Methods of dating archaeological sites
Other artists have adopted modern media and work with acrylic paints on canvas, gouache or ochres on archival paper or other surfaces.Apart from the materials used, Aboriginal artists have shown considerable innovation in the techniques they adopt for applying paint and creating designs - ranging from the crushed end of a stick, as used for example by Emily Kame Kngwarreye in some works to produce characteristic large smudged dots, to the fine brushes used to produce the delicate rarrk patterns of Arnhem Land art.The source material was traded extensively across Australia in the past, with some material traveling many hundreds or even thousands of kilometres from where it was mined to where it was used.It comes in a variety of colours from pale yellow to dark reddish-brown.At this site, one of the most significant archaeological sites in Australia, a female cremation burial was identified in 1969 and provided evidence of the world's oldest known cremation rite - around 26 000 years old.A few hundred metres away, and some thousands of years older, a man was buried (called Mungo 3).Some pieces have flattened surfaces indicating use and there is other evidence of pieces of ochre being ground up or pulverised.Most have been carbon dated with ages between 10 000 and 40 000 years (the effective limit of carbon dating), and one site had what appears to be an artists palette of ochres - dated 18 000 years old.
In the west Kimberley, the ancient gwion gwion images are painted in beautiful mulberry red on rock overhangs and caves.
The rich dark red in some of Jack Britten's paintings comes from the use of kangaroo blood mixed with ochre powder.
Traditional use of ochres included not only body and other painting (such as bark and wooden sculptures), but also a role in mortuary ceremonies.
His bones had been covered in red ochre, staining the burial pit pink.
Since ochre does not occur near Lake Mungo, some of this pigment must have been carried there.
Regardless of the exact age, the Mungo 3 burial (through the use of ochre paint) is evidence of communication and ceremonial practices, and perhaps also of trade, amongst the early human residents of eastern Australia.