Roberts, Richard; Walsh, Grahame; Murray, Andrew; Olley, Jon; and others.
Luminescence dating of rock art and past environments using mud-wasp
nests in northern Australia.
Nature 387. 6634 (June 12, 1997): 696 (4 pages).
Optical luminescence dating of pollen grains in the nests of mud-wasps
in Northern Australia has been used to estimate the minimum age of aboriginal
cave paintings. The ants scoop quartz-containing river muds and build
nests on the rocks, some of which bear paintings. Some of the paintings
in Australia's Kimberley region have been estimated to be at least 17,000
years old using the technique. It is expected that analysis of other paintings
will show them to be considerably older. Optical dating measures the time
since the quartz was last exposed to sunlight.