Rock art associated with modern human populations has a comparable antiquity in Western Europe and Australia (table 1). In Western Europe personal adornment, human and animal statuettes and some carved stone blocks date from the early Aurignacian. In Australia a date of 30,000 BP has been claimed for the origin of the geometric art tradition of the Olary Province of Southern Australia, a date which would make it contemporary with the modern human community at Lake Mungo 150 miles to the east, who were practising deliberate burial (Bowler and Thome 1976, 129,138). This date, however, depends on the cation ratio method, whose calibration is still open to question (Nobbs and Dorn 1988; Clarke 1989; Watchman 1989).
Secure dates based on C14 measurements show that both geometric motifs and engraved animal silhouettes in northern Australia are contemporary with the flowering of European Palaeolithic art during the Magdalenian (for Dampier, see Lorblanchet 1988, 286; for Laura, see Rosenfeld 1981, 12, 53).