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High precision U/Th dating of the rock paintings at Mt. Huashan, Guangxi, southern China

  • Qing-Feng Shao (a1), Edwige Pons-Branchu (a2), Qiu-Ping Zhu (a3), Wei Wang (a4), Hélène Valladas (a2) and Michel Fontugne (a2)...


The rock art and the associated natural scenery at 38 sites located in the Zuojiang River valley, in the southwest of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, southern China, were inscribed recently on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The painted panel at the site of Mt. Huashan is probably the largest known rock art panel in the world, consisting of approximately 1900 identifiable figures and occupying an area of approximately 8000 m2. To determine a precise age on the rock art at Mt. Huashan, 56 secondary carbonate layers above and below the paintings were studied for their mineralogy, oxygen, and carbon isotopic compositions and dated by the 230Th/U method. The 230Th/U dating results demonstrate that ages of the rock paintings can be bracketed between 1856±16 and 1728±41yr BP corresponding to the middle to the end of the Eastern Han dynasty (AD 25 to 220). The results imply that the rock painting practices at Mt. Huashan probably lasted more than a century, and the Zuojiang rock art is younger than that at Baiyunwan and Cangyuan in Yunnan Province by 1 to 10 centuries.

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Corresponding author

*Corresponding author at: Key Laboratory of Virtual Geographic Environment (Nanjing Normal University), Ministry of Education, Nanjing 210023, China. E-mail: (Q.-F. Shao).


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High precision U/Th dating of the rock paintings at Mt. Huashan, Guangxi, southern China

  • Qing-Feng Shao (a1), Edwige Pons-Branchu (a2), Qiu-Ping Zhu (a3), Wei Wang (a4), Hélène Valladas (a2) and Michel Fontugne (a2)...


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