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Oceanic rock art: first direct dating of prehistoric stencils and paintings from New Caledonia (Southern Melanesia)

  • Christophe Sand (a1), Hélène Valladas (a2), Hélène Cachier (a2), Nadine Tisnérat-Laborde (a2), Maurice Arnold (a3), Jacques Bolé (a1) and André Ouetcho (a1)...

Rock art in an inland cave on the island of Lifou, New Caledonia, has been radiocarbon dated. A cluster of early paintings date to 2500 years ago, soon after the arrival of the first settlers, who must have quickly gone inland probably in pursuit of fresh water, available near the cave. They left their mark on the cave in the form of numerous hand stencils. During the first millennium AD, later generations of artists used the same cave, drawing birds and a circular sign for water still recognised by the present community.

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  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
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