University of Bristol Spelæological Society

Cave use by Australian Pleistocene man (UBSS Proceedings v.17(3))

Proceedings » Volume 17 » Sub-volume 3

Bednarik,R.G., 1986. Cave use by Australian Pleistocene man. UBSS Proceedings, 17(3) , pp 227-245 Download PDF.

Abstract: It has long been assumed that the prehistoric inhabitants of Australia had always shunned caves, but recent evidence indicates that Pleistocene man made extensive use of deep limestone caves in that continent. Nearly all the Australian sites known to possess such evidence have only been discovered since 1980. The parietal traces of human use described in this paper include three different forms of rock art, the oldest of which is sometimes found together with extensive use of chert mining. This subterranean mining of sedimentary silica represents the world's oldest known traces of systematic mining but it is claimed in this paper that similar evidence is also present in at least one French cave. The oldest of the described anthropic wall markings are identical to the earliest form of cave art in the Franco-Cantabrian region. Although absolute dating is not yet finalised for the Australian sites it has been established the most archaic markings are more than 20,000 years old. Their discovery and investigation has prompted a hypothesis with which it is attempted to explain the origin of the anthropocentric world view shared by extant humans.

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