglyphic markings, such as pecked cupules, hollows, and grooves - often in large numbers - as well as intricate stone arrangements.

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